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LaCollision

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  1. Like
    LaCollision reacted to Stuart Silvester for an entry, 4.5: One More Thing...   
    Almost ten years ago we launched the Marketplace; a place to connect Invision Community owners with talented developers creating new functionality.
    Over the decade, the Marketplace has grown to hold thousands of applications, large and small. For many Invision Community owners, the Marketplace has become an essential resource.
    Our aim was always to have the Marketplace available inside your Admin Control Panel to make it even easier to purchase and install extra functionality.

    I'm pleased to say that as of Invision Community 4.5, this is now a reality. You can browse the Marketplace and install new add-ons without leaving the Admin Control Panel.

    Obtaining Resources
    Paid resources can be purchased directly from the Marketplace and are available to install immediately after the payment is complete. You no longer need to download and install the files yourself.
    You may also notice some additional information with the resource listing, we'll be introducing a new 'tab' to marketplace resources to allow the authors to provide more useful information such as answers to frequently asked questions, or configuration instructions etc.

    The video below takes you through the purchase and installation of a Marketplace application.
    marketplace-install.mp4
    Installing an Application
    Updates
    Some of the eagle-eyed among you may have noticed in the first screenshot that there are more 'bubbles' showing in the menu on the left. These are supported for Applications, Plugins, Themes and Languages.
    In Invision Community 4.5 every resource available via the AdminCP is automatically versioned, you will see update notifications for everything you have installed (previously, you would only see update notices if the resource author supports them).
    Installing an update is as simple as clicking on the update notice, then clicking 'update' on the Marketplace listing.

    Installing Updates
    Downloads Changes
    Our Marketplace is built on our Downloads application, during development of this feature we needed to add new functionality. We have included as many of these improvements as possible in our software for the benefit of our customers, some of these are:
    Custom Fields can now be set to only show to members that have purchased a file. Files can now be set to accept a single file upload instead of multiple. New file versions can now be moderated without hiding the current version from view. Downloads REST API Performance Improvements New /download endpoint that counts the download Added more data to the /downloads/file/{id} response Ability to sort file results by last updated date We hope you're as excited about this feature as we are.
  2. Like
    LaCollision reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.5: Two feature additions   
    As the deadline slowly comes down, two last feature additions race towards the descending door and slide in underneath with seconds to spare. 
    If you've never seen "Raiders of the Lost Ark", then you probably think this is a weird way to start a blog.
    As we wrap up development for Invision Community 4.5, we squeezed in two extra features that I want to talk about today.
    Per Topic Post Approval
    The first is a way to cool down a heated topic without locking it. Right now you can put an entire forum on post-approval. This means that moderators must review and approve all new posts before they are allowed to be publicly displayed.
    As of Invision Community 4.5, you can now choose to set a single topic to post-approval regardless of the forum setting.

    This is a great way to let a topic cool off but still receive new replies to review before adding to the topic.
    Club Terms and Conditions
    The ways that clubs are used throughout the many communities that run Invision Community are becoming increasingly varied.
    A popular request is to allow members to agree to a set of club-specific terms and conditions before they can contribute to the club.

    Invision Community 4.5 now allows the club owner to set up its own terms and conditions. You can optionally enforce that members agree to them before continuing.
    That's it for feature announcements. We're excited to be closing development on Invision Community 4.5 and move towards a beta in the coming weeks.
  3. Like
    LaCollision reacted to Mark for an entry, 4.5: Commerce Trials   
    One of the most popular requests we get for Commerce is for a free trial period for subscriptions. We've heard from many clients that wish to allow their members a free, or reduced cost trial period before auto-renewing the full price.
    I'm pleased to say that we've now added this functionality into Invision Community 4.5. Let us take a look at how it works.
    Initial Terms
    In 4.5 you can now specify an initial term that is different to the normal renewal term for any subscription plan or product. For example, you could make the initial term $0 for 1 week and the normal renewal term $10 per month which will allow you to create 1 week free trial. The initial term doesn't have to be $0, you can use any special price for the initial term you like.

    Subscription Plans showing Free Trials
    For developers creating their own applications with Commerce integration, this functionality is also available to you simply by passing a DateInterval object representing the initial term when creating the invoice.
    Collecting Payment Details for Free Trials
    Previously, if you were buying something that is free, the entire of the last step of the checkout would just be skipped and the invoice marked as paid.
    In 4.5, if:
    The user is purchasing something which has a free initial period, but also has a renewal term (i.e. is a free trial), and You have a payment method which can collect card details (Stripe, Braintree, etc) The user will be prompted to provide payment details that will not be charged until after the free trial. If the user already has a card on file they will not be prompted to provide the details again but will see a confirmation screen rather than the order just being marked paid immediately.

