Myr 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!
Myr reacted to Joel R for an entry, 10 Easy Steps to Successfully Grow Your Online Community
The goal of every client here in the Invision peer community, myself included, is to launch and run successful communities.
Whether I’m going to be able to achieve that success in the new year depends entirely on trying these 10 steps. I know if that if I stick to these steps, then my community will grow – and I know if you follow along, your community will too.
10. Ignore Google
Google makes me laugh; Google makes me cry; Google makes me want to pitch myself into the freezing icy waters of the San Francisco bay. But focusing on Google’s up-and-down volatility isn’t what is going to make my community successful. It’s a distraction, and at worst, a wrong commitment of attention.
9. Remember My Past Sins
I’ve made every mistake imaginable – including over-the-top themes, too many customizations, and chasing after dream goals. The very worst is not making a database backup, then losing everything. Most of us came up through the School of Hard Knocks, and we should learn from those experiences.
8. Treat Every Person as Gold
Members are the beating heart of your community, and are truly what makes your community special. I’m committed to taking time out every day to message, comment, or reply to 3 new people to cultivate new relationships.
7. Practice x3
Nobody is perfect the first time they try something. Thomas Edison famously stated that he found 10,000 ways for a lightbulb to not work, and 1 way that it did. Whether you’re publishing new content or designing a template, refine it multiple times.
6. Start as a Guest
I don’t do this enough and I always find something surprising when I do. Either something is missing, something can be improved, or something is wrong. The guest experience is the very first impression a visitor will have, and it can shape all of his future expectations.
5. Less is More
It’s easy to get sidetracked and to let your community get bloated with content and features. It’s better to be amazing in one domain expertise: you offer the most authority, the most trusted content, the latest news, or the most comprehensive overview. Excite members by being the best at what you do. De-emphasize, consolidate, or archive everything else as needed.
4. It’s Not the Feature; Its What the Feature Does
It’s easy to think that because Invision Community ships with a new feature, then you should use it. You don’t. You should always pre-qualify the feature by asking how the feature can help you better engage with your community, how does it engage, and how can you customize the feature even better for your members?
3. Bring Your Superusers Along
Even though I invite my superusers into a special private feedback group, I don’t leverage their knowledge, experience, or perspective enough. I recently asked for feedback about a particular feature, and it turns out none of them use it!
2. Experiment & Learn
There’s always something new to learn, explore, and implement. It's my personal goal to enrich my personal skillsets in areas like leadership, team building, mentoring, emotional intelligence, organizational behavior, and psychology for more effective community management. On the promotion side, you can learn about email marketing, digital marketing, social media, creating rich media, and more. On the content side, you can always improve your content writing skills, emotive writing, keyword research, and the conversion of one content piece into multiple media and formats.
1. Enjoy the Journey
For any community admin who sticks with his community for several years, you can get burned out. I know the feeling, and I like to periodically remind myself about what I enjoy running the community. There’s so much to learn and do that it can feel overwhelming, so it’s important to take every day in 2020 one day at a time.
Myr reacted to Matt for an entry, Invision Community: A decade in review
When the clocks strike midnight on New Year's Eve, we will enter the third decade of producing Invision Community.
A lot has changed since we set up in 2002. Our team has grown and our product matured. In a world where online startups explode and die within a few years, we're something of an anomaly.
We still have the same love and passion for creating the very best tools to build a community, and we have always ensured that Invision Community is in touch with modern demands.
This decade has seen Invision Community go from strength to strength. In 2010 we were one of many forum systems catering to smaller niche audiences. In 2019 we're powering discussion for many international and well-known brands.
Online habits may have changed in this time, and social media may have swallowed up smaller informal communities, but the need for independent community platforms remains strong.
2020 will see us release 4.5 which will bring another round of essential updates to existing features and a fresh batch of new features.
But first, let us climb inside our Delorean, rewind the clock to 2010 and start from the beginning.
As the sun rose on 2010, Bruno Mars was singing about parts of the human face in "Just the way you are", Katy Perry irritated Microsoft Word's spellchecker with "California Gurls", and CeeLo Green was trying to "Forget you" (at least in the radio edit).
Christopher Nolan's boggled all our minds with Inception, James Franco lost the ability to clap in 127 Hours, and Colin Firth stammered his way through The Kings Speech.
Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad to a collective snort, moderate derision and questions over just how useful a giant iPhone will be.
President Obama, just a year into office warns of "Snowmageddon" that eventually dumps up to 40 inches of snow on the east coast of the United States.
We lost comedy legend Leslie Nielsen (we'd never dream of calling him Shirley), and we gained a small child named Ryan who in just nine years would be earning $29,000,000 by opening boxes of toys on YouTube.
62% of us were using Internet Explorer to the chagrin of most web developers who wished that Chrome's 5% market share was more significant.
Facebook celebrated its sixth year by reaching 400 million users (a far cry from the 2.5 billion it currently has). Twitter, just four years old hits 30 million monthly active users (and none of them talked about fake news).
And how about Invision Community?
We hit 2010 running by releasing numerous updates on IP.Board v3.1, including finally using long-established web standards, and share features now that "social networking is all the craze these days" noting that "friends and colleagues often share similar interests, after all."
How innocent we all were in 2010.
Back then, each product had its own name and release cycle. IP.Gallery's new features included being able to rotate images by 90 degrees. Honestly, people used to go crazy for this stuff.
In May, we released a brand new application called "IP.Commerce". A few months later we renamed it "IP.Nexus" and years later, it was changed back to "Commerce". Naming things is hard.
The announcement contained exquisite details such as "It's hard to say when it'll be available" and "we don't know how much it will cost". We were so sure that it would be accepted positively, we removed the ability to post comments to the blog entry.
