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Andy Millne
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4.0 - Global Sidebar

One of the goals for IPS Community Suite 4.0 was improving content discovery. In other words, making sure content still receives exposure even if it is posted in less used areas of the suite.

The sidebar that shows on the IP.Board index page in 3.x helps with this goal to some extent, however people who visit the forums app infrequently may miss out on valuable content. This became an even more important issue when the decision was made to decouple IP.Board as a standalone application. What if the focus of your site is Gallery or what if IP.Board is not even enabled for example?

Our solution was to extend the sidebar across all applications as shown below in IP.Downloads.



You may notice from the screenshot that the announcements block is not specific to the downloads application. Any block can show in any application and they are configurable using moderator permissions. This immediately addresses the issue of content discovery.

While the sidebar is now global in 4.0, it is important to note that individual areas can enable and disable the sidebar if necessary. Some areas of the suite simply require more room in order to display ideally, so the sidebar is disabled in these cases (e.g. the calendar "monthly" view needs a full page table grid to display in its ideal format). Further, you can configure sidebars differently for different areas of the suite in context-sensitive manner. You may show a recent topics block in the IP.Board application, for instance, while showing a recent files block in IP.Downloads. Or you can show both blocks in both areas - the choice is yours.

Many areas of the suite have specific things they wish to automatically show in the sidebar and will do so. This is determined at a programmatic level and is not something that can be shut off. For instance, in IP.Downloads the primary screenshot and the download button show in the sidebar, while in IP.Calendar a map and a button to download an event show. Each application has the ability to output arbitrary content to the top of the sidebar where-ever necessary.

It is also worth noting that advertisements have the inherent ability to display in the sidebar site-wide as well.

Editing

Editing is carried out inline from the front-end, rather than the ACP, and can be customized based on the application, module or individual view. The technicalities of this are beyond the scope of this blog entry but what this means in practice is that you can vary what is shown in the sidebar for each individual area of your site. Ordering of the blocks is of course fully supported using a simple drag and drop interface, and some sidebars additionally have configuration options available to them as needed.

Here is a video demonstration of how editing the sidebar works in IPS Community Suite 4.0.



Caching

With this approach it was important that performance was not compromised and for that reason sidebar blocks support varying degrees of output caching. The active users block which must always be kept up to date utilizes no caching, a more general block showing overall statistics is cached for all users at once and other blocks that rely on permissions are cached for each user group combination. The level of caching used is determined by the developer when writing the block so, while it is important to mention that this performance aspect has been considered, it is something that is transparent to end users and admins in day to day use.

Summary

Community integration is a key strength of the IPS platform and the new sidebar in version 4 expands on this even further allowing you to share content across all areas effectively.

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Thats my point Andy, i am the one who would only have permission to edit then i am stuck seeing that button taking up space in the interface - it should be tucked up under a menu and not sitting there all the time. 

Agree...

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is possible to choise to fix it following scroll of page from setting? such as this
what are setting for sidebar available?
is possible to fix position of singular widget/block from options? i don't would fix all block but one to top and leave scroll other to down when scroll page.
 
option such as this?

 

thanks for this, great improvement.

 

How much control will we have there?

e.g. if i want to show a block only in forum 1,2,3? or the newest threads block should show only the last threads from forum X , if i'm viewing a thread in forum X
will this work?

also i ask it... if that are options i hope into where( $_request['f'] == 'xx' and $this->memberData... ) or how adriano tell before "hookable".

this problem is also into custom field into 3.x when you would choose to show only conditions are true on topic view template

Is this "hookable" ?

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Thats my point Andy, i am the one who would only have permission to edit then i am stuck seeing that button taking up space in the interface - it should be tucked up under a menu and not sitting there all the time. 

 

Completely disagree. 

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Can a sidebar block be modified per content of the block? If I have a tower ad, can I put it in a block without having the block header, borders, etc. show? Can I change the color of the block header and background per block?

 

Jim

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Can a sidebar block be modified per content of the block? If I have a tower ad, can I put it in a block without having the block header, borders, etc. show? Can I change the color of the block header and background per block?

 

Jim

 

Ads don't show in a 'block', just in the sidebar. Each block builds its own HTML so it can display however you want. You can edit the templates as normal.

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Ads don't show in a 'block', just in the sidebar. Each block builds its own HTML so it can display however you want. You can edit the templates as normal.

What's the difference between a block and the sidebar?

Doesn't the sidebar contain "blocks"?

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What's the difference between a block and the sidebar?

Doesn't the sidebar contain "blocks"?

 

Yes. Jim was asking if an ad displays with the header and background the other blocks have, which they don't. The block HTML is arbitrary - they don't have to necessarily use the header/background (though our default blocks do).

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You would need IP.Content to do that - although a developer could conceivably create a sidebar plugin that allowed for some custom content too.

 

So to confirm, the sidebar can use any block that we create from within the IP.Content app, correct?

 

1.  I like the fact that you added this global sidebar.  This will help bring 'unification' to the community suite.

2.  I like the fact that the editing is front-end.  I really, really appreciate that, since most of us are not developers.  

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We will be discussing IP.Content and how it interacts with the sidebar in future blog entries.