    Checkout Process for a Free Trial
    As you can see, allowing a free or reduced cost trial period has never been easier. We hope that you enjoy using this new feature of Invision Community 4.5.
     
  4. Thanks
    LaCollision reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.5: Everything else   
    We have announced a lot of new things coming soon with Invision Community 4.5. Most of these are pretty big new features worth a blog on their own.
    However, we've made a lot of smaller changes that may not deserve their own blog but still have a significant impact.
    Let's run through some of those.
    Performance Improvements
    For every major release, we take some time to run through the code and look at ways to make Invision Community run more efficiently.
    For Invision Community 4.5, we've made node forms, sitemaps and commonly run SQL queries more efficient, which is excellent news for you and your users who get reduced server load and a snappier community.
    TikTok Embed
    Although it confuses me greatly, TikTok has taken the internet by storm. We have added it to the embed list so pasting a TikTok share link automatically shows the video ready to play in the comment.

    A TikTok
    Upload Chunking
    Uploading large files can be tricky. Typically trying to push a large file to a server results in timeouts, memory issues and eventually frustration. We have added chunked uploading when using S3. Put simply; this uploads part of the file at a time to prevent memory issues and the server timing out waiting for the upload to finish.
    View Members by Rank
    Very recently, we were asked how you can view all members in the ACP of a specific rank. It turned out you couldn't. This quick change was added into Invision Community 4.5.

    Showing members with a specific rank in the AdminCP
    Download Statistics
    While Invision Community 4.5 has new and improved statistic displays, a common request was to be able to download the raw data. This is now possible.

    Export stats as a CSV
    Downloads
    In Invision Community 4.5, when you require approval of new versions of files submitted to Downloads, the original version will no longer be hidden from view. We've added a new flow for moderators to approve these new versions.
    Live Meta Tag Editor
    Invision Community 4.5 seemed like a great time to run through this feature and tweak the functionality to make it more useful. Now it's possible to remove default meta tags, and it's easier to remove custom tags.
    Closed Tag Autocomplete
    When using the closed tag system where a user can select from one of your preset tags, we have added a search box to make it easier to find a single tag from a list of potentially hundreds.
    EU Tax Support in Commerce
    Tax doesn't have to be taxing! But it generally is. Countries within the EU often have complex tax rates. Commerce now supports multiple tax rates for consumers, businesses and EU VAT-registered businesses.
    That concludes our mini round-up of all the things we've not talked about yet. Let me know which one you're looking forward to most!
  5. Thanks
    LaCollision reacted to Rikki for an entry, 4.5: Improvements for theme designers   
    If you've been around Invision Community for a while, you'll know our frontend default theme hasn't significantly evolved since the early days of 4.0. Indeed, the last significant refresh came with 4.2.
    With the upcoming release of 4.5, we wanted to revisit the default theme and give it a facelift for 2020, as well as make incremental improvements to the underlying codebase as a stepping stone to a bigger re-engineering in a future version. Keep an eye out for our next blog for more on the facelift.
    In this entry, I want to go over some of the design and code-level changes we've implemented that will be of particular interest to third-party theme designers, or those building a custom theme for their community.
    IE11 Support
    Until now, we've supported IE11 as a 'B' browser - meaning we didn't aim for perfect support (especially visually), but did aim to make all functionality work, and we fixed IE11-specific issues if possible.
    As of 4.5, we no longer support IE11 in any way and Invision Community will not work well in that browser. By removing support for IE11, we are able to make use of newer CSS technologies which significantly eases development for us and third-party designers. I'll discuss some of those below.
    Combined theme settings
    We've combined a number of existing theme settings into one new setting. We've found that settings like poll_bar, step_background, rating_hover and so on are nearly always set to the same color - typically the site's main brand color. These settings have therefore been replaced with one new brand_color setting, which is used throughout the CSS in places where this primary color would be needed. This will simplify the early stages of theme development and make it easier to match branding in Invision Community.

