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  1. IP.SEO is a free extra from IPS which provides tools to enhance the Search Engine Optimization of your community. It includes features like sitemap generation, the ability to set meta tags on any page, search engine statistics and SEO-related advice on your configuration. The IPS Community Suite itself has many built-in SEO features that are suitable for nearly all communities however IP.SEO expands upon them with more advanced SEO features. We've been busy working on an update to IP.SEO which will be available soon. New features include: Live Meta Tag Editor IP.SEO has long had the ability to add custom meta tags to any page within your community, allowing you to modify the title, add a meta description and more on an individual-page basis. While working on IP.SEO 1.5, we looked into ways we could make this important tool more accessible, and have taken concepts we learned from the Visual Skin Editor in IP.Board 3.2 and applied them to this. Much like how with the Visual Skin Editor you can modify the skin live on the front-end, the Live Meta Tag Editor allows you to browse the front-end of your community and view and edit the meta tags configured for each page you visit. This allows you to customise the meta information on every page in your community easier than ever before so you can make sure all of your pages have exactly the right information you want to show search engines. Improved Sitemap In IP.SEO 1.5, we've added support for IP.Calendar, IP.Nexus and IP.Chat to the sitemap, so now all IPS applications are supported and your entire community can be accessed by site maps easily. But not only that, we've also added some new settings for forums. You can now exclude a forum from the sitemap, or even set a priority level for forums on an individual basis. This allows you to rate your important content such as focussed user discussions higher than for example, site-related announcements or off-topic discussion. Acronym Expansion Users on a community will often post acronyms or abbreviations about the topic of your community, which can cause those posts to be missing the important keywords your community targets. For example, we often have users post "IPB" as an abbreviation for "IP.Board". Search engines of course, don't know these are one in the same and when someone searches "IP.Board", posts that say "IPB" won't match. This can be a problem. In IP.SEO 1.5, we've added a feature we call Acronym Expansion, which will automatically either replace an acronym with the specified long version, or wrap an acronym in a HTML <acronym> tag so that search engines know what the user means. This allows you to ensure that even user-generated content includes the important keywords your community targets. Miscellaneous Enhancements We've also of course included many miscellaneous enhancements. For example, in IP.SEO 1.5 it will be easier to get started with automatic sitemap.xml generation and a tool to download a blank sitemap.xml file if one cannot be generated automatically. In addition, in an effort to improve the SEO within all of our base products, the next releases of IP.Board and IP.Content have had some links removed when viewing the community as a guest which are inaccessible to spiders like the "Like" button. Beta Available Now If you are comfortable testing beta software, IP.SEO 1.5 is now available for beta testing in our pre-release forum. As always if you have any suggestions for future versions of IP.SEO, please post them to our feedback forum. If you're not already using IP.SEO, make sure you download this free extra now!
  2. IP.Gallery 4 introduced a fresh look and lots of new features to our popular gallery application. We've had substantial feedback since 4 and so with Gallery 4.1 (which will be released alongside IP.Board 3.2) we've taken this feedback on board to refine some areas and add frequently requested features. My Media IP.Board 3.2 introduces a feature called "My Media". This allows you to quickly drop content from other areas of your community (attachments, blog entries, etc.) into posts in the forum. Gallery is of course no exception and you can now easily add images and albums created in the Gallery to your posts with a few simple clicks. Default View IP.Gallery 4 introduces a new "portal" home page showing recent images and albums. Some users though prefer a more structured view - viewing albums like categories on the forums. Gallery also has a view for this which we call the "Browse" view. In IP.Gallery 4.1, you can make the "Browse" view the default, and optionally completely shut off the portal view if you prefer. Square Thumbnails IP.Gallery 4 crops and resizes images to a square for use in thumbnails - this gives a clean and consistent view across the Gallery. Some users however, prefer images not to be cropped. Therefore, in Gallery 4.1 we've added a setting to disable this. When disabled, images will not be cropped and will be centered in a transparent square canvas - this allows the rows in the Gallery to remain consistent, but without cropping images. Other Miscellaneous Changes Stats (number of images, comments, etc.) is now on the gallery home page again - both the portal and browse views. We've removed the limit of 10 images at a time, you can now upload as many images as you like in one go. We've moved the slideshow button to a more prominent location, at the top of the page, next to the upload button.
