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Daniel F

Invision Community Team
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  1. Like
    Daniel F reacted to Jordan Miller for an entry, Announcing new updates to Clubs and Activity Streams (plus a sneak peek at our website refresh)!   
    It’s been a minute since our last blog post, but we have cooked up several epic projects in the interim.
    To refresh your memory, we recently launched a new platform update, 4.6. It includes *takes a deep breath* Achievements, Zapier integration, web app and push notifications, anonymous posting, solved content, the ability to show when a team member has replied, a new health dashboard, spam improvements and more.
    In the time since, we prepared a few special treats for you. Before we dive into the feature feast, sample our forthcoming website refresh. In the very near future, our entire website will slip into something a little more comfortable. Not only will the look and feel change, but we’re implementing new sections to explain how and why Invision Community is any business’ go-to- solution for community building. More on that to come, but for now take a bite out of this:



    Onto the feature updates; hope you’re hungry!
    Extended closed Club functionality
    Clubs with ‘closed’ permissions have more flexibility than ever. 
    Now, the owner of a closed club can opt to have the club’s forums, calendar, pages, gallery and downloads be visible for all to see (despite the club being set to closed). Previously, members could not access any part of a closed club unless they joined.
    For example, a closed club leader could create a special landing page that’s viewable by members who have not yet joined the club, but the rest of the club is closed. This might be useful as a means to encourage someone to join, share information that’s pertinent to those in and out of the club or as a sales tool. 
    Another example could be keeping the club-associated forums visible for all, but keep the club’s calendar and image gallery exclusive to the club’s members as an incentive to join. 
    Gobble up this screengrab below:
     

     
    Subscribe to Activity Streams
    Never skip a beat! Members of a community can now subscribe to any default or custom activity stream (minus the All Activity Stream) and receive either daily or weekly email notifications with a roundup of content they may have missed. 
    This is especially useful for die-hard community members and moderators who frequently consume content. By subscribing to an activity stream, members have important, need-to-know items they’re interested in delivered straight to their inbox. 
     


    Community administrators have the option to limit how many activity streams a member can subscribe to. 
    Because email notifications are inherently intimate, we have also implemented something called stream decay. If the user hasn't visited the site for a predefined amount of time, the activity stream email notifications they previously subscribed to will automatically stop until the member re-engages with the community by visiting. Pretty nifty, right?
     

     

    Health Club
    Since you’ve made it to the bottom of this blog post, sink your teeth into dessert. Sugar free, of course! 
    We recently launched a new Health Club. It’s free to join and available for all Invision Community clients. This is a great opportunity for you to connect with other community leaders in the industry, as well as our own team, through the important modality of physical and mental health. The world is in a weird spot right now; please utilize this club to lean on one another for support, give advice, ask questions and share your health wins and missteps. As cheesy as it sounds, upping your general well-being will make you a better community leader and ultimately elevate your community as a whole. Just some food for thought!
     

    The new Club and Activity Stream features will be made available in September.
    Questions? Comments? Feedback? Drop us a crumb in the comments - we’d love to hear from you!
    Header photo: Unsplash
  2. Like
    Daniel F reacted to Matt for an entry, Welcome to the team, Jordan!   
    I'm thrilled to introduce the newest member of team Invision Community.
    You may recognise Jordan from his photo as he's been an active member of our community as BreatheHeavy. Jordan has been running his site BreatheHeavy.com using Invision Community for nearly a decade.
    Jordan's official title is "Community Advocate" which means that he will be working very closely with our community to guide and curate feedback, assist with support questions, to help educate and inform and to bring you news of the latest developments being cooked up by our development team.
    Jordan says:
    Your feedback, ideas and questions matter.
    I've spent the last decade discovering what it means to be a community leader in my own Invision Powered community, BreatheHeavy. Community building is an ongoing journey that's taught me invaluable lessons, namely the importance of absorbing feedback from the community then taking decisive action. I'm excited and honored to share that insight with the Invision Community. My new role is designed to shed light on what Invision Community members (that's you!) want and share it with the team.
    I'm looking forward to getting to know you! 
    We're very excited to start a new chapter within Invision Community to improve communication, engage more Invision Community owners and make the most of the excellent feedback we receive.
    You'll be seeing more of Jordan on the forums in the coming days.
  3. Like
    Daniel F reacted to bfarber for an entry, Health Dashboard   
    The support tool has served us well for many years. You can identify, at a glance, potential issues with your community both presently and down the road, right from the comfort of your AdminCP, and you can often resolve those issues with just a few clicks.
    But what if we could do better? What if we could make this useful administrative area of the software even more useful?
    The next version of Invision Community introduces a new "Health Dashboard" which replaces the previous support tool and helps you get a better overview of potential issues within your community while retaining all of the functionality you've come to know and rely on to resolve issues with your community.

    When you launch the new health dashboard, the first thing you will notice is that the previous "Wizard" process is now gone, in favor of a single page giving you access to everything you might want or need.
    Central to the page are blocks that identify specific areas of your community, server, and configuration which could be problematic now or in the future. Invision Community will check for available updates, modified source files, server software configuration issues, whether your server is running required and/or recommended versions of important software and more.
    Additional checks and recommendations have been added to this page, to help identify other adjustments that could benefit or prevent harm to your community.  Issues are color coded and classified as informational, recommended, or critical and a summary is provided at the top of the page with an easy "check again" button which will do so without taking you away from the screen.
    If we become aware of an issue, we can quickly notify communities through a bulletin which will be displayed in the "Known Issues" block on this page. These bulletins can also trigger AdminCP notifications, however they will continue to show on the Health Dashboard so long as they are relevant, even when the AdminCP notification is dismissed.
    A graph showing system, error and email error log activity has been added to the page to help you identify spikes in logged issues. Commonly, if an issue begins to surface on your community there will be an increase in these types of error logs, so the graph here is intended to allow you to identify an increase in these logs, allowing you to investigate and react quicker.
    The right-hand sidebar surfaces common tools you may need to access.

    The first block allows you to see our most recently featured guides, as well as search our documentation. While this functionality was available in the existing support tool, we found that it was rarely used because people more often visited the tool to allow the software to check for common issues, and the ability to search the documentation required a separate work flow through the support wizard. With the block always available (and searches performed "live" via AJAX), we expect users will find the ability to search our documentation from the AdminCP much more useful now.
    Next up, the Tools and Diagnostics block gives you access to common tools you may need to use. You can quickly clear your system caches, as well as access phpinfo, the SQL toolbox (for self-hosted clients only), and disable all third party customizations. The process and behavior for disabling customizations is very similar to the existing process within the support tool, with the list of customizations disabled opening in a modal window and the ability to re-enable all customizations, or selectively re-enable individual customizations, still available.

