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Ioannis D

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  1. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Charles for an entry, New: Tag Quick Edit   
    Tags are a powerful feature in IPS Community Suite 4 and we have seen clients using them in many ways to enhance content discovery on their site. Adding tags to an item is quite easy but modifying them after the fact requires you to edit the root content item. Not only is this tedious but it also then shows an edited-by line for that item even if all you did was change a tag.
    To make this process more user friendly we now have the ability to quickly edit tags when viewing any content item. When you view an item that has tags enabled and you have permission to edit then you will see a link to edit tags.

    Tag Quick Edit
    That brings up an input box where you can manage your item tags without leaving the page to a full edit screen.

    Tag Quick Edit Input
    We have been testing the feature for a few weeks internally and it has already saved us time as we tag our discussions. But beyond that, and I think more important, is the fact that we find we are using tags more often. More use means more organization and filter possibilities of your content which is a great thing for busy, data-drive communities.
    So we hope that not only will controlling your tags be faster an easier but you too find you use the tagging feature more often with this small but useful change.
     
    This change will be in version 4.1.17 which is scheduled to be released in early December 2016.
  2. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Rikki for an entry, Introducing our new Developers area   
    I'm pleased to announce we're finally ready to open our new Developers area. The aim of this project has been to improve our existing developer documentation by building a central place to contain it, as well as update and expand the content available.
    As of today, we have the regular documentation and REST API documentation ready to use. Over the coming weeks and months, we'll be expanding what's available further, going into more detail about the tools available within the framework. We've also started work on comprehensive Getting Started guides, that will walk you through simple developer projects from start to finish - these will be available soon, once they're complete.
    If there's a particular aspect of IPS4 development that you don't feel is adequately catered for right now, please let us know! This will help us direct our efforts to the most useful places.
    Enjoy!
  3. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Charles for an entry, Coming Soon in 4.1.16   
    IPS Community Suite 4.1.16 is nearing the end of development so I wanted to go over some of the new features in this upcoming release. Some are big and some are small but we always enjoy making any sort of enhancements to the Suite.
    We expect 4.1.16 to go to public beta next week. If you are interested in using a public beta please check out our beta forum (clients only) with more info. We welcome as much testing as possible and our betas are considered safe to use on a live site. We do offer support for betas so, if you are technically minded, consider giving them a try.
    Commerce: New Ticket Listing
    We have redesigned the ticket listing view in Commerce to be much more user friendly and better use screen space. You can also now group by department which is great for organization.

     
    Much like Activity Streams on the front end you can create custom views for tickets based on how you work.

    The new My History view allows staff to quickly see their latest replies and actions along with some basic stats.

    There are many other smaller improvement in Commerce in 4.1.16 as well. We think you will enjoy all the updates.
    Security Questions
    To enhance the security of your member accounts we now have a new security questions feature where you can allow your members to put in their own, personal security questions. The member will then be prompted to answer those questions for account actions you define.

    Account Change Emails
    Members will now receive confirmation emails when they change their email address...

    and their password...

    Topics per Page
    You can now define the number of topics per page in forum view.

    Remove all Followers
    Moderators can now remove all followers from any item that allows follows. This is useful if you are archiving an old item or otherwise do not want people getting notified of new activity on an item.

    Automatic Following
    Your members can already choose to automatically follow content they start or reply to but now you can define this as the default behavior for all members. Your members can of course override this to their own preference.

    Embed Failure Message
    To answer the constant question "why didn't my media embed?" we now show you why. Regular members will just see a message indicating the Suite tried to embed but was not able to. Admins will get more information on what failed.

    Suspended Member Page
    When you banned/suspended a member previously they simply saw a generic permission denied message. We now show a more friendly page saying they were suspended and why.

    The member can click to get the full information from the Warning System as well.

    Contact Us
    The contact us page now has configuration options to control where messages are sent. You can do email and even Commerce support departments now.

    Announcements
    Global announcements can now be restricted by member group.