    Front end colors
    Removing hardcoded colors
    While our theme settings have allowed community owners to change most colors, there were still many hardcoded in our CSS framework. These were typically neutral colors used for things like 'close' links, semi-transparent backgrounds and so on, but it was enough to make creating a dark theme an unrealistic prospect without an awful lot of effort (and kudos to those designers who have offered dark themes up until now!).
    In 4.5, we've removed hardcoded colors from our framework, and instead rely on colors already defined by theme settings. You can now, finally, create a dark theme just by editing the built-in theme settings.
    Type scale & {fontsize} tag
    While we've had fixed type-size classes (e.g. ipsType_normal) for a long time, in practice many elements had their own font sizes set. This leads to inconsistency and poor visual rhythm too. Another side effect is it was also tough to globally change the font size (such as for branding purposes, or to create a theme for visually-impaired users).
    To solve these problems, we first created a type scale; that is, a fixed number of sizes to choose from. A product the size of Invision Community does have need for a flexibility, so we settled on the following scale:
    x_small: 12; small: 13; medium: 14; base: 16; large: 18; x_large: 20; 2x_large: 24; 3x_large: 30; 4x_large: 36.
    All of these values are editable as theme settings, so each theme can adjust the type scale used. Our default CSS in 4.5 has been fully updated to put all type on this scale.
    To actually make use of these settings, we have added a new {fontsize} tag which accepts either a scale key, or a specific pixel size (for those occasional situations where a specific size is absolutely needed, e.g. icons).
    Why couldn't we just use {theme="x_small"}, or even CSS variables? To solve the problem of globally scaling text, we have also added a percentage-based scale setting that will save you from having to create your own type scale. The {fontsize} tag automatically applies the global scale to any values passed into it. Want text in your theme to be twice as big as default? Simply set the global type scale to 200% and the entire theme will reflect the change immediately. 

    The new font size options
    Spacing scale
    The lack of a consistent spacing scale has led to some arbitrary values being used in any given situation, which again has had a negative impact on the visual harmony of our design. We've therefore implemented a 4px spacing scale (using CSS variables rather than theme settings this time) and applied across almost all padding/margin values. In time, we anticipate fully switching all measurement values to the scale.
    New CSS class families
    We have added a range of new spacing classes for padding and margins, allowing far more control over how these are applied, especially on different device sizes. Previously, ipsPad (15px) was simply halved on small screens - with no 'opt-out' short of adding specific CSS. We've felt this has been imprecise for some time, especially since mobile devices typically have larger screens in 2020 and don't need to be so tightly-spaced.
    ipsPad_all now replaces the existing ipsPad, and does not halve itself on small screens. Instead, there's a new responsive naming convention that allows you to apply specific padding on specific device sizes:
    ipsPad_all:double md:ipsPad_all sm:ipsPad_all:half
    In this arbitrary example, desktop size (the default) get double padding, medium (tablets) get regular padding and small (phones) get half padding.
    We've added similar classes for top, bottom, left and right padding, as well as horizontal, vertical and none (to removing all padding) shortcuts.
    For margins, the old ipsSpacer_* classes have been replaced with a new ipsMargin family that work exactly the same as the padding classes above, with the same range of flexibility.
    The old ipsPad/ipsSpacer classes will continue working as they did before for backwards compatibility, but should be considered deprecated from 4.5 onwards.
    We've also added a whole range of new ipsFlex classes, also with responsive controls (making it easy to have horizontal layouts on desktop and vertical layouts on mobile, for example), as well as a new ipsGap utility that automatically adds spacing between elements, without requiring manual :first-child/:last-child exclusions.
    CSS variables & calc()
    In 4.5, thanks to IE11 support ending, we're finally making use of CSS variables and calc() to make CSS more maintainable and easier to customize. A lot of repeating or often-customized styles - such as form field styles, message colors, card styles, border radii etc. - are now created as CSS variables, allowing theme designers to easily change styling in one place. Instead of magic numbers, we either stick to our spacing scale, or use calc() to avoid hardcoded numbers.
    The future
    The work we've done so far is just a 'first-pass'. We'll be pressing forward with modernization throughout the 4.5.* series and beyond with a view to reducing our footprint, improving our ability to maintain our CSS and, of course, making theming easier for our customers.
  6. Like
    LaCollision reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.5: Private staff notes   
    Managing a community as a team makes internal communication an essential part of its successful management.
    There are times where you want to leave notes for other staff on specific topics that you're watching. Perhaps a member is close to breaking the rules, or it might be that you want to keep the topic focused and on point so wish to split off-topic posts into a different area.
    Whatever the reason, Invision Community 4.5 adds the ability to leave private staff notes on topics.

    For some time, Invision Community has had the ability for staff to leave public notes. Now, in 4.5, staff can choose between public and private notes.

    This change was made based on customer feedback, so thank you! We do read and listen to all the feedback you leave.
    Who is looking forward to Invision Community 4.5? Let us know below!
  7. Like
    LaCollision reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.5: Forum View Updates   
    Invision Community has had different view modes for a good number of years.
    Forum grid view was added to create some visual interest when listing forums, and we've had expanded and condensed view modes in streams since they were introduced.
    We've taken both of these views a step further in Invision Community 4.5
    Forum Grid View
    To create even more visual interest, the grid view now allows you to upload, or choose a stock image for the header. This instantly makes for a more dynamic and inviting forum list.

    The new grid view image headers
    You can choose an image from the Admin CP when creating or editing a forum.

    Choose a stock photo, or upload your own
    Topic List View
    For the topic list view, we have taken inspiration from our stream view options to introduce a new 'expanded' view mode, which displays a snippet of the first post.

