Adriano Faria reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.5: Topic view summary and more
A topic is more than a collection of posts; it's a living entity that ebbs and flows over time.
Evergreen topics can see month-long gaps between posts and longer topics spanning numerous pages can end up hard to navigate through to find useful content.
With this in mind, we've added numerous improvements to the topic view to bring context and summaries key areas within the topic.
Topic view updates
The first thing you likely spotted in the above screenshot is the new sidebar. This acts much like a summary of activity within the topic. It very quickly lets you know how old the topic is and how long it has been since the last reply. This context is essential if you are unwittingly replying to an older topic.
Most topics are driven by a handful of key members. The topic activity section shows you who have been most active, which may influence which posters you give greater authority to.
Likewise, popular days lets you dig into the 'meat' of the topic which may have evolved quickly over several days.
More often than not, a single post attracts more reactions if it is particularly helpful or insightful, and this is shown too.
Finally, a mini gallery of all upload images allows you to review media that has been attached to posts.
The topic activity summary under the first post
This activity bar can be shown either as a sidebar or underneath the first post in a topic. If you enable it for mobile devices, then it will show under the first post automatically.
The topic activity summary on mobile
As with many new features in Invision Community, you have several controls in the Admin CP to fine-tune this to your communities needs.
The eagle-eyed among you will have spotted a few other changes to the topic view.
The first is the badge underneath the user's photo. The shield icon notes that this poster is part of the moderation team. Of course, this badge can be hidden for communities that do not like to draw attention to all their moderators.
You will also notice that when the topic starter makes a reply to a topic, they get an "author" badge as their reply may carry more authority.
When you scroll down a topic, it's not often apparent that there has been a significant time gap between replies. For some topical topics (see what I did there) this may alter the context of the conversation.
We have added a little identifier between posts when a period of time has passed between posts.
These changes add a little context to the topic to give you more insight into how the replies direct the conversation.
The new topic activity summary gives you an at-a-glance overview of key moments and posters to help you navigate longer topics.
We hope that you and your members enjoy these new features coming to Invision Community 4.5!
Adriano Faria reacted to Ehren for an entry, 4.5: ACP Dark Mode
A short while ago we revealed the new look Admin CP for Invision Community 4.5. The focus was on increasing the workspace, brightening and modernising the look.
However, for some this new look was perhaps a little too bright, especially when setting your OS to use dark mode.
Rather than cause an increase in sales for sunglasses, we went ahead and implemented a dark mode for the Admin CP.
You can set it to work inline with your OS preference, or you can choose to enforce light or dark mode.
I'm sure the next question you're about to ask is "Hey Ehren that looks amazing and now working at 3 am won't wake up the neighbours when I log into the AdminCP but can you do the same for the front-end?"
The short answer to that is "no". The theme system isn't currently designed to support both light and dark colour schemes, however our marketplace has a great selection of dark themes to enhance your community.
I hope that you like this new feature and I just wanted to say thanks for your feedback; we do listen!
Adriano Faria reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.5: Notification Improvements
Notifications are a crucial feature in enticing members back to your community to read updates and post their replies.
It makes sense that there should be as little friction as possible when setting up notifications. We want to encourage members to enable notifications relevant to them.
The current notifications form in Invision Community is functional but overwhelming and confusing for new members.
Thankfully, we have simplified it to make it clear what notifications are available and which you have enabled currently.
This new settings page also includes support for our new mobile app and links to remove all email notifications.
Notification emails are essential to re-engage a member. However, we found that when the email contained all of the post content return visits were not as frequent because the email provided all the information the member needed.
In Invision Community 4.5, we've added an option to truncate the content of the email to encourage curious return visits and to reduce the chance that a confused member will attempt to post a reply via the email!
What does the rest say?!
To receive notifications of new file updates it was previously necessary to follow files. This meant that you would also be notified of reviews and comments even if they were of no interest to you. From 4.5 we have added a separate button (send me version updates) so you have more control over the notifications you receive.
Send me version updates
We've plenty of new features yet to announce for Invision Community 4.5, but improvements to common features make our lives a little easier and are just as welcome!
Are you looking forward to finally making sense of notification choices? Let us know below!
Adriano Faria reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.5: Identify Statistical Trends
One of the benefits of using Invision Community as your community platform is that you control and own your data.
There are several ways to review this data. One of which is via the Admin Control Panel which offers a suite of statistic views which helps to convert the raw data into something easily understood.
However, it's not always easy to determine trends and community sentiment from these singular views.
Invision Community 4.5 adds two new interactive views for user and activity statistics.
This new 'overview' view not only shows you a snapshot of your community but also allows you to compare time periods. In the video, you can see that I select different date ranges, such as "three months". This shows you the data of that time period, and also compares it against the previous three months.
In this example, you can clearly see that we have 50% more registrations and 33% more contributors compared to the previous three month period.
Likewise, in this example, you can clearly see that we have a 1200% increase in reactions given with a clear breakdown of the type of reaction given to help understand community sentiment.
These interactive displays automatically update, so if you are so inclined, you could leave the statistic pages open and watch as the data changes live.
We hope that you find these new views useful in identifying trends and help to inform strategic decisions within your community.
Adriano Faria reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.5: User Interface Improvements
Invision Community has certainly changed a lot over the years as we've moved through major updates and large user interface changes.
While large scale changes offer a dramatic difference, it is sometimes the smaller changes that bring the most satisfaction when using your community daily.
This blog entry rounds up some of the UI improvements Invision Community 4.5 brings.
Content View Behavior
What do you want to happen when you click a topic link? Are you taken to the first comment, the last comment or the first comment you've not read? If you speak to 100 people, I'm pretty sure you'll get a good spread of votes for each.
Invision Community has always offered subtle ways to get right to the first unread comment. Our infamous dot or star allows you to do this, but it is so subtle almost no one knows this.
Invision Community 4.5 now allows each member to choose (with the AdminCP offering a default).
Now everyone wins!