 

This kind of sounds weird though Andy. Let me try to explain the reason why it sounds weird.

Staff always highlighted unification of the system so any block that will be used on sidebars should also have the same unified approach. 

When you guys divide these kind basic answer , it highlights that Ip.Content can have different approach from other apps which makes it a non unified product with rest of the suite.

 

I just hope i am getting it completely wrong.

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Can this be turned off in the Admin Cp is all I want to know??

 

Folks these sidebars all over the forums and modules is going to really tick off a lot of members on your site and why folks are here cheering this on is beyond me, sidebars are the annoying advertising spam you hate and curse about on other sites and now everyone wants it on the forums??

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Can this be turned off in the Admin Cp is all I want to know??

 

Folks these sidebars all over the forums and modules is going to really tick off a lot of members on your site and why folks are here cheering this on is beyond me, sidebars are the annoying advertising spam you hate and curse about on other sites and now everyone wants it on the forums??

The thing you maybe missing is users in IPB community are website owners . Most websites generate income through advertisements so yes it is a very important thing for most site owners.

Also sidebars allow busy website users a very easy way to reach additional content 

So again it is a very important feature. I am sure you can easily turn it off with a template edit :)

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The thing you maybe missing is users in IPB community are website owners . Most websites generate income through advertisements so yes it is a very important thing for most site owners.

Also sidebars allow busy website users a very easy way to reach additional content 

So again it is a very important feature. I am sure you can easily turn it off with a template edit :smile:

I understand that about the Sponsor's banners, advertisements, etc, to a certain degree, but if you spam the membership too much with advertising the membership will leave, if the membership leaves then the Sponsors will leave, how many reading this has been members of other sites and one day you go to that site, there are advertisements a post of two down in topics, advertisements in sidebars, banners, at the top, banners at the bottom etc.

If you turn your forums into a billboard people will leave, perspective membership will not join, and then you lose your Sponsors.

My site pays 100% for itself and well as your does to, but my advertisements are neat, clean, and not taking away from the forums which is the key or should be the key with anyone owning a IPB license, IPB is forum software not just a place to put billboards everywhere.

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I understand that about the Sponsor's banners, advertisements, etc, to a certain degree, but if you spam the membership too much with advertising the membership will leave, if the membership leaves then the Sponsors will leave, how many reading this has been members of other sites and one day you go to that site, there are advertisements a post of two down in topics, advertisements in sidebars, banners, at the top, banners at the bottom etc.

If you turn your forums into a billboard people will leave, perspective membership will not join, and then you lose your Sponsors.

My site pays 100% for itself and well as your does to, but my advertisements are neat, clean, and not taking away from the forums which is the key or should be the key with anyone owning a IPB license, IPB is forum software not just a place to put billboards everywhere.

 

I think you're missing something critical, the sidebar mentioned here is not only for ads it simply can be used for those too. You can have recent topics, files, blog entries, etc there, or a tags cloud or anything else. It doesn't have to be ads and that's it.

 

 

Of course if you don't want anything I assume you can simply leave the sidebar disabled, at least I think that it must have some kind of group permission to show it not to guests but only registered users for example. But there's actually no mention of this in the blog entry so I can't say for sure.

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I think you're missing something critical, the sidebar mentioned here is not only for ads it simply can be used for those too. You can have recent topics, files, blog entries, etc there, or a tags cloud or anything else. It doesn't have to be ads and that's it.

 

 

Of course if you don't want anything I assume you can simply leave the sidebar disabled, at least I think that it must have some kind of group permission to show it not to guests but only registered users for example. But there's actually no mention of this in the blog entry so I can't say for sure.

I understand it is for more than advertising, but I do not want my site to have sidebars everywhere you go to on it that are not available for disabling a hook or turning it off in the admin cp

I have seen member's sites here and they are nothing but a cluster and how they have membership is beyond me, you click something and sidebars, banners, images, etc. everywhere and amidst all of that clutter you find a forum.

That is my concern, can it be turned off in all areas you do not want it at period?

My forum the membership minimize if you want to call it that if they like or they can read them, but that is it I do not want that stuff anyplace else on my site, especially in modules.

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The sidebar has nothing to do directly with banners, images or advertisements.  Sure, you CAN show advertisements there, but that is not its specific or sole purpose.

 

The sidebar will be used to show contextually relevant things (i.e. the map for a calendar event when viewing a calendar event that has location data available), interaction buttons such as the "add new topic" button, context discovery items such as a list of recent topics or recent files (and note that you can show recent files int he forums, and recent topics in the download manager) and more.  Advertisements are also supported for those that wish to use them.

 

The sidebar automatically hides at lower resolutions as part of the responsive design, so yes the suite is designed to work "without" it.

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Dragging and dropping blocks from under the application into the sidebar.. That would of course be the same if content was listed under the sidebar for a application. :) NOW I'm getting excited... No more manual editing, IPC integrated... Winner...

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Can custom blocks be made in to the side panel?

 

If you are asking can you click a button or something and create entirely custom blocks in the sidebar through the existing interface, the answer is no.  Developers of course can create an unlimited number of different types of blocks, and IP.Content allows you to create entirely custom blocks.

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