  3. Following our IP.Nexus 1.3 updates, here are the changes made to customer and purchase management: Screenshots shown are subject to design change. Refunds Occasionally, it may be necessary to refund a customer's payment. Authorize.Net provides an API for refunding transactions and as of IP.Nexus 1.3, transactions can now be refunded right from the Admin CP. When you refund a payment, the transaction will automatically be refused and any purchases cancelled. Redesigned "Transactions On Hold" page IP.Nexus may place a transaction on hold for review for several reasons: if it has a high fraud score, if there was a possible problem with the payment detected, or if you have IP.Nexus set to hold all transactions. Previously, you would see a list of transactions and click into each one to review and then accept or deny the payment. We found in our own usage that this was a slightly long-winded process, especially if you have lots of transactions - approving pending transactions is something which should be done as quickly as possible to appease customers. In IP.Nexus 1.3, we've redesigned the "Transactions On Hold" page so that all of the information for all transactions is shown on one page. All of the information you need to make your decision, including information from the anti-fraud service, is right on that page. Clicking "Approve" or "Refuse" will cause the box to disappear using AJAX so that you can move right onto the next one. We've also added a checkbox "Also ban customer" when refusing a transaction, which allows you to ban the member who made the transaction quickly - useful if the transaction is fraudulent for avoiding repeat attempts. Alternate Contact Improvements IP.Nexus allows customers to add "alternate contacts" which can view purchases and submit support requests to their allocated purchases. We find many of our own customers, particularly in large corporate environments, may have several different people for paying invoices and interacting with technical support. In IP.Nexus 1.3, alternate contacts can now optionally be allowed to pay invoices as well, so the person paying the bills doesn't have to be the account owner. Card Management When purchasing an item using the Authorize.Net gateway, IP.Nexus allows customers to store their credit card information for future sales. Card information can now be viewed and edited in the client area, allowing customers to update their card details without making a new purchase. Associations IP.Nexus allows purchases to be associated with each other. For example, here at IPS we allow addons (IP.Blog, Gallery, etc.) to be associated with an IP.Board license. Previously, this had to be done at purchase or in the Admin CP. In IP.Nexus 1.3, customers can do this themselves from the client area. Customer Search The customer search feature in the Admin CP has been improved to allow more kinds of searching and improved handling of internationally-formatted phone numbers. Purchase Expiry Warning When editing a purchase, if you change the expiry date to a date in the past, you'll now see a warning message when saving the purchase to indicate that the purchase will expire immediately. This is useful for avoiding accidental changes (which can be particularly troublesome if the purchase is, for example, a hosting account) and gives you a better idea of what Nexus is doing before it does it. There is also a similar warning for setting the date to a date in the future if the purchase is already expired. Auto-Charge Warning IP.Nexus will automatically charge a credit card on file if one exists when a renewal invoice is generated. There is now a setting to allow you to optionally send customers an Email before this happens to let them know in advance. You can specify how far in advance to warn the customer. Feel free to comment on this blog entry below or, if you have feedback unrelated to this blog entry, start a new topic in our feedback forum. If you have feedback related to changes beyond what this entry is referring to, please start a feedback topic.
  4. Following our IP.Nexus 1.3 updates, here are the changes to hosting integration: Screenshots shown are subject to design change. Improved Error Log If a server experiences temporary issues, Nexus is unable to make calls to the server to create, suspend, terminate accounts, etc. When this happens, a log is made so that you can review and resend the failed commands. In IP.Nexus 1.3, we've improved the interface for dealing with errors so that you can quickly locate the account it relates to, and view the full API call information. On the subject of dealing with API errors - there may be times when an account cannot be created or it is manually edited on the server. IP.Nexus now has an easy interface for associating a record in it's database with an account on the server. You can just enter in the username on the server, and Nexus will figure it out. Improved Server List IP.Nexus lists the current load average when viewing the list of servers in the Admin CP. When there are lots of servers, this can sometimes cause the page to load slowly. In IP.Nexus 1.3, the load will be fetched by AJAX after the page loads so that there is no delay. Editing Account Information Sometimes you may need to edit the Nexus database without calling the server, for example, if a username is changed on the server and you just need to update the Nexus database.] In IP.Nexus 1.3, when editing a hosting account, Nexus will notify you which fields will be updated on the server and allow you to override that if you desire. Along with the above, when cancelling a purchase, Nexus will allow you to optionally not terminate the account on the server (which it previously did automatically). Partial Domain Search I previously mentioned the Live Search support in IP.Nexus 1.3. This supports partial searching for domains and account usernames which was not previously supported. Feel free to comment on this blog entry below or, if you have feedback unrelated to this blog entry, start a new topic in our feedback forum. If you have feedback related to changes beyond what this entry is referring to, please start a feedback topic.
  5. Following our IP.Nexus 1.3 updates, here are the changes to the support request system: Screenshots shown are subject to design change. New Reply Warning Sometimes when working on a support request, the customer or another staff member will reply while you're in the process of typing your reply. This can be both an annoying and embarrassing situation. In IP.Nexus 1.3, before your reply is submitted, Nexus will check if there has been any replies since you opened the support request (this is done by AJAX) and warn you if there has been. "Viewed By" Often when viewing a support request you might wonder who else has viewed it. This can be useful to see who forwarded a support request, or perhaps to see if anyone opened and didn't reply. In IP.Nexus 1.3, a new button appears on the support request view which will open an AJAX popup showing you which other staff members viewed the support request and when. "View My last Responses" Sometimes, I'll reply to a support request and later remember some additional information. However, it can sometimes be difficult to find a support request again particularly if you can't remember the title or customer who submitted it. In IP.Nexus 1.3, we've added a new button to the support request listing called "View My last Responses" which will list all of the support requests where the last reply was by you. Staff Audit When running a support desk, it is important to be able to monitor staff performance, both the quantity and the quality of the support being given. In IP.Nexus 1.3, we've added a new tool called Staff Audit, which shows you the number of replies across time for a staff member: You can click on any number to see the replies: Email Bounce IP.Nexus supports receiving support requests and replies by incoming Email. We sometimes find that customers will send a new email to the "reply only" address, causing it to be bounced, which looks unprofessional and creates confusion for users. In IP.Nexus 1.3, you can specify a message which Nexus will reply with if it receives an Email it does not know how to process. CCs Sometimes when a customer sends a support request by Email, they may CC another recipient on the Email. In IP.Nexus 1.3, this is detected and indicated in the support request view - when a staff member replies, the notification Email will also be CCd to the additional people. Signatures Staff members can now use their signatures in support request replies. Feel free to comment on this blog entry below or, if you have feedback unrelated to this blog entry, start a new topic in our feedback forum. If you have feedback related to changes beyond what this entry is referring to, please start a feedback topic.