Invision Community has had reactions for a long while now. Although finding out who exactly reacted without clicking the counts has proved irksome.
We've fixed that in Invision Community so simply mousing over the reaction icon reveals who reacted.
Sign In Anonymously
For as long as I can remember, Invision Community has offered an option to sign in anonymously via a checkbox on the login form.
However, as we've added faster ways to log in via Facebook, Twitter, Google and more it's become less straight forward to ensure your anonymity.
Invision Community 4.5 removes this login preference and moves it to your members' settings.
Now your members can resume hiding as they move around your community across multiple logins.
Resize Before Uploading
One of the most popular requests we've had in recent times is to resize large images before uploading. It's quite likely that your giant full resolution image will be denied when attempting to upload, and it's a bit of a faff to resize it in a photo editor.
Invision Community leverages the uploader's ability to resize before uploading, which makes it a much happier experience.
Switch Off Automatic Language Detection
Invision Community attempts to map your browser's user-agent to a specific language pack.
When you visit a site, your browser lets the site know which language our browser is set to (often dictated by your operating system) and we use that to show you the correct language if the community you're visiting has multiple languages installed.
However, it might be that you don't want this to happen because although your computer's OS is set to a specific language, it doesn't always follow that is the one you wish to use on a website.
Invision Community 4.5 allows this automatic detection to be switched off.
We will finish with another popular feature request; the ability for long quotes to be collapsed, reducing the amount of scrolling one has to do.
Quite simply, Invision Community collapses long quotes with an option to expand them to read the entire quote.
Thank you to all our customers who have taken the time to leave feedback. As you can see, we do listen and action your feedback.
Which change are you looking forward to the most? Let us know below!
Adriano Faria reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.5: Security Enhancements
Although we continuously review security within Invision Community, a major release such as 4.5 allows us to be especially proactive when it comes to keeping your community safe.
This blog entry outlines several enhancements to improve security in Invision Community 4.5.
Keeping your member's passwords secure is the simplest way to keep accounts safe and out of the wrong hands, so it makes sense to look at ways to ensure this doesn't happen.
Invision Community already uses strong one-way hashing when storing passwords, which means that once the password is stored in the database, there is no way to know the plain text version.
However, when creating a new member account via the AdminCP, a random password was created, and this was sent in the welcome email to the new member's email address.
As of Invision Community 4.5, this no longer happens, and the new member is invited to create a new password when visiting the community for the first time.
Part of your internal security procedures might be to force a reset of all passwords periodically. Invision Community 4.5 allows this on a per-member basis, or via a selection of filters to enforce a reset for many members at once.
This clears out any stored password hashes and emails the affected members to remind them to set up a new password.
The Admin Control Panel contains the most powerful tools available to Invision Community. This is already a very secure area with a separate login with an option to add two-factor authentication to the login flow.
Part of the session authentication has been a special key in the URL. While we have protection in place to prevent this special key being discoverable by a malicious user, there remains an incredibly remote theoretical chance that this could happen with a series of complicated steps. There was an additional annoyance that you are unable to share links within the AdminCP to members of your team due to the increased protection to keep URLs safe.
As of Invision Community 4.5, we have removed the special key from the URL and moved it elsewhere in the session authentication flow. This means that it's impossible to fetch the special key via the URL and links can now be shared and will survive a login action.
There are a few areas within Invision Community that we use text encryption to allow us to save data in the database in a format that is encrypted when saved and decrypted when read. This protects you in the incredibly remote event of your own hosting being compromised and your database downloaded (of course, our Community in the Cloud customers do not need to worry about this!)
Invision Community 4.5 improves on this encryption by using PHP's built-in methods which give "bank-level" security to our encryption.
Security is critical to the success of your community, and we are always proactive in improving security throughout Invision Community.
Do you have any comments on this entry? Let us know below!
Adriano Faria reacted to bfarber for an entry, 4.5: Search Insights
Every single day, your members are searching your community for answers or interesting conversations to join.
Wouldn't it be great if you could learn what is being searched for to identify hot issues, commonly asked questions and discover trends?
We thought so too, which is why Invision Community 4.5 comes with search statistics.
For the first time, Invision Community gathers anonymized information on what your members are searching for so you can use this to highlight more relevant content and shape strategic decisions with your community's structure.
Search statistics help you track searches performed on your community
When a member searches, their identity is converted into a unique key that cannot be reversed to identify the member. This allows us to track a single member's search usage over many search sessions without being able to link it to a specific member account.
The AdminCP now features a dashboard to review the most popular search terms as well as a raw log of recent searches along with the results they returned.
We have a lot of ideas in mind for additional changes down the road with the tracking of popular search terms, but for now, we hope you like the new statistics page and find the information presented useful for your future site plans.
Adriano Faria reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.5: Simple Stock Photo Picker
We have come a long way since the late 90s when someone had the genius idea of using a small yellow smiling face image instead of the more common colon-bracket representation of a smiling face.
In Invision Community, there are various places that photography can be used to create visual interest. From uploads in topics, to cover photos for blogs and members.
The humble upload field has served these areas well, but sourcing images to use can be a pain; especially when you have to walk the minefield that is copyright and attribution.
Fortunately, there are a few "CC0" online stock photo libraries that offer quality photography that requires no attribution and are not hampered by copyrights.
One such library is the ever-popular Pixabay, which was established in 2012 and features a very powerful API. Pixabay has over a million images ready to use from llamas to sausages and everything in-between.
Invision Community 4.5 now includes support for Pixabay which brings those images to your fingertips (or mouse pointer if you're on a desktop.)
This video shows the feature in use.
As you can see, not only can you upload into posts from the stock photo library, but you can also use it to add a cover image to your profile and blog entries.
Finding quality photography has never been so easy!
For those that love technical details, the stock photo picker is a programmatic option on the upload form field type making it very easy to add to your own code and apps.
How will you use this new feature? Let me know!
Adriano Faria reacted to Ehren for an entry, 4.5: Your new admin control panel
Invision Community has come a long way over the past five years.