    And some technical stuff...
    In addition to the new feature additions we have also fixed dozens of issues reported by clients. There was a particular focus on Commerce, Pages, and IPS Connect. Some other items of note:
    Performance improvements in: profile view, sitemap generator, posting replies, and Activity Streams We now try to more reliably detect the AWS S3 endpoint for those using S3 file storage Tasks view will now show the last time a task ran More efficient license key checking to keep the keys from being checked too often which can slow your site down If group promotion based on date is enable the system will now auto-promote even if a member does not login If you move your site to a new URL you no longer have to update a constant if using the image proxy You can now press ctrl/cmd+enter in any editor window to submit the reply (yay!) In Commerce ticket view there are keyboard shortcuts to perform common actions (such as press 'r' to open reply box or 'n' for note) There is now logic to prevent double-posting when the initial post encounters an error on submit If your datastore (cache system) is not working properly the AdminCP will now show you a warning telling you that it needs attention.    
  4. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Rikki for an entry, New in 4.1.12: Post preview   
    We are currently beta testing our next release, 4.1.12, which contains hundreds of bug fixes, dozens of improvements, as well as a handful of new features. I wanted to introduce one of those new features: post preview.
    Long-time users of our software will know that a post preview function was a standard feature, but we took the decision to not include it in the initial IPS4 release. It had a couple of drawbacks:
    it only applied to certain pages, such as topic view - other WYSIWYG editors simply didn't get a preview the workflow wasn't very good for modern web apps, requiring a round-trip to the server and a full page refresh When IPS4 was released, we felt that the built-in rendering of the editor was a sufficient preview of how the end result would appear. However, while analyzing ongoing customer and user feedback for IPS4 in its first year of release, we have seen that a preview still has a use. There are some circumstances when a true WYSIWYG experience is just not possible such as using more advanced formatting (like LaTeX) or when admins create certain custom editor plugins.
    As a result, we rethought post preview. We wanted to ensure that all editors could be previewed, and that it didn't have a clunky workflow. In addition, since IPS4 uses a responsive theme, we wanted to give users the opportunity to preview how their post would look on different devices.
    Here's the result, and what will be available in 4.1.12:

    Post preview in IPS Community Suite 4.1.12
    The preview is shown by clicking a new button on the toolbar (meaning it can be moved, removed, etc. just like the other default buttons). When the preview loads, the toolbar allows the user to resize it to different device sizes. If they are on desktop, they can also view it at tablet at phone sizes; on a tablet, it can also be viewed at phone size.
    So now we not only show a true preview of what content will look like when posted, but we also allow you to preview how it will look on other devices. Of course that preview is just a best-guess since different devices have different window sizes but it does give you an idea.
    We hope this reimagining of an old feature for a more modern web will please end-users and make posting content a more accurate process. Stay tuned for more updates on what's included in 4.1.12!
    Version 4.1.12 is currently in beta testing and should be released in the next two weeks.
  5. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Rikki for an entry, Theme Tip: Using Pages blocks anywhere   
    Blocks are an extremely popular feature in IPS4, used by a huge number of customers to great effect. They range from feeds of topics, to statistics, to custom blocks that can contain anything you wish. They're a great way to add dynamic content to your community theme.
    What many people don't know is that blocks you create with Pages can be used anywhere in your theme, not just in the designated block containers (in the header, footer & sidebar).
     
    The {block} tag
    It's really easy to do so. Here's the tag you'd use:
    {block="block_key"} That's it! The block_key is the one you specify when you're creating the block in Pages (if you don't specify one manually, Pages will auto-generate one for you).
     
    Where can you use them?
    Block tags can be used anywhere that template logic is supported. That includes:
    Theme templates Pages page content Other kinds of templates (e.g. database templates) Even within other blocks!  
    What can you do with them?
    The obvious benefit of blocks is that they are reusable, so in any situation where you need the same content duplicated, it makes sense to put the content in a custom block instead, and simply insert it wherever needed. Then if you need to update the content later, you have one place to do so. Custom menus are a great example of reusing blocks; since blocks have full use of template logic, you can build your menu HTML in a block, use HTML Logic to highlight the correct item, and insert the menu block on each of your pages. We use this approach on our feature tour section menu. Here's a snippet of the menu block HTML for that page:
    <nav id='elTourNav'> <div class='container'> <ul class='ipsList_inline'> <li><a href='/features/apps' {{if \IPS\Request::i()->path == 'features/apps'}}class='sSelected'{{endif}}>Our Apps</a></li> <li><a href='/features/engagement' {{if \IPS\Request::i()->path == 'features/engagement'}}class='sSelected'{{endif}}>Engagement</a></li> <!-- ... --> </ul> </div> </nav>  
    Blocks are useful beyond that, though. A couple of weeks ago, we showed you how to use HTML Logic to only show content to certain groups. Using blocks is actually an easier way to do this - simply add the content to a custom block, then check the groups who should see it. We use this technique to show a 'welcome to our community' message to guests on our own community. We created our welcome message as a custom Pages block, set it so that only guests have permission to view it, and then added it to our template header. Simple, effective and easy to manage.
    That's just two ways you can use blocks - there's many other creative users too! If you've used blocks in an interesting way, share your example in the comments!
  6. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Rikki for an entry, 7 ways to secure your community   
    Security should never be an afterthought for your community. All too often, site owners consider beefing up their security only when it's too late and their community has already been compromised. Taking some time now to check and improve the security of your community and server could pay dividends by eliminating the cost and hassle of falling victim to hacking in the first place.
    Let's run down 7 ways that you can protect your community with the IPS Community Suite, from security features you may not know about to best practices all communities should be following.
     
