David.. reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.5: RSS Feed improvements
You'd be forgiven for thinking that RSS feeds belong in some bygone era of the web where Netscape was king and getting online meant listening to your modem scream at your phone line.
There's certainly a lot of newer web technologies to share data, but the venerable RSS feed still has a place.
Invision Community has supported RSS feed importing and exporting for a very long time now; however, it has been restricted to just Forums and Blogs.
Importing an RSS feed is a simple way to populate content on your community. It's even a great way to share content to and from your site without creating blocks or writing custom code.
Invision Community 4.5 now centralizes RSS feed importing, so it is available for Forums, Blogs and Pages.
You can now choose to import an RSS feed to any Pages database. Better yet, there is now full support for image enclosures.
RSS feeds have a special tag to note that the feed entry has an attached image. Lots of RSS feeds use this, such as the NASA Image Of The Day feed. Until now, this image has just been silently discarded.
Now, it is imported as an attachment (so it can be moved around in the post or Pages entry). If the Pages database you are importing to has record images enabled, you can optionally import the enclosure as a record image which some template sets can use as a header image, just as our blog here does.
But what about exporting enclosures?
Happily, Invision Community 4.5 can now export the main content image of an item as an enclosure. This certainly makes the Gallery RSS feed export a lot more useful!
While these updates are not revolutionary, they certainly make RSS feed importing and exporting much more useful. We've been asked to support RSS feed importing into Pages for quite a while now.
What do you think of these changes? What will you import into your Pages databases?
David.. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
David.. 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.
David.. 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!
David.. 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.
David.. 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.
David.. reacted to Matt for an entry, So long 2017!
As we make our final commits, merge in the last of our branches and wait for Charles to move more tasks to the development list, we pause to reflect on our year together as a company.
Pour some egg nog, grab some snacks and lets take a look at our journey this year.
Our year in numbers
In 2017 we made 72 Invision Community releases, 6584 code commits, read 157,203 customer replies and made an average of 177 staff replies to tickets per day.
Our year in dates
We were certainly busy this year. We launched Invision Community 4.2, started work on Invision Community 4.3, started two new blog series and a newsletter. Lets take a look at the key dates.
We started talking about our upcoming release, Invision Community 4.2 which saw us drop "Invision Power Services" in favour of the sleeker and less awkward "Invision Community".
March 28 - 30th
During our series of blogs on 4.2, we launch a triple whammy of blog entries outlining reactions, clubs and social media promotions. Three new tent-pole features that drove 4.2 to be our most successful release.
We release Invision Community 4.2 to deafening applause (most of it was our own, but it still counts). We give the development team a 15 minute break and then drop the 4.3 task list internally.
We start a new blog series "Team Talk". The idea is to show that we're not a bunch of code writing robots, but we're real people with personalities, hopes and dreams. So far, it's proved that we're mostly a bunch of code writing robots without personalities. The irony.
Not content to just talk about silly things in Team Talk, we launched our new long form blog series "Community Management". Here we give our many years of community building insight to help you become successful in running your communities. We've tackled a number of subjects from SEO to security so far with many more planned for 2018.
Our development team have been busy working on Invision Community 4.3 and we announce it to the world. And being the huge tease we are, we've said nothing since. Rest assured, we've got a lot done and its shaping up to be another great release. We'll be talking about it in more detail next year.
It's all about you
Of course, we couldn't finish without saying a massive THANK YOU to all our customers. We are so lucky to do something we love for a living and that is only possible because you choose to use us to build your community.
We are committed to keep moving forward to ensure that we serve you in the best way possible. We'll keep innovating to give you the tools you need to succeed and we'll keep posting blogs packed full of tips and advice.
Here's to 2018 and all the adventures it brings.
David.. reacted to Mark for an entry, New: Authy Integration
This entry is about our IPS Community Suite 4.2 release
In 4.1.18 we added Two Factor Authentication. Already in 4.2 we have announced a new setting to trigger 2FA when logging in from a new device, and in 4.2 we are also adding Authy as an authentication handler.
Authy can send a user a text message, make a phone call, or send a push notification to a smartphone app to authenticate the user. You can enable whichever of these options you like.
