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Kjell Iver Johansen

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  1. Like
    Kjell Iver Johansen reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.5: Everything else   
    We have announced a lot of new things coming soon with Invision Community 4.5. Most of these are pretty big new features worth a blog on their own.
    However, we've made a lot of smaller changes that may not deserve their own blog but still have a significant impact.
    Let's run through some of those.
    Performance Improvements
    For every major release, we take some time to run through the code and look at ways to make Invision Community run more efficiently.
    For Invision Community 4.5, we've made node forms, sitemaps and commonly run SQL queries more efficient, which is excellent news for you and your users who get reduced server load and a snappier community.
    TikTok Embed
    Although it confuses me greatly, TikTok has taken the internet by storm. We have added it to the embed list so pasting a TikTok share link automatically shows the video ready to play in the comment.

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

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

    Export stats as a CSV
    Downloads
    In Invision Community 4.5, when you require approval of new versions of files submitted to Downloads, the original version will no longer be hidden from view. We've added a new flow for moderators to approve these new versions.
    Live Meta Tag Editor
    Invision Community 4.5 seemed like a great time to run through this feature and tweak the functionality to make it more useful. Now it's possible to remove default meta tags, and it's easier to remove custom tags.
    Closed Tag Autocomplete
    When using the closed tag system where a user can select from one of your preset tags, we have added a search box to make it easier to find a single tag from a list of potentially hundreds.
    EU Tax Support in Commerce
    Tax doesn't have to be taxing! But it generally is. Countries within the EU often have complex tax rates. Commerce now supports multiple tax rates for consumers, businesses and EU VAT-registered businesses.
    That concludes our mini round-up of all the things we've not talked about yet. Let me know which one you're looking forward to most!
  2. Like
    Kjell Iver Johansen reacted to Rikki for an entry, 4.5: Introducing our updated default theme   
    If you've been around Invision Community for a while, you'll know our frontend default theme hasn't significantly evolved since the early days of 4.0. Indeed, the last significant refresh came with 4.2.
    With the upcoming release of 4.5, we wanted to revisit the default theme and give it a facelift for 2020, as well as make incremental improvements to the underlying codebase as a stepping stone to a bigger re-engineering in a future version.
    In this entry, I want to talk a little about some of the design decisions that went into building the new theme.
    Goals
    Redesigning for the sake of it is never a good idea, so we first laid out what we wanted to achieve:
    A brighter UI with more saturation & contrast and simpler overall color scheme Improved typography Better, more consistent, spacing around and between elements, especially on mobile Better logical grouping of sections of each page Reducing underutilized links/buttons on the page and finding alternative ways of making them available Improving how post states are displayed Modernizing and enhancing the underlying code that powers the default theme Let's talk a little about each of these.
     
    Brighter UI
    The most obvious change will be that our default colors are brighter and more saturated than before. Before making any changes, we first created a color scale for both neutrals and the brand color (blue, of course). This gave us a flexible but consistent palette of colors to choose from, with appropriate contrast built in. Neutrals have a touch of blue too to avoid seeming washed out.
    We've simplified the style, in particular reducing reliance on background colors to differentiate sections within cards (a card essentially being an ipsBox, for those who are familiar with our framework). Instead, we use spacing, borders and appropriate typography to achieve visual separation.

    Brighter default colors
     

    Simplifying the UI by removing block backgrounds
     
    Improving typography
    We've felt our typography has been somewhat muddled for some time - with a mixture of sizes, weights and colors used depending on the particular context.
    The first step to improving it was to create a typography scale that we could refer to and implement, to ensure we remained consistent throughout the product.

    Our typography scale
    (The keen-eyed amongst you may also notice we've switched our default font to Inter. Inter is a fantastic open source font that is ideal for text on the web, and was recently added to the Google Web Fonts project making it super simple for us to incorporate it into our default theme.)
    We've been much more deliberate about applying type styles, especially for titles, ensuring that they are always visually distinct from surrounding text. We've done this through both color and weight. As a result, pages should instinctively feel more organized and logical than before.

    An example of improved typography, from the Downloads app
     
    Improved spacing (especially on mobile)
    We identified that spacing (padding and margins) needed some improvement. A lot of spacing values were arbitrary and inconsistent, leading to poor visual harmony across any given page.
    Most troubling of all, on mobile sizes we simply halved desktop padding values. While this was a reasonable approach in the days of phones with small screens, it has felt decidedly dated for some time. Phone screens are now typically larger and able to accommodate roomier UIs without appearing comical.
    In 4.5, we have done away with that approach, and the impact was immediate. Mobile sizes now get a much more pleasant interface, with elements having room to breathe. In addition, we've also made most cards full-width to provide additional breathing space for content.