As summer turned to autumn and the end of the year loomed large, we released news about a significant update to Gallery called "IP.Gallery 4.0" which pre-dates Invision Community 4 and confused customers for years (so IP.Board 3 works with IP.Gallery 4, but IP.Board 4 works with Gallery 4?). Numbering things is hard too.
The last blog entry was about an app called 'IP.SEO' that I had utterly forgotten existed. It was written by Dan who once locked Lindy out of his own datacenter, but we don't talk about that.
I don't even remember this website
Charles opens the year by managing expectations for IP.Board 3.2 by outlining our three key goals (promotion, usability and modernization). The last one was us removing the "back to top" button and then spending the next eight years explaining why we removed it.
Our spam monitoring service processed 300,000 requests in the first two weeks of 2011. 30% of these requests were deemed to be spam and blocked (0.1% was probably an administrator registering 50 fake accounts before being banned from their own site).
I posted about "exciting new technology" in our new "WYSIWYG" editor (although what you see is sometimes close to what you get) would be more appropriate but slightly less catchy. We spent the next eight years explaining why no one uses BBCode anymore to almost everybody.
Brandon closed out the year with a blog promising "new toys" for IP.Content 2.3 (now called Pages, keep up!) which promises a "who's online" widget and a "shared media field" that was not only complicated to explain, but also use.
IP.Board 3.2 in all its glory
We start the year with news on IP.Board 3.3. This release was to feature essential updates such as the "Remember me?" checkbox on the login form and emoticons in signatures.
Despite being constantly told that we don't take SEO seriously, we round up the latest serious SEO changes including tags, soft 404s and micro schema.
We also celebrated our tenth year in business.
Something terrible must have happened to one of our competitors because we asked if you'd like to switch to IPS.
The year ends with IP.Board 3.4 being released for beta testing. This being a rare year where we release two major versions in less than 12 months.
Brandon has eight coffees and tries to explain what it's like to be a developer: "us developers are a strange bunch. We have a lot of crazy thoughts that just don't make sense to anyone else. Our brains are wired differently. We get from point A to point B by going around point Z and bouncing off point M first.", he closes the blog entry by urging you to ignore us.
The big news is that work on 4.0 is officially underway! Don't get too excited, releasing two major versions in 2012 clearly fatigued us as "IPS Community Suite 4.0" is not released until June 2015, over two years later.
4.0 was our first complete rewrite in years. We threw out all our stable and tested code and started over with an empty editor. It was a vast undertaking that consumed us completely. The result was worth it as we had a new modern framework that still serves us today. But we're getting ahead of ourselves a little.
Back in 2013, Mark talks about trees. Not the kind you find laying around in forests, but rather the programmatic type. It's just a way for Mark to show off how beautiful his code is.
IP.Board 3.4 still gets many updates (along with IP.Gallery, IP.Blog, IP.Content, IP.Downloads and IP.Address (ok that last one was made up)).
We spend the year talking about various new things in 4.0, including a new-new editor and various special features (and no one noticed we started calling it "IPS Social Suite 4.0" - it just rolls off the tongue!)
I introduce the new theme engine for 4.0, and this time, my code is not deleted by Mark (true story).
We didn't know it at the time, but 2014 was not the year that IPS Social Community Suite 4.0 (naming things is hard) will be released. Still, Rikki talks enthusiastically about "extending JS controllers and mixins" a way of coding so complex, to this day you can count the number of people who truly understand it on one of Rikki's fingers because it's only Rikki that understands it.
Determined not to be outdone in the confusing customers' stakes, I go on about how important it is to convert your database to UTF-8 when upgrading from 3.0.
As 2014 neared its inevitable end, we did manage to put up a pre-release testing site and release Beta 1 a release so unstable; it makes the current political climate look absolutely peachy.
IPS Community Suite 4.0 (Preview)
Finally, the year that 4.0 is to be released! We released six betas and a few release candidates before nervously hovering over the 'release' button (actually it's a collection of git commands and 'to the letter' instructions I ignore).
After a year of training customers to call our forthcoming release "IPS Social Suite 4.0," we release it as "IPS Community Suite 4.0". Lindy writes a lengthy blog article that sounds like a cross between a technical discussion of the Brother 8987-A printer and an award acceptance speech.
Quite frankly, after nearly two years of development, we're just relieved to have finally released it.
The year is spent refining and fixing 4.0 and culminates in the news of 4.1, where we add activity streams and a menu manager. We also talk about the new-new-new editor.
December 16th marks the time that IP.Board 3.4 officially dies as we declare it "end of life" and no longer support it. That shiny new release we were excited to talk about in 2012 is finally put out to pasture. The last we heard, IP.Board 3.4 moved to a farm and is doing well.
Now that IP.Board 3.4 is end of life; we do the sensible thing and make a few minor IP.Board 3.4 releases to improve security.
IPS Social.. sorry, Community Suite hits version 4.1.17 (confusing Lindy) before the year is done with many new improvements, including embeds, warning notes and the new leaderboard.
We're still mostly undecided what to call the product, so we avoid trying in all our blog entries.
In fact, looking back, it's quite remarkable how often we changed the name of our product. You'd be forgiven for thinking that it was a robust and well-considered attempt to prevent Google from serving up relevant search results and to confuse potential customers.
We find time to update our own website and introduce a new developer's area.
Barely 16 days into the new year, and we release news of the two-factor authentication feature added to IPS Community Social Invision IP.Board Suite 4.1.18.
When spring has sprung, Charles drops the news that we're working on 4.2, the main feature being a screenshot of the Admin CP log in. We promise that you will love it and that it will be released mid-2017.
Updates come thick and fast. Calendar event reminders, content messages, recommended replies, letter profile photos device management and delayed deletes all make the blog.
Still not convinced that people take us seriously when we say we're committed to SEO, we post about more SEO improvements.
This time, we talk about implementing JSON-LD, rich snippets, pagination tags and more.