To set up Two Factor Authentication with Authy, the user will enter their phone number. To verify their phone number they will then enter a code shown in the Auhy app or have a code sent by text message or phone call. The system will automatically show an appropriate interface based on what options you have enabled - for example, if you don't want to enable the app as an option, it will not reference Authy.
Setting up Authy with the app available as an option
Setting up Authy with just phone or text message options enabled
Verification with Authy
When the user needs to verify their account, the system will automatically show an appropriate interface. If you allow verification with the Authy app and either it is the only option you allow, or the system knows that the user has installed the Authy app, the system will prompt them to use the app. This can either be done using Authy's OneTouch option (where the user will receive a push notification to the app, and when they click approve, the screen will automatically refresh) or their SoftToken option (where the user will be instructed to open the Authy app and enter the code they see). If you allow authentication by text message and/or phone call as well, the user will also see options for using those instead.
These screenshots show the process for OneTouch authentication:
The user is shown a waiting screen
Simultaneously they will receive a push notification and when opening it be able to approve
Once the user has approved, the waiting screen will automatically refresh with the user authenticated.
For SoftToken authentication, the user is prompted to enter the code shown in the Authy app:
Authy SoftToken option
If you have disabled the Authy app as an option, or the user does not have it installed, they will be prompted to choose from the available options how they want to authenticate.
These screenshots show the process for authenticating by text message:
The user is asked how they want to authenticate
The user receives a text message or phone call with a code
The user enters this code to authenticate
If the user changes their phone number they can reconfigure the system in their account settings. The system automatically shows "Phone Verification" rather then "Authy" if the app is not available as an option.
Account Settings showing Authy as Phone Verification
David.. reacted to Mark for an entry, New: Commerce Improvements
This entry is about our IPS Community Suite 4.2 release
Improved Stripe Integration
Stripe is a popular payment gateway that supports card payments. In IPS Community Suite 4.2 we have made some improvements to our integration:
When viewing a transaction in the AdminCP, it will show the last 4 digits of the card used, and the result of Stripe's risk evaluation. More information is sent to Stripe for easier cross-reference between Stripe's control panel and your AdminCP. This includes the customer's name, billing and shipping addresses, email address, associated transaction/invoice/customer IDs, and the invoice title.
Stripe Transaction in the AdminCP showing risk evaluation and card details
Transaction in Stripe's control panel showing customer and invoice details
Anti-Fraud Rules now have some additional filters:
Products being purchases includes... Account was registered more/less than [x days] ago Customer is/isn't in group Customer has previously spent more/less than Time since last purchase is more/less than [x days] ago Custom profile fields (both at member and customer level) IP address is x (exactly, contains or matches regular expression) Customer has previously made transactions that failed (opposed to "were blocked by fraud rules") Email address matches regular expression
Some of the new Anti-Fraud Rule options
MaxMind per gateway
A new setting has been added that allows you to run MaxMind only against transactions using particular payment gateways.
New MaxMind gateways setting
You can now enter the transaction ID provided by the payment gateway in the AdminCP search box to find a transaction.
Looking up a transaction by gateway ID
If you have a product with multiple renewal terms, a new setting allows you to show alongside each option how much is saved. This can be shown either as a monetary value, or as a percentage.
Product showing savings for different renewal options
David.. 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.
David.. reacted to Andy Millne for an entry, New: Social Sign In Streamlining
This entry is about our IPS Community Suite 4.2 release.
Social Sign In has long been a feature of the IPS Community Suite but we are always looking for ways to make interaction easier for your visitors. A small but significant improvement we are able to add for 4.2 is to include social sign in links directly at the point where your customers are ready to contribute.
Hassle free inline sign in brings your customers right back where they need to be to comment
Visitors are much more likely to comment when the registration process is as fluid as possible and social sign in has fast become a familiar and efficient way of doing so. After signing up via these methods users are logged in and brought right back to where they started ready to comment.
Feedback from our testers has already shown that this change has an immediate effect on the volume of new registrations and we look forward to making it widely available with 4.2.