    Disabling customizations is still simple
    Finally, the ability to submit a support ticket is still available right from this screen. Upon clicking the button to submit a support ticket, you will be presented with a form inside a modal dialog that behaves very similarly to the existing form with one minor but useful addition: if there are any patches not yet installed on the community, you will be alerted to this right on the form before submitting your ticket. Think of this as one last reminder that your issue may already be solved by installing any available patches before reaching out to us for official technical support.

    Submitting a support ticket is still just a few clicks away
    We believe the improved workflow and user experience will help administrators and support technicians alike more quickly identify any issues that need addressing on the community.
  4. Like
    Daniel F reacted to Stuart Silvester for an entry, 4.5: One More Thing...   
    Almost ten years ago we launched the Marketplace; a place to connect Invision Community owners with talented developers creating new functionality.
    Over the decade, the Marketplace has grown to hold thousands of applications, large and small. For many Invision Community owners, the Marketplace has become an essential resource.
    Our aim was always to have the Marketplace available inside your Admin Control Panel to make it even easier to purchase and install extra functionality.

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

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

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

    Installing Updates
    Downloads Changes
    Our Marketplace is built on our Downloads application, during development of this feature we needed to add new functionality. We have included as many of these improvements as possible in our software for the benefit of our customers, some of these are:
    Custom Fields can now be set to only show to members that have purchased a file. Files can now be set to accept a single file upload instead of multiple. New file versions can now be moderated without hiding the current version from view. Downloads REST API Performance Improvements New /download endpoint that counts the download Added more data to the /downloads/file/{id} response Ability to sort file results by last updated date We hope you're as excited about this feature as we are.
  5. Like
    Daniel F reacted to Ryan Ashbrook for an entry, 4.5: Language System Updates   
    Ever since Invision Community 4.0, there has been a huge focus on making communities multi-lingual by providing translation features inside the AdminCP.
    We have received a lot of feedback on our multi-lingual and translation tools over the past year, and we're happy to announce these new features coming to Invision Community 4.5.

    Pages Phrase Tools
    If you have the Pages application, you can also use these phrases in HTML pages and HTML Blocks without needing to visit the translation tools area. Simply use the tag editor in the sidebar when editing a page or block's contents.



    The new phrases sidebar options
    You can quickly create new multi-lingual phrases by clicking the + icon.

    The new add phrase dialog
    Additionally, WYSIWYG Blocks have now been made translatable, so you can now create WYSIWYG blocks that will display their content in specific languages.
    Translation Tools
    Language pack creators can now set a version update URL which is checked to notify admins within the AdminCP that an update available, just like the theme system. This is a great way to notify customers when fixes are available.

    Finally, you can now quickly add a new phrase from the Translation Tools page without the need to use the developer tools.

    The new "Add Phrase" option

    These little changes should make a huge difference in your workflow, and make it easier than ever to create fully multi-lingual pages throughout your site.
  6. Like
    Daniel F reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.5: Simple Stock Photo Picker   
    We have come a long way since the late 90s when someone had the genius idea of using a small yellow smiling face image instead of the more common colon-bracket representation of a smiling face.
    In Invision Community, there are various places that photography can be used to create visual interest. From uploads in topics, to cover photos for blogs and members.
    The humble upload field has served these areas well, but sourcing images to use can be a pain; especially when you have to walk the minefield that is copyright and attribution.
    Fortunately, there are a few "CC0" online stock photo libraries that offer quality photography that requires no attribution and are not hampered by copyrights.
    One such library is the ever-popular Pixabay, which was established in 2012 and features a very powerful API. Pixabay has over a million images ready to use from llamas to sausages and everything in-between.
    Invision Community 4.5 now includes support for Pixabay which brings those images to your fingertips (or mouse pointer if you're on a desktop.)

    This video shows the feature in use.
    As you can see, not only can you upload into posts from the stock photo library, but you can also use it to add a cover image to your profile and blog entries.
    Finding quality photography has never been so easy!
    For those that love technical details, the stock photo picker is a programmatic option on the upload form field type making it very easy to add to your own code and apps.
    How will you use this new feature? Let me know!
  7. Like
    Daniel F 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?
  8. Like
    Daniel F reacted to Andy Millne for an entry, 4.5: Invites and Referrals   
    Invision Community has supported member referrals via the Commerce app since Commerce was called Nexus all those years ago.
    Community owners have been able to see at a glance who is spreading the word and members have received the kudos associated with a growing referral count in return. 
    When planning Invision Community 4.5 we saw that this feature had the potential to be so much more… So what have we done to improve it?
    See Who Was Referred
    In addition to seeing a count of referrals, it’s now possible for both admins and members to see who they referred. If Commerce is enabled admins can also see how much commission (if any) was earned. 

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

    The new "Invite a friend" widget
    Given that referral capabilities have been expanded into many more areas outside of Commerce we decided that this should now be available as a core feature. Earning commission on sales as a result of referrals will still, of course, require Commerce to be installed.
    We hope that these are welcome improvements and they help you encourage more members to participate in your community.
  9. Like
    Daniel F reacted to Joel R for an entry, Responding to the Contact Form   
    Think about all the different touchpoints where you try to connect with members: forum discussions, blog comments, personal messages, email newsletters, weekly meetings, and perhaps offline events.  You write witty and clever messages. You dedicate an entire section of your community to welcome and hello topics.  You spend enormous amounts of time trying to elicit engagement from members. 
    What if I told you that there’s one touchpoint that you consistently overlook where members reach out to you, some for the very first time?   

    You receive messages every day and every week from users through the Contact Form.  It’s one of the most common touchpoints that you’ll ever experience with members.  Unfortunately, most admins gloss over messages through the contact form, because we think it’s secondary to the activity in the community.  That’s not true!  As a touchpoint to your community, the interactions through the Contact Form are as important as any other user-facing activity.  In fact, because members proactively reach out – some for the very first time – this is likely one of the biggest opportunities where you consistently under-engage.    
    It’s time to fix this gap.  Here are examples on how to effectively respond to 2 different types of messages from the Contact Form.  Let’s look at some sample responses with a fictional online community “Toronto Birding Society” (Note: I know nothing of birdwatching or Toronto). 
    Responding to Guidance Questions
    Many questions you receive through the Contact Form are “guidance” questions.  These are questions that ask about function and features such as “how to?” and “how do I?”  The tone is usually neutral, and the intent is positive (eg. to learn).
    These questions are easy-to-answer and the responses usually involve instructions, step-by-step details, and screenshots.  If you only respond to the specific inquiry, however, you miss out on all the potential of member growth: to affirm the relationship, recognize his contributions, instill community culture, and ultimately encourage the member to contribute in a more meaningful manner. 
    Example:
    Responding to Negative Sentiment Questions
    The next type of question you receive through the Contact Form are questions of “negative sentiment.”  These are questions that ask to cancel, terminate, or suppress various functions because the user would like to disconnect from the community.  Even though the tone is neutral, the intent is negative. 
    Just like before, the questions themselves are easy-to-answer.  However, if you took the inquiry at face value and answered the specific question, you end up losing the member!  Your goal instead should be member retention: to investigate why he wants to leave, to re-affirm the strength of the relationship, recognize his past contributions, invite the member to revisit, and ultimately deflect the original inquiry. 
     