We also squeeze another one in about the new-new-new-new editor.
We overhaul our own blog (using Pages because that's how we roll) and I start a hilarious series of blog entries where I troll our own team. Everyone including me loses interest early on in 2019.
During April, we do the sensible thing and change the name of our product once more. IPS Community/Social Suite 4.1 is out, and Invision Community 4.2 is in.
Just to recap: IBForums > IPB > IP.Board > IPS Social Suite > IPS Community Suite > Invision Community.
You're welcome search engines!
As promised, we release Invision Community 4.2 around the middle of the year. Well done, everyone! We finally hit a release date!
As is now tradition, we end the year with news of our next big release Invision Community 4.3 (and tease the new emoji feature). We also calm nerves about Europe's endless fascination with regulation (it's this kind of joke that caused Brexit you know) and wrote up a guide on GDPR.
Phew. We're almost there, dear reader. If you skimmed through most of the blog to this point and expected me to finish with a bang, you'll be disappointed.
We start 2018 at full speed releasing feature news on Invision Community 4.3 including emoji, OAuth, community moderation, REST API, subscription manager, announcements and more.
Oh and we hit our sweet sixteenth birthday in February!
We release Invision Community 4.3 in April to rapturous applause after a short beta testing period. We all agree that 4.3 was a great stable release which instantly makes the developers nervous.
Towards the end of the year, we announce that work has begun on Invision Community 4.4. We talk about new features such as GIPHY integration, AdminCP notifications, Post Before Registering, Commerce Updates and more.
Still not sure if we care about SEO? Well, how about another blog entry on SEO?
The only thing missing this year is a new update on our editor.
And we arrive back home in 2019. A week into January and I pull the massive twist that we're using Invision Community 4.4 on our own community. It's not quite up there with "Bruce Willis is a ghost" though.
In March we write up a case study on The Trevor Space, an LGBTQ charity set up to prevent suicide and to provide crisis intervention. TrevorSpace commends Invision Community for allowing anonymity online which isn't possible with social media.
Rikki drops a bombshell in September when he announces that we're actively working on native iOS and Android apps for Invision Community. Apparently mobile is a thing now.
November starts a series of blog entries talking about our new upcoming release, Invision Community 4.5. We talk about the Admin CP overhaul, Club Pages, RSS Feed Improvements and Club improvements.
And here we are. Right up to date. This decade may have only taken us from IP.Board 3.1 to Invision Community 4.5, but it really has seen a massive change in the company we are, and the industry we are in.
We have seen the inception, rise and stumble of social media. While it's true that forums are no longer the preserve of Star Trek fans obsessing over continuity errors and informal communities have been absorbed by Facebook and friends, spaces that you completely own to host discussions are still very much in demand.
Invision "Chameleon" Community in 2019
Over the past year or so we've seen a sustained rise in the demand for independent communities. Brands especially like that you own your data and can use it to gain insights into customer habits. Just this year, we've launched communities for LEGO, HTC, Sage, Mattel, Gibson Guitars, Squarespace, and many more.
We are constantly evolving Invision Community (assuming we stick with that name) to be at the very centre of your online presence. We have tools to add discussion comments to any page of your site, to embed widgets with a few lines of code. We want to showcase your community throughout your site by adding multiple touchpoints to take your customers on a journey with you. Our native apps will offer new and exciting ways to interact with a community via new interfaces.
As we move into our third decade, I can only see a resurgence for independent communities as we tire of the crushing intrusion of social media. We give away so much of our attention, time and information for very little reward.
We have never been more divisive and fiercely tribal.
It's time to come back together to discuss a topic with care and thoughtfulness. It's time to allow our personalities to take a back seat and let considered discussion live again.
And we'll be here doing what we have always done; creating the very best community platform possible.
I'd love to know when you joined us on this crazy ride. Was it before or after 2010?
Myr reacted to Joel R for an entry, 4x4 Superuser Concepts 🏅
Whether you call them Champions 🤩, Advocates 🌟, or Superusers 🏆, every community contains an elite group of members that carries 🏋 the community. They don't just drink the kool-aid 💧. They mix, chug, and swim 🏊♀️in the community kool-aid.
Learn 🔢 four community management concepts about Superusers in less than 🕓 four minutes.
1. 90-9-1 Rule (aka "1% rule"): The 90-9-1 principle refers to the lopsided inequality of user engagement that 90% of users are lurkers 🙈, 9% of members contribute from time to time 🙉, and 1% of users 😸 account for almost all contributions. Superusers are the 1%.
2. Intrinsic Motivator: Motivation that comes from internal motivation💖, rather than any external rewards. This could be a sense of satisfaction 😃, pride 😤, ownership, loyalty, friendship 🤗, or other emotional and internal motivator. Long-term superusers 🏃 are wired to intrinsic motivation. Tapping into intrinsic motivation is key to providing new motivation for superusers.
3. Spiral of Silence: Be careful ⚠️, however, that your superusers don't overwhelm 🛑 the conversation which can lead to the Spiral of Silence: a theory that as the vocal minority becomes louder 📢, other members adopt the same views or fail to share opposing views. You'll need to privately manage this vocal minority, especially if they're negative 💢.
4. Work Out Loud 💬: An engagement practice for superusers to visibly share 🗣 their work online in your community. It offers opportunities for superusers and members to openly share 👯 their knowledge, generosity, purposeful discovery, and growth ✨. Usually entire point ✴️ of communities of practice.
Myr reacted to Mark for an entry, 4.4: Recurring PayPal Payments and more with Braintree and Commerce
Braintree is a payment gateway provided by PayPal which provides some great additional features for PayPal transactions including a significantly improved recurring payments model. We are delighted to be bringing full support for Braintree for Commerce in Invision Community 4.4.
What is Braintree?