    The new expanded topic list mode
    This immediately entices you to engage with the topic because you can read part of the post without having to click inside to see if it interests you.
    This is controlled via the Admin CP, where you can choose the default view, or turn off the new view completely.
    Other Changes
    You may notice a few other subtle changes in these screenshots. The first is that we now included the follower count as a metric on both the forum grid view and the topic expanded view modes. The number of followers is usually a good indicator of how others perceive the value of the content. A higher follower count generally means a more engaging topic or forum.
    You can also see that we've switched to a short number format to keep the displays clean. Instead of say, "2,483 posts", it will merely say "2.5k posts". Reducing visual clutter is always crucial to maintaining a clean user interface.
    We hope that you find these new view modes useful and that they make your community even more vibrant!
  8. Thanks
    LaCollision 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
    Topic Activity
    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.

    AdminCP settings
    Other improvements
    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!
  9. Thanks
    LaCollision 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!
  10. Thanks
    LaCollision 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.
    Password Handling
    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.

    AdminCP Security
    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.
    Text Encryption
    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!
  11. Thanks
    LaCollision reacted to Andy Millne for an entry, 4.5: Invites and Referrals   
    Invision Community has supported member referrals via the Commerce app since Commerce was called Nexus all those years ago.
    Community owners have been able to see at a glance who is spreading the word and members have received the kudos associated with a growing referral count in return. 
    When planning Invision Community 4.5 we saw that this feature had the potential to be so much more… So what have we done to improve it?
    See Who Was Referred
    In addition to seeing a count of referrals, it’s now possible for both admins and members to see who they referred. If Commerce is enabled admins can also see how much commission (if any) was earned. 

    The new referral settings page shows links, code snippets and who you've referred
    Member Promotion
    Seeing a rising count of who has been referred gives members a great feeling of community involvement but wouldn’t it be great if you could reward your members in other ways too? 
    Referral counts now work as a member filter when using the group promotion feature.
    You can now automatically promote members that have referred more than a specific number of members to another user group and give them access to exclusive content. This still works alongside paid subscriptions so be another method for members not willing or able to pay for subscriptions to get access.
    Integration With Sharing
    If the feature is enabled, any time a link is shared via the built-in share links, referrals will be tracked. This occurs automatically without the member needing to think about it. It’s now easier than ever to see who your superfans are and who is bringing new people to the community.
    Blocks
    As well as the default share links we have added a new sidebar block that can be added anywhere across your community. This prominent call to action can be added on pages you think are most likely to result in recommendations.

    The new "Invite a friend" widget
    Given that referral capabilities have been expanded into many more areas outside of Commerce we decided that this should now be available as a core feature. Earning commission on sales as a result of referrals will still, of course, require Commerce to be installed.
    We hope that these are welcome improvements and they help you encourage more members to participate in your community.
  12. Like
    LaCollision reacted to Matt for an entry, Why I try and avoid the F word in public   
    I've had this similar conversation dozens of times in the recent past when someone has taken an interest in what I do.
    Person: So what does Invision Community do?
    Me: We develop and sell an independent community platform.
    Person: Oh. Neat.

    I used to say the F word. But this used to cause some confusion.

    'We develop and sell a forum system'.
    This used to elicit a response similar to this:
    "Forums? They're still going?"
    This line of thinking is quite prevalent among those who frequent Facebook, or use Facebook Groups to manage their micro communities. Even though they probably use forums regularly, or end up on forum topics when searching for things like "Why is my iPhone not charging", they don't realise this.
    I recently guested on a podcast, where we spoke about "Facebook or Forums?", and I received this comment.

     
    It appears, then, that the word "forums" has a lot of legacy connotations attached to it. It conjures up images of the past when Netscape Navigator was the world's favourite browser, and AOL was still mailing out CDs.

    That is all ancient history now, and we've moved with the times. The product we have now has roots in the product from the early 2000s but it is wildly different and much more capable.
    When you explain that you can segment discussions into separate areas (aka forums), and even set up independent micro-communities (clubs), you can see lightbulbs going off.

    "That's amazing! I had no idea! So you mean I don't have to have my community in a single stream struggling for attention among adverts?"

    Nope, there is another way.

    Why not try an independent community platform?

    I'd love to hear your thoughts. Do you avoid the F word too?
     
  13. Like
    LaCollision reacted to Matt for an entry, Welcome to Invision Community 4.4!   
    We're thrilled to announce that Invision Community 4.4 is available to download now.
    After months of development, over 1650 separate code commits and quite a few mugs of questionable coffee you can now get your hands on the beta release from the client centre.

    Not our office
    Invision Community 4.4 brings numerous new features, over 450 bug fixes and a lot of refinement.
    We've been talking about the highlights since September on our blog.
    Here's a recap of all that we've added.
    We'd love to know which is your favourite feature so far!