  6. Development of IP.Nexus 1.3 is well underway and the time has come to share some of the new features and improvements we've been working on. IP.Nexus 1.3 shall be released alongside IP.Board 3.2 - but is much more than a compatibility update. Our focus for Nexus 1.3 has been to examine and improve each component rather than making large changes. Many of you will have noticed our client area is now using IP.Nexus - the feedback and experience this change has provided, as well as the ever appreciated suggestions posted in our feedback forum have been invaluable, and we can't wait to show off the improvements. I'm going to write blog entries focussing on each component of IP.Nexus in detail over the coming weeks, but for today, I'm going to focus on global changes that affect the entire application. In particular, there's a few little things which I've seen suggested a few times... IP.Board 3.2 IP.Nexus 1.3 will be 3.2-compatible only and includes all of the improvements the IP.Board developers have been discussing in this blog over the past few weeks - the new ACP skin, language, hooks and search improvements are all of course in Nexus 1.3. Live Search IP.Nexus has always had a global search box displaying on every page allowing you quick access to type in an invoice number, customer name, or lots of other information and get access to it. The search box currently appears in the left-side menu, and you are required to manually select what the information you're providing is. In IP.Nexus 1.3, we integrate right in to the ACP Live Search - you can enter in the same information here you currently can and be given a list of items it could apply to - no need to select what information you're providing. If you're in IP.Nexus already, that tab will even be automatically selected. Attention Icons There are several areas of IP.Nexus which might require your attention, such as transactions on hold or open support requests. In IP.Nexus 1.3, any areas needing your attention are indicated by icons above the left-side menu. Clicking any of these will take you to the area in question. From left to right, the icons are: open support requests, transactions on hold, pending shipping orders, payout requests and hosting API errors. If the value is 0 or the user does not have permission to deal with it, the icon won't show and if they're all 0, the strip will disappear entirely. 2CheckOut Gateway IP.Nexus 1.3 includes support for the 2CheckOut payment gateway. Subscription Mode I often see people using IP.Nexus for selling "subscriptions" - an item which can only be purchased by a member once, and then renewed. Sometimes, users find this confusing and end up buying a new item rather than renewing the old. In IP.Nexus 1.3 you can set a product to be a "Subscription" - users will only be able to purchase it once, and if they try again, they'll be prompted to renew their current purchase instead. Return Group IP.Nexus has the ability to move users into a different primary group when a user purchases an item, and remove that group when an item expires. In IP.Nexus 1.3 we've expanded this functionality to be more tiered - if a user purchases an item which moves them into "Silver Members", then another to move them into "Gold Members", when one expires, they'll still keep the group provided by the other, rather than being returned to the default group. PayPal Subscriptions IP.Nexus has an option to enable PayPal Subscriptions, which gives the user an option when checking out to pay normally or start a subscription. Many users found the two options confusing and so as of IP.Nexus 1.3, if PayPal Subscriptions are enabled and the item has renewal fees, PayPal Subscriptions will be used automatically. This is the behaviour formerly used by IP.Subscriptions. Notification Copies Administrators often tell me they'd like to be notified when an order is made, or when an item expires. In IP.Nexus 1.3, you can select any type of invoice notification and when it is sent to the customer, a copy will be sent to you. This allows you to easily keep track of expiring purchases, be instantly notified if a transaction is placed on hold, and lots more. This is of course just the tip of the iceburg - stay tuned for more information on IP.Nexus 1.3! Feel free to comment on this blog entry below or, if you have feedback unrelated to this blog entry, start a new topic in our feedback forum. If you have feedback related to changes beyond what this entry is referring to, please start a feedback topic.
  7. IP.Board allows you to set "ACP Restrictions" which allow you to restrict which administrators have access to which areas of the Admin CP. The two main pieces of feedback we hear about the ACP Restrictions system are: - It should be easy to set up and manage ACP Restrictions, without having to check lots of boxes, but still remaining the high level of control of the current system. - Administrators should only see the areas of the Admin CP that they have access to. Administrators should not get a "permission denied" error from clicking a link. We recognise that particularly with addons such as IP.Content and IP.Nexus which mean the Admin CP is controlling many different sensitive aspects of your community, it is important that using ACP restrictions is becoming more common, and in IP.Board 3.2, we have improved on both these areas. Setting Up Setting ACP restrictions is granular - you give access to the application, the module and then areas in that module. In previous versions of IP.Board, to give access to every area except one, you would need to check every checkbox. Now in 3.2, checking a checkbox which has "children" will automatically select all children. So if you want to give access to all areas except the "Forums" tab, you simply need to check 1 checkbox on each tab except Forums. On the other hand, if you want to give access to just the "Forums" tab, you simply check the 1 checkbox under the "Forums" tab. If you don't want to grant access to a whole area, you can select individual permissions which will automatically select the required parents. Restrictions In Action The ACP will now only show areas that you have access to. For example, an Administrator who only has access to the Look & Feel section, will only see the Look & Feel section: (The System tab always shows as the "Change My Details" page is always available) The menu, both from the dropdowns at the top, and the menus at the side, only show the items that you have access to. In addition, for a user likes this which can only see the Look & Feel tab and not the Dashboard, when they log in, they will be taken straight to the look and feel tab. Feel free to comment on this blog entry below or, if you have feedback unrelated to this blog entry, start a new topic in our feedback forum. Be sure to check the What's New in IP.Board 3.2 topic for a running list of announced changes!