Braintree is a payment gateway provided by PayPal which supports taking payments by credit cards (including Apple Pay and Google Pay) and Venmo as well as PayPal, providing a good option for communities wanting to use a single payment gateway, and also brings improved functionality for recurring PayPal transactions.
For PayPal transactions, there are no additional fees and the checkout experience uses the normal PayPal experience your customers are used to.
Recurring PayPal Improvements
Recurring payments / Billing Agreements in PayPal have up until now been initiated by PayPal. Invision Community tells PayPal what the renewal terms of a purchase are, but then it's up to PayPal to take that payment and notify your community when it succeeds (or fails).
This comes with a number of limitations and problems. It makes it difficult for you as an admin to modify an existing purchase or for the customer to upgrade/downgrade. It also means the customer has to create separate Billing Agreements for each purchase. Most significantly though, it means if there is a delay in receiving the payment (such as an expired card) it is sometimes unclear what should happen on your community's end, and how it can be resolved if/when the payment is received.
Other payment gateways work the other way around. When a customer pays by card, for example, they have the option of storing their card details. Later, if they make another purchase or a renewal invoice is generated, Invision Community can tell the gateway to recharge the same card - and if it fails, allow the customer to provide an alternative payment method. This allow both you and your customers to have much greater control, and is much more reliable.
Braintree resolves this by allowing customers when paying with PayPal to save their PayPal account in the same way they would save a credit card on file. When paying with PayPal, users will see a simple checkbox which, if checked, will allow future payments to be taken with PayPal automatically.
Storing PayPal Accounts for Recurring Payments
In addition to an improved checkout experience, our integration with Braintree supports:
Taking payments by Credit Card, including 3DSecure checking and the ability for customer to store card details on file. Braintree uses a fully PCI-compliant method of taking card details in a way that ensures the card information never reaches your server. Apple Pay and Google Pay Venmo, which also allows storing accounts in the same way as PayPal accounts. Offering PayPal Credit Handling chargebacks/disputes Support for Braintree's Advanced Fraud Tools
A Disputed PayPal Transaction
Existing Setups and Upgrading
The existing PayPal gateway will continue to be available for basic PayPal integration, and your existing set up will continue to work exactly as it does now after upgrading.
If you are using PayPal, especially if you are using Billing Agreements, we strongly recommend switching to Braintree after upgrading. While it isn't possible to convert existing Billing Agreements, you can allow existing ones to continue to work and use Braintree for new purchases.
Please note that while existing setups will work fine, from 4.4 it will no longer be possible to set up a new PayPal method with either Billing Agreements, or to take payments by card, as PayPal has deprecated the API this was using in favour of Braintree and it can no longer be enabled on new accounts.
As mentioned though, this does not affect any existing setups, which, if you do not switch to Braintree, will continue to work as they do now.
This blog is about our upcoming release Invision Community 4.4.
Myr 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.
Myr reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.4: SEO Improvements
It's been said that the best place to hide a dead body is on page 2 of Google.
While we can't promise to get you to page 1 for a generic search term, we have taken some time for Invision Community 4.4 to do an SEO sweep.
Moz.com defines SEO as "a marketing discipline focused on growing visibility in organic (non-paid) search engine results. SEO encompasses both the technical and creative elements required to improve rankings, drive traffic, and increase awareness in search engines."
We have the technical skills and were fortunate enough to have Jono Alderson of Yoast lend his time, knowledge and vast experience to improve our SEO.
This blog article gets a little technical. It's completely fine to leave at this point with the comfort of knowing that Google will be a little happier on your site with Invision Community 4.4.
The majority of the changes are designed to send stronger signals to Google and friends over which content to slurp and which to look at a bit later.
Still here? Good. Let us roll up our sleeves and open the hood.
The most visible change is that we've taken pagination out of query strings and placed it in the path.
For example, the current pagination system looks a little like:
Which is fine but it gets a little confusing when you add in a bunch of sort filters like so:
A better approach would be to make a clear signal to both Google and humans that pagination is a separate thing.
Invision Community 4.4 does this:
Not only is this good for search engines, but it's also good for the humans too as it is more readable and no longer confused with filter parameters.
Of course, we ensure that the old style pagination is redirected (via a 301 header) to the new pagination URL automatically so nothing breaks.
These tags are a way of telling search engines that a specific URL is the 'master copy' of a page. This helps prevent duplicate content from being indexed.
Without it, you are leaving it up to the search engine to choose which is the master copy of the page.
yoursite.com/community/forums/123-forum/ and yoursite.com/community/forums/123-forum/?sort=desc&field=time may show the same content but have different URLs.
By setting the canonical tag to point to yoursite.com/community/forums/123-forum/ regardless of filters sends a strong signal to the search engines that this is the page you want to be spidered.
Invision Community sets these tags in many places, but we audited these in 4.4 and found a few areas where they were missing.
For example, viewing a member's profile doesn't always set a canonical tag which may confuse search engines when you click on "View Activity" and get a list of content items.
When an application or website wants to tell the visitor that the page they are looking for doesn't exist, it sends a 404 header code along with a page that says something "We could not find that item" or "No rows available".
If a search engine spiders a page that looks like a 404 page, but it doesn't have the 404 header code, it logs it as a "soft 404".
Given the short amount of time Google has on your site to discover new content, you don't want it to hit many soft 404s.
Invision Community 4.4 omits containers (such as forums, blogs, etc.) that have no content (such as a new forum without any topics yet) from the sitemap, and also adds a 'noindex, follow' meta tag into the HTML source.
Google will periodically check to see if the status of the page has changed and happily slurp away when content has been added.
Although the changes listed here don't deserve their own section in this article, they are no less important.
We have audited the new JSON-LD markup added to Invision Community 4.3 to help search engines better understand the relationship between pages.
The profile view in Invision Community contains a mix of information pertinent to the member and content they've authored.