We've added many new features and invigorated the front-end user experience to keep it current and in-line with modern interfaces.
One area that has remained largely the same is the Admin Control Panel.
When we released Invision Community 4.0 back in 2014, the Admin Control Panel was updated but has stayed relatively dormant since.
But that's all about to change with the upcoming release of Invision Community 4.5!
The Admin Control Panel in 4.5 has received a substantial update, resulting in a modern color scheme and a clean, minimalistic design.
We felt that a lighter, more open design allowed the content more space and to feel less crowded.
The dark grays have been replaced with shades of blue and aqua which closely reflects Invision Community's new branding, while other colors have been lightened and saturated.
Along with the new color scheme, the overall layout of the ACP has intentionally been kept similar to the existing version, resulting in a design that feels surprisingly familiar yet refreshingly new at the same time.
We hope you've enjoyed this small sneak peek into Invision Community 4.5 and we look forward to introducing you to some more new features in the upcoming weeks!
Adriano Faria reacted to Matt for an entry, Les Paul, or Gibson SG?
It was a poster of Slash holding his Gibson Les Paul slung low on his waist playing live that got me into guitars.
The crunching power chords of Appetite For Destruction were a long way from the three chords I could manage on a beaten up acoustic with a hole in the side, but I kept on trying until I could play those riffs.
I still hold a special love for the Les Paul (as well as the Explorer made famous by Hetfield palm muting his way through multiple albums with Metallica).
So, I'm especially thrilled to see the official Gibson forums relaunched with Invision Community 4.
Check it out: https://forum.gibson.com
It's great timing as I've recently freed my guitars from the loft and have started to play again.
Anyone else here play guitar, and should we start our own band?
Adriano Faria reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.4: 6 New Micro Features
I really enjoy writing about the new features the development team have been slaving over for weeks (and sometimes months.)
It's a real joy to be able to share the finished product after we've seen it through inception, discussion, planning, assigning to a developer, coding, peer reviewing and final group testing.
Although sometimes, the features can be explained in a few screenshots, which makes for a pretty thin blog entry.
With that in mind, I've grouped together 6 of the best new micro-features for Invision Community 4.4.
We introduced browser notifications in a previous version of Invision Community.
Once you've opted in to receive them, you'll get a fancy browser notification when new content is posted while you're off browsing other sites.
However, the browser prompt to ask for permission to push notifications isn't subtle, and it attacks you the second you log in for the first time.
In Invision Community 4.4, we've made it, so you're only asked to opt-in once you open the notification drop down.
No more being attacked by a permission dialog
Widget display settings
One of the most popular features we've added to the front end in recent times is the drag and drop widgets.
We see these used on almost every site we visit.
A popular request, though, was to be able to hide them from specific devices. By default, the sidebars appear under the main content when viewed on a smaller device such as a phone.
There may be times where you wish to show a block for those on tablets and desktops, but remove it for phones, so it doesn't take up precious retail space.
Happily, you can now do this on each block with 4.4.
Clubs are relatively new to Invision Community but they incredibly popular as they allow you to run micro-communities within your main community.
You're not limited to just forums either; you can add gallery albums and more to each club.
We've added the ability to re-arrange the club tabs allowing you to prioritise what you members see first.
Rearranging club tabs
Announcements have been a core feature for a long time now. We use them whenever we have a holiday so we can notify our customers about reduced support on those days.
We've made it so you can now link to an item, rather than have to provide new copy for each announcement.
We may have overdone it a bit
Time Frame selector
We noticed that in numerous areas around the Admin CP we had time input boxes. These would sometimes be used for seconds, minutes, hours and even days.
We've seen customers forced to enter things like 86400 seconds when they want the time frame to last a day. The lack of consistency wasn't great either.
In Invision Community 4.4, we've added a new Time Frame selector which is used as standard on all areas we ask for a time frame to be entered.
No more taking your socks off to work out how many seconds in a month.
Time is no longer relative
Group Name Styling
For about as long as I can remember (and as I get older, this is not an impressive amount of time), we've allowed group names to be stylized when shown in the online user list.
A very popular request is to extend that same group highlighting throughout the suite.
Finally, Invision Community 4.4 brings this to the suite.
If the group name is visible, that gets the styling, otherwise the name does
These features may be micro in nature, but we hope they make a significant improvement to your community.
Which are you most looking forward to? Drop a comment below and let us know.
Adriano Faria reacted to Mark for an entry, 4.4: AdminCP Notifications
Do you recall that scene in Harry Potter where young Harry is sitting in his Uncle’s living room when hundreds of letters from Hogwarts burst through the fireplace, filling the room?
Sometimes, when you log into the administrator’s control panel, it can feel a bit like that.
As the administration control panel has evolved, there has been more of a need to display notifications, alerts and warnings to the administrators.
There are several things which may require an administrator's attention which may show a notice on the AdminCP dashboard, a banner on the community, or send an email. For example:
When a new version of Invision Community is released. A new member registers and requires administrator validation. A configuration issue is detected, for example if dangerous PHP functions are enabled on the server. There are items Commerce which require manual action, such as transactions pending manual approval or items to be shipped. Up until now, each such area would manage how these notifications show and are sent independently. In 4.4 we have introduced a new section of the AdminCP which shows all things which require administrator attention in one place, easily accessible from any AdminCP page.
AdminCP Notification Menu
Clicking on any of these notifications will take you to the relevant area of the AdminCP, or there is also a full-screen Notification Center which allows you to quickly take common actions such as approving members.
AdminCP Notification Center
While the best approach is to take the appropriate action (which will automatically dismiss the notification) so you always have an empty Notification Center, most notification types can be hidden, either temporarily on a per-notification basis by clicking the cross in the top-right, or administrators can hide all notifications of a certain type from their individual settings. Administrators can also choose which type of notifications to receive an email notification about.
Each notification has a severity indicated by the coloured bar on the side and certain notifications can also show banners either across the AdminCP, or also on the front-end (to administrators).