    Conclusion
    Busy communities receive messages through the contact form daily and weekly.  They’re a recurring part of our community management that we consistently overlook.  It’s one of the greatest touchpoints you will ever have with a member, since the member is actively seeking growth (or regression) with the community.  Your responsibility is to nudge them in the right direction. 
    My recommendation is to write two templates: one for guidance questions, one for negative sentiment questions. This allows you to quickly provide a framework that can be filled in with personalized details. 
    Use your replies to contact form messages as a way to not only answer the specific question, but grow the member and progress them along the member lifecycle journey.    
  10. Like
    Daniel F reacted to Matt for an entry, How to use Invision Community content in Wordpress in under 5 minutes   
    If you've already got a Wordpress website, and have recently added an Invision Community, you might want to show recent posts or topics right on your Wordpress site.
    You might think this involves complex programming and custom themes, but thanks to some Pages magic, it's a very simple task that you can do in under 5 minutes.
    This very short video walks you through the process.
    If you'd prefer a written step by step, then head over to our help guides.
    As you can see, the whole process is very quick and very easy. Adding the latest topics on your site is a great way to drive discussion into your Invision Community.
    Let us know if you have any questions!
  11. Like
    Daniel F reacted to Matt for an entry, How to keep your community secure   
    Security should never be an afterthought. Don't wait until an attack has compromised your site before you take action.
    All too often, site owners consider increasing their security only when it's too late, and their community has already been compromised.
    Taking some time now to check and improve the security of your community and server will pay dividends.
    In this blog, we run down 8 ways that you can protect your community with Invision Community. We go through the security features you may not know about to best practices all communities should be following.
    1. Set up Two Factor Authentication
    Invision Community supports Two Factor Authentication (2FA for short), and we highly recommend making use of this feature for your users, but especially for your administrative staff.
    2FA is a system that requires both a user's password and a special code (displayed by a phone app) that changes every few seconds. The idea is simple: if a user's password is somehow compromised, a hacker still wouldn't be able to log in to the account without the current code number.
    You may already be familiar with 2FA from other services you use. Apple's iCloud, Facebook and Google all offer it, as do thousands of banks and other security-conscious businesses.
    Invision Community supports 2FA via the Google Authenticator app (available for iOS and Android) or the Authy service, which can send codes to users via text message or phone call. You can also fall back to security questions instead of codes.
    You can configure which members groups can use 2FA, as well as requiring certain groups to use it. 
    Recommendation: Require any staff with access to the Admin Control Panel or moderation functions to use 2FA. This will ensure that no damage will occur should their account passwords be discovered. Allow members to use 2FA at their discretion.
    2. Configure password requirements
    The password strength feature displays a strength meter to users as they type a new password. The meter shows them approximately how secure it is, as well as some tips for choosing a good password.
    While you can leave this feature as a simple recommendation for users, it's also possible to require them to choose a password that reaches a certain strength on the meter. 
    Recommendation: Require users to choose at least a 'Strong' password.

    3. Be selective when adding administrators
    Administrator permissions can be extremely damaging in the wrong hands, and granting administrator powers should only be done with great consideration. Giving access to the AdminCP is like handing someone the keys to your house. Before doing so, be sure you trust the person and that their role requires access to the AdminCP (for example, would moderator permissions be sufficient for the new staff member?).
    Recommendation: Don't forget to remove administrator access promptly when necessary too, such as the member of staff leaving your organization. Always be aware of exactly who has administrator access at any given time, and review regularly. You can list all accounts that have Administrative access by clicking the Administrators button under staff on the Members tab.
    4. Utilize Admin Restrictions
    In many organizations, staff roles within the community reflect real-world roles - designers need access to templates, accounting needs access to billing, and so forth. 
    Invision Community allows you to limit administrator access to particular areas of the AdminCP with the Admin Restrictions feature, and even limit what can is done within those areas.
    This is a great approach for limiting risk to your data; by giving staff members access to only the areas they need to perform their duties, you reduce the potential impact should their account become compromised in future.
    Recommendation: Review the restrictions your admins currently have. 
    5. Choose good passwords
    This seems like an obvious suggestion, but surveys regularly show that people choose passwords that are too easy to guess or brute force. Your password is naturally the most basic protection of your AdminCP there is, so making sure you're using a good password is essential.
    We recommend using a password manager application, such as 1password or LastPass. These applications generate strong, random passwords for each site you use, and store them so that you don't have to remember them.
    Even if you don't use a password manager, make sure the passwords you use for your community are unique and never used for other sites too.
    Recommendation: Reset your password regularly and ensure you do not use the same password elsewhere.

    6. Stay up to date
    It's a fact of software development that from time to time, new security issues are reported and promptly fixed.
    But if you're running several versions behind, once security issues are made public through responsible disclosure, malicious users can exploit those weaknesses in your community.
    When we release new updates - especially if they're marked as a security release in our release notes - be sure to update promptly.
    Invision Community allows you to update to the latest version via the AdminCP. You no longer need to download a thing!
    Recommendation: Update to the latest version whenever possible. Remember, with Invision Community's theme and hook systems, upgrades to minor point releases should be very straight forward.
    7. Restrict your AdminCP to an IP range where possible
    If your organization has a static IP or requires staff members to use a VPN, you can add an additional layer of security to your community by prohibiting access to the AdminCP unless the user's IP matches your whitelist.
    This is a server-level feature, so consult your IT team or host to find out how to set it up in your particular environment.
    Recommendation: Consider IP restriction as an additional security layer when you are not able or willing to use 2FA.
    8. Properly secure your PHP installation
    Many of PHP's built-in functions can leave a server vulnerable to high-impact exploits, and yet many of these functions aren't needed by the vast majority of PHP applications you might run. We, therefore, recommend that you explicitly disable these functions using PHP's disable_functions configuration setting. Here's our recommended configuration, although you or your host may need to tweak the list depending on your exact needs:
    disable_functions = escapeshellarg,escapeshellcmd,exec,ini_alter,parse_ini_file,passthru,pcntl_exec,popen,proc_close,proc_get_status,proc_nice,proc_open,proc_terminate,show_source,shell_exec,symlink,system Another critical PHP configuration setting you need to check is that open_basedir is enabled. Especially if you're hosted on a server that also hosts other websites (known as shared hosting), if another account on the server is comprised and open_basedir is disabled, the attacker can potentially gain access to your files too.
    Naturally, Cloud customers needn't worry about this, we've already ensured our cloud infrastructure is impervious to this kind of attack.
    Recommendation: Review your PHP version and settings, or choose one of our cloud plans where we take care of this for you.
    So there we go - a brief overview of 8 common-sense ways you can better protect your community and its users.
    As software developers, we're constantly working to improve the behind-the-scenes security of our software. As an administrator, there's also a number of steps you should take to keep your community safe on the web.
    If you have any tips related to security, be sure to share them in the comments!
     