    1. Be selective when adding administrators
    Administrator permissions can be extremely damaging in the wrong hands, and granting administrator powers should only be done with great consideration. Granting access to the AdminCP is like handing someone the keys to your house, so before doing so, be sure you really trust the person and that their role requires access to the AdminCP (for example, would moderator permissions be sufficient for the new staff member?).
    Don't forget to remove administrator access promptly when necessary too, such as the member of staff leaving your organization. Always be aware of exactly who has administrator access at any given time, and review regularly. You can list all accounts that have AdminCP access by clicking the List Administrators button on the System -> Security page.
    2. Utilize Admin Restrictions
    In many organizations, staff roles within the community reflect real-world roles - designers need access to templates, accounting needs access to billing, and so forth. IPS4 allows you to limit administrator access to very specific areas of the AdminCP with the Admin Restrictions feature, and even limit what can be done within those areas. This is a great approach for limiting risk to your data; by giving staff members access to only the areas they need to perform their duties, you reduce the potential impact should their account become compromised in future.
    3. Choose good passwords
    This seems like an obvious suggestion, but surveys regularly show that people choose passwords that are simply too easy to guess or brute force. Your password is naturally the most basic protection of your AdminCP there is, so making sure you're using a good password is essential.
    We recommend using a password manager application such as 1password or LastPass. These applications generate strong, random passwords for each site you use, and store them so that you don't have to remember them.
    Even if you don't use a password manager, make sure the passwords you use for your community are unique and never used for others sites too.
    4. Stay up to date
    It's a fact of software development that from time to time new security issues are reported and promptly fixed. But if you're running several versions behind, once security issues are made public through responsible disclosure, malicious users can exploit those weaknesses in your community.
    When we release new updates - especially if they're marked as a security release in our release notes - be sure to update as promptly as you can so you receive the latest fixes. Your AdminCP will also let you know when a new version is ready for download.
    5. Use .htaccess protection for your AdminCP
    In addition to IPS4's own AdminCP login page, you can set up browser-level authentication, giving you a double layer of protection. This is done via a special .htaccess file which instructs the server to prompt for authentication before access to the page is granted. IPS4 can automatically generate this file for you - simply go to System -> Security in your AdminCP, and enable the "Add a secondary admin password" rule.
    And it should go without saying, but to be clear: don't use the same username or password for both your .htaccess login and your admin account, or the measure is redundant!
    6. Restrict your AdminCP to an IP range where possible
    If your organization has a static IP or requires staff members to use a VPN, you can add an additional layer of security to your community by prohibiting access to the AdminCP unless the user's IP matches your whitelist. This is a server-level feature, so consult your IT team or host to find out how to set it up in your particular environment. If you're a Community in the Cloud customer, contact our support team if you'd like to set up this protection for your account.
    7. Properly secure your PHP installation
    Many of PHP's built-in functions can leave a server vulnerable to high-impact exploits, and yet many of these functions aren't needed by the vast majority of PHP applications you might run. We therefore recommend that you explicitly disable these functions using PHP's disable_functions configuration setting. Here's our recommended configuration, although you or your host may need to tweak the list depending on your exact needs:
    disable_functions = escapeshellarg,escapeshellcmd,exec,ini_alter,parse_ini_file,passthru,pcntl_exec,popen,proc_close,proc_get_status,proc_nice,proc_open,proc_terminate,show_source,shell_exec,symlink,system Another critical PHP configuration setting you need to check is that open_basedir is enabled, especially if you're hosted on a server that also hosts other websites (known as shared hosting). If another account on the server is comprised and open_basedir is disabled, the attacker can potentially gain access to your files too.
    Naturally, Community in the Cloud customers needn't worry about either of these steps - we've already handled it for you!
     