Notifications group automatically (so for example, if there are 5 members pending approval, you will see 1 notification rather than 5 separate ones) and where appropriate each administrator can choose if they want to receive a single email, or a separate email with each occurrence.
Now you won't miss an invitation to Hogwarts, or anything important again.
This is a blog about our upcoming Invision Community 4.4 release, due later this year.
Adriano Faria reacted to Matt for an entry, How to use Invision Community content in Wordpress in under 5 minutes
If you've already got a Wordpress website, and have recently added an Invision Community, you might want to show recent posts or topics right on your Wordpress site.
You might think this involves complex programming and custom themes, but thanks to some Pages magic, it's a very simple task that you can do in under 5 minutes.
This very short video walks you through the process.
If you'd prefer a written step by step, then head over to our help guides.
As you can see, the whole process is very quick and very easy. Adding the latest topics on your site is a great way to drive discussion into your Invision Community.
Let us know if you have any questions!
Adriano Faria reacted to Matt for an entry, Happy 16th Birthday To Us!
This month, we turn sweet sixteen!
We made our own card this year.
I know, it's hard to believe with our youthful looks and energetic personalities, but it's true. Charles and I have known each other longer than I've known my own children and we still make each other laugh on a daily basis.
Over the past 16 years we've seen a lot of trends come and go.
When we started, AOL dial-up was the preferred method of choice (and probably the only method of choice). Compuserve were flying high and I think I'll stop this walk down memory lane before I turn into my own grandfather and start talking about how things were better in my day.
A lot has changed. We've seen the rise of social media and how it disrupted habits. We've seen MP3 players become iPods, and iPods become iPhones and iPhones become iPads (other digital devices are also available).
It's crazy to think that our company pre-dates Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.
Click on this image to see it unless you have excellent eyesight
We're still here because we are always innovating and adapting. The software we're working on right now is vastly different from the one we started out with. And that is how it should be. We listen to our customers and we implement the great ideas.
Of course, we'd not have lasted a year without our customers. We're genuinely thrilled to still be doing a job we love and serving customers who have trusted their community with us.
Thank you all for choosing us and we're looking forward to the next 16 years.
Adriano Faria reacted to Mark for an entry, 4.3: AdminCP Member Profiles
Viewing and editing a member is probably one of the most frequently used features of the AdminCP. With the design unchanged for many years, and the tabbed interface starting to grow unwieldy, it was due for some love. We have not only dramatically improved the design but added many new features.
New AdminCP Member Page
Let's look at some of the improvements:
Easy Toggle between Member and Customer View
If you have Commerce installed, you can now toggle between "Member View" (which shows the screen above) and "Customer View" (which shows the current customer page in Commerce with the user's purchases, invoices, etc.). This makes it much easier to view all of a member's information in one place.
If you don't have Commerce installed, the top tab bar will not show.
The pane in the top-left shows the member's basic information like name, email address and photos. You can now reposition a member's cover photo and crop the profile photo (functions previously not available in the AdminCP). To change the display name or email address, you just click and hold on the information and a textbox appears. The buttons below allow you to merge, delete, sign in as, and edit the preferences or password for the member.
Basic Member Information Pane
In addition, this pane lists any social networks the user is logged in with. It shows you the member's profile photo and profile name on that network (for example in this screenshot, it is showing my Facebook profile's photo and name) and for many networks you can click on this to be taken directly to their Facebook/Twitter/etc profile. You can also edit the syncing options for the method and unlink the accounts, features which weren't available previously.
If you have Commerce installed, there is also an indicator if the user has an active subscription.
A member with an active subscription
If a member is validating, banned, flagged as a spammer, or locked, a large banner will display drawing your attention to this. For validating and banned, it will explain exactly what the status is (for example, if they haven't responded to the validation email yet versus they are awaiting admin approval, or if they have been banned manually versus are in a group without permission to access anything).
A member that has been locked
Other possible alerts
Locations & Devices
This pane shows you, on a map, all of the locations the user has been when using the community (based on their IP address) as well as the IP address they used to register and most recently.
IP Address Locations
While the devices tab shows the most recently used devices.
Recently Used Devices
Right in the middle of the profile you can see some statistics about the member's activity. This includes:
A sparkline graph of their recent content. Their content count and reputation count (with tools to manually change or rebuild). A breakdown of the amount of content they have made across all applications. A visual indication of how much of their messenger and attachment storage they have used. If Gallery and Downloads are installed, the existing statistics overview provided by these apps are also available here.
Warnings & Restrictions
This block shows recent warnings on the account, and also highlights if any restrictions (i.e. content moderation, restricted from posting, or application-level restrictions) are being applied, which previously was difficult to see at a glance.
Warnings & Restrictions Block for an account which has content moderation in effect
On the right is a pane which shows all of the latest account activity. While this was available in previous versions (called "Member History") we have made some significant improvements:
Recent Account Activity
The new profile has been designed with extensibility in mind. Third party developers can easily add new blocks our even entire new tabs. Any apps/plugins which are currently adding a tab to the "Edit Member" form will retain backwards compatibility with their tab continuing to appear when clicking the "Edit Preferences" button in the basic account information pane.
Adriano Faria reacted to bfarber for an entry, 4.3: Modernizing our Gallery
A picture says a thousand words, they say. If getting those pictures online is troublesome, some of those words might be a little choice.
Gallery has been an integral part of our community suite for just about as long as T1 Tech Mark Higgins can remember (and he has many years of memories). It has seen many interfaces changes as the years have rolled by. The most recent version received a fair amount to feedback on usability.
We've listened. We've re-engineered most of Gallery's key interfaces to make uploading new images to your community frictionless.
Lets take a look through the major changes.
Improved submission process
Submitting images has to be simple or else users will give up and your gallery will be underutilized. We have spent a lot of time simplifying and speeding up the submissions process for your users. The first thing that will be noticed is that the submission process is not presented as a wizard anymore, and the choice to submit to a category or album has been significantly cleaned up and simplified.