  8. To round up our development updates on IP.Nexus 1.2, I'd just like to mention in brief some additional features not already mentioned in previous blog entries. Go back in Checkout When going through the checkout, a progress bar at the top indicates what steps are still required. Previously, once you had completed one step, you could not go back and change the information provided. In IP.Nexus 1.2, you can click on any step in the progress bar that you have already completed and will be taken back to that step. Change Package You can now "swap"the package that an existing purchase is using in the Admin CP. This will apply all properties of the new package to the purchase (renewal dates, etc.) and apply any usergroup et al changes that the new package allows. Split Support Requests You can now split support requests and delete individual replies in the Admin CP. Each reply now shows a checkbox in the top-right corner, when this is checked, options will appear at the bottom of the replies. The system works across multiple pages - simply check the replies on one page, change to the next page and select any additional replies - the checked items from the first page will be remembered. Task Frequency Change In order to prevent time-outs when handling large amounts of data, and to generate invoices and expire purchases closer to their specified dates, all tasks in Nexus now run more frequently, with a limit on the number of items to process. This number should be fine for most users, but can be adjusted if necessary.
  9. IP.Nexus has always had the ability create "custom packages" - you can specify a price and renewal terms and IP.Nexus will keep a log of the purchase and generate renewal invoices. However, some options like member group promotion, custom modules, etc. are not available in this setup - and with the addition of advertisements and hosting packages, it is necessary to be able to generate custom packages of these types also. In IP.Nexus 1.2 we've completely rewritten how custom packages are handled to allow this flexibility. When generating an invoice, the normal "Custom Package" option appears in the dropdown - choosing this will show you a menu of available package types just like when creating a normal package. The next screen shows all of the options that would normally be available to normal packages (except settings which don't make sense for custom packages, such as if the product should display in the store or only be available to certain member groups): After creating the custom package and the invoice has been paid for, it displays just like a normal purchase, both in the Admin CP and the client area: Administrators can of course edit any of the custom package settings from this page.
  10. Currently in IP.Nexus when a package is edited, certain factors, like the group a user is moved into when purchasing the package, only apply to new purchases. While less of an issue for traditional products there are times, particularly with advertisement and hosting packages, where you will want to apply these changes to existing purchases. Let's say for example, a user has purchased a product called "Premium Membership" - note how the customer is in the group "Members": I now decide that I'm going to create a new group for people who have purchased this group called "Premium Members" and change the product settings to move members into this group when they purchase the package - note that I'm editing the package that the member bought, not creating a new package: When I save this, I will now see a new screen which indicates the change I've made can be applied to existing purchases: If I choose the bottom option, no further action will be performed - the package will save and the changes will apply to new purchases only. If I choose the top option, IP.Nexus will go through all existing purchases and make the change: And all of the appropriate changes will be applied: You can change almost any field for similar behaviour - removing the usergroup for example would move everyone back into their original groups, enabling the license key settings would cause license keys to be generated, for hosting accounts changing the allowances will update the account on the server, etc. The system will also notice if you have customised a purchase and keep your changes in such a situation. For example, let's say you've manually edit a customer's bandwidth allowance on their hosting account - when IP.Nexus goes to update the purchase it will notice the value has been customised and leave that particular setting alone (and update other settings as usual). Of course, changes made in this way are logged on the customer page as normal, as if done manually.
  11. IP.Nexus can ask the customer for various information (like their full name, postal address and phone number) when registering purchasing an item. This information is required for shipping, some payment gateways and the anti-fraud system. Up until now, these fields were static - only the hard-coded fields were available and you could only specify all or no fields were required at registration or checkout. In IP.Nexus 1.2, we've made these fields customisable - you can choose which should show where, which should be required and add and reorder fields as you see fit. This means, that you could, for example, add a "Company" field, which would show alongside the others: Of course, users can also edit custom fields in the client area, and administrators can edit them from the customer page. Whenever the details is changed, it is logged to the customer history page as one would expect: Administrators can also search by custom fields both from the quick-search in the menu, and the main customer search form: This also means that since existing fields can be edited, you can now reorder or remove options from the "Country" field. You can also specify if "State" should be required or not.