    Drop a line below and let us know!
     
  14. Thanks
    LaCollision reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.4: Turbo charging loading speeds   
    It might seem a little odd starting a blog on increasing Invision Community's speed with the word "lazy",  but I'll explain why this is a good word for performance shortly.
    Earlier this year, Google announced that page speed is a ranking factor.
    Simply put, if your site is slow, it will be ranked lower in Google's search results.
    It is always a challenge making a large application like Invision Community as efficient as possible per page load. A single Invision Community page can pull in widgets from multiple applications as well as a lot of user-generated content with attachments, movies and images used heavily. 
    This is where being lazy helps.
    Lazy loading is a method by which attachments, embeds and images are not loaded by default. They are only loaded when the viewer scrolls down enough to make them visible.
    This allows the page to load a good deal faster now it doesn't have to load megabytes of images before the page is shown as completely rendered.
    I was going to take a fancy video showing it in action, but it's hard to capture as the system loads the media just before you get to it, so it looks fairly seamless, even with sluggish connections.

    Not the most dynamic image, but this shows the placeholder retains the size of the image
    In addition to image attachments, we have also added this lazy loading to maps and Twitter emoji images.
    Improving non-image attachments
    Once we had implemented the lazy loading framework, an area we wanted to improve was non-image attachments.
    We have listened to a lot of the feedback we had on this area, and have now made it very clear when you add an attachment into a post. We've even returned the download count now it's being loaded on demand.

    Using attachments when posting
    All the letters
    When we first implemented the letter avatars in 4.3, we discussed whether to use CSS styling or use an image.
    We decided to go with an image as it was more stable over lots of different devices, including email.
    We've revisited this in 4.4, and switched the letter avatars to SVG, which are much faster to render now that the browser doesn't have to load the image files.
    Other performance improvements
    We've taken a pass at most areas with an eye for performance, here is a list of the most significant items we've improved.
    Several converter background tasks have been improved, so they work on less data Duplicate query for fetching clubs was removed in streams Notifications / follower management has been improved Member searches have been sped up (API, ACP live search, member list in ACP, mentions, etc.). Stream performance has been improved UTF8 conversions have been sped up Elasticsearch has been sped up by using pre-compiled queries and parameterisation, as well as the removal of view filtering (and tracking) HTTP/2 support with prefetch/preload has been added Several PHP-level performance improvements have been made Implemented rel=noopener when links open a new window (which improves browser memory management) Several other performance improvements for conversions were implemented that drastically reduce conversion time IP address lookups now fetch IP address details from us en-masse instead of one request per address Cache/data store management has been streamlined and centralised for efficiency Many background tasks and the profile sync functionality have all been improved for performance Brotli compression is now supported automatically if the server supports it Redis encryption can now be disabled if desired, which improves performance Phew, as you can see, we've spent a while tinkering under the hood too.
    We'd love to hear your thoughts. Let us know below!
    This blog is part of our series introducing new features for Invision Community 4.4.
  15. Thanks
    LaCollision reacted to Mark for an entry, 4.4: Store Filters and other Commerce updates   
    Allowing your customers to find exactly what they need as fast as possible will no doubt increase sales.
    A good number of our customers use Commerce to sell physical items. Until now, it's always been a little tricky to set up the store to allow customers to drill down into specific items within the store.
    In Invision Community 4.4, the sidebar in the store now includes filter options to help customers find the product they're looking for.

    Using the filter sidebar
    Administrators can set up whatever filters they like for each product. In this video above, you can see we have set up filters for color and price.
    You can set these filters up in the AdminCP by simply specifying each possible option:

    Creating a custom filter
    Once the filters have been set up, you can then add each filter to the categories it applies to (so you can have different filters for different categories) and when editing any product you can specify as many values for each filter as is appropriate (for example, if you have a color filter, you can choose multiple colors if the product allows the customer to choose a color, or if the product has multiple colors).