Choosing a container
Here, I have chosen the category I wish to submit to, so now I am asked if I want to submit directly to the category, if I want to create a new album, or if I want to submit to an existing album. Choosing one of those last two options will load the appropriate forms to create an album or select an existing album, respectively.
Afterwards, the modal expands to full screen and you will naturally select your images next, and there's a lot to talk about here.
Overhauled submission interface
First and foremost, the interface has changed significantly to both simplify the UI and to make actually using the interface easier. When you click on an image, the form is loaded to the right immediately without an AJAX request needed to fetch the form.
In addition to quickly setting the credit and copyright information for all images at once, you can now set the tags for all images quickly and easily without having to edit each image individually.
Images support drag n drop reordering in the uploader here, which means that you can drag n drop images to different positions to control their order. Many users previously would name images "Image 1", "Image 2", and so on, and then set their albums to order images by name in order to control the order the images were displayed in. This is no longer necessary now that you can manually reposition the images.
The default description editor is a pared down textarea box, but you can still use the rich text editor if you wish. The ability to enable maps for geo-encoded images and to upload thumbnails for videos is still supported as well, and those options will show up when appropriate in the right hand panel.
The 100 image per submission limit has also been lifted. You can now upload many more images in one go with no hard limit imposed.
Upon clicking submit images, you will see the typical multiredirector to store all of your images, however you will notice that it processes much faster than it did in 4.2 and below.
Better submission control
Administrators can now configure categories such that can accept only images, only albums, or both. This means you can now create categories that cannot be submitted to directly, and you can create categories that albums cannot be used with. This is a feature that has been oft-requested since the release of 4.0, and we are happy to report that it will be available in our next release.
Additionally, album creators (if permitted) can also now create shared albums. When you create a new album, you can now specify (under the Privacy menu) who can submit to the album, with your available options being:
Only me Anyone Only the users I specify Only the groups I specify Prior to 4.3, albums have always been owned by one user and only that user could submit to them. Invision Community 4.3 will open up albums so that anyone can submit to them, dependent upon the album creator's preferences and needs.
The choice is yours as to who can submit to your albums
New image navigation
Another major change with Gallery 4.3 is that clicking an image now launches that image in a lightbox to view it and interact with it. This lightbox is context-aware, allowing you to visit the next and previous images in the listing, whether that is a category or album listing, or the featured images or new images listings on the Gallery homepage, for example.
The new image lightbox
Firstly, I will note that you are seeing the image here with my mouse cursor over the image area, exposing the title, tags, and some various buttons. When you mouse away from the image those overlays fade away to highlight the image itself better.
As you can see, you can navigate left and right here to view the next and previous image in this context, and you can otherwise interact with the image as you would have if you had visited the older-style image view page (including the ability to rate, review and comment).
The new Gallery release will introduce a new advertisement location in the right hand column to allow you to show advertisements, even in the lightbox.
If you follow a link to a full image view page, the lightbox will automatically launch when the page loads, still allowing you to interact in a familiar manner. Additionally, if you move through enough images in the lightbox to reach a new page (for example, if you click on the last image in the album listing and then click on the next image button), the listing itself behind the lightbox will update for easier usability if the user closes the lightbox.
One final thing to note is that the interface has been made more mobile friendly, particularly through the introduction of swiping support. You can swipe left and right in the lightbox, and in image carousels, to see the next and previous images.
Notable performance improvements
As we mentioned at the beginning, we recognize there is a balance between performance, usability, and attractiveness, particularly with regards to an image Gallery. For that reason, we have made Gallery's performance a major focus in 4.3, and have implemented some changes that bring with them a noticeable performance improvement.
Firstly, we have adjusted the software to only store two copies of an image (in addition to the original), instead of four. In previous versions, we stored a thumbnail, a small copy, a medium copy and a large copy of an image, all of which arbitrarily sized and designed to best meet our layout needs without showing an image too large or too small in a given space. We have simplified this vastly by storing a slightly larger "small" image, and storing a large copy. Diskspace usage is reduced dramatically as a result, and bandwidth usage is actually lowered as well since only two copies of an image need to be delivered to the browser instead of four.
Next, we have implemented prefetching of the 'next' and 'previous' pages when you launch the lightbox image view. This means that when a user navigates to the next image in the lightbox, it loads immediately instead of waiting for the content to be fetched from the server. From a UX perspective, this provides a much snappier and responsive interface, making users more apt to interact with the site.
We have additionally sped up the submission process as previously mentioned. The order of execution for certain events that must happen during submission has been moved around a bit, resulting in a faster experience for the end user actually submitting the images.
Because we know the details matter, we have implemented other smaller improvements as well. For example, the link to rebuild images in the AdminCP previously resulted in a redirect process that rebuilt the images while you waited, but now a background task is launched so that you can continue with what you were doing while the images get rebuilt in the background.
From start to finish, the Gallery UI and UX has been touched on and improved, and we hope you enjoy these improvements when you start using the new version.
Adriano Faria reacted to bfarber for an entry, New: Group promotion improvements
This is an entry about our IPS Community Suite 4.2 release.
The ability to automatically promote users from one group to another based on set parameters has been a staple of community software for some time. Traditionally, the most common determination of promotion has been post count. Additionally, the 4.x Community Suite supports promoting members automatically based on the time elapsed since the user joined the site and based on their total reputation count.
With 4.2, we have completely overhauled and enhanced the group promotion feature bringing many new options to administrators looking to promote members through different group levels.
To start with, the group promotion options have been removed from the groups configuration pages into their own area.
Group promotion rules overview page
You will notice that rules are no longer strictly tied to a single group, and that rules can be sorted however you desire. When you create and edit rules, you can choose which groups the rule applies to, what parameters the user needs to meet in order for the rule to be activated, and then finally, which primary and secondary groups the user will be moved in to. You can also configure the rule to remove specified secondary groups, which can be useful if one rule adds a secondary group for users, and then the next rule should change them to be part of a different secondary group (i.e. add a new secondary group, but also remove the previously awarded secondary group).