  12. IP.Nexus aims to give you the tools you need to monetize your community, and the core of that is the actual transaction process. We've made a number of changes in IP.Nexus 1.2 not only to make managing payments and gateways easier but to protect you against fraud, encourage renewals and generally make it easier for you to make more money. Authorize.Net Recurring Payments IP.Nexus has since version 1.0 supported the Authorize.Net payment gateway. In IP.Nexus 1.2, we're adding support for two systems which will automatically bill customers renewal charges: The first is their "Automated Recurring Billing" system. This works very similar to PayPal Subscriptions - a profile is created on Authorize.Net with the payment information. Then when the renewal is due the card is automatically charged, and Nexus is notified. For more information about Automated Recurring Billing, please see Authorize.Net's website. The second is their "Customer Information Manager" system. This works by having Authorize.Net store the credit card information. IP.Nexus then calls Authorize.Net to make payments, when renewals are due or manually in the Admin CP. This system gives greater flexibility as Nexus chooses when to charge, and you don't need to manually cancel recurring payments with Authorize.Net when a purchase is cancelled. For more information about Customer Information Manager, please see Authorize.Net's website. For both systems the user sees an option on the checkout asking if they want to be charged automatically: PayPal Website Payments Pro PayPal Website Payments Pro is a service provided by PayPal that allows merchants in the US, Canada and the UK to accept credit card payments directly on their website. We're pleased to say that IP.Nexus will support PayPal Website Payments Pro, including recurring billing support. For more information about PayPal Website Payments Pro, please see PayPal's website. Improved Gateways Page Different payment gateways have different requirements such as HTTPS, supported currencies and maximum transaction amounts. In IP.Nexus 1.2, we've added more information to the gateways page, including a warning box that will notify you of any misconfigurations: Anti-Fraud Protection MaxMind offers a Credit Card Fraud Protection, which here at IPS we've been using for years to help audit transactions for fraud. In IP.Nexus 1.2, we will be adding integration for this service. MaxMind returns a score between 0 and 100 indicating how likely a transaction is likely to be fraud. All the service needs is the user's address (which you can require on checkout), however it works best with gateways that use credit cards, i.e. Authorize.Net and PayPal Website Payments Pro. Depending on the score returned, you can choose to manually approve or decline the transaction: The purchase screen will also contain detailed information indicating the reasoning behind the score: For more information about this service, please see MaxMind's website. As always - if there's anything you'd like to see not mentioned here (including other payment gateways), please post in our feedback forum.
  13. As was hinted in the blog entry last week, IP.Nexus 1.2 shall bring support for selling hosting packages. Right away I'd like to mention that this at the moment will work with any server using cPanel and WHM - we will of course gauge interest for other control panels for future versions. Hosting Packages You set up hosting packages just like regular products and advertisement packages. There is a contextual settings tab which displays hosting-specific settings, and these packages then show up in the store: Each package is assigned what we call a "Server Queue" - this is a collection of servers which the account may be created on. So for example, you could have your "advanced" packages only use higher-powered servers. Servers can be part of multiple queues. When the account is created, the server in the queue which has the least accounts is chosen to create the account on. Purchasing a Hosting Package When purchasing, users will be asked if they want to choose their own domain or use a subdomain of one of your domains. You can of course make only one of these options available. If the customer chooses their own domain, they'll be shown your nameservers, and if they choose a subdomain, they'll be shown a list of options - both of these you can set up in the Admin CP. Client Area Management Customers can view their account information in the client area along with all other purchases: From here they can also launch the control panel, FTP and change their password. You can also configure options to allow users to purchase additional bandwidth for that billing cycle, if their bandwidth limit is reached. Admin CP Management The purchase page in the Admin CP shows the same information that is available in the client area, along with the control panel and FTP buttons: Clicking the edit button will allow the administrator to edit specific allowances on the account, without the need to log into WHM: The administrator of course, does not need to manually suspend and terminate accounts. If the customer does not renew their account, it will be suspended, and, after a certain number of days (configureable in the Admin CP), terminated. Of course, using the normal package cancel function allows administrators to manually suspend accounts. Server Management In the Admin CP, you can view all of your servers along with the current load. From this page you can also reboot a server. Clicking on a server will show you a list of accounts on that server. You will also see an overview of how much diskspace is in use and how much is allocated (so you can see if you're overselling). Nexus will also check all the accounts in it's local database against the server to check for any discrepancies: Discrepancies can include an account not on the server but in the database (and vice versa), domain names not matching and account is suspended on the server but active in the database (and vice versa): In addition to auditing each server, there is an "Audit All Servers" button which will check all servers for discrepancies. We're sure that there will be many questions and comments about this new functionality - if there's anything you'd like to see not mentioned here, please post in our feedback forum.
  14. IP.Nexus features an advertisement system which allows administrators not only to set up circulating advertisements on their community, but sell advertising space too. Currently in IP.Nexus, advertisements are purchased through a special location in the client area. In IP.Nexus 1.2 we will be removing this area and moving advertisements into the store. When adding a package to the store, you will be shown a screen which asks you what type of package to add: Then, when filling in the settings, there will be a contextual tab which shows settings for that package type. For products you'll see options about shipping and license keys, and for advertisements you'll see the usual advertisement package settings: Users can then purchase advertisements through the store just like a normal product. They will be asked to provide their advertisement link and image on the same screen that custom package fields appear: And view information about the advertisement on the normal purchase screen: Not only does this make the process of purchasing advertisements easier, but all of the options available to packages are now also available to advertisements, including: Only make certain advertisement packages appear to certain groups. Give discounts on advertisements to certain members, for example, members who have purchased advertisements in the past. For time-base advertisements, use renewal price settings to allow members to continuously pay for advertisement space. Move users who purchase an advertisement into a different usergroup. Allow users to upgrade to a higher package (for example, with more clicks) from within the client area. Finally, this change opens the door for us to add more types of packages all of which display in the store. Like, for example, hosting packages...