    Posts can finally breathe on mobile
     
    There are numerous other tweaks across the product too: default spacing has been increased a little, data tables (e.g. topic listing) get extra vertical spacing, and spacing between elements has become more consistent.
     
    Improved grouping of related elements
    Prior to 4.5, most content areas existed inside cards. However, one notable exception to this was page headers and as a result, they could feel particularly disorganized, especially for users who had many controls in this part of the page (such as staff).
    To solve this problem, we've developed a new, standardized design for content item page headers, giving them their own cards and consistent button placement.

    Topic view header
     
    Some areas don't necessarily fit into the same design pattern above. In those areas, we've tweaked styling to suit the context, while still adhering to our overall aesthetic.

    Calendar header

    Messenger conversation header
     
    Reducing underutilized links/buttons
    Finally, another area we identified as needing improvement is the abundance of tools, made up of links and buttons, across pages. Many of these are only used occasionally and so would be better moved out of the main view to simplify the page.
    Two particular areas we focused on were share links and postbits (both forum posts and comments in other apps).
    Research shows social share links are used by a vanishingly small percentage of users, so even though they were at the bottom of the page, it was unnecessary to make them so prominent (given their eye-catching colors). To solve this, we've added a share link to the page header, with the social network links themselves in a popup menu. The result is ideal: sharing functionality is unobtrusive but obvious.

    Share links in content items
    Comment areas have also suffered from 'button creep' over the years. A typical comment will contain a report link, a share link, a quote link and multiquote button, reactions, plus IP address, checkbox, edit and options links for certain users. That is a lot of visual noise around the important part: the content.
    We've therefore simplified comment boxes as much as is reasonable. Reporting and sharing comments/posts is now available in the post options menu, as are any tools for the author/staff. Quoting and reacting are two primary interactions for users, so they of course retain their position in the control bar.

    Simpler postbits, even for staff
     
    Improving post states
    Posts/comments in Invision Community can have many states - sometimes more than one. Posts can be hidden/unapproved, popular, recommended, solved (new in 4.5!) or highlighted because of the author's group. It's always been a challenge to indicate these statuses well.
    In previous versions, we added a border but the most prominent indicator was a flag in the top-right corner of the post. This had three problems:
    Due to the lack of space (thanks to report/share links), showing more than one flag was difficult. Showing any flags on mobile was messy because of the space constraints. The meaning of the flags was not obvious, especially to new users. Group-highlighted posts had no flag, just a border, which made them even more difficult to understand. With the top-right corner of posts now tidied up and free from fluff, we were able to much more effectively use this space to indicate post statuses.
    In 4.5, posts and comments will show badges when they have a particular status, as well as a more attractive semi-transparent border. For group-highlighted posts, we show the group name instead (the colors of this highlight are still controllable via theme settings).

    A post with two states: group highlighted and popular
    This works much better on mobile too, where the status badges get the prominence they deserve:

    Mobile post statuses
     
    Modernizing the underlying code
    I wrote about the technical improvements behind the theme in a previous entry. If you're a theme designer or edit the theme for your own community, go and check it out now!
     
    Wrapping up
    As well as these large-scale concepts, you'll notice many other smaller enhancements as you start using the new theme.
    I've shown some snippets of pages in the screenshots above, but I've included some full-page views below so you can see the overall aesthetic and how these pieces fit together.
    Modernizing and refreshing our default theme has been needed for some time, but we view this as just a stepping stone to future work that will be reserved for a major version bump, and we're excited to figure out where we go next.
     
    Screenshots
      
    Desktop forum views (click to expand)
     
        
    Mobile forum views (click to expand)
     
     
    Activity streams & messenger (click to expand)
     
  3. Like
    Kjell Iver Johansen reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.5: Page Builder Widgets   
    Invision Community introduced drag and drop widgets many years ago. These widgets allowed anyone to add blocks to existing views, and to build up entirely new pages.
    These widgets were great for quickly adding content to a page, but they weren't incredibly customizable. 
    For Invision Community 4.5, we've added three new Page Builder widgets which allow you a little more control.
    For an overview of this new feature, please take a look at the video below.
    As you can see, these new widgets offer a lot of customization without the need to code any CSS or HTML. You can add background colours and images, adjust padding and borders and even add colour overlays right from the widget menu.

    The new Page Builder widget options
    Blandness be gone! Now you can let your creativity loose on your pages and all other views that have the drag and drop zones.
    I'd love to know what you think of this new feature; please let me know below!
  4. Thanks
    Kjell Iver Johansen reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.5: Topic view summary and more   
    A topic is more than a collection of posts; it's a living entity that ebbs and flows over time.
    Evergreen topics can see month-long gaps between posts and longer topics spanning numerous pages can end up hard to navigate through to find useful content.
    With this in mind, we've added numerous improvements to the topic view to bring context and summaries key areas within the topic.