We've ensured that the content areas are using a specific URL, with appropriate canonical tags. This will help reduce confusion for search engines.
If you made it this far, then well done. It's time to slam the hood closed and mop our collective brows.
These changes will certainly help Google and friends spider your site a little more efficiently and have a clearer idea about what pages and data you want to be indexed which can only improve your ranking.
Myr reacted to bfarber for an entry, 4.4: Application manifest and icon management
Who remembers the earlier days of the internet? Back when you popped your logo at the top left of your site and you were largely done?
Invision Community has continually developed to account for all the new services that have been built during our 16 years.
We now have social media sharing images, favicons and more to consider.
Invision Community 4.4 also adds mobile application icons, Safari mask icons and data for an application manifest. Handling of these logos and icons was a prime candidate for improvement in 4.4.
Moving our current options
Step one for improving our handling of these images was to move our current options out of themes and to allow them to be managed suite-wide from a single area. You can still upload a logo image per-theme (which shows in the header area), but the rest of the options have now been relocated to a new area: Customization > Appearance > Icons & Logos.
Adding new options
After giving favicon and share logo management its own dedicated area, we took a look at enhancing the configuration options made available through the interface without requiring theme template edits.
Multiple share logos
You can now upload multiple share logos. If you elect to upload more than one share logo, Facebook and similar sites will generally either show a carousel to allow you to choose which logo to use when sharing, or simply use the first image referenced.
You can now upload an image to represent your website which will be used to generate the "home screen" icons for iPhones and Androids automatically. Uploading a single image will result in several different copies of the image (in different dimensions) being generated, and mobile devices will automatically choose the best option from the list as needed.
Safari mask icon
You can also now upload a Safari Mask icon, which is used to represent your website in certain areas on Apple computers (such as on the "touchbar" of certain keyboards). This image must be an SVG image with a transparent background, and all vectors must be 100% black.
Additionally, you can specify the mask color which is used to offset your image when necessary (e.g. to represent it as "selected" or "active").
In order for devices to support the application icons that you upload, a file known as a web manifest must be generated and delivered to the browser. This now happens automatically, using details and icons specified in the AdminCP. Certain details, however, can be configured explicitly from the Icons & Logos page:
This is a short name to represent your site in areas with limited screen space, such as below your application icon on a mobile phone home screen. Site name
This is the name of the site. The "Website name" setting is automatically used if you do not explicitly override it when configuring the manifest. Description
A short description of your site Theme color
You can choose a (single) color to represent the general theme of the site. This color may be used by devices in areas such as the address bar background. Background color
You can also choose a (single) color to use as the background color for your site when the application is launched from a shortcut saved to the user's device home screen. Display mode
Finally, you can specify the display mode your site should launch in. For our more astute designers and developers, you may have already realized that generating the manifest file lays the groundwork for future PWA (Progressive Web App) development and support. Additionally, some Android devices will automatically prompt users to add your website to their home screen now that a manifest file is generated by the site.
Oh, and for the sake of completeness, we also generate the special browserconfig.xml file that Microsoft products (including Microsoft Edge, Internet Explorer, X-Box, and Microsoft-based mobile devices) look for when pinning sites and generating live tiles. There are no additional configuration options for this file - everything is automatically generated from the aforementioned options.
The end result?
Your community can now better convey, automatically, certain details to the myriad of devices out there that may be accessing your site, and you now have much better control over those details. You can more easily fine-tune the "little things" that help paint a complete picture of your web presence, and the groundwork has been laid for bigger and better things in the future as standardization and adoption of PWA functionality improves.
This blog is part of our series introducing new features for Invision Community 4.4.
Myr reacted to Andy Millne for an entry, 4.3: Engagement Improvements
As we come close to wrapping up development of Invision Community 4.3, we wanted to let you know of a few smaller improvements we've made to increase engagement to your community.
Despite fancy new things like social media and push notifications, trusty old email has been proven to be highly effective at getting repeat visitors to your website.
It's one of the reasons Invision Community has built in email support for notifications that can be sent instantly, or via daily or weekly digests.
Email should form a part of every community marketing strategy but curating content and building newsletters can often be a labor intensive task.
With Invision Community 4.3 we have added some additional automated email tools to help your users discover more of your carefully crafted content.
Highlight the best content from throughout your community
In 4.2 we introduced the concept of curated content with promotions and “Our Picks”. With 4.3 we’ve taken this a step further and these promoted items will now appear directly in your content related emails.
This allows for your audience to be enticed back to your community with items that they may not have read but holds interest.
Capture return visits with interesting content
Social media links in email footers
If you look closely in the image above you will also see that you can now optionally include links to all of your social media sites within the footer of all of your outgoing emails.
Both of these new features are enabled by default but can be disabled in the email settings section of your admin control panel.
Email may be as old as the web itself, but it is a very powerful medium to get your audience coming back for more.
Respond to Reviews
We added the ability to leave a review to Pages articles, download files, calendar events and in other areas early on in Invision Community 4. The concept was to allow your members to engage in new ways with your content. Reviews on Commerce store items and purchasable downloadable goods is a great way to inspire others to purchase.
New to Invision Community 4.3 is the ability for the content creator (be that a download file, store owner, etc) to respond to a review. This is a great way to address reviews that may be considered unfair or extreme.
Matt is talking to himself again
One more thing...
Not content with resurrecting the Subscriptions manager from 2009, we've brought back a small detail from previous versions of Invision Community. The famous "this person is typing a reply" indicator in the online list.
We can't wait to release this latest update. With new ways to monetise your community, new ways to engage your audience and better promotion tools, we're excited to see how it's going to benefit your community.
Myr reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.3: Commerce Subscription Manager
We've recently spoken about how we've brought our Gallery and Blog apps up to date with interface overhauls to bring them inline with the high standards our customers expect.