The system uses the same member filters available when configuring bulk mail, and we have made some updates to the member filters area (and have introduced some new filters) in this release as well. For example, you can create a rule that only applies to members who have won the daily leaderboard at least once, or members who have created a blog.
Some of the group promotion filters, which are also available when sending bulk mails
Any time a member account is updated for any reason (a new visit, editing the member, the member makes a new post, etc.), the software will loop through all configured rules and the last rule in the list that matches the member will be applied. This approach allows you to create promotion levels, for instance when a member reaches 100 posted content items they will be promoted to a new group, and when they reach 1000 posted content items they will be promoted to yet a different new group.
Groups can be wholly excluded from any promotion rules, which is useful when you have administrator and/or moderator groups and you want to ensure that they are never moved to a different group. These groups will be disabled from selection when configuring group promotion rules, and these groups will be ignored if "any group" is selected for a promotion rule.
Finally, if a user is moved to a new primary group by Commerce because they have purchased a product which moves them to a new group, they will also be excluded from group promotion rules (however, Commerce purchases that only adjust secondary groups will not exclude users from being checked by group promotion rules).
Developer note: You can add your own filters for group promotion rules (and bulk mails) by adding MemberFilter extensions in 4.2, available in the Developer Center for your application.
Adriano Faria reacted to Matt for an entry, New: Fluid Forum View
This is an entry about our IPS Community Suite 4.2 release.
When you have a diverse range of topics within your community, it makes good sense to separate topics within forums and categories. This will ensure that the viewer can find relevant content by scanning the list of forums first.
If you have a more focused community with fewer forums, presenting your community with a list of them can be daunting. This is especially true for less experienced visitors raised on social media.
Fluid forum view allows your visitors to get right to the meat of your community; the topics.
A fan site for a band is a good example of a community that will benefit with fluid view. There will likely be forums for album reviews, tour dates, general discussion and so on. Even though there are many forums, the common topic is the band. This makes fluid view ideal as your members can see all those related topics in one view. If your members wanted more specific topics, they could select a single forum to view.
Let us take a look at fluid view in action. We will then break it down and explain how it works in more detail.
The video shows the topic list and the forum filter box. As you can see, it is easy to change the topic list by changing the selected forums. This view replaces the traditional list of categories and forums.
Of course, you can permit your members to change the view to better suit their way of working.
You will notice a "grid" option. We have moved the grid forum theme setting into the main forum settings. This makes it an option for your members to choose, if the administrator permits it.
You have full control over the display options. This screenshot shows that the control panel option to choose the default view. There is also an option to control which views your members can select. You may also decide to not allow your members to switch views at all. This will ensure that they all use the view you choose.
You may have spotted that forum names have a colored background in some screenshots. We added the ability to define a feature color per forum. This feature color helps the forum stand out in a more visual way. This is especially useful when you select many forums in a single view.
This feature color also works on the table view.
We added a feature color hint to topic view to enforce the association between the forum and its color.
This screenshot also shows the removal of the forum breadcrumb in fluid view mode. Fluid view remembers your last forum selection so you don't lose your place when you go back to the listing.
The benefit of this feature is easy to see. It removes a potential barrier of entry for your audience. It puts the spotlight on topics themselves, and not the hierarchical forum structure. Your members will enjoy viewing many forums at once and switching between them without leaving the page.
We hope that fluid view is an asset to your community and your members enjoy this new functionality.
The database stores the members' view choice. This remembers the selection across devices. Guests are not permitted to change between views.
Adriano Faria reacted to Stuart Silvester for an entry, New: Member History
This is an entry about our IPS Community Suite 4.2 release
In previous versions of IPS Community Suite we have had an account history feature in our Commerce application. This feature showed many important actions that may be relevant to the customer such as when an invoice was generated or when a customer changed their account details.
In IPS Community Suite 4.2 we have expanded this functionality and moved it into the core functionality of the suite.
Member History Member Overview
Member actions that will be logged include (but are not limited to)
Email address change Display name change Password change Account merge Primary group change (The reason will be shown when triggered by an automatic group promotion) Secondary group change Flagged/Unflagged as spammer Multi-Factor Authentication (Enable / Disable / Opt-out) Social media (Twitter, Linked In, Facebook, Google, Twitter, IPS Connect) for enabling, disabling and which (if any) were used to register an account. The Commerce customer account page will now show actions that may be related with a transaction or account.
Member History on the Commerce customer view
Each action is also discoverable via the IP Address tools built into IPS Community Suite 4
Member History in IP Search
We’ve also made the data table filterable
Member History Search
Notes for developers:
The new Member History system has been designed with interoperability in mind. In IPS Community Suite 4.2 you will be able to integrate your own applications into this system. Member History replaces the display name changes system.
Adriano Faria reacted to Mark for an entry, New: Editor Uploading
This entry is about our IPS Community Suite 4.2 release
IPS Community Suite has supported drag and drop uploading to the attachments area at the bottom of the editor since 4.0. In 4.2 we're pleased to add the ability to drag and drop right into the editor, so you can drop your attachment exactly where you want it to show without having to add it afterwards.
Drag and drop into editor
If your browser and OS supports it you can also copy and paste, either from the desktop or from other content on the web:
Copy and Paste
Naturally this works for ordinary files as well as images:
Drag and drop a file
Adriano Faria reacted to Mark for an entry, New: Commerce Improvements
This entry is about our IPS Community Suite 4.2 release
Improved Stripe Integration
Stripe is a popular payment gateway that supports card payments. In IPS Community Suite 4.2 we have made some improvements to our integration:
When viewing a transaction in the AdminCP, it will show the last 4 digits of the card used, and the result of Stripe's risk evaluation. More information is sent to Stripe for easier cross-reference between Stripe's control panel and your AdminCP. This includes the customer's name, billing and shipping addresses, email address, associated transaction/invoice/customer IDs, and the invoice title.