    Topic view updates
    Topic Activity
    The first thing you likely spotted in the above screenshot is the new sidebar. This acts much like a summary of activity within the topic. It very quickly lets you know how old the topic is and how long it has been since the last reply. This context is essential if you are unwittingly replying to an older topic.
    Most topics are driven by a handful of key members. The topic activity section shows you who have been most active, which may influence which posters you give greater authority to.
    Likewise, popular days lets you dig into the 'meat' of the topic which may have evolved quickly over several days.
    More often than not, a single post attracts more reactions if it is particularly helpful or insightful, and this is shown too.
    Finally, a mini gallery of all upload images allows you to review media that has been attached to posts.

    The topic activity summary under the first post
    This activity bar can be shown either as a sidebar or underneath the first post in a topic. If you enable it for mobile devices, then it will show under the first post automatically.

    The topic activity summary on mobile
    As with many new features in Invision Community, you have several controls in the Admin CP to fine-tune this to your communities needs.

    AdminCP settings
    Other improvements
    The eagle-eyed among you will have spotted a few other changes to the topic view.
    The first is the badge underneath the user's photo. The shield icon notes that this poster is part of the moderation team. Of course, this badge can be hidden for communities that do not like to draw attention to all their moderators.

    You will also notice that when the topic starter makes a reply to a topic, they get an "author" badge as their reply may carry more authority.
    When you scroll down a topic, it's not often apparent that there has been a significant time gap between replies. For some topical topics (see what I did there) this may alter the context of the conversation.
    We have added a little identifier between posts when a period of time has passed between posts.

    These changes add a little context to the topic to give you more insight into how the replies direct the conversation.
    The new topic activity summary gives you an at-a-glance overview of key moments and posters to help you navigate longer topics.
    We hope that you and your members enjoy these new features coming to Invision Community 4.5!
  5. Like
    Kjell Iver Johansen reacted to Matt for an entry, A call to arms for community leaders   
    We are currently living through one of the most turbulent times in history.
    A once-in-a-century pandemic has a grip on all of us.
    Whatever the outcome, come the end of the year, few of us are going to be the same again. We will have to sacrifice our personal freedoms, and some of us much more.
    Like you, I'm worried about my family, my friends and neighbours. I'm watching the news, scrolling through social media and consuming articles from scientists, scholars and doctors.
    The news coming out of Italy is truly heartbreaking. Doctors and nurses have to make life and death decisions daily as they wage war with the virus. Those of us in the UK and the USA are nervously watching the graphs climb in lockstep of Italy from just a few weeks ago.
    It would be easy to succumb to fear and withdraw completely.
    But as community leaders, we cannot.
    Let us take some inspiration from the brave people of Italy who have suffered much with an overstretched health care system and enforced quarantine yet still sing from their apartments in a display of resolve.
    In a time where we have to remain apart, we must come together.
    We have to keep showing up and leading.
    We must focus on what we still have and not what is being taken away.
    Now more than ever, we are needed to keep the world connected. To bring comfort; to support and to love each other.
    This year is going to test every one of us.
    But whatever comes our way, I know that we are stronger together.
    "Their faithful and zealous comradeship would almost between night and morning clear the path of progress and banish from all our lives the fear which already darkens the sunlight to hundreds of millions of men."
    Winston Churchill
  6. Like
    Kjell Iver Johansen 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?
    2010
    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.

    IP.Board 3.0
    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
    2011
    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
    2012
    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.
    2013
    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).
    2014
    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)
    2015
    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.
    2016
    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.
    2017
    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.
    2018
    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.
    2019
    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?
  7. Like
    Kjell Iver Johansen reacted to Rikki for an entry, Invision Community Apps for iOS & Android   
    I'm excited to reveal that we are making Invision Community native apps for iOS and Android!
    For the past few months, our staff has been using an internal test build right here on our community. Now we are ready to widen testing to a larger pool of customers. Information on how to become a tester is at the end of this post. But first, let's take a look at the app itself.
    Technology Preview
    We have a lot of exciting plans for the Invision Community app.
    We wanted to take full advantage of a clean slate and build a brand new experience that embraces a native app's interfaces. While the app is unmistakably Invision Community, it features new ways of interacting with your content.