  12. Like
    Daniel F reacted to Matt for an entry, What are the benefits of a support community?   
    When your customers buy or use your products, they will have many questions. They may have issues using the product, or they may have requests for future versions based on their needs.
    Managing and responding to those questions and requests quickly increases conversion, satisfaction and the likelihood or purchasing again.
    The statistics back this up.

    There is no doubt that unless you have a support community for your brand,  you are not delivering the best experience for your customers and risk losing them to competitors that do.
    Building a support community around your product or service will positively drive your business across all departments from product development through sales and into customer support.
    Let's break it down and look at the key benefits for each department.
    Customer Service
    Encouraging your customers to visit your support community is the simplest way to reduce the cost of supporting your product or service. Creating a self-help culture allows other more experienced customers to offer assistance and troubleshoot any problems they have.
    73% of customers fall in love with a brand because of friendly customer service representatives.**
    Quite often, new customers encounter the same issues that would flood customer support if they were all channelled to your support desk. For example, consider a company that produces an internet-enabled smart device. Less technically savvy customers will likely contact support to troubleshoot initial connectivity issues which can quickly be resolved by peers in the support community.
    These questions and answers form a crowdsourced knowledge base that will allow customers to help themselves without any intervention from your team. Furthermore, these questions will feature in external search results, driving more traffic to your site.

    Sales
    The primary purpose of your community may have initially been to help support your customers, but it quickly becomes a valuable resource to help drive sales.
    Your support community will be a relaxed place where customers talk to each other honestly and openly. They will be less inhibited than they would if they were talking to your sales agents.
    Customers might be discussing a need for more functionality that you have in another product or service. Your sales team can move these conversations from the community to your CRM to curate new sales leads.
    72% of customers will tell 6 people or more if they have a satisfying experience. - Esteban Kolsky
    Customers that have had positive interactions with their peers and members of your support team will become advocates for your brand. They will help sell your product over social media and among their friend circles. Given than 90% of customers are influenced by a positive review when buying a product*, having brand advocates is critical to your growth.

    Marketing
    There are several costly routes to learning about your customers and their wants and needs. You can conduct external surveys, or pay for research groups to look at your products and offer feedback.
    56% of customers don't mind sharing their personal information in exchange for better service.**
    The most effective method is to look at your community.
    Your customers will be posting their thoughts daily. They'll tell you exactly how they use your products, offering you valuable insight into the problems they are solving with your product. This information should be used as the basis of new marketing campaigns.

    Project Development
    Your support community is a direct line to your customers. You no longer need to use external tools and services to determine which features you should add next. You'll be told directly!
    55% of customers are willing to spend more money with a company that guarantees them a satisfying experience.**
    You'll find that some feature requests bubble up regularly. These are the ones you will want to move to your product roadmap.
    Invision Community allows you to segment your community into private areas for beta testing. Your developers can interact with this group to work directly with your customers to shape new functionality.
    Harnessing analytical data will inform development decisions. Invision Community can track keywords in user-generated content. If you have released a new feature, you can track how often it is mentioned in conversations to monitor its uptake.
    52% of customers believe that companies need to take action on their feedback.*

    Setting up your Invision Community
    Now we've looked at the compelling reasons you should create a support community around your products, let's take a look at how to set up your Invision Community.
    Support Desk
    Invision Community has a fully-featured built in support desk functionality. Commerce has all the features you need, including multiple support desk categories, reply by email, pre-written reply templates and private notes.

     
    However, if you already use another support desk such as Zendesk then our API tools mean that Invision Community can integrate with your existing support flow seamlessly.
    Keyword Tracking
    Invision Community allows you to track how often specific words or phrases. This is useful to monitor which of your products are trending or monitoring uptake on new features.
    To set this up, visit the Statistics section of the Admin CP.
    Question and Answers
    To formalize a support or ideation area within your support community, Invision Community offers a Question and Answer forum type.
    Question and Answer forum types allow your members to post questions and enable other members to upvote the questions and replies. Your support team can also flag specific responses as the "best answer" which turns historical questions into a crowdsourced knowledge base.
    Showcasing Great Content
    Invision Community has several tools to highlight great customer-created content. You can pin topics, and feature specific replies within those topics.
    You can also convert posts into new articles within a formal knowledge base or blog to further help your customers find the right answers to their questions.
    Extensibility
    Invision Community has OAuth and a REST API out of the box. This means it's trivial to extend Invision Community to work within your existing flows. Integrate Invision Community to your SalesForce CRM and Zendesk support systems seamlessly.
    Create a federated search to integrate your external knowledge base with client-generated knowledge.
    The options are limitless, and we can take care of any custom integrations for you.
    If you have any questions, please let me know below, or contact us to see how we can help you harness the power of community for your business.
    * https://www.customerthermometer.com/customer-service/customer-service-and-satisfaction-statistics-for-2019/
    ** https://www.qminder.com/customer-service-statistics/
  13. Like
    Daniel F reacted to Matt for an entry, Podcast with Matt: Facebook or Forums?   
    I was fortunate enough to be invited to speak on the Expert Focus podcast,  hosted by experienced community manager and public speaker, Claire Dowdall.
    Claire has significant experience in managing and developing strategies for increasing Facebook Group engagement for high profile speakers and entrepreneurs, while my background is with independent communities.

    This set us up nicely for a lively conversation to really pull apart what makes for a successful community, and what platforms to consider when starting out.
    From Expert Focus:

    I really enjoyed speaking with Claire, and I hope you find a little time to tune in.