  15. IP.Nexus 1.1 was released at the beginning of this month bringing a number of new features such as product options, reporting tools, advertisement system improvements and more. Already we have started work on IP.Nexus 1.2 - while release is still a while away, we'll be posting blog entries during development to show you the upcoming new features. The first new feature in IP.Nexus 1.2 that we wanted to talk about is a license key system. Many users are using IP.Nexus to sell digital products, and currently there is no way to keep track of where your products are being used. In IP.Nexus 1.2, you will have the ability to generate license keys and use an API to call back to Nexus to activate and check license keys. Generating License Keys When creating a product, there are now a number of options regarding how to handle license keys: License keys are by default generated either as a random md5 hash or several blocks of random letters and numbers - developers can also upload a simple PHP file to a certain folder to add more methods if you have your own way of generating license keys. You can also choose an "identifier" for the license keys. Identifiers are provided to the API when activating the license key (for example, your program could ask users for their license key and their name or Email address) - as an additional security measure. Identifiers can be the customer's name, Email address or any custom field with the purchase. This is of course optional. Managing License Keys In the Admin CP, there is a new box on the purchase screen which displays information about the license key: The grey box shows you the license key, when it was generated and it's current status and the table below shows where it's being used (you can set how many times a license key can be used). The dropdown menu at the top with the other buttons contains options to reset (which will clear uses and generate a new key) or cancel (which will make API calls to check the license key fail) the key. Of course, all actions related to license keys is also logged in the customer history page. Users can see their license keys in the client area: Using the API The API uses XML-RPC to send and retrieve data. Full developer documentation will be available when Nexus 1.2 is released, but to give you an overview, there are four methods: activate This is what you call when the user enters their license key, for example, on an installation screen. You send Nexus the license key, the identifier (if necessary) and any additional information you want to save (for example, the version number). If the license key is invalid, or the key has already been used the maximum number of times, Nexus will return an error - otherwise, Nexus will log the IP address used to activate and the additional information you sent and return a success message along with the "usage id" which is an ID number given to that installation for that license key. check This is used to check that a license key is still valid, for example, you may call this periodically from your application. You send Nexus the license key, the identifier and the usage ID (returned from the activate method) and Nexus will return the status of the license key (if it's active or cancelled). info This is used to fetch information about a license key. You send Nexus the license key and the identifier and Nexus returns data about the key (when it was generated, how many times it's been used, etc.) the purchase associated with it (it's ID number, when it expires, all custom fields, etc.) and information about any child purchases (that is, purchases associated with the purchase the license key is associated with. updateExtra This is used to update the additional information send in the activate method. You send Nexus the license key, the identifier, usage ID and new information and Nexus will update the information locally and return a success message.
  16. For our final entry on IP.Nexus 1.1, I'd like to sum up some of the additional general tweaks and enhancements since our last blog entry. Marking an invoice unpaid In IP.Nexus 1.0, once an invoice has been paid, there is no way to mark it "unpaid". While for most circumstances this makes sense, in the event a check bounces or something similar, you may want to undo everything done when the invoice was marked paid. In IP.Nexus 1.1, when you attempt to mark a paid invoice unpaid, you'll see a screen like this: This explains clearly what will happen, including: Which purchases will be deleted. Which purchases will have their renewal dates changed (if the invoice was a renewal invoice). If anyone will have any commission revoked. Which shipping orders will be deleted. It will also warn you of any unexpected circumstances, such as if a purchase has been transferred to a different member, commission earned from the purchase has already been spent, or if any shipping orders have already been shipped: Purchase Page In IP.Nexus 1.0 there are specific pages in the Admin CP for viewing invoices, transactions and shipping orders. In 1.1, we've also added a page for viewing all the information about to a purchased item. This allows you to view all information about a purchase which could sometimes be difficult to find previously, such as the invoice which created it, any renewal invoices, if the member will be returned to a different group when the purchase expires, and more. Cancelling a Purchase It could sometimes be confusing what "cancel" means when referring to a purchase. Sometimes you just want to disable renewals, sometimes you want to revoke any privileges gained by owning a purchase, and sometimes you want to delete it entirely. In IP.Nexus 1.1, when you select cancel, it will present all of these options to you, explaining which does which, so that you can decide what action to take: Share Links We have added share links to the Store's product pages. Print Invoice While customers could always print invoices from their client area, we've also added a print button to the invoice page in the Admin CP. Usability tweaks We've made a few small tweaks to the interface to make things easier to use, including:We've added a "duplicate" button for packages, to save you having to select the same settings for similar packages. We've added a link to the customer page when viewing a shipping order. We've added a "Save and Reload" button when editing packages. We've added a button when viewing your purchases in the client area to submit a support request associated with a purchase right from the list.
  17. Email on new order You can now set packages to send an email when a member purchases that package. Usergroup Discounts You can now provide discounts to users in a particular group. Auto-resolve Support Requests You can now set support requests to automatically be set to resolved after a given time of inactivity. Group Name Limit We've increased the length package group names can be to 255 characters. https In IP.Nexus 1.0, there was a setting which when enabled would make the payment screen server over https. The scope of this setting has been extended to the entire checkout process, the client area when providing information and support requests. Delete Transactions Transactions can now be deleted. Support Request API We have introduced two central models for handling support requests, one for support requests and one for support replies. This allows you to create support requests and replies using a simple API. For example, to create a support request: supportRequest::create( "Title", 1, 1, NULL, 1, NULL, NULL, supportReply::create( supportReply::REPLY_MEMBER, 1, "Message" ) ); Complete developer documentation can be seen here.