    We want the app to help shape the future of Invision Community, and we're asking for you to help.
    What we are opening up for testing today is a technology preview. This slim app covers the essentials with a view to much more expansion later.
    The technology preview is locked to our community. The app we will release will be a 'multi-community' app; a directory of communities users can browse and save.
    We’ve taken this approach because the app stores have clamped down on ‘template’ apps, and the cost involved in building and maintaining a separate app per-community won’t be an option for many of our customers. A multi-community app is a great approach for most: simple setup, minimal cost, still fully-featured, and a great way for new users to find your community too.
    What The App Does
    For the initial phase of this technology preview, discussions are the main focus which is the foundation of every Invision Community. Also available are profiles, streams, search and notifications - including (at last!) push notifications.
    Any areas that the app does not currently support will open seamlessly in a web view within the app. As we build new functionality into the app over time, users will encounter fewer of these hybrid views.
    Your feedback will allow us to target the highest priority areas during the technology preview phase.
    RPReplay_Final1568062287_1.mp4 Pricing
    Note: The information below outlines our current intentions, but may change as we finalize the app's release to app stores.
    The good news is we intend for the app to be free to both our customers with active licenses and their end-users. In time, we will offer a premium option to communities. This funding will secure the app's long-term future.
    The premium option could enhance their listing in the directory, or provide special functionality when users use that community in the app.

    Availability
    We intend to release the app alongside the next significant point release of Invision Community, expected to be 4.5. Communities will need to upgrade to this version to allow their users to use the app.
    Questions?
    Why not a PWA (progressive web app)?
    Invision Community 4.4 already supports several PWA features. However, until iOS supports Push Notifications (and other features) in PWAs, we don't feel they are a fully-rounded solution to using communities on a phone. Building native apps allow us to experiment with new interfaces and approaches. As PWA support improves in the years to come, we'll feed what we learn back into the main product for the benefit of all users.
    Why now?
    Those with a long memory will recall that we've had a few attempts at providing an app in the past that weren't successful.
    We are great at building apps with web technologies but creating native apps ourselves wasn't sustainable.
    Enter React Native.
    React Native is an open-source technology for building native apps. React Native allows teams to build native apps using web technologies, but crucially, React Native doesn't build hybrid apps. They are compiled into real native apps - not browser wrappers, but native buttons, text, dialogs, animations and more.
    A year or so ago, we started experimenting with React Native to see if it might be a viable approach for us. And it was. Finally, there was a technology that enabled web engineers to build delightful cross-platform native apps.

    As we can build native mobile apps using the technology we are familiar with allows us to incorporate mobile app development into our existing processes.
    Why just forums?
    Invision Community is a large, fully-featured platform, and building the entire platform in a native app from the get-go didn't seem to be the best approach. Instead, we've focused on the most active area of most communities - forums - with other areas still supported in the app via webviews. Over time, additional features and tools will be built into the app so that it eventually reaches feature-parity with the web version. We'll take feedback from our customers to determine which areas to support next.
    How will I add my community to the app?
    The next significant point release of Invision Community (expected to be 4.5) will have app support built-in. Including your app in the directory will be as simple as enabling the feature in your AdminCP and configuring a few options. 
    Is the app ad-supported?
    There are no ads of any kind in the app right now. We may include ads or allow communities to run their own ads as a premium option in future.
    Can I get a white-label version for my community?
    We aim to offer a white-label option in the future.
    Will my plugins work in the app?
    Probably not. We're intentionally building the app to work with standard Invision Community features and apps right now. If your plugins add new UI elements or change the functions that users interact with it's likely they will not work with the app.
    What about themes?
    Themes won't work in the app because the app doesn't use HTML. However, some branding/customization will be available via the AdminCP, and we may expand upon this in future.
    Have other questions? Let us know in the comments, and we'll answer them!
    Sign Up For Testing
    For the next stage of our testing process, we will be inviting several customers to try the app and provide feedback/bug reports. As part of the sign-up process, we'll ask for some information about your own community. We'll use this to select further testers once we begin testing of the 'multi-community' version of the app later. The answers you provide will not affect your chance of testing the app on our community.
    Interested in joining the testing group? Click here to sign up.
    RPReplay_Final1568062287_1.mp4
  8. Like
    Kjell Iver Johansen reacted to Mark for an entry, 4.4: Increase visitor registrations with Post Before Registering   
    It's very easy to focus on a single metric to gauge the success of your community.
    It's very common for community owners to look at page hits and determine if their SEO and marketing efforts have paid off.
    Getting traffic to your site is only half the equation though. The most valuable metric is how many casual visitors you're converting to engaged members.
    Invision Community already makes it easy for guests to sign up using external services such as Facebook, Twitter and Google.
    However, there has to be a conscious decision to click that sign-up button. For some, this may be a barrier too many.
    Invision Community 4.4 reduces this barrier by allowing guests to create a post to a topic they want to engage with.
    Once they have posted, they are asked to simply complete their registration. They are more likely to do this now they have invested in your community.
    This will be incredibly valuable when you consider how much traffic a forum receives from inbound Google searches. With Post Before Registering, you'll increase your chances of turning that inbound lead into a registered member contributing to your site.
    Let me take you through the feature and show you how it works.
    When browsing the community guests will see the ability to submit a post, with an explanation that they can post now and complete registration later. The only thing they have to provide in addition to their post is an email address.