    Listen now:
    iTunes link for Apple devices On Spotify On all other devices
  14. Like
    Daniel F reacted to Mark for an entry, 4.4: Recurring PayPal Payments and more with Braintree and Commerce   
    Braintree is a payment gateway provided by PayPal which provides some great additional features for PayPal transactions including a significantly improved recurring payments model. We are delighted to be bringing full support for Braintree for Commerce in Invision Community 4.4.
    What is Braintree?
    Braintree is a payment gateway provided by PayPal which supports taking payments by credit cards (including Apple Pay and Google Pay) and Venmo as well as PayPal, providing a good option for communities wanting to use a single payment gateway, and also brings improved functionality for recurring PayPal transactions.
    For PayPal transactions, there are no additional fees and the checkout experience uses the normal PayPal experience your customers are used to.
    Recurring PayPal Improvements
    Recurring payments / Billing Agreements in PayPal have up until now been initiated by PayPal. Invision Community tells PayPal what the renewal terms of a purchase are, but then it's up to PayPal to take that payment and notify your community when it succeeds (or fails).
    This comes with a number of limitations and problems. It makes it difficult for you as an admin to modify an existing purchase or for the customer to upgrade/downgrade. It also means the customer has to create separate Billing Agreements for each purchase. Most significantly though, it means if there is a delay in receiving the payment (such as an expired card) it is sometimes unclear what should happen on your community's end, and how it can be resolved if/when the payment is received.
    Other payment gateways work the other way around. When a customer pays by card, for example, they have the option of storing their card details. Later, if they make another purchase or a renewal invoice is generated, Invision Community can tell the gateway to recharge the same card - and if it fails, allow the customer to provide an alternative payment method. This allow both you and your customers to have much greater control, and is much more reliable.
    Braintree resolves this by allowing customers when paying with PayPal to save their PayPal account in the same way they would save a credit card on file. When paying with PayPal, users will see a simple checkbox which, if checked, will allow future payments to be taken with PayPal automatically.

    Storing PayPal Accounts for Recurring Payments
    Other Features
    In addition to an improved checkout experience, our integration with Braintree supports:
    Taking payments by Credit Card, including 3DSecure checking and the ability for customer to store card details on file. Braintree uses a fully PCI-compliant method of taking card details in a way that ensures the card information never reaches your server. Apple Pay and Google Pay Venmo, which also allows storing accounts in the same way as PayPal accounts. Offering PayPal Credit Handling chargebacks/disputes Support for Braintree's Advanced Fraud Tools
    A Disputed PayPal Transaction
    Existing Setups and Upgrading
    The existing PayPal gateway will continue to be available for basic PayPal integration, and your existing set up will continue to work exactly as it does now after upgrading.
    If you are using PayPal, especially if you are using Billing Agreements, we strongly recommend switching to Braintree after upgrading. While it isn't possible to convert existing Billing Agreements, you can allow existing ones to continue to work and use Braintree for new purchases.
    Please note that while existing setups will work fine, from 4.4 it will no longer be possible to set up a new PayPal method with either Billing Agreements, or to take payments by card, as PayPal has deprecated the API this was using in favour of Braintree and it can no longer be enabled on new accounts.
    As mentioned though, this does not affect any existing setups, which, if you do not switch to Braintree, will continue to work as they do now.
    This blog is about our upcoming release Invision Community 4.4.
  15. Like
    Daniel F reacted to Matt for an entry, Which hat do you wear?   
    A successful community manager is a combination of so many things.
    Being a successful community manager demands that you be a multi-faceted person and to apply a dynamic personality to a position that’s always in flux.  You’re the authorized ambassador of your organization; you’re the chief moderator who sets and enforces community guidelines; and you’re the counselor and friend to all of your peers in the community.  You may also be the one who updates your community suite, approves members, and manages the moderator team.  Oh, and you find time to be the social media coordinator, digital designer-in-training, and all-around fantastic human being.
    You wear many hats and it can be challenging to juggle all of those hats. So what do you do?
     
    Take a breather.  The good news is that you don’t have to wear all the hats, all the time.  My head used to spin at the sheer amount of work that I faced as a solo community manager - especially when my community first started out – and I didn’t have a disciplined approach to community management.  I didn’t even know what hats to wear!
    Over time, I’ve learned that there are specific ‘hats’ to community management.  The best way to figure out which hats to juggle?  Determine which hats are most important to you, which hats to wear for a specific goal, and which ones to swap out as your needs change.  Create the change you believe in by wearing the right hat.
    Evangelist
    No matter the niche or industry, you should be a self-professed evangelist who is passionate and always learning about the topic.  This personal interest will shine over time with your expertise in helping other users, bringing in new members with your helpful knowledge, and focusing discussion to evolving trends.  You’re trusted as a leading voice of the community and your organization, and you can use your expertise to spread the positive impact of your organization’s mission.  
    User Advocate
    You’re passionate about your users because you understand that the beating heart of your community is the valuable feedback, peer support, and testimonials that your users provide. You’re a champion of nurturing a positive and supportive community that’s aligned with your organizations’ goals.  Customer service is a vital component to your team’s community outreach.
    Digital Marketer
    An effective community manager will engage people, even outside of the community.  This means being a leading voice on external sites like blogs, partner communities, social media, industry events, and professional organizations.  It extends the reach of your organization through non-traditional marketing and gives you and your community an online impact in relevant areas.
    Relationship Builder
    Part of your job is to be a networker for all the people around you and to be a bridge for authentic relationships.  You want to listen to the ensuing conversations happening around your product, company, or industry, then add value and build relationships with key stakeholders both online and in-person.  It’s especially important to build meaningful relationships within your organization to advocate for your organization’s mission through your community.
    Suite Administrator
    Finally, you should be an expert in Invision Community to leverage the built-in tools.  Invision Community makes it easy for community managers of all technical backgrounds to get started and run successful communities.  The more you learn of the Administrator and Moderator functionality, the more effective you become in supervising your community staff and driving your organization’s success.
    Community Management is one of the most exciting and rewarding roles in the modern web.  It’s a position that’s filled with dynamism and people, and you grow yourself in ways that you never imagined.  An effective community manager needs to extend herself by trying on new hats.  And while some of these hats may be new to you at first, I encourage you to try all the hats and slowly develop your expertise in these new roles over time.  Putting on more hats is the first step to becoming a more valuable and effective community manager.
      
    What hat do you wear today, and what hat do you want to wear tomorrow?  No matter which new role you decide to embark upon, hats off to you for stepping up and growing yourself as a community manager.  

