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TAMAN

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  1. Like
    TAMAN 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.
  2. Thanks
    TAMAN reacted to Rikki for an entry, 4.5: Improvements for theme designers   
    If you've been around Invision Community for a while, you'll know our frontend default theme hasn't significantly evolved since the early days of 4.0. Indeed, the last significant refresh came with 4.2.
    With the upcoming release of 4.5, we wanted to revisit the default theme and give it a facelift for 2020, as well as make incremental improvements to the underlying codebase as a stepping stone to a bigger re-engineering in a future version. Keep an eye out for our next blog for more on the facelift.
    In this entry, I want to go over some of the design and code-level changes we've implemented that will be of particular interest to third-party theme designers, or those building a custom theme for their community.
    IE11 Support
    Until now, we've supported IE11 as a 'B' browser - meaning we didn't aim for perfect support (especially visually), but did aim to make all functionality work, and we fixed IE11-specific issues if possible.
    As of 4.5, we no longer support IE11 in any way and Invision Community will not work well in that browser. By removing support for IE11, we are able to make use of newer CSS technologies which significantly eases development for us and third-party designers. I'll discuss some of those below.
    Combined theme settings
    We've combined a number of existing theme settings into one new setting. We've found that settings like poll_bar, step_background, rating_hover and so on are nearly always set to the same color - typically the site's main brand color. These settings have therefore been replaced with one new brand_color setting, which is used throughout the CSS in places where this primary color would be needed. This will simplify the early stages of theme development and make it easier to match branding in Invision Community.

    Front end colors
    Removing hardcoded colors
    While our theme settings have allowed community owners to change most colors, there were still many hardcoded in our CSS framework. These were typically neutral colors used for things like 'close' links, semi-transparent backgrounds and so on, but it was enough to make creating a dark theme an unrealistic prospect without an awful lot of effort (and kudos to those designers who have offered dark themes up until now!).
    In 4.5, we've removed hardcoded colors from our framework, and instead rely on colors already defined by theme settings. You can now, finally, create a dark theme just by editing the built-in theme settings.
    Type scale & {fontsize} tag
    While we've had fixed type-size classes (e.g. ipsType_normal) for a long time, in practice many elements had their own font sizes set. This leads to inconsistency and poor visual rhythm too. Another side effect is it was also tough to globally change the font size (such as for branding purposes, or to create a theme for visually-impaired users).
    To solve these problems, we first created a type scale; that is, a fixed number of sizes to choose from. A product the size of Invision Community does have need for a flexibility, so we settled on the following scale:
    x_small: 12; small: 13; medium: 14; base: 16; large: 18; x_large: 20; 2x_large: 24; 3x_large: 30; 4x_large: 36.
    All of these values are editable as theme settings, so each theme can adjust the type scale used. Our default CSS in 4.5 has been fully updated to put all type on this scale.
    To actually make use of these settings, we have added a new {fontsize} tag which accepts either a scale key, or a specific pixel size (for those occasional situations where a specific size is absolutely needed, e.g. icons).
    Why couldn't we just use {theme="x_small"}, or even CSS variables? To solve the problem of globally scaling text, we have also added a percentage-based scale setting that will save you from having to create your own type scale. The {fontsize} tag automatically applies the global scale to any values passed into it. Want text in your theme to be twice as big as default? Simply set the global type scale to 200% and the entire theme will reflect the change immediately. 