    Choosing the filter values when creating/editing a product
    In addition to these custom filters, you will also see filters for price (you can set appropriate bands for each category), rating, and stock level.
    Other Commerce Improvements
    In addition, we also have a few more features new to Commerce in 4.4:
    There are new sidebar blocks for best selling products, latest products, product reviews and a featured product. When sending a bulk mail, you can target recipients by the total amount they have spent. Categories with no products in them are hidden automatically in the store. Notification emails sent to customers to let them know their purchase will expire soon (including if they will be automatically charged) have been improved to show more clearly what will happen. When viewing a customer page in the AdminCP, active purchases are separated from expired and cancelled purchases to make it easier to discern which are active. Custom field values are now included on printed invoices. When filtering support requests in the AdminCP, you can now choose "more than" or "less than" for all time-based filter options. When using stock actions to reply to support requests, the stock reply can be incorporated into the staff member's default reply content rather than overwriting it. Invoices in the AdminCP can now be filtered by status. This blog is part of our series introducing new features for Invision Community 4.4.
  16. Thanks
    LaCollision reacted to Mark for an entry, 4.4: Increase visitor registrations with Post Before Registering   
    It's very easy to focus on a single metric to gauge the success of your community.
    It's very common for community owners to look at page hits and determine if their SEO and marketing efforts have paid off.
    Getting traffic to your site is only half the equation though. The most valuable metric is how many casual visitors you're converting to engaged members.
    Invision Community already makes it easy for guests to sign up using external services such as Facebook, Twitter and Google.
    However, there has to be a conscious decision to click that sign-up button. For some, this may be a barrier too many.
    Invision Community 4.4 reduces this barrier by allowing guests to create a post to a topic they want to engage with.
    Once they have posted, they are asked to simply complete their registration. They are more likely to do this now they have invested in your community.
    This will be incredibly valuable when you consider how much traffic a forum receives from inbound Google searches. With Post Before Registering, you'll increase your chances of turning that inbound lead into a registered member contributing to your site.
    Let me take you through the feature and show you how it works.
    When browsing the community guests will see the ability to submit a post, with an explanation that they can post now and complete registration later. The only thing they have to provide in addition to their post is an email address.

    Posting as a guest
    This works in any application for new content (topics, Gallery images, etc.) as well as comments and reviews. It will only show when a newly registered member would be able to post in that area - for example, it will not show in a forum that only administrators can post in. 
    After submitting the post, the post will not be visible to any user, but the user will immediately be redirected to the registration form with an explanation to complete the registration. The email address they provided will already be filled in.

    Registration form after posting as a guest
    At this point, the user can either fill in the registration form, or use a social sign in method like Facebook or Twitter to create an account. After the account has been created, and validation has been completed if necessary, their post will automatically be made visible just as if they had registered and then posted.
    If the user abandons the registration after they've submitted their post, an email will be sent to them to remind them to complete the registration.

    Email reminding user to finish registering
     
    Some Notes
    Invision Community already has a feature that allows guests to post as guests without registration if granted permission. That feature has not been removed and so if you already allow guests to post, the behaviour will not change. This new feature is only available when a guest can't post in a given area, but a member would be able to. The entire feature can also be turned off if undesired. If the area the guest is posting in requires moderator approval, or newly registered members require approval of new posts, the post will enter the moderation queue as normal once their account has been created. Third party applications will require minor updates to support this feature. Once your casual visitor has invested time in your community by crafting a post, they are much more likely to finish the registration to get it posted. If you have set up external log in methods, then registration only takes a few more clicks.
    This blog is part of our series introducing new features for Invision Community 4.4.
  17. Like
    LaCollision reacted to Matt for an entry, We're now using Invision Community 4.3!   
    Cue the music; switch on the dramatic lighting, we've got fantastic news!
    We're now running Invision Community 4.3 on here for some advanced testing before we unleash the first beta release.

    There's a subtle hint above
    If you need a recap of what was added, take a look at our product updates blog which takes you through the highlights.
    As this is a pre-beta release, expect some funkiness as we scurry around and tidy up our custom theme wrapper and other areas as we spot them.
    If you you find a bug, we'd love for you to report it with as much detail as you can muster in the bug report area.
    We'd love to know what you think, let us know below.
  18. Like
    LaCollision reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.3: Welcome to the future, blog!   
    Good news!
    We've taken Invision Community's Blog app by the scruff of the neck and dragged it into 2018!
    There has been a growing trend for imagery to play a very important part of a blog entry. This update reflects that.
    Introducing Grid View
    We have added a new view that shows your blog entries as cards with space for a cover photo.
    We've very visual creatures, and a good photograph can entice readers into your blogs to read more. 
    As you would expect, you can disable this mode from the Admin CP for purists that prefer the traditional list format.

     
    For those who's sense of adventure runs deep, the new grid mode allows you to show a list of latest blog entries as the blog home page.

     
    This puts valuable and engaging content right in front of your audience.
    This list view persists when you view a blog's entries giving a consistent feel.

     
    Viewing an entry
    We've given the blog entry page a little make-over by featuring the cover photo above the content. The slimmed down blog details bar allows your audience to focus on the content.

     
    Default Cover Photos
    You may have spotted that entries without a cover photo have a rather fetching geometric pattern in different colors.

     
    This is a new micro-feature of Invision Community 4.3. Currently, if you do not have a cover photo on a blog, profile or event, the bar is a rather sad shade of black.
    The new default cover photo feature makes it much more cheerful. Here's what a profile looks like.