Keeping this in mind, we're thrilled to announce that we've taken Commerce right back to 2009.
This needs an explanation.
Way back in 2009, Obama was inaugurated as the 44th President. Minecraft was put into beta, Slumdog Millionaire was released to critical praise and we had a product called IP.Subscriptions.
IP.Subscriptions was a lightweight member subscriptions manager that allowed members to purchase elevated permissions via a user group upgrade.
It was a fine little app. However, on the horizon we had a brand new eCommerce app in development. Then called Nexus, now called Commerce (we took months to come up with that).
It made sense for us to merge the products into one app given they both had overlapping functionality. They both could create packages to promote members to a new user group. Commerce was much more developed as an invoicing and billing system.
Everyone was happy.
Commerce has grown to be an incredibly powerful app. It can sell anything from physical products like t-shirts, to digital products such as license keys and it can even manage your hosting set-up.
We use it for our support and billing systems, so we know how robust it is.
While it's an incredibly powerful commerce system, setting up basic subscriptions packages became a little more complex.
Over the past few years we've received a lot of feedback on this.
Commerce Member Subscriptions
We've built a brand new section into Commerce specifically for membership subscriptions.
Let's take a look at this in more detail.
On the front end, there's a very clear and easy to understand page for membership subscriptions.
The main subscriptions interface
Here you can see all the available packages, which one you're currently subscribed to and the upgrade and downgrade options.
A simple way to upgrade
There's several choices for costing upgrades in the Admin CP, here we have chosen to charge the difference between packages.
Get to your subscriptions easily
Your subscriptions are easily found in the user menu.
If the Admin allows, the package you're subscribed to appears as a badge on your profile.
There's also a little widget showing the packages which you can drag and drop to the sidebar for an additional prompt for non-subscribers.
This gives Invision Community a very clear and easy to understand interface for subscriptions which lives outside of the Commerce store and its packages.
Now, let's dive into the Admin CP
The main engine for this feature is the package list. This is in a separate area within Commerce.
The list also shows the number of currently active and inactive subscribers. This links to the list of subscribers.
Other than Bob having a total nightmare, you can easily view which members are currently active. The buttons link you to the Commerce invoice and purchase.
If you wish to add a member to a subscription without charging them (you generous soul, you), then that is easily possible.
Creating a new subscription package is very straight forward. We've built a new form which is stripped down to the fundamental items you'll need for a subscription.
As you would expect, there are several settings to control the system.
A few things worth mentioning here:
You can force new members to purchase a subscription on sign-up You can show or hide the profile badge indicating which package they purchased. You can choose to allow upgrades or downgrades. You can choose how you'd like to charge for upgrades or downgrades Thank you to everyone who has provided feedback over the years. We're really pleased to present this new feature and hope that it'll make your daily lives just a little easier.
Let us know what you think!
Myr reacted to Stuart Silvester for an entry, 4.3: Announcements
We have a very important announcement to make!
There are times where you need to get the attention of your visitors. You might be closed on certain days of the year, performing server maintenance (if you are consider our Cloud Plans, they're excellent) or running a competition.
Invision Community has always had an announcements feature baked in, but we felt it could be improved.
Okay, maybe this feature isn't as flashy as some of the others we're introducing in 4.3, but these useful features should make managing your community easier.
The new look announcement feature replaces the old widgets enabling you to display customisable announcements in any of the following locations;
Top of the page Above the page content In the sidebar
The three new announcement locations
Each location has some slightly different features; the page top banner is dismissible by the member if they no longer want to see it, whereas the banner above the content and the sidebar announcements cannot be dismissed.
Most of the original customisable features are still available, including the ability to select which applications and pages show certain announcements and which member groups can see them. Combining this with the three new locations gives you much more flexibility for different types of announcements and we've also included the option to customise the color of the announcement.
New customisable options
The announcements have also been improved to contain more information. Rather than showing an unformatted snippet along side the title, announcements can now be tapped to open a modal showing any further details.
Modal showing announcement content
We hope you'll enjoy these useful improvements in Invision Community 4.3. Stay tuned for further announcements (pun intended)!
Myr 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.
Myr reacted to Mark for an entry, 4.3: Take payments with Apple Pay and more with Stripe and Commerce
Stripe is the most popular payment method in Commerce, allowing communities to take payments by card securely with easy setup.
While there's no doubt that credit cards are still the most popular methods of making a payment, digital innovations such as Apple Pay are increasing in popularity.
For 4.3 we've deepened our integration to support some of their latest features.
Apple Pay & Google Pay
Apple Pay allows users to pay quickly with their iPhone, iPad or Mac (with Safari and either a paired iPhone or using the MacBook Pro with Touch ID) using the card details stored on the device, authenticated with Touch ID or Face ID.
Google Chrome (on desktop or Android devices) supports a similar feature allowing users to pay with card details stored in their Google account with Google Pay, or stored in Chrome itself.
Paying with card details stored in Google Chrome
Both of these features are now supported through Stripe in Invision Community 4.3. Setup is simple - for Apple Pay you simply need to verify that you own your domain by uploading a file you obtain from the Stripe dashboard, and nothing special is needed for Google Pay - and then create the payment method in the AdminCP. Stripe does not charge any additional fees for either option.
Commerce will automatically hide the option if the user's device does not support either method.
Also known as Verified by Visa, Mastercard SecureCode, and other brand names, 3D Secure is a system that is used to verify a customer's identity before purchase is completed and transfers the fraud loss liability from the merchant to the cardholder bank in case of fraudulent disputes.
After the user has entered their card details, they are redirected to their bank's website and asked to provide additional verification.
Our integration with Stripe in 4.3 now supports this process. A new setting allows you to choose if you want to use 3D Secure just for cards which require it (i.e. cards which would decline the payment if 3D Secure is not completed) or for all cards which optionally support it as well.