  18. IP.Nexus has an advertisements feature, allowing administrators to display advertisements on their community and sell advertising space to third parties. We've spent some time going over some of the suggestions we've received for the advertisements system and have made the following enhancements for IP.Nexus 1.1. Start/End Time Advertisements can now be specified with start and end times for time-specific campaigns. Advertisement Packages: Expire by length In hand with the option to set a start/end time, you can now specify that purchased advertisements last a certain length of time, opposed to a number of clicks or impressions. Advertisement Package Descriptions You can now specify a description for advertisement packages which will display on the purchase screen. Admin Image Upload Currently, when an administrator adds an advertisement they must specify a URL to an image (or HTML code). As of Nexus 1.1, administrators will see an option to upload an image too. Circulation Mode In IP.Nexus 1.0, if there is more than one advertisement per location, a random advertisement is selected from the pool. In IP.Nexus 1.1, we've added a setting which allows you to continue using this behaviour, or to always use the most recently added advertisement. This is useful if you want to have a generic advertisement set up by the administrator but allow purchased advertisements to override that for their duration. Maximum Number of Advertisements You may only want one advertisement in each location at a time, so that advertisements don't circulate at all. In IP.Nexus 1.1, we've added a setting allowing you to specify the maximum number of advertisements per location. Administrators of course can oevrride this, but if there is the specified number of advertisements in a given location, users will not be able to purchase advertisement packages which add advertisements to that location. Alignment We've added a new setting which allows you to choose how to align your advertisements. Size Restrictions You can now specify in an advertisement package the maximum size for advertisements created by that package. External Access Currently, IP.Nexus displays advertisements in pre-set locations on your community. As of IP.Nexus 1.1, you can include advertisements in other areas of your skin, in IP.Content blocks and even in external pages and applications outside of IP.Board. To place an advertisement in a template or IP.Content block, you can simply use the tag: {parse advertisement="1"} The tag can take either the ID number for the advertisement to display, or the key for the location, which will use IP.Nexus' normal logic for fetching the advertisement. For example, using this tag: {parse advertisement="ad_code_board_index_header"} Would display whatever advertisement is configured to show in the board index header - if more than one is configured, Nexus will either pick a random one, or the most recent one (as per the circulation setting described above). To place an advertisement on an external site, you can call a new REST API which will out put the contents - the file is located at: http://www.yoursite.com/interface/advertisements.php You simply need to pass a single variable in the query string which is the same as the parse tag above (ID number or location key). For example, you might use something like this to add your advertisement to a website outside of IP.Board: <?php echo file_get_contents( "http://localhost/ipbdev/interface/advertisements.php?ad_code_global_header" ); If you have more in-depth feedback or ideas please use our feedback forum so your suggestions can be given proper attention. Otherwise, feel free to comment on this entry below.
  19. IP.Nexus 1.0 has the ability for users to send in support requests via Email. Nexus handles these internally as "Guest" support requests and the users can reply by responding to the Email notifications Nexus sends when a staff member replies. In IP.Nexus 1.1, we've added a web-based interface for guests to create support requests too. This makes it easier for users to submit pre-sales questions without having to create an account, and is particularly useful if you are unable or unwilling to use incoming Emails. Guests can now access the new support request screen like regular members, where they'll be prompted for, in addition to normal support request information, their Email address. They'll also need to fill in a Captcha verification if you have that setting enabled. IP.Nexus will then send them a confirmation Email which will contain a link where they can retrieve their support request to reply later. This then displays as a normal support request: They can also of course reply to this notification if you have that incoming Emails enabled. If a user has created support requests as a guest then registers, support requests with their Email address will become associated with their account.
  20. In IP.Nexus 1.0, when a user visits the store and tries to make a purchase, they are redirected to the login screen where they can register or log in. Once logged in, they are redirected back to the checkout screen. While this works well, it can be confusing to some users to be removed from the checkout process. In IP.Nexus 1.1, we've made this process a little smoother. First of all, if a guest attempts to make a donation, they will not be prompted to log in - guests will be able to make donations without registering an account first. You can disable this in the Admin CP so users must be logged in to make a donation if you prefer. For normal purchases, when a user attempts to make a purchase when not logged in, rather than being redirected to the login screen they will simply see a few extra fields on the personal information screen: By simply filling in those details, IP.Nexus will create an account, log them in, and the checkout process will continue as normal. They can also click the login link, which will take them to the login screen, and will be immediately returned to checkout after logging in. Some notes on this: You will notice the screenshot is not prompting for a username. IP.Nexus will automatically set their username based on their real name. You can choose to prompt the user for a username if you prefer. The setting specifying whether or not a user should enter personal information when registering is still honoured. If that is not enabled, and they are not purchasing a physical item, Nexus won't ask them for their address. You can enable Captcha on this screen. Validation settings are still honoured. If you have Email or Admin validation enabled, Nexus will put the user in the "Validating" group and send out the validation Email and/or admin notification Email. If you have disabled registrations, users can still register through this method - this allows you to only allow users who are purchasing items to create accounts. You can of course disable guest access to the store if you do not want this. The Spam Monitoring Service settings are honoured. If COPPA is enabled, they must use the normal registration process since they will need to fill in the COPPA form before the account can be created. Nexus will continue to function as it does in 1.0 if COPPA is enabled.