David.. reacted to bfarber for an entry, New: Letter Profile Photos
This entry is about our IPS Community Suite 4.2 release
IPS Community Suite comes with a default profile photo which is used when members have not set a profile photo for their account. While this model has served the software well for years, we felt it was time for an update to the software to keep pace with current internet trends. This has led to one of the latest changes you can expect to see with version 4.2: letter profile photos
When upgrading you will be asked if you wish to use letter profile photos, or if you wish to stick with the generic per-theme default profile photo that is used presently. You can change your mind any time after upgrading by adjusting the setting in the AdminCP as well.
AdminCP members list
We have tested many languages to ensure maximum compatibility. The font used in the image is automatically selected based upon the characters to be written to the image, so sites that have more than one language will see compatibility for all of the profile photos that are created automatically.
The colors are not set for each letter. You will notice in the screenshot that each "A" letter photo has a different color. They are chosen randomly when generated.
Letter photos in a sidebar widget
We hope that this change helps bring your communities to life with a little more style, flair, and uniqueness for each new user on your site.
The code is structured in such a manner that third party developers can further extend the feature with plugins. The methods for writing text to images are exposed through our central \IPS\Image class introducing new possibilities in your own custom code.
David.. 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.
David.. reacted to Matt for an entry, IPS Community Suite 4.1.19 Available
Version 4.1.19 is now available in the client area!
This release focuses on bug fixes and performance along with some new key features.
Ability for members to lock and unlock their own content
We've added a new group level option to allow members to lock and unlock their own content. This is disabled by default.
Messenger Quota Display
To help diagnose issues your members may find, we now display their personal message quota in the ACP.
Default view for Activity Stream
When creating a new activity stream, you can specify either expanded or condensed as the default view. This is especially handy for streams you wish to share with other members.
Other key changes include:
Performance and speed improvements. A new moderator setting to restrict users from ignoring moderators. A new group setting to hide a group from filters in search. When moving content moderators are now prompted for where you want to be redirected after the action. An email is now sent when an account is locked for too many bad login attempts. Check out the Release Notes for a full list of changes.
David.. reacted to Charles for an entry, New: Content Message
This entry is about our IPS Community Suite 4.2 release.
Following on from our previous entry about the new Recommended Replies feature, we also have one more small feature change that will be very useful.
Content Message is a small feature available in all IPS Community Suite content areas (forums, blogs, gallery, etc.) and allows a moderator to put a message at the top of any item.
Topic with a moderator message
This is useful if you have a special use for the area people are posting in, need to encourage conversation to stay on topic, or perhaps the conversation is becoming heated and you need to remind people to behave.
Sometimes the smallest features can prove the most useful and already I have found myself reaching for this feature out of habit from using it on our test 4.2 installs and missing it on our production site. I cannot wait to have it available and I am sure you will enjoy the ability to add custom notes to any area of the Suite.
For our power users: this feature and the Recommended Replies feature use a new content meta data capability. This allows you to store miscellaneous data that is attached to a content item which does not need to be otherwise searched or exposed unless you are viewing that item. We will provide technical details on this later but it is a really easy way to store data about content without having to create additional tables or methods.
David.. 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:
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.
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
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.
David.. reacted to Charles for an entry, New: Word and Link Filters
We are changing the existing Profanity Filters feature to become the new Word Filters feature. This change will allow you to define words that will initiate a moderator review before content is posted. With creative use of this new feature you can actually have the Suite self-moderate certain posts.
Right now the Profanity Filters are pretty basic. If you enter "stopword" you can have it change to *****. That's fine for basic profanity but sometimes you want to do other actions with a word. Perhaps someone might mention a competitor, you see common spam words, or you run a site targeted to children and want fine control over what is posted. There are a lot of reasons a simple replace word with *** might not be what you want.
Word Filters introduce an option to let you say "stopword" places a post in moderation queue.
So now you can define a list of words that are not necessarily profanity but are words you want to review if they are posted.
We have also extended this logic to the URL Filters which are now just called Links in the AdminCP configuration. You can now disallow all links and have a post go to approval if someone does post a link. This is also useful for sites where you need really tight control on content either for security or privacy reasons.
With the new Links feature you can also set allow/disallow list of allows links and if someone posts a link outside those lists (depending on your mode) the post will go into review.
We hope these features allow you to introduce a bit of automatic moderation to your community and you can come up with creative ways to capture posts that need review either for security, privacy, or just keeping things in order.
This change will be in version 4.1.17 which is scheduled to be released in early December 2016.