It's not often that we get to blow our own trumpets. That's not just because we don't own trumpets, but also because we like to keep our heads down and focused on producing fantastic software [Ironic trumpet blowing - Editor].
Many of our team also run their own Invision Communities.
So this month, we asked:
What is your favourite Invision Community feature?
Here's what we said.
My favorite feature would be Pages 'databases' feature. You can quickly and easily create databases of content, and then you can adjust the templates to make those databases display in a more relevant manner for the type of content you are working with, all without having to modify any code. On my wife's real estate website, I have used Pages to create databases for hosting leads, property listings, closings, and realtor contacts. Being a developer I've further enhanced some of those areas with plugins, but even right out of the box the system is powerful enough to do quite a lot with just a little bit of configuring and templating.
Trying to remember the block names when creating Pages templates
So, I love Invision Community. I've loved it for ages and it's hard to pick just one favorite feature. I'm going to say that Clubs and Pages are probably my top two favorite things in the whole wide world on Invision Community.
For clubs, it allows your members to create special interest groups/forums/galleries/etc without having to do all of that yourself. It makes pulling together people of similar interests really easy and it makes it to where you don't have to manage "as much" of the responsibility for having a billion forums or groups. I also find it's a great way to get people excited and talking about things that they love which spreads positivity and happiness, which I love as an administrator.
For Pages! There is so much! From Databases that you can super customize to blocks! There is so little I can't do with Pages!! I've made a super custom link directory (https://rpginitiative.com/directory/), a directory of searchable people (https://rpginitiative.com/pb-directory/) and one of my favorites a copy and paste code directory (https://rpginitiative.com/codex/). They all are unique in look and feel and all have different purposes but they fill them so well. I of course have a basic Guides listing (https://rpginitiative.com/guides/) but I don't think it's nearly as cool. Pages gives me a sense of empowerment on my community. It gives me the ability to create content that is special to my site and doesn't have to be cookie cutter in any way.
Honestly, the whole suite always makes me happy because I get the community I want out of it and to me that is always the best and most special thing about Invision Community. [This is the best answer - Editor]
Given my forum’s niche, amateur pyrotechnics [Must be nicer to Mark - Editor], my favorite feature would be the Gallery. You can describe a pyrotechnic shell, effect, build process, etc, with as many pages of text as you wish, but photographs or videos are truly worth 1000 words. While our Gallery isn’t the largest one around, it does contains a large number of items that our members have contributed to showcase their work, some of which are quite impressive.
Mark's last day at Invision Community
I've given this a lot of thought [Makes a change - Editor]. There are several contenders, Pages (because I wrote it), Social Promotion (because I wrote that too), Commerce (I did not write this) and Gallery. All deserve to be picked on their own merits.
I decided to go with the profile completion system. It's not a massive feature, and it's not the most exciting feature but it does its one job very well.
It helps reduce overwhelm when registering. It's critical to make the transition from guest to member as frictionless as possible, and having a dozen custom profile fields to complete is a good way to put people off.
The profile completion system allows you defer data collection after registering, which reduces the barrier.
The auto-upgrader. When I first started at Invision Community one of my responsibilities was doing upgrades - often from 2.x to 3.x at the time - hours and hours of uploading files by FTP (sometimes painfully slowly) and clicking the upgrader, over and over again. I'm glad those days are behind us!
I think it was quite a good technical achievement too. The system knows what version you're coming from, what apps you have installed and only downloads the files you need. It knows if it needs to ask you for FTP access or if it can just write the files. Recently we made it so it knows if your themes are going to be compatible with the new version and warns you before you upgrade if they might not be.
Perhaps most significantly for me though is the backend behind it. Releasing an update used to be a bit of a nightmare (we had to build zip files ourselves!) - now I just tag the release in our git repo and everything magically figures itself out [Only if following instructions to the letter - Editor]. It still delights me every time I do it.
Mark (not) doing upgrades now
For me it has to be the block manager. The block manager makes it was so easy to set up the basic structure of your site. And it's hard to believe we used to disable hooks to remove an item, or even comment them out in some cases. Adding something like a list of new posts was something you would need a 3rd party plugin to achieve, and adding a simple bit of text is something you would have likely done in your theme. This brought a large amount of flexibility for users that wouldn't have previous had the capability to make some of these changes, and generally just made life easier for others.
Pages App because of blocks and databases.
I have all kind of custom databases which I use daily to organise my work (Linklists, Knowledge Bases, Documentation) It saves one a lot of time and makes coding own apps quite unnecessary in most cases.
Okay, I think I've finally decided that Reactions is my favorite feature. It's really cool to see how clients implement the feature on their own sites with different reaction types. Also, I wrote the backend and it was probably one of my favorite things I've done in the software.
I like OAuth and RestAPI, I wanted us to do those since 4.0 and they work really well. [That's it? Can I make up the rest of the answer? - Editor]
Those are our favourite features - but what are yours?
We'd love to hear, let us know below!
Edited by Matt