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

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

    Email reminding user to finish registering
     
    Some Notes
    Invision Community already has a feature that allows guests to post as guests without registration if granted permission. That feature has not been removed and so if you already allow guests to post, the behaviour will not change. This new feature is only available when a guest can't post in a given area, but a member would be able to. The entire feature can also be turned off if undesired. If the area the guest is posting in requires moderator approval, or newly registered members require approval of new posts, the post will enter the moderation queue as normal once their account has been created. Third party applications will require minor updates to support this feature. Once your casual visitor has invested time in your community by crafting a post, they are much more likely to finish the registration to get it posted. If you have set up external log in methods, then registration only takes a few more clicks.
    This blog is part of our series introducing new features for Invision Community 4.4.
  9. Like
    Kjell Iver Johansen 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.
    Application icons
    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").
    Application manifest
    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:
    Short name
    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.
  10. Like
    Kjell Iver Johansen reacted to Mark for an entry, 4.4: AdminCP Notifications   
    Do you recall that scene in Harry Potter where young Harry is sitting in his Uncle’s living room when hundreds of letters from Hogwarts burst through the fireplace, filling the room?
    Sometimes, when you log into the administrator’s control panel, it can feel a bit like that.
    As the administration control panel has evolved, there has been more of a need to display notifications, alerts and warnings to the administrators.
    There are several things which may require an administrator's attention which may show a notice on the AdminCP dashboard, a banner on the community, or send an email. For example:
    When a new version of Invision Community is released. A new member registers and requires administrator validation. A configuration issue is detected, for example if dangerous PHP functions are enabled on the server. There are items Commerce which require manual action, such as transactions pending manual approval or items to be shipped. Up until now, each such area would manage how these notifications show and are sent independently. In 4.4 we have introduced a new section of the AdminCP which shows all things which require administrator attention in one place, easily accessible from any AdminCP page.

    AdminCP Notification Menu
    Clicking on any of these notifications will take you to the relevant area of the AdminCP, or there is also a full-screen Notification Center which allows you to quickly take common actions such as approving members.

    AdminCP Notification Center
    While the best approach is to take the appropriate action (which will automatically dismiss the notification) so you always have an empty Notification Center, most notification types can be hidden, either temporarily on a per-notification basis by clicking the cross in the top-right, or administrators can hide all notifications of a certain type from their individual settings. Administrators can also choose which type of notifications to receive an email notification about.

    Notification Settings
    Each notification has a severity indicated by the coloured bar on the side and certain notifications can also show banners either across the AdminCP, or also on the front-end (to administrators).
    Notifications group automatically (so for example, if there are 5 members pending approval, you will see 1 notification rather than 5 separate ones) and where appropriate each administrator can choose if they want to receive a single email, or a separate email with each occurrence.
    Now you won't miss an invitation to Hogwarts, or anything important again.
    This is a blog about our upcoming Invision Community 4.4 release, due later this year.
  11. Like
    Kjell Iver Johansen reacted to Matt for an entry, Your GDPR questions answered   
    You've no doubt heard about GDPR by now. It's a very hot topic in many circles. Lots of experts are weighing in on the best approach to take before the May 25th deadline.
    Which reminds me of my favorite joke:
    "Do you know a great GDPR expert?”
    Yes, I do!
    “Could you send me his email address”
    No, I'm afraid not.
    I wrote about how Invision Community can help with your GDPR compliance back in December. I've seen a lot of posts and topics on GDPR in our community since then.
    First, let's get the disclaimer out of the way. I'm a humble programmer and not a GDPR expert or a lawyer. The information here is presented to assist you in making decisions. As always, we recommend you do your own research and if you're in any doubt, book an appointment with a lawyer.
    It is also worth mentioning that GDPR is very much a living document with phrases like "legitimate interest" and "reasonable measures". None of these phrases have any real legal definition and are open to interpretation. Some have interpreted them severely, and others more liberally.
    GDRP is about being a good steward of the data you store on a user. It's not designed to stop you from operating an engaging web site. There's no need to create stress about users linking to other sites, embedding images, anonymizing IP addresses, and such on your site. These don't impact any data you are storing and are part of the normal operation of how the web works. Be responsible and respectful of your users' data but keep enjoying your community.
    Let's have a quick recap on the points we raised in our original blog entry.
    Individual Rights
    The right to be informed
    Invision Community has a built in privacy policy system that is presented to a new user, and existing users when it has been updated.