    Joel R is a mystery wrapped inside an enigma. When he's not running his own successful community, he's peppering Invision Community's private Slack channel with his feedback, community management experience and increasingly outrageous demands (everything is true except the last part).
  16. Like
    Daniel F 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.
  17. Like
    Daniel F reacted to Matt for an entry, Video Tip: Create a homepage in under 5 minutes with Pages   
    We often get asked how to create a portal-like home page for a community.
    A homepage has many benefits including:
    Showing your best content first
    By using the "Our Picks" blocks, you can display your best content first. This content sets the tone for the site and will encourage engagement across your site.
    Display multiple areas of the suite
    Each application has its own feed blocks that can be used to display content on the home page. If your members use Gallery heavily, then showcase those photos on the homepage. If you use Calendar a lot to schedule events, then show event feeds.
    By displaying feeds to content is a great way to showcase all areas of your site on a single page.
    Reduce confusion
    For those of us that grew up with forums are used to viewing a list of categories and forums. We find it easy to scan the list of forums and dip into the ones that interest us.
    For those that are not so familiar, a homepage displaying easily accessible content reduces the confusion and invites true content discovery.
    In this short video, we show you how to create a homepage in under 5 minutes using the Pages app.
    Pages is available with all Cloud plans and is available to purchase when buying a self-hosting license.
     
    This video shows:
    How to set Pages as the default application How to create a Page Builder page How to configure blocks to fine tune the feeds As you can see, it's a straightforward task, and you do not need to know any programming or design to create a compelling homepage.
    Do you have a homepage like this? We'd love to see it!
     
  18. Like
    Daniel F reacted to Matt for an entry, Invision Community 4.3 Now Available!   
    We're thrilled to announce that Invision Community 4.3 is available to download now.
    After months of development, over 2500 separate code commits and quite a few mugs of coffee you can now get your hands on the final release.

    You can download the final release from your client area.
    If you need a recap of what was added, take a look at our product updates blog which takes you through the highlights. These include:
     
    We'd love to know what you think, let us know below.
  19. Like
    Daniel F reacted to Mark for an entry, 4.3: AdminCP Member Profiles   
    Viewing and editing a member is probably one of the most frequently used features of the AdminCP. With the design unchanged for many years, and the tabbed interface starting to grow unwieldy, it was due for some love. We have not only dramatically improved the design but added many new features.

    New AdminCP Member Page
    Let's look at some of the improvements:
    Easy Toggle between Member and Customer View
    If you have Commerce installed, you can now toggle between "Member View" (which shows the screen above) and "Customer View" (which shows the current customer page in Commerce with the user's purchases, invoices, etc.). This makes it much easier to view all of a member's information in one place.
    If you don't have Commerce installed, the top tab bar will not show.
    Basic Information
    The pane in the top-left shows the member's basic information like name, email address and photos. You can now reposition a member's cover photo and crop the profile photo (functions previously not available in the AdminCP). To change the display name or email address, you just click and hold on the information and a textbox appears. The buttons below allow you to merge, delete, sign in as, and edit the preferences or password for the member.
      
    Basic Member Information Pane
    In addition, this pane lists any social networks the user is logged in with. It shows you the member's profile photo and profile name on that network (for example in this screenshot, it is showing my Facebook profile's photo and name) and for many networks you can click on this to be taken directly to their Facebook/Twitter/etc profile. You can also edit the syncing options for the method and unlink the accounts, features which weren't available previously.
    If you have Commerce installed, there is also an indicator if the user has an active subscription.

    A member with an active subscription
     
    Alerts
    If a member is validating, banned, flagged as a spammer, or locked, a large banner will display drawing your attention to this. For validating and banned, it will explain exactly what the status is (for example, if they haven't responded to the validation email yet versus they are awaiting admin approval, or if they have been banned manually versus are in a group without permission to access anything).

    A member that has been locked



    Other possible alerts
     
    Locations & Devices
    This pane shows you, on a map, all of the locations the user has been when using the community (based on their IP address) as well as the IP address they used to register and most recently.

    IP Address Locations
    While the devices tab shows the most recently used devices.

    Recently Used Devices
     
    Content Statistics
    Right in the middle of the profile you can see some statistics about the member's activity. This includes:
    A sparkline graph of their recent content. Their content count and reputation count (with tools to manually change or rebuild). A breakdown of the amount of content they have made across all applications. A visual indication of how much of their messenger and attachment storage they have used. If Gallery and Downloads are installed, the existing statistics overview provided by these apps are also available here.
    Content Statistics
    Warnings & Restrictions
    This block shows recent warnings on the account, and also highlights if any restrictions (i.e. content moderation, restricted from posting, or application-level restrictions) are being applied, which previously was difficult to see at a glance.

    Warnings & Restrictions Block for an account which has content moderation in effect
     
    Account Activity
    On the right is a pane which shows all of the latest account activity. While this was available in previous versions (called "Member History") we have made some significant improvements:
    The number of things that get logged has been significantly expanded. We now log photo changes, group changes, when a new device is used to login, if an account is locked (by failed logins or failed two factor authentication attempts) or unlocked, password/email/display name changes, when a user links or unlinks a social network login method, initial registration and validation, merges, being flagged/unflagged as a spammer, receiving/acknowledging/revoking a warning, restrictions being applied, two factor authentication being enabled/disabled/changed, an OAuth token being issued if Invision Community is being used as an OAuth Server, enabling/disabling receiving bulk mails, and accepting the privacy policy / terms and conditions, as well as all of the Commerce-related information that is already logged. Much more information is now shown such as who made the change (i.e. an admin, the user themselves, or if it was changed by the REST API or syncing with a social network) and how the change was made (for example, for a password change - if the user used the "Forgot Password" tool or changed it in their Account Settings) and what the data was before and after. This includes being aware of if the change was made by an admin after using the "Sign in as User" tool. You can now filter what information you are seeing to quickly find what you are looking for.
    Recent Account Activity
     
    Extensibility
    The new profile has been designed with extensibility in mind. Third party developers can easily add new blocks our even entire new tabs. Any apps/plugins which are currently adding a tab to the "Edit Member" form will retain backwards compatibility with their tab continuing to appear when clicking the "Edit Preferences" button in the basic account information pane.
  20. Like
    Daniel F reacted to bfarber for an entry, 4.3: REST API Enhancements   
    "No man is an island" wrote John Donne. He wrote that a good 200 years before computers were invented, but it rings true for any well written framework like Invision Community.
    The included REST API allows developers to fetch data from Invision Community and also allows data to be added.
    This data can be used to power widgets on your website, or to be used within other applications you  are already using in a very simple way.