     
    Much better.
    Here's a few technical details for those that love to know all the things.
    The grid view feature can be turned off in the ACP (but doing so will make me very sad) You can choose the default home page view: Latest Entries or List of Blogs. You can still view a list of blogs when you're on the latest entries page. This choice is stored in a little cookie (GDPR friendly, it doesn't contain any identifying data) so navigating back gets you the last view you chose. Let us know what you think! We love it, and hope you do too.
  19. Thanks
    LaCollision reacted to Charles for an entry, Update on Invision Community 4.2   
    We are working hard to get Invision Community 4.2 ready to go! If you have not been following this upcoming version, check out the details:
    Over the last month we have released several beta versions and feedback from those that have chosen to jump in on the beta has been great. We really could not be happier. Feedback has included amazement over how stable the beta is to reactions from community members enjoying all the new features.
    Everyone here at IPS is very excited to get the full release out so everyone can enjoy it. Not everyone is comfortable using beta releases .
    Back in March when we first announced 4.2 was coming soon we said that it would be out in mid-2017 and we are still on track for that. Be sure to keep an eye on announcements for the full release expected in the next 3 - 4 weeks.
    We really hope everyone is as excited as we are about 4.2's full release. Based on the feedback from those already using 4.2 beta on their live sites we really think this will be a huge hit with your community.
     
  20. Like
    LaCollision reacted to Ryan Ashbrook for an entry, New: Complete Your Profile   
    Completing long and complex forms online is tedious. It can be off putting having to fill in a lot of information before you can join a site or service. You may find that potential members never bother to convert from a visitor.
    How to convert guests into regular members is an often asked question. The simple answer is to lower the barrier to entry. Invision Community 4 already allows you to register with Facebook, Twitter, and other networks with ease.
    "Complete My Profile" is a system that will lower the barrier of conversion. Guests only have to complete a very basic form to gain membership. Members are then asked to complete any custom profile fields you require.
    You can also set up steps that group items together to encourage existing members to add more information to their public profile.
    Members with a complete profile and user photo provide others with much more engagement and personality.
    Registering
    If we look at registering first. Clicking "Sign Up" will only show a simple modal form with as few fields as possible.

     
    If you have required steps, and after any member validation flow, the complete your profile wizard is shown.

     
    This enforces required fields and the member cannot skip them or view other pages until completed.
    Of course, you may have steps that are not set to required. These are available too, but are skippable. Members can complete skipped steps later.

     
    A dismissible progress bar shows to members that have uncompleted steps. Once dismissed, it no longer displays in the header of the site.

     
    This same progress bar is always shown in the members' settings overview panel, in the user control panel. This will prompt members with incomplete steps.

     
    If you set up a new required step, members have to complete the step before being able to browse again. This will ensure that all regular members have completed profiles.
    Admin Control Panel
    You will create new steps in the Admin Control Panel. Each step can contain multiple elements of a single group. This step can be set to required to enforce completion or suggested to allow it to be skipped.

     
    The basic profile group contains things like user photo, birthday and cover photo. Choose any of these for this step.

     
    The custom profile field group contains any fields you have set up already.

     
    You can switch off this system if you feel it does not fit your needs. When disabled, you get the normal registration form.

     
    Reducing the complexity of membership can only help convert more guests into contributing members. Enforcing required steps ensures that you capture data across your membership.
    We hope you enjoy this feature and you see an increase in guest conversion with Invision Community 4.2.
     
  21. Like
    LaCollision reacted to Rikki for an entry, New: Richer Embeds   
    This is an entry about our IPS Community Suite 4.2 release.
    You are probably already familiar with our content embedding feature in IPS Community Suite. When a link to content in the community is pasted into the editor (e.g. a topic, or a post, or a gallery image, etc.) it is automatically expanded into a preview of the content, usually with an accompanying image, allowing users to click through to that content if they are interested.

    An embedded Gallery image in IPS Community Suite 4.1
    While it has proved a useful feature to members, each embed used essentially the same structure - a small thumbnail on the left, a title, and a few lines of text. This works fine for topics, but isn't ideal for other kinds of rich content that might be posted.
    In IPS Community Suite 4.2, we greatly improved upon our embedding handling, giving every type of content within every application its own customized embed style, allowing that content to be displayed however works best. This means larger high-res previews of Gallery images, a button to download a file right from the embed for Downloads files, showing a map for Calendar events, and so on. We worked to keep a consistent overall style between apps, but allow each to display its own relevant information.
    For users, things will work exactly as they do now - they simply paste a link to content, and it will continue to expand automatically. The changes are also backwards compatible. Any existing embeds in your community will automatically show the new styling you see below - no rebuilding necessary.
    So with that in mind, let's take a look what the new embeds look like! I won't show every single embed here because there's a huge number, but I'll try and give you a feel for how we approached the embed styles for each app.