Amex Express Checkout
American Express cardholders can use Amex Express checkout to pay by using their American Express login rather than providing their card information. This is also now supported through Stripe in 4.3.
Amex Express Checkout
Alipay, Bancontact, Giropay, iDEAL, SOFORT
These are popular payment processors internationally (Alipay is popular in China, Bancontact in Belgium, Giropay in Germany, iDEAL in the Netherlands, and SOFORT in several European countries).
The checkout experience is similar to PayPal with the user being redirected to the appropriate site, authenticating the payment, and then being redirected back.
All of these are also now supported through Stripe in 4.3.
A dispute (also known as a chargeback) occurs when one a cardholder questions your payment with their card issuer, which causes the funds, plus a fee, to immediately be taken from your account until evidence is provided that the transaction was legitimate.
Anyone operating an online store knows how frustrating this experience can be. In 4.3, we've made dealing with this situation a little easier. When a dispute is created, Commerce will now mark the transaction as disputed, which will immediately revoke any benefits from the purchase (for example, if it's for a subscription that moves them into a different group, they will be placed back into their original group; if it's a Downloads file, they won't be able to download it any more; if it's for a physical item that hasn't been shipped yet, the shipping order will be placed on hold).
All transactions with currently open disputes can be accessed quickly from the transaction list. The transaction page will show you the status and reason for the dispute, and links to your Stripe dashboard where you can respond.
When the dispute is resolved, the transaction screen will be updated, with either the transaction being marked as refunded if the dispute is lost, or going back to paid if the dispute is won and the funds returned to you.
A dispute that was lost
A dispute that was won
Radar is Stripe's suite of fraud detection tools using machine learning and customisable rules to help detect fraudulent transactions.
Stripe will automatically blocks transactions is considers highest risk already. However, for "elevated" risk transactions, while Stripe would alert you of them so you could review them, Commerce would process the transaction normally.
In 4.3, Commerce will place any transactions which Radar reports as having an "elevated" risk level on hold for manual review, so you can decide whether to approve or not before the funds have been captured.
In addition, the transaction details screen for Stripe transactions now provides some additional information about Stripe's checks on the transaction, including the Radar risk level, if the CVC check passed, and if the billing address provided matches the card's billing address.
If a fraudulent transaction does make it through, you will now have the option to indicate this when refunding the transaction to help Stripe's anti-fraud systems learn.
Myr reacted to Mark for an entry, 4.3: Express yourself with Emoji
Emoji: built in to Invision Community 4.3! ?
Invision Community has a long history. We remember the early days of forums, back when graphical "emoticons" or "smilies" were added.
We have always shipped our products with a basic set of emoticons with the ability to add your own images and has supported emoji from mobile devices.
Emoji has become a standard across mobile and desktop devices so it made sense to bring them to Invision Community fully.
You can choose from 3 different styles of Emoji:
The native style provided by the user's operating system (if you choose this option, users on different platforms will see different styles) Twitter style EmojiOne style
Once you have chosen one of these options, all of the available Emoji will show in the emoticons selector when making a post. Unlike in older versions, the entire list is scrollable (the categories drop down will jump you to the category rather than filter), you can search, and standard Emoji features like skin tone modifiers are fully supported, and of course, you can make them as big as you like.
Skin Tone Modifier
Make Emoji any size
Autocompleting Short Codes
In addition to using the selector, you can also use optionally enable standard :short_codes:. These will be autocompleted as you type.
Autocompleting Short Codes
You can also enable more conventional ASCII emoticons to be automatically replaced too:
ASCII Short Codes
Don't Worry: Custom Emoticons Aren't Going Anywhere!
You can use custom emoticons either instead of, or even alongside Emoji. If you give your custom emoticons a text replacement starting and ending with : they will even show in the autocompletion alongside Emoji.
Whichever style you choose, Emoji is stored in the database as the actual Unicode characters, so you can even change the setting and all Emoji, even those in existing posts, will immediately change.
If you choose to use the native style (so the Emoji will match the style provided by the operating system), the system will automatically detect which Emojis are supported and the selector will only try to show the ones the platform can render.
Myr reacted to Charles for an entry, Invision Community 4.3
We are happy to announce the new Invision Community 4.3 is available!
Some highlights in Invision Community 4.3 include...
We now support Elasticsearch for scalable and accurate searching that MySQL alone cannot provided. There are also enhancements to the overall search interfaces based on your feedback.
Express yourself with native emoji support in all editors. You can also keep your custom emoticons as you have now.
The AdminCP interface to manage your members is all new allowing you easier control and management of your membership.
Automatic Community Moderation
You as the administrator set up rules to define how many unique member reports a piece of content needs to receive before it's automatically hidden from view and moderators notified.
The new Clubs feature has been a huge hit with Invision Community users and we are expanding it to include invite-only options, notifications, exposure on the main community pages, paid memberships, and more.
Custom Email Footers
Your community generates a lot of email and you can now include dynamic content in the footer to help drive engagement and content discovery.
New Gallery Interface
We have reworked our Gallery system with a simplified upload process and more streamlined image viewing.
The full list follows. Enjoy!