     
    Several enhancements have been made to the REST API for Invision Community 4.3 that we wanted to let you know about.
    These changes are developer-oriented, so if you do not use the REST API with your community please feel free to skip this update.
    If you would like to learn more about the REST API available with Invision Community, please see our REST documentation.
    Search capabilities
    As previously noted, you can now perform searches through the REST API. You can perform searches based on keywords, tags, or both, and you can limit and filter results with parameters similar to when you perform a regular search on the site (e.g. to specific containers, returning only results over a set number of comments, or searching within clubs).
    Permission awareness
    Several REST API endpoints are now permission-aware when combined with Oauth functionality built into Invision Community 4.3. This means that many REST API endpoints can be called using a specific user's access token, and only results that the specific user would normally be able to see will be returned (and/or they will only be able to submit to areas they normally have permission to). 
    Ability to search members
    While an endpoint has always been available to retrieve (and add/edit/delete) members, the ability to search for members has now been implemented. You can search by name, email address, and (one or more) group(s), and a paginated response will be returned.
    Private conversations
    You can now start a new private conversation, reply to an existing private conversation, and delete a private conversation through the REST API.
    Other REST API changes
    You can now specify member's secondary groups when adding or updating a member through the REST API. You can specify the member's registration IP address through the REST API when adding or updating a member. You can now specify other member properties not directly exposed through the REST API when adding or updating a member by setting the rawProperties input field. You can now specify other member properties to retrieve through the REST API through the otherFields request parameter. The REST API now better logs changes to member accounts (so you will be able to more easily identify how a user's name, email address, password, etc. has changed when looking at the member history). You can now retrieve all content a member is following through the REST API, as well as follow a new container/content item, and delete an existing follow. You can now validate an account through the REST API You can now specify a 'perPage' parameter for paginated responses to control how many items are returned per page.  
    Most of these changes were directly culled from client feedback and implemented per specific requests. If there are other REST API changes you would like to see implemented please don't hesitate to leave your feedback!
  21. Like
    Daniel F reacted to bfarber for an entry, 4.3: Modernizing our Gallery   
    A picture says a thousand words, they say. If getting those pictures online is troublesome, some of those words might be a little choice.
    Gallery has been an integral part of our community suite for just about as long as T1 Tech Mark Higgins can remember (and he has many years of memories). It has seen many interfaces changes as the years have rolled by. The most recent version received a fair amount to feedback on usability.
    We've listened. We've re-engineered most of Gallery's key interfaces to make uploading new images to your community frictionless.
    Lets take a look through the major changes.
    Improved submission process
    Submitting images has to be simple or else users will give up and your gallery will be underutilized. We have spent a lot of time simplifying and speeding up the submissions process for your users. The first thing that will be noticed is that the submission process is not presented as a wizard anymore, and the choice to submit to a category or album has been significantly cleaned up and simplified.

     
    Choosing a container
    Here, I have chosen the category I wish to submit to, so now I am asked if I want to submit directly to the category, if I want to create a new album, or if I want to submit to an existing album.  Choosing one of those last two options will load the appropriate forms to create an album or select an existing album, respectively.
    Afterwards, the modal expands to full screen and you will naturally select your images next, and there's a lot to talk about here.
     

    Overhauled submission interface
    First and foremost, the interface has changed significantly to both simplify the UI and to make actually using the interface easier. When you click on an image, the form is loaded to the right immediately without an AJAX request needed to fetch the form.
    In addition to quickly setting the credit and copyright information for all images at once, you can now set the tags for all images quickly and easily without having to edit each image individually.
    Images support drag n drop reordering in the uploader here, which means that you can drag n drop images to different positions to control their order. Many users previously would name images "Image 1", "Image 2", and so on, and then set their albums to order images by name in order to control the order the images were displayed in. This is no longer necessary now that you can manually reposition the images.
    The default description editor is a pared down textarea box, but you can still use the rich text editor if you wish. The ability to enable maps for geo-encoded images and to upload thumbnails for videos is still supported as well, and those options will show up when appropriate in the right hand panel.
    The 100 image per submission limit has also been lifted. You can now upload many more images in one go with no hard limit imposed.
    Upon clicking submit images, you will see the typical multiredirector to store all of your images, however you will notice that it processes much faster than it did in 4.2 and below.
    Better submission control
    Administrators can now configure categories such that can accept only images, only albums, or both. This means you can now create categories that cannot be submitted to directly, and you can create categories that albums cannot be used with. This is a feature that has been oft-requested since the release of 4.0, and we are happy to report that it will be available in our next release.
    Additionally, album creators (if permitted) can also now create shared albums.  When you create a new album, you can now specify (under the Privacy menu) who can submit to the album, with your available options being:
    Only me Anyone Only the users I specify Only the groups I specify Prior to 4.3, albums have always been owned by one user and only that user could submit to them. Invision Community 4.3 will open up albums so that anyone can submit to them, dependent upon the album creator's preferences and needs.

    The choice is yours as to who can submit to your albums
    New image navigation
    Another major change with Gallery 4.3 is that clicking an image now launches that image in a lightbox to view it and interact with it. This lightbox is context-aware, allowing you to visit the next and previous images in the listing, whether that is a category or album listing, or the featured images or new images listings on the Gallery homepage, for example.
     