     
    What should your privacy policy contain? I personally like the look of SEQ Legal's framework which is available for free.
    This policy covers the important points such as which cookies are collected, how personal information is used and so on.
    There may be other services out there offering similar templates.
    Right to erasure
    I personally feel that everyone should listen to "A Little Respect" as it's not only a cracking tune, but also carries a wonderful message.
    The GDPR document however relates to the individuals right to be forgotten.
    Invision Community allows you to delete members. When deleting members, you can elect to remove their content too. There is an option to keep it as Guest content, thus removing the author as identifiable.
    It's worth using the 'keep' option after researching the user's posts to make sure they haven't posted personal information such as where they live, etc.
    Emailing and Consent
    Invision Community has the correct opt-in for bulk emails on registration that is not pre-checked. If the user checks this option, this is recorded with the member's history. Likewise, if they retract this permission, that action is also recorded.

     
    When you edit the terms and conditions or privacy policy, all users are required to read it again and opt-in again.
    Cookies
    A lot of GDPR anxiety seems to revolve around these tiny little text files your browser stores. If you read the GDPR document (and who doesn't love a little light reading) then you'll see that very little has actually changed with cookies. It extends current data protection guidance a little to ensure that you are transparent about which cookies you store.
    Invision Community has tools to create a floating cookie opt-in bar, and also a page showing which cookies are stored and why.
    This is the page that you'd edit to add any cookies your installation sets (if you have enabled Facebook's Pixel, or Google Analytics for example).
    Your GDPR Questions
    Now let's look at some questions that have been asked on our community and I'll do my best to provide some guidance that should help you make decisions on how to configure your Invision Community to suit your needs.

    Alan!!
    Is the soft opt-in cookie policy enough? What about the IP address stored in the session cookie?
    Great question. There's conflicting advise out there about this. The GDPR document states:
    The ICO states that session cookies stored for that session only (so they are deleted when the tab / window is closed) are OK as long as they are not used to profile users.
    This is re-enforced by EUROPA:

    My feeling is that GDPR isn't really out to stop you creating a functioning website, they are more interested in how you store and use this information.
    Thus, I feel that storing a session cookie with an IP address is OK. The user is told what is being stored and instructions are given if they want to delete them.
    Given the internet is very much driven by IP addresses, I fail to see how you can not collect an IP address in some form or another. They are collected in access logs deep in the server OS.
    Finally, there is a strong legitimate interest in creating a session cookie. It's part and parcel of the website's function and the cookie is not used in any 'bad' way. It just allows guests and members to retain preferences and update "last seen" times to help deliver content.
    Do I need to delete all the posts by a member if they ask me to?
    We have many large clients in the EU with really impressive and expensive legal teams and they are all unanimous in telling us that there is no requirement to delete content when deleting a user's personal information. The analogy often given is with email: once someone sends you an email you are not obligated to delete that. The same is true with content posted by a user: once they post that content it's no longer "owned" by them and is now out in public.

    Ultimately, the decision is yours but do not feel that you have to delete their content. This is not a GDPR requirement.
    What about members who haven't validated? They're technically not members but we're still holding their data!
    No problem. The system does delete un-validated users and incomplete users automatically for you. You can even set the time delay for deletion in the ACP.

     
    What about RECAPTCHA? I use this, and it technically collects some data!
    Just add that you use this service to your privacy policy, like so:
    I see many companies emailing out asking for members to opt back in for bulk mail, do I need to do this?
    Short answer: No.
    Since Invision Community 4.0, you can only ever bulk email users that have opted in for bulk emails. There's no way around it, so there's nothing to ask them to opt-in for. They've already done it.
    There is a tiny wrinkle in that pre 4.2.7, the opt-in was pre-checked as was the norm for most websites. Moving forward, GDPR asks for explicit consent, so this checkbox cannot be pre-ticked (and isn't in Invision Community 4.2.7 and later). However, the ICO is clear that if the email list has a legitimate interest, and was obtained with soft opt-in, then you don't need to ask again for permission.
    What about notifications? They send emails!
    Yes they do, but that's OK.
    A notification is only ever sent after a user chooses to follow an item. This falls under legitimate interest.
    There is also a clear way to stop receiving emails. The user can opt-in and opt-out of email as a notification device at their leisure.

     
    Do I need to stop blocking embeds and external images?
    No. The internet is based on cross-linking of things and sharing information. At a very fundamental level, it's going to be incredibly hard to prevent it from happening. Removing these engaging and enriching tools are only going to make your community suffer.

    There's no harm in adding a few lines in your privacy policy explaining that the site may feature videos from Vimeo and Youtube as part of user contributions but you do not need to be worried. As stated earlier, GDPR isn't about sucking the fun out of the internet, it's about being responsible and transparent.
    Phew.
    Hopefully you've got a better understanding about how Invision Community can assist your GDPR compliance efforts.
    The best bit of advice is to not panic. If you have any questions, we'd love to hear them. Drop us a line below.
  12. Like
    Kjell Iver Johansen reacted to Matt for an entry, We're now using Invision Community 4.3!   
    Cue the music; switch on the dramatic lighting, we've got fantastic news!
    We're now running Invision Community 4.3 on here for some advanced testing before we unleash the first beta release.