Stripe Transaction in the AdminCP showing risk evaluation and card details
Transaction in Stripe's control panel showing customer and invoice details
Anti-Fraud Rules now have some additional filters:
Products being purchases includes... Account was registered more/less than [x days] ago Customer is/isn't in group Customer has previously spent more/less than Time since last purchase is more/less than [x days] ago Custom profile fields (both at member and customer level) IP address is x (exactly, contains or matches regular expression) Customer has previously made transactions that failed (opposed to "were blocked by fraud rules") Email address matches regular expression
Some of the new Anti-Fraud Rule options
MaxMind per gateway
A new setting has been added that allows you to run MaxMind only against transactions using particular payment gateways.
New MaxMind gateways setting
You can now enter the transaction ID provided by the payment gateway in the AdminCP search box to find a transaction.
Looking up a transaction by gateway ID
If you have a product with multiple renewal terms, a new setting allows you to show alongside each option how much is saved. This can be shown either as a monetary value, or as a percentage.
Product showing savings for different renewal options
Adriano Faria reacted to bfarber for an entry, New: Gallery improvements
This is an entry about our IPS Community Suite 4.2 release
We are happy to introduce several changes to our Gallery application to both refine the existing capabilities and to introduce new useful functionality; particularly for Albums.
We have clarified how to submit images directly to a category on the first step of the upload form in Gallery.
Clarification for submitting directly to a category
When submitting images to the Gallery, a simple "Add more images" button has been added to the wizard. While it has always been possible to add more images by dragging and dropping them on to the upload area, or by clicking the "Choose files" button again, the addition of this button should help add some clarity for users who overlooked these capabilities.
A new "Add more images" button makes adding additional images easier
Applying the same details to all of the images you are submitting has been made much simpler. When you begin entering the details for the first image, you can specify a template to use for the caption name leveraging a special replacement "%n". A small help icon next to the caption field label explains how to use this capability. When you are done supplying the details, you can click "Copy details to all images" and your submission will start instantly, using all of the details supplied for the image you are editing. You can quickly set tags, an image description and a caption name template (for instance "Aquarium %n") to all images using this new capability, useful when submitting 50+ images at once. Of course, you can still supply the details for each individual image as well, if you wish.
Submitting a lot of images at once has been made easier
In addition to improvements for submitting images, albums have been updated to include many new features, including:
Commenting Reviews Reactions Messages Featuring Hiding Locking Reporting Searching A new Gallery widget (sidebar block) to show albums anywhere throughout the Community Suite has been added as well.
Album overview page
Going along with these changes, we've improved how groups of images that are submitted to an album are handled in searches. If you submit multiple images to an album, you will only see the album listed in activity streams, and similarly if you follow a bunch of images in an album these are grouped as well, making activity streams more useful and easier to follow.
Activity streams have been updated as well
The changes to albums and image submissions will simplify your users' interaction with Gallery in 4.2, and make submitting images and new albums, and working with those albums more useful and robust.
Adriano Faria reacted to Daniel F for an entry, New: Downloads Index Page
This entry is about our IPS Community Suite 4.2 release
In IPS Community Suite 4.2 we have added a bunch of new settings for the Downloads Index Page.
Downloads Index Page - Settings
With 4.2 you'll be able to hide any of the boxes.
Hidden Most Downloads Box
Another often requested feature was that people want to be able to choose the categories from where the files should be fetched
This way you'll be able to hide files from some very old categories.
Adriano Faria reacted to Matt for an entry, New: Promoting Content
There are many strategies for growing your community, such as newsletters, mailing lists and advertising on other sites.
IPS Community Suite 4.2 puts a new tool at your disposal: promotions.
There’s no denying the popularity of social media. Worldwide, Facebook has 1.86 billion users active monthly. Every day, millions of people are using Facebook to speak with friends, to talk about their interests and to find new people to connect with.
Of that 1.86 billion people, a good portion of those are actively discussing topics your forum covers. There is a huge opportunity to tap into social media to join in the discussion and to promote your community and provide a venue to carry on the discussion.
For a while, we’ve had social media log in extensions, which means that your users can sign into your community simply by clicking a relevant button. We’ve also had the ability to share things to a personal Facebook account. These tools are great for your users, but how do they help you, forum owner?
IPS Community Suite 4.2 introduces a way to promote your content directly to your brand’s Facebook page and your brand’s Twitter account.
You can curate fun and engaging topics and share them. The workflow is simple. Simply browse your community and queue up interesting topics, comments, gallery items, blog posts or database articles for posting throughout the day to your brand’s social media accounts. You choose the schedule, the hashtags and the wording to send.
Let’s look at the feature set in more detail.
Your first stop is to set up the feature from the admin panel. The system will guide you through the necessary steps of connecting your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Once Facebook has been set up, you can select any page that you are an administrator of on Facebook.
The admin panel also offers scheduling options and permissions.
You can pre-set the times for when content will be posted. Facebook and Twitter both have analytic tools to determine when your visitors are most frequently online. A good tip here is to set the time to a slightly odd number, so 11:45am is better than 12:00pm as you are likely to catch the attention of someone waiting for lunch, or a lunchtime meeting.
You have full control over who can promote items to your social media accounts. You can specify by group or pick individual members who may not be in those groups.
Now that you’ve set up the backend, we can get promoting.
Each item, that is a topic, gallery album, blog entry or article has its own Promote button.
Each post and comment can also be shared individually, which is an easy way to share great content your visitors add to existing conversations.
Clicking this brings up the sharer.
This is where you can customize the text that is sent out to each social media channel. You’ll also notice space to promote this item within your own community in addition (or instead of) Facebook or Twitter, we will explore that shortly.
The sharer is smart enough to pull attachments already added in the post, and you can upload your own images to be sent. Generally, shared items that have an image get better organic reach than just text alone so you’ll almost always want to choose or add an image. Twitter can use up to 4 images, and Facebook allows 1000 pictures per album, but you’ll never want to upload that many!