    The new image lightbox
    Firstly, I will note that you are seeing the image here with my mouse cursor over the image area, exposing the title, tags, and some various buttons. When you mouse away from the image those overlays fade away to highlight the image itself better.
    As you can see, you can navigate left and right here to view the next and previous image in this context, and you can otherwise interact with the image as you would have if you had visited the older-style image view page (including the ability to rate, review and comment).
    The new Gallery release will introduce a new advertisement location in the right hand column to allow you to show advertisements, even in the lightbox.
    If you follow a link to a full image view page, the lightbox will automatically launch when the page loads, still allowing you to interact in a familiar manner. Additionally, if you move through enough images in the lightbox to reach a new page (for example, if you click on the last image in the album listing and then click on the next image button), the listing itself behind the lightbox will update for easier usability if the user closes the lightbox.
    One final thing to note is that the interface has been made more mobile friendly, particularly through the introduction of swiping support. You can swipe left and right in the lightbox, and in image carousels, to see the next and previous images.
    Notable performance improvements
    As we mentioned at the beginning, we recognize there is a balance between performance, usability, and attractiveness, particularly with regards to an image Gallery. For that reason, we have made Gallery's performance a major focus in 4.3, and have implemented some changes that bring with them a noticeable performance improvement.
    Firstly, we have adjusted the software to only store two copies of an image (in addition to the original), instead of four. In previous versions, we stored a thumbnail, a small copy, a medium copy and a large copy of an image, all of which arbitrarily sized and designed to best meet our layout needs without showing an image too large or too small in a given space. We have simplified this vastly by storing a slightly larger "small" image, and storing a large copy. Diskspace usage is reduced dramatically as a result, and bandwidth usage is actually lowered as well since only two copies of an image need to be delivered to the browser instead of four.
    Next, we have implemented prefetching of the 'next' and 'previous' pages when you launch the lightbox image view. This means that when a user navigates to the next image in the lightbox, it loads immediately instead of waiting for the content to be fetched from the server. From a UX perspective, this provides a much snappier and responsive interface, making users more apt to interact with the site.
    We have additionally sped up the submission process as previously mentioned. The order of execution for certain events that must happen during submission has been moved around a bit, resulting in a faster experience for the end user actually submitting the images.
    Because we know the details matter, we have implemented other smaller improvements as well. For example, the link to rebuild images in the AdminCP previously resulted in a redirect process that rebuilt the images while you waited, but now a background task is launched so that you can continue with what you were doing while the images get rebuilt in the background.
    From start to finish, the Gallery UI and UX has been touched on and improved, and we hope you enjoy these improvements when you start using the new version.
  22. Like
    Daniel F reacted to Charles for an entry, 4.3: Usability improvements to make your day better   
    Often it's the smaller changes that can make a big improvement in the day to day use of your community. We have made quite a few updates that will make your community flow better for you and your members.
    Update files in Pages Media Manager
    Previously when you wanted to update a file in the Pages Media Manager you actually had to upload a new file and then change the references to that file to the new one. This was obviously not so great.
    When you select a file there is now a replace option. We're not sure why we didn't do this earlier but as they say: better late than never!
    Tag Input when Optional
    On communities with tagging enabled, we have often noticed that people tend to feel the need to tag everything even when it's not really necessary. If your site is about cars you don't really need everything people post to be tagged "car" as that's sort of obvious.

     
    So to make it a bit clearer that tags are not required we have hidden the input field behind a Choose link so people have to actively choose to tag if they really think it's necessary. We hope this cuts down on tag noise. If tagging is required then the normal input box will always show.
    Google Invisible reCAPTCHA
    The new Google Invisible reCAPTCHA allows you to prevent bot registrations without the need for all users to fill out the normal captcha process. As often as possible your members will never notice there is even a captcha happening on the page. It's another way to make the flow from guest to member easier.
    Whitelist for Spam Service
    The spam defense service Invision Community provides works very well at combatting spam signups automatically. The issue is sometimes it works too well!
    Let's say you are at work and all your colleagues share the same public IP. You are excited about your new community (of course you are) and your whole office tries to register at once. Our spam service would probably see your office IP as suspicious with that sudden influx of traffic and may even block it.
    The new whitelist tool allows you to specify IPs and email addresses to always allow on your community regardless of what score our spam defense gives it.
    Reply as Hidden
    Sometimes it would be nice if your moderators could reply to an item with a hidden reply. You might want to leave a note for other moderators or perhaps you have a database and want some replies public and some private.

     
    If you have permission you will now see a hide toggle when replying. This works in all apps anywhere you can reply to a content item and have hide permission.
    Exclude Groups in Leaderboard
    You can now exclude certain groups from being ranked in the Leaderboard. This is very useful if your staff or RSS bot tend to get all the reputation points. By excluding those groups you can focus on your actual member participation which is a better reward to encourage engagement.
    On a personal note this will make me very sad as I usually win reputation counts on our site. But, being such a great person, I am willing to make this sacrifice for you.  
    Complete Your Profile Order
    The Complete Your Profile feature introduced in version 4.2 has been a great success for clients. We have heard many reports of increased engagement as the system can walk people through the sign up process. Not having a big, scary registration form is always a huge plus.
    For 4.3 we added the new ability to change the order of completion for your members. This will allow you to stress the items you really want them to complete first and move your less important profile options later in the steps.
    Mapbox Support
    Mapping has been a feature of Invision Community for quite some time but up until now has been limited to Google Maps integration. For 4.3 we have added support for Mapbox which is based on OpenStreetMap data. The maps are beautifully designed and bring greater flexibility with an alternative look. The groundwork is now laid for some exciting new features still to come!
    Some of our existing customers also found Google policies and pricing structure incompatible with their own internal policies which this addition addresses.
  23. Like
    Daniel F reacted to Matt for an entry, Podcast: Online Communities in the Post-Facebook Era   
    Matt was recently invited onto the Community Signal Podcast, where he spoke with host Patrick O'Keefe.
    Everything from how Matt got started with online communities right up to the possibility of a post Facebook era was covered in their 45 minute chat. Matt also gives a little insight into how Invision Community works behind the scenes.
    From Community Signal:
    Check out the podcast now!
  24. Like
    Daniel F reacted to Charles for an entry, Update on Invision Community 4.2   
    We are working hard to get Invision Community 4.2 ready to go! If you have not been following this upcoming version, check out the details:
    Over the last month we have released several beta versions and feedback from those that have chosen to jump in on the beta has been great. We really could not be happier. Feedback has included amazement over how stable the beta is to reactions from community members enjoying all the new features.
    Everyone here at IPS is very excited to get the full release out so everyone can enjoy it. Not everyone is comfortable using beta releases .
    Back in March when we first announced 4.2 was coming soon we said that it would be out in mid-2017 and we are still on track for that. Be sure to keep an eye on announcements for the full release expected in the next 3 - 4 weeks.
    We really hope everyone is as excited as we are about 4.2's full release. Based on the feedback from those already using 4.2 beta on their live sites we really think this will be a huge hit with your community.
     
  25. Like
    Daniel F reacted to Ryan Ashbrook for an entry, New: Complete Your Profile   
    Completing long and complex forms online is tedious. It can be off putting having to fill in a lot of information before you can join a site or service. You may find that potential members never bother to convert from a visitor.
    How to convert guests into regular members is an often asked question. The simple answer is to lower the barrier to entry. Invision Community 4 already allows you to register with Facebook, Twitter, and other networks with ease.
    "Complete My Profile" is a system that will lower the barrier of conversion. Guests only have to complete a very basic form to gain membership. Members are then asked to complete any custom profile fields you require.
    You can also set up steps that group items together to encourage existing members to add more information to their public profile.
    Members with a complete profile and user photo provide others with much more engagement and personality.
    Registering
    If we look at registering first. Clicking "Sign Up" will only show a simple modal form with as few fields as possible.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     
    Reducing the complexity of membership can only help convert more guests into contributing members. Enforcing required steps ensures that you capture data across your membership.
    We hope you enjoy this feature and you see an increase in guest conversion with Invision Community 4.2.
     
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