    There's a subtle hint above
    If you need a recap of what was added, take a look at our product updates blog which takes you through the highlights.
    As this is a pre-beta release, expect some funkiness as we scurry around and tidy up our custom theme wrapper and other areas as we spot them.
    If you you find a bug, we'd love for you to report it with as much detail as you can muster in the bug report area.
    We'd love to know what you think, let us know below.
  13. Thanks
    Kjell Iver Johansen reacted to Matt for an entry, Happy 16th Birthday To Us!   
    This month, we turn sweet sixteen!

    We made our own card this year.
    I know, it's hard to believe with our youthful looks and energetic personalities, but it's true. Charles and I have known each other longer than I've known my own children and we still make each other laugh on a daily basis.
    Over the past 16 years we've seen a lot of trends come and go.
    When we started, AOL dial-up was the preferred method of choice (and probably the only method of choice). Compuserve were flying high and I think I'll stop this walk down memory lane before I turn into my own grandfather and start talking about how things were better in my day.
    A lot has changed. We've seen the rise of social media and how it disrupted habits. We've seen MP3 players become iPods, and iPods become iPhones and iPhones become iPads (other digital devices are also available).
    It's crazy to think that our company pre-dates Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.

    Click on this image to see it unless you have excellent eyesight
    We're still here because we are always innovating and adapting. The software we're working on right now is vastly different from the one we started out with. And that is how it should be. We listen to our customers and we implement the great ideas.
    Of course, we'd not have lasted a year without our customers. We're genuinely thrilled to still be doing a job we love and serving customers who have trusted their community with us.
    Thank you all for choosing us and we're looking forward to the next 16 years.
  14. Like
    Kjell Iver Johansen reacted to Matt for an entry, How Invision Community's tools can help with GDPR compliance   
    The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a regulation (EU 2016/679) that is intended to strengthen and unify data protection for EU residents from 25th May 2018.
    How can Invision Community help?
    While Invision Community enables you to collect and store information, it's important to note that you as the site owner are the data controller. If your site can collect data from EU citizens, then we recommend that you research your responsibilities.
    We have introduced several new tools in Invision Community 4.2.7 to help you with compliance, and we'll run through them and the relevant sections of the regulation in this blog.
    Individual Rights (More information)
    Right to be informed
    Invision Community has an area for you to edit your own privacy policy. This is found in the Admin CP > Settings > Terms & Privacy Policy.

     
    Guidance on what the policy should contain can be found here.
    Right to erasure (More information)
    Invision Community allows you to delete a member from the Admin CP. If the member has left posts or comments on your community, you can elect to delete the content, or keep it but remove the author's details thereby making the content anonymous.
    Lawful bases for processing (More information)
    Consent (More information)
    Invision Community now features a setting to not automatically opt in to administrator emails such as those sent by the bulk email system often used for newsletters when registering a new account on your community.
    This feature is found in the ACP > Members > Registration Settings

     
    Part of the consent regulation is to record when consent was given. The consent to opt-in for administrator emails such as bulk emails sent via the Admin CP is recorded at registration, and each time they change the setting. This record can be found in the member history log when viewing a member in the Admin CP.

    If you change the Terms & Conditions, or the Privacy Policy, you can request that members accept these changes when they next log in thus giving their consent for those changes.

    Cookies (More information)
    Invision Community stores a small amount of data in cookies. These are used to authorize you when you re-visit a community. Other cookies are used to provide a service at the user's request, such as changing a theme or using Commerce's cart.
    We have added additional features for Invision Community 4.2.7 to permit acknolwedgement that cookies will be set, and a brief page outlining the types of cookies that are set.
    Invision Community has a feature that shows a small message to new visitors to the community. This is found in the Admin CP > Terms & Privacy Policy page.

     
    We have pre-configured a cookie acknowledgement message using the short-tags {cookies}.
    This will display as follows:

     
    This links to a new page showing brief information about the types of cookies that Invision Community stores.

     
    Although at the time of writing this blog entry, the regulation states that there is no exact information that you need to show on the cookie page, you can edit it to add more detail if you wish.
    Summary
    We hope these new tools available with Invision Community 4.2.7 make it easier for you to seek compliance with GDPR if you choose to do so.
    It's worth pointing out that we are awesome at making community software and know a huge amount about making communities successful, but we are not experts in EU regulation. We offer this blog entry as a way to assist you in seeking compliance but you must do your own research and are responsible for your own community.
    Invision Community 4.2.7 is currently in beta testing. We're aiming to release it early next week.
    We hope this is a good starting point for you!
  15. Like
    Kjell Iver Johansen 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.
     
    Club Types
    Four types of club are available:
    Public clubs
    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
     
    Club Users
    Each club has three levels of user:
    Leader
    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 Content
    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.