  21. IP.Nexus contains a powerful support desk allowing staff members to provide support to customers. In IP.Nexus 1.1 we are adding an enhancement to this feature called Support Severities. Severities allows members to mark the importance of their support request. This allows support staff to triage incoming requests and give priority support to particular customers. You can create multiple severities, and specify which ones can be set by customers. Here I have set up two severities: one is for regular requests, and one is for critical issues: Each severity can be configured to display an icon and be displayed in a particular color when viewing the support request list in the Admin CP so that staff can easily identify important requests. You can also choose for each severity if members are allowed to select it. User-selected severities When a user submits a new request they will be prompted to select their severity. The selection box will only show if there is at least 2 severities for the user to choose between, and if there is only the default and one other, it will automatically change to a checkbox: You can also configure in the Admin CP a message to display below the severity selection: Support requests will be sorted in the Admin CP by severity in the order you specify - so in this example, critical support requests will display above normal support requests. When viewing a support request the staff member can of course change the severity. They can also click the icon to the right of the severity selection which will revoke the member's permission to set severity in future (instead, all support requests will have the default severity) - this is useful if a member abuses the severity feature. There is a setting in the Admin CP to allow members to view and edit the severity after their request has been submitted - if this is on, they will see a selection box when viewing their request to change the severity. Auto-selected severities In addition to having severities that the user can select, you can also create severities which are automatically selected when the user submits a support request for a particular package. I have created a new severity called "Priority Support". Under the settings for packages, you will notice a new setting called "Support Severity". I am going to create a new package and set this to "Priority Support". Now, when a user with this package creates a support request associated with this package, the severity will automatically be set to Priority Support:
  22. IP.Nexus allows members to earn account credit using referrals and the IP.Downloads integration. Members can then (if you allow) request payouts in their client area. Until now, these payouts had to be handled manually one by one. PayPal supports a feature called Mass Payments which allows you to make multiple payments at once. The way Mass Payments works is in your PayPal account you simply upload a "Mass Payment File" which instructs PayPal to send out multiple payments. In IP.Nexus 1.1 we have added a feature to generate Mass Payment Files. When viewing the payouts screen in IP.Nexus 1.1, you'll notice 2 new buttons: When you click the "Mass Payment" button you'll be shown a list of payouts that are eligable for Mass Payments (that is, payout requests requesting to be paid by PayPal). Simply check the checkboxes for the requests you wish to fill and click the button at the bottom: A file will download to your computer which is the Mass Payment File that you will supply to PayPal. In your PayPal account you then simply go to the Mass Payment page and upload this file: PayPal will then allow to review and send out payments. Note that this feature requires a PayPal Business Account.
  23. As mentioned in my blog entry last week, even though IP.Nexus 1.1 is still very much in development, we're going to be posting periodic blog entries throughout development to keep you up to date with the latest new features. In IP.Nexus 1.1, we're going to be adding reporting features for a number of different statistics: The number of items sold (grouped by package). The amount of income made (grouped by payment method). The number of new support requests created (grouped by department). The number of staff replies made in support requests (grouped by staff member). All of these charts can be viewed as a Bar Chart a Line Chart or a Pie Chart. Bar and Line Charts will show the results against time, while a Pie Chart will allow you to compare different groups. All charts allow you to customise the series shown, allowing you to have any number of series and to group results together as a series. All charts can also be viewed accross a number of different time scales:Results for a single day (On Bar and Line Charts, results will be shown for each hour of the day) Results for a week (On Bar and Line Charts, results will be shown for each day of the week) Results for a month (On Bar and Line Charts, results will be shown for each day of the month) Results for a year (On Bar and Line Charts, results will be shown for each month of the year) Results for all time (On Bar and Line Charts, results will be shown for each year) Of course, you can select which time period to focus on - so you could for example, view the amount of income made last year, or the number of support requests created 2 weeks ago (or whatever). (The options are contextual depending on the view - so if the chart you're looking at is for an entire year, only the dropdown for year will show.) Here are some screenshots: This is a line chart showing income for the year 2010: This is a bar chart showing the purchases for two different packages over the course of a week: This is a pie chart showing the number of replies different staff members have made in a month: This is a line chart showing the number of support requests for two different departments over the course of a day:
  24. Since the release of IP.Nexus 1.0 we've had a great amount of feedback. Even though the next version of IP.Nexus 1.1 is still a ways off, I'm going to be introducing new features as we go along so that you know what to expect. One of the most frequent suggestions is some way to have multiple stock and pricing levels for products. IP.Nexus already has custom package fields to allow the user to select different variations of products, and now with Nexus 1.1, you can control stock and pricing based on those values. For example, you could specify how many of each size T-Shirt you have, or have options for additional services on a product which increase price. To demonstrate, I've created a short video (best viewed in full screen): As an aside while we're on the topic of product options, some of you will know that in Nexus 1.0, if a user adds a product with custom fields to the cart, the quantity cannot be altered on the "view cart" page. This has been changed in IP.Nexus 1.1 so each configuration is grouped with an update quantity box: I'll be blogging a lot more about IP.Nexus 1.1's new features over the coming months - if you're an IP.Nexus customer haven't done so already, please fill in our short feedback survey.
  25. One of the benefits provided to IP.Board license holders is the skin generator which allows you to automatically generate an IP.Board skin using the colours you choose. If you're not familiar - have a look at our previous blog entry on it. Something which is frequently requested by skinners is a way to move the member box in the IP.Board header to a different location, so it isn't overlaying the logo; more like a traditional member bar. I've spent some time today working this in as an option to the skin generator. When you go to the skin generator, there will be an option under "Choose Options" that says "Add member bar?" - simply check this box, and the member bar will be included in your skin. Here's a screenshot of how it looks using the default colours: If you'd like this look on your community simply head over to the skin generator and download a skin in your colour choice. For instructions on how to import skins, please see our documentation. Enjoy!
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