    So there we go - a brief overview of 7 common-sense ways you can better protect your community and its users. As software developers, we're constantly working to improve the behind-the-scenes security of our software, but as an administrator, there's also a number of steps you should take to keep your community safe on the web.
    If you have any tips related to security, be sure to share them in the comments!
  7. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Rikki for an entry, Theme Tip: Use HTML logic to display content to specific groups   
    HTML Logic is our name for the additional tags available in IPS4's templates that allow runtime logic to be executed. It comprises if/then/else statements as well as loops and more.
    Since HTML Logic has access to all of the underlying PHP framework in IPS4, it's very powerful and a lot can be achieved with it. One common use is to limit certain content within a template to particular member groups. Let's see how that might be done.
     
    Showing or hiding content only to guests
    We'll first look at a simpler idea: showing or hiding content specifically to guests (i.e. anyone who isn't logged in). Within IPS4, the \IPS\Member::loggedIn() object contains information about the current user. Guests always have a member_id of NULL (i.e. no value), so we can simply check that value in our logic tag:
    {{if \IPS\Member::loggedIn()->member_id === NULL}} This content *only* shows to guests, since they have a NULL member_id. {{endif}} {{if \IPS\Member::loggedIn()->member_id}} This content *only* shows to logged-in users since their member_id is a number, which will equal true. {{endif}}  
    Showing content only to specific groups
    Let's go a bit further and this time show content to specific (primary) member groups. First, you need to get the IDs for the group(s) you want to deal with. You can find this by editing the group in the AdminCP, and making a note of the id parameter in the URL. On my installation, the Administrator group is ID 4 so we'll use that in our example.
    Once again, we're using the \IPS\Member::loggedIn() object, but this time we're using the member_group_id property.
    {{if \IPS\Member::loggedIn()->member_group_id === 4}} This content only shows to members in the "Administrators" group (ID 4 in our example) {{endif}}  
    Working with multiple groups at once
    Following the code above, you could simply repeat the check against \IPS\Member::loggedIn()->member_group_id several times, for each ID you want to allow. However, since our templates allow arbitrary PHP expressions to be used, there's a neater way: use an array of member group IDs you want to allow, and check against that using PHP's in_array function. Here's an example where we only show content to group IDs 2, 4 and 6:
    {{if in_array( \IPS\Member::loggedIn()->member_group_id, array( 2, 4, 6 ) )}} This content only shows to members in groups with the ID 2, 4 or 6. {{endif}}  
    Have a request for a theme tip? Let us know in the comments and we'll try and help out in a future tip! 
  8. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Rikki for an entry, Streamlining our website and community   
    Many of the regular visitors to our community won't have failed to notice the new look we launched last week. Now that the dust has settled, I thought it was a good time to explain why we've made the change.
    Streamlined access to everything we offer
    Ever since IPS was founded in 2002, our community has been distinct from our website. The community is also where we kept all kinds of resources, from guides to the Marketplace. For those customers who know us well and enjoy hanging out in our community (and we have many who have been with us since that day in 2002!), this is no problem. Unfortunately, the downside is many new and potential customers didn't see everything we have to offer: all the wonderful addons our contributors offer, additional support resources, plentiful advice from other community administrators, and more.
    In addition, we've always used the default theme that our software ships with, but with our self-service demo system now being the primary way new customers get to try out our software, this has become less important.
    So, we took the decision to move some parts of the community to the website for more exposure and easier discovery by new visitors. We made some tweaks to our navigation so that finding these areas is easier than before. And, of course, we've brought the website header over to the community, giving it a fresher look and more consistent navigation, wherever you happen to be on our website.
    Of course, all of our website is built in IPS4, as you would expect. Whereas before our website existed on a separate installation, as part of the update we merged our community and website together. This means you can sign in from anywhere, see your notifications and so on.
    This is just the first step we've taken on improving what we offer and how we offer it. We have many plans in progress. You may have seen the theme tip we posted this week, which is the first in a series of regular tips we'll be sharing to help you get the most out of the IPS Community Suite. We'll also be highlighting some of the incredible work our customers do, whether it's a unique use of our software, or something in our Marketplace that adds a great feature.
    Stay tuned!
  9. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Charles for an entry, Theme Tip: Twitter Embed Block   
    Several clients have asked how we placed the Twitter feed block on the sidebar of our News page. It's really quite easy and a great demo of how you can place custom HTML in our system. Here is how it was done:
    Get the embed code from Twitter Create a custom HTML block in our Pages app Drag and drop that block into the sidebar That really is it! Here is a video walkthrough:
    This is a basic example of a custom HTML block that you can use in so many different ways. You could create a "call to action" the only shows to Guests to get them to register. You might also create text that only displays to your staff with quick links to areas they need.
    Here we demo dragging the block into the sidebar. You can also put blocks right in theme templates and use them in many more ways. That will be covered in future theme tips.
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