Once you’ve filled out your content and picked your images, you can schedule the promotion. Generally, you’ll want to use the auto schedule option as this allows you to just stack up multiple items and let the auto scheduler post the items according to your pre-set schedule. You can also set a specific date and time if you are looking to run a promotion or other time sensitive event.
The promoted content viewed in Facebook and Twitter
It’s easy to see the status of your queued and sent items from the moderator view.
This area allows you to see previous promotions and modify pending promotions.
Earlier, we mentioned that the system has the ability to promote content internally. Promoting items to your own community lets you, the community manager, curate interesting items and comments and present this to your community. This is a great way to allow your visitors to explore content you think they’d enjoy.
Promoting content to your community via Our Picks also allow you to promote content if you cannot or choose not to use social networks. It has the advantage that social networks do not have over a community platform like IPS Community Suite: consistency. The content on your community is always there whereas a social network is all about right here right now. Miss it and you miss out. On your community you can engage and re-engage a subject all you want.
Of course, we’ve built a widget that you can drag and drop to most pages to make this curated list more visible.
IPS Community Suite 4.2 gives you, the site owner and community manager the tools you need to reach out and engage new users already discussing the topics on social media your community covers. With single click sign in and the built in retention functionality the suite offers, you’ll have a powerful way of growing your user base. It furthers that goal by created a list of that promoted content for continual reference and promotion for visitors already on your site.
We’ve got lots more to discuss on this subject, and in the coming months we’ll be putting together some guides on social media best practices and how to leverage Facebook’s excellent post promotion / pay per click tools to further boost your site’s visibility to social media users.
We’re here to help you make a success of your community and to give social media users a venue for when they outgrow Facebook.
Adriano Faria reacted to Rikki for an entry, New: Clubs
This entry is about our IPS Community Suite 4.2 release.
We are happy to introduce the next major feature that will be available in IPS Community Suite 4.2 - Clubs.
Clubs are a brand new way of supporting sub-communities within your site. Many people have requested social group functionality in the past and Clubs are our implementation of this concept. Let's take a look at a few screenshots, and then go over what they are capable of doing.
The Club directory
A Club homepage
Club member listing
Example of content within a club (topics, in this case)
There's a lot to digest there! Let's go over the basic functionality.
Four types of club are available:
Clubs that anyone can see and participate in without joining. Open club
Clubs that anyone can see and join. Closed club
Clubs that anyone can see in the directory, but joining must be approved by a Club Leader or Club Moderator. Non-club-members who view the club will only see the member list - not the recent activity or content areas. Private club
Clubs that do not show in public, and users must be invited by a Club Leader or Club Moderator As the site admin, you can of course configure which club types can be created and by whom. You could, for example, allow members to create public and open clubs, but allow a "VIP" group to also create Closed and Private clubs.
Admin configuration option for Club creations
Each club has three levels of user:
A leader has all of the permissions of a moderator, and can add other moderators. They can also add content areas (see below). The club owner is automatically a leader. Moderators
Moderators, as the name implies, have the ability to moderate content posted within the club. As the site administrator, you can define which moderator tools can be used. You could, for example, prevent any content being deleted from clubs, but allow it to be hidden. Moderators can also remove members from a club. Users
Anyone else that joins the club.
Defining the moderator permissions available to club moderators
Your site administrator and moderators, with the appropriate permissions, are able to moderator content in any Club regardless of whether they are a member of it.
Clubs can be created by any user who has permission. As you would expect, this is controlled by our regular permission settings.
For closed clubs, there's an approval process. Users can request to join and the request must be approved by a leader. Leaders get a notification when a user requests to join; the user gets a notification when their request is approved or denied.
Approving and declining join requests
Club Leaders can add a variety of content areas to their club - forums, calendars, blogs and so on. It's important to note that these content areas are fully functional just as if they existed as a top-level admin created area. They will appear in search results, activity streams, users can follow them, embed links to them, and so on. If a user has permission to see a forum (for example) within a club it will behave exactly like other forums they see - and the same for all other kinds of content.
Each content area a leader adds can have a custom title, and will appear in the club navigation. This means, for example, that you can have multiple forums within a club, and give each a different name.
Adding content areas to a club
Club Custom Fields
Clubs also support custom fields. Custom fields are defined by the site administrator and can be filled in by Club Owners. The values they enter are shown (along with the club description) on the club homepage.
Custom fields in a club
On the Club Directory page, users can filter by the custom club fields.
Clubs have built-in support for Google Maps, allowing users to specify a physical location for their club. Let's say you run a community for car enthusiasts; each club might be tied to a particular region's meetup. The Club Owner specifies the location when setting up the club, and clubs are then shown on map on the directory page:
And within a club, the location is shown too:
We offer two ways to display club headers within the club - the standard way, shown in the screenshots you've seen up to this point, but we also have a sidebar option. This is something the admin sets globally for the site, rather than per-club. This is useful where your site design doesn't facilitate another horizontal banner taking up valuable screen real-estate; moving the club banner to the sidebar alleviates this pressure on vertical space.
Sidebar club style
Using Clubs in Other Ways
There's a lot of scope for using clubs beyond allowing users to create their own groups. You do not even have to call them "clubs" if that does not suit your use case. For example, on a company intranet you could rename Clubs to "Departments", and create a private group for each of your main roles. This would allow each department to have its own community, with its own forums, gallery, file sharing and so on, private and separate from other departments.
Similarly, they'd also work well in situations where you as the site admin want to create entire micro-communities. Take for example a video game publisher. Using Clubs, they could create a micro-community for each of their games, complete with forums, galleries and so forth, and then set the Clubs directory as their overall community homepage. Immediately, they have a setup that hasn't until now been possible out-of-the-box with IPS Community Suite.
We expect our clients will come up with some really innovative uses for the new Club functionality, and we can't wait to see what you do. We'd love to hear your feedback - let us know what you think in the comments.