We now support Elasticsearch which is a search utility that allows for much faster and more reliable searching. The REST API now supports search functions. Both MySQL and Elasticsearch have new settings for the admin to use to set search-defaults and default content weighting to better customize search logic to your community. Visitors can now search for Content Pages and Commerce Products. When entering a search term, members now see a more clear interface so they know what areas they are searching in and the method of search. Member Engagement
Commerce can now send a customizable account welcome email after checkout. You can whitelist emails in the spam service to stop false-positives. REST API has many enhancements to mange members. Ability to join any OAuth service for login management. Invision Community can now be an OAuth endpoint. Wordpress OAuth login method built in. Support for Google's Invisible ReCaptcha. Groups can be excluded from Leaderboard (such as admins or bot groups). All emails generated by Invision Community can now contain admin-defined extra promotional text in the footer such as Our Picks, and Social Links. Admins can now define the order of Complete Your Profile to better control user experience. Clubs
Option to make a Club visible but invite-only Admins can set an option so any Club a member is part of will also show in the parent application. So if you are in a Club that has a Gallery tab then those image will show both in the Club and in the main Gallery section of the community. Club members can now follow an entire Club rather than just each content section. There is a new option on the Club directory page for a list view which is useful for communities with many Clubs. If you have Commerce you can now enable paid memberships to Clubs. Admins can set limits on number of Clubs per group. If a group has delete permission in their Club, they can now delete empty containers as well. Members can ignore invitations. Moderation and Administration
Unrestricted moderator or administrator permission sets in the AdminCP are visually flagged. This prevents administrator confusion when they cannot do something as they will be able to quickly see if their account has restrictions. You can choose to be notified with a new Club is created. Moderators can now reply to any content item with a hidden reply. Download screenshot/watermarks can now be rebuilt if you change settings. Support for Facebook Pixel to easily track visitors. Moderators can now delete Gallery albums. Automatic moderation tools with rules to define when content should auto-hide based on user reports. Totally new member management view in AdminCP. More areas are mass-selectable like comments and AdminCP functions for easier management. New Features
Commerce now has full Stripe support including fraud tools, Apple Pay, and other Stripe features. Commerce packages can now have various custom email events configured (expiring soon, purchased, expired). Full Emojii support in the editor. Complete overhaul of the Gallery upload and image views. Announcements system overhaul. Now global on all pages (not via widget) and new modes including dismissible announcements and top-header floating bar option. Many new reports on traffic and engagement in the AdminCP. Blog has new view modes to offer options for a traditional site blog or a community multi-member blog platform. The content-starter can now leave one reply to Reviews on their item. Commerce now makes it much easier to do basic account-subscriptions when there is no product attached. Useful Improvements
Forums has a new widget where you can filter by tags. If tags are not required, the tag input box now indicates this so the member knows they do not have to put in tags. Member cover photos can now be clicked to see the full image. Any item with a poll now has a symbol on the list view. Twitch.tv embed support. You can now update/overwrite media in the Pages Media Manager. Mapbox as an additional map provider to Google Maps. Technical Changes
Direct support for Sparkpost has been removed. Anyone currently using Sparkpost will automatically have their settings converted to the Sparkpost SMTP mode so your email will still work. Your cache engines (like Redis) will be checked on upgrade and in the support tool to ensure they are reachable. Third-party applications will now be visually labeled to distinguish them from Invision Community official applications. The queued tasks list in the AdminCP is now collapsed by default as queued tasks are not something people need to pay much attention to during normal operations. When upgrading from version 3 series you must convert your database to UTF8 and the system saves your original data in tables prefixed with orig. The AdminCP now alerts you these are still present and allows you to remove them to reclaim storage space. On new installs there are now reasonable defaults for upload limits to keep people from eating up storage space. Categories in all apps (forums, gallery albums, databases, etc.) no longer allow HTML in their titles. This has been a concern both in terms of security and usability so we were forced to restrict it. Large improvements to the Redis cache engine including use for sessions. The login with HTTPS option has been removed and those who were using it will be given instructions to convert their entire community to HTTPS. Images loaded through the proxy system now honor image limits for normal uploads. We now consider BBCode deprecated. We are not removing support but will not fix any future issues that may come up.
There's a lot to talk about here so we are going to lock this entry to comments so things do not get confusing. Feel free to comment on upcoming feature-specific entries or start a topic in our Feedback forum.
Myr 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.
Myr 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.
Myr reacted to Andy Millne for an entry, New: Customizable Blog Sidebar
This entry is about our IPS Community Suite 4.2 release
In IPS Community Suite 4.2 we have added some additional customization options for Blogs
The sidebar now features a space reserved for Blog owners to add a little further info, add links to social network sites, contact info, or anything at all they desire.
The New Blog Sidebar
The sidebar will show across all of the Blog pages (unlike the Blog description) and uses the standard built in text editor which supports all of the usual features such as embeds, images, links, and all other editor plugins you have enabled.
Editing the sidebar is as easy as editing the Blog info via the Manage Blog menu. It's then a simple matter of toggling the sidebar on and entering the info.
Editing The Sidebar
The Blog sidebar content is controlled by the owner of the Blog and is only available if the administrator activates the option. If set, the content shows above any other widgets placed in the sidebar.
This has been a frequently requested change and we are happy to add this to make Blogs more individual and engaging.
Myr reacted to Charles for an entry, New: SEO Improvements
This entry is about our IPS Community Suite 4.2 release.
Improving your SEO can be a complex undertaking with many different approaches but there are things that everyone knows are good practice and also more modern approaches to SEO that have changed since we first started developing IPS Community Suite. So it was time for a review and update.
Unfortunately no pretty screenshots on this one as this is all behind the scenes stuff but still quite useful to know . Also, some of this may sound a bit technical and dry but feel free to search some of these technologies if you are curious.
Move from HTML structured data to JSON-LD and enhance our existing markup with sensible additions. Calendar, blog, forum and pages (articles) data marked up for rich snippets. General review of our schema.org markup and enhance where appropriate. Use sitelinks search and other sensible markup such as the website and logo markup. Allow administrators to specify social profile links in the AdminCP which we then show links to in the footer and also make available in schema.org markup. Fix many duplicate page title issues. Review and ensure nofollow/noindex tags are used in appropriate areas. Add item tags as HTML meta tags Adding <link rel="next" value="next page url"> helps search engines know next/previous page.
Nothing like a bulleted list of items to get you excited! But really these should be welcome improvements to all.