    Gallery Image

    Comment on a Gallery Image

    Gallery Album

    Forum Topic

    Downloads File

    Review on a Downloads File

    Calendar Event

    Comment on a Calendar Event

    Commerce Product

    Record from a Pages database
    I hope that gives you a good overview of what to expect when your users try out the new embeds for themselves. As always, please share your feedback in the comments below!
     
  22. Like
    LaCollision 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
     
  23. Like
    LaCollision 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.
  24. Like
    LaCollision reacted to Rikki for an entry, New: Reactions   
    This entry is about our IPS Community Suite 4.2 release.
    IPS Community Suite has long had a reputation system; first we had a simple up/down system, later updated to introduce a Likes system as an alternative. Whichever system you chose to use, it tied in with our reputation system.
    We're pleased to introduce the latest updates to the reputation system, and it's something that has been requested for quite some time: Reactions.
    Quite simply, reactions allow users to offer more fine-grained sentiments towards content than a simple up/down or 'like'. They are now in common usage on social networks, and so users expect to be able to be more nuanced in their response to something they see.
    Let's see how they work in a post, and then cover the options you'll have available.

    What you see above is the default setup for a site that has used the Like system in version 4.1. We include 5 reactions by default:
    Like Thanks Confused Sad Haha If you currently use the older style up/down reputation system, don't fret - you'll still get the new reactions on upgrade, but they'll be disabled by default and instead the new reaction UI will show up/down reactions. This gives you the flexibility to decide which of the new reactions, if any, you want to allow.
    So, those are the basics - but what configuration options can you expect to see? First, you can of course add your own reactions! We expect that beyond the default reactions you'd expect to find, some sites will want reaction types specific to their use-case. On an intranet, you might want to have 'agree' and 'disagree' reactions for staff to use when responding to discussions. On a gaming community, you might replace the icons to be some graphic from a video game that means something to your particular userbase. There's a wealth of possibilities.
    Each reaction you set up can be configured to adjust the original author's reputation count - a reaction can be positive (i.e. award a reputation point), negative (i.e. subtract a reputation point), or neutral (i.e. leave the reputation count unchanged). Our default set won't include any negative reactions, but you are free to configure these and new reactions to suit your own use-case. A user's total reputation count is still shown alongside their content and in their profile, of course.
    If you don't want to use the new reactions for whatever reason, you can disable all of them except Like, and it'll behave just the like 4.1-and-earlier system:

     
    Sites that currently use the up/down system don't show a list of names of users, and instead show an overall reputation score for the content. With the new reaction system, you can enable this even if you don't use up/down reactions. This is great if you plan to use reactions as, for example, an agree/disagree system, or where the content score is more important to your site than the individual reaction types.

    How the reaction UI looks with the 'count only' setting enabled
    As you'd expect, you can click individual reaction counts (or the overall reputation score, if you enable that setting) to view who reacted to the content. This remains a permission setting that you can apply per-group.

    On touch devices, on-hover functionality is not suitable, and so for these devices the reactions UI looks like this:

    Reactions play well with all areas of the suite, including Recommended Replies:

    ...and activity streams...

    ...and a couple of places we aren't quite ready to reveal yet  
     
    We hope you're looking forward to this new feature as much as we are. It's already been a hit on our internal testing site, and we're looking forward to seeing how clients customize it for use on their own community.
    Developer note: Reactions are one of two new features (the other currently unannounced) so far that make use of PHP Traits.
  25. Like
    LaCollision reacted to bfarber for an entry, New: Gallery Lightbox Navigation   
    This entry is about our IPS Community Suite 4.2 release
    Improvements to our Gallery application, both in terms of new functionality and minor enhancements, are coming in 4.2. One area that was identified early on for improvement was the Gallery image view page and specifically how the lightbox feature available on this page behaved.
    We adjusted the buttons that overlay the main Gallery image to use icons instead of text

     
    If you click to view an alternative image size, we improved the header styling of this page as well for clarity and to allow easier downloading of the image you are viewing

     
    When viewing an image, you can open the image in a lightbox by clicking the icon at the very top far right corner. When doing so, there was previously a button at the bottom left hand corner of the lightbox if you wanted to download the image. We modernized this experience by implementing an overlay that you can click on in order to download the full size image instead.

     
    You will notice there are now left/right arrows in the lightbox view here. You can click left/right to scroll through the images in the container, just as if you clicked through the images in the photostrip immediately below the image on the main page. You can also use the left/right arrow keys on your keyboard. While this would navigate through the photostrip previously, it will now also navigate through the images in the lightbox as well.
    When viewing on your mobile device, the lightbox has been cleaned up allowing more image to display which is a welcome change for your mobile users.
    We have more changes coming to Gallery in 4.2 which we will be revealing soon but in the mean time we hope you enjoy these useful improvements.
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