    Filtering clubs
     
    Club Locations
    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:

    Club locations
    And within a club, the location is shown too:

     
    Club Display
    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.
  16. Like
    Kjell Iver Johansen reacted to Charles for an entry, New: Delayed Deletes   
    This entry is about our IPS Community Suite 4.2 release.
    I am sure we have all accidentally clicked delete on a post in your community and then realized you needed it. Luckily we now have Delayed Deletes to easily restore deleted content.

    Settings in AdminCP
    You can delete just as you normally do as you moderate and your posts will be removed just like now. The main difference is that you can now view recently deleted content and restore as needed in the Moderator Control Panel.

    Easily view what is pending delete
    All you have to do is click the deleted item and you will be taken to that item in context of where it used to be. This makes is much easier to understand why it was deleted and decide if you should restore.

    Restore and view deleted content in context
    Delayed Deletes is a feature that could be a life saver for your community and we cannot wait to get it out to you.
  17. Like
    Kjell Iver Johansen reacted to Charles for an entry, Coming Soon in 4.1.17   
    Version 4.1.17 is in the final stages of development and will be released soon!
    Check out the release notes for the full list of what's new and our preview articles for details on some of the most interesting changes:
    Better Analytics Integration Tag Quick Edit Default Warning Notes Custom RSS Feeds Word and Link Filters Leaderboard Moderation Improvements Security and Privacy Embeds and Integration We hope you enjoy all these new additions coming in 4.1.17 and be sure to read the release notes for many smaller changes. The big feature in 4.1.17 is the new Leaderboard which we really think will enhance your community.
    If you like using pre-release beta versions, the public beta of 4.1.17 will be available in the client area on 28 November. We support betas on live installs with some exceptions so give it a try if you like to be first to try the new features!
  18. Like
    Kjell Iver Johansen reacted to Charles for an entry, New: Security and Privacy   
    IPS is always auditing our software to improve security at the code-level but these improvements are not really visible to you even though they protect your site all the time. We are implementing some new features that you can use to enhance the security and privacy of your site. Many of these features depend on your personal preferences, local laws, or the policies of your own organization. Here is a list of what's new:
    Birthday Control

    You may wish to make birthday viewing only show to admins or you can completely disable prompting for a birthday if you consider that information sensitive.
    Member Delete Name Retention
    When deleting a member in the AdminCP, if you choose to keep their posts the system currently names the posts with a display name of "Guest user" where user is the previous display name of the member you deleted. You can how choose to retain their name in posts or not so you can either have it as it is now or simple "Guest" on member delete.
    Password Strength

    Password Strength
    You now have two new options for password: show a strength meter and require strong passwords. You can choose to either just show the meter as a suggestion or you can also choose to enforce a password strength. You can choose between three levels of password enforcement parameters depending on how strict you choose to be.
    Guest Terms Banner

    Guest Terms Banner
    There is a new option to show a guest terms of service banner when a new visitor first visits your site. You can set the text shown in the display and you can also put in two special tags to automatically link to your Terms of Service or Privacy Policy page.
    Age Restrictions

    Age Prompt
    We have always had COPPA support in the Suite but we have extended this to be a more generic age restriction feature. You can now set your site to reject registrations from anyone under a certain age you specify. For privacy, the birthday entered on registration is only used to calculate permission and is never stored.
     
    This change will be in version 4.1.17 which is scheduled to be released in early December 2016.
  19. Like
    Kjell Iver Johansen reacted to Rikki for an entry, New in 4.1.12: Round up   
    Last week we introduced you to a couple of key new improvements in IPS Community Suite 4.1.12, the new post preview and enhanced activity streams and search. However, this is a packed release, so I wanted to quickly review what else you can expect to find when it is released this week.
    Mentions
    4.0 introduced mentions, and since then a frequently-requested feature is the ability to ignore notifications triggered by particular members. In 4.1.12, we enhanced the Ignore Users functionality to also allow you to block mention notifications. They will still be able to mention you in posts, but you will no longer be notified about it.

    Ratings
    As of 4.1.12, ratings will now display half-stars in order to be more accurate. Users will still rate whole stars out of 5 (or 10 if configured so), but the aggregated ratings displayed alongside content will be more fine-grained.
    Custom date formatting
    We have used built-in, automatic locale formats for dates since 4.0, but it became increasingly clear that this did not offer the flexibility that some community administrators desired. As a result, 4.1.12 re-introduces the ability to provide custom formats for dates.
    Bug fixes
    Amongst the handful of new features, there's over 400 other bug fixes and improvements that contribute towards the overall stability of the IPS Community Suite, as we start working towards the next major release, IPS Community Suite 4.2 which will be available later this year. Further fixes for stability in the 4.1 line will come before 4.2 is available.
     
    Please check our release notes to read more about other smaller changes and fixes in 4.1.12.
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