    The new font size options
    Spacing scale
    The lack of a consistent spacing scale has led to some arbitrary values being used in any given situation, which again has had a negative impact on the visual harmony of our design. We've therefore implemented a 4px spacing scale (using CSS variables rather than theme settings this time) and applied across almost all padding/margin values. In time, we anticipate fully switching all measurement values to the scale.
    New CSS class families
    We have added a range of new spacing classes for padding and margins, allowing far more control over how these are applied, especially on different device sizes. Previously, ipsPad (15px) was simply halved on small screens - with no 'opt-out' short of adding specific CSS. We've felt this has been imprecise for some time, especially since mobile devices typically have larger screens in 2020 and don't need to be so tightly-spaced.
    ipsPad_all now replaces the existing ipsPad, and does not halve itself on small screens. Instead, there's a new responsive naming convention that allows you to apply specific padding on specific device sizes:
    ipsPad_all:double md:ipsPad_all sm:ipsPad_all:half
    In this arbitrary example, desktop size (the default) get double padding, medium (tablets) get regular padding and small (phones) get half padding.
    We've added similar classes for top, bottom, left and right padding, as well as horizontal, vertical and none (to removing all padding) shortcuts.
    For margins, the old ipsSpacer_* classes have been replaced with a new ipsMargin family that work exactly the same as the padding classes above, with the same range of flexibility.
    The old ipsPad/ipsSpacer classes will continue working as they did before for backwards compatibility, but should be considered deprecated from 4.5 onwards.
    We've also added a whole range of new ipsFlex classes, also with responsive controls (making it easy to have horizontal layouts on desktop and vertical layouts on mobile, for example), as well as a new ipsGap utility that automatically adds spacing between elements, without requiring manual :first-child/:last-child exclusions.
    CSS variables & calc()
    In 4.5, thanks to IE11 support ending, we're finally making use of CSS variables and calc() to make CSS more maintainable and easier to customize. A lot of repeating or often-customized styles - such as form field styles, message colors, card styles, border radii etc. - are now created as CSS variables, allowing theme designers to easily change styling in one place. Instead of magic numbers, we either stick to our spacing scale, or use calc() to avoid hardcoded numbers.
    The future
    The work we've done so far is just a 'first-pass'. We'll be pressing forward with modernization throughout the 4.5.* series and beyond with a view to reducing our footprint, improving our ability to maintain our CSS and, of course, making theming easier for our customers.
  3. Thanks
    TAMAN reacted to Rikki for an entry, Invision Community Apps for iOS & Android   
    I'm excited to reveal that we are making Invision Community native apps for iOS and Android!
    For the past few months, our staff has been using an internal test build right here on our community. Now we are ready to widen testing to a larger pool of customers. Information on how to become a tester is at the end of this post. But first, let's take a look at the app itself.
    Technology Preview
    We have a lot of exciting plans for the Invision Community app.
    We wanted to take full advantage of a clean slate and build a brand new experience that embraces a native app's interfaces. While the app is unmistakably Invision Community, it features new ways of interacting with your content.

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

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

    As we can build native mobile apps using the technology we are familiar with allows us to incorporate mobile app development into our existing processes.
    Why just forums?
    Invision Community is a large, fully-featured platform, and building the entire platform in a native app from the get-go didn't seem to be the best approach. Instead, we've focused on the most active area of most communities - forums - with other areas still supported in the app via webviews. Over time, additional features and tools will be built into the app so that it eventually reaches feature-parity with the web version. We'll take feedback from our customers to determine which areas to support next.
    How will I add my community to the app?
    The next significant point release of Invision Community (expected to be 4.5) will have app support built-in. Including your app in the directory will be as simple as enabling the feature in your AdminCP and configuring a few options. 
    Is the app ad-supported?
    There are no ads of any kind in the app right now. We may include ads or allow communities to run their own ads as a premium option in future.
    Can I get a white-label version for my community?
    We aim to offer a white-label option in the future.
    Will my plugins work in the app?
    Probably not. We're intentionally building the app to work with standard Invision Community features and apps right now. If your plugins add new UI elements or change the functions that users interact with it's likely they will not work with the app.
    What about themes?
    Themes won't work in the app because the app doesn't use HTML. However, some branding/customization will be available via the AdminCP, and we may expand upon this in future.
    Have other questions? Let us know in the comments, and we'll answer them!
    Sign Up For Testing
    For the next stage of our testing process, we will be inviting several customers to try the app and provide feedback/bug reports. As part of the sign-up process, we'll ask for some information about your own community. We'll use this to select further testers once we begin testing of the 'multi-community' version of the app later. The answers you provide will not affect your chance of testing the app on our community.
    Interested in joining the testing group? Click here to sign up.
    RPReplay_Final1568062287_1.mp4
  4. Like
    TAMAN reacted to Matt for an entry, Work smarter with 5 of our best time saving features   
    Have you ever found yourself muttering "there has to be an easier way" when managing your community?
    If you have, it's likely that you are not the first person to think that. Invision Community has been refined over nearly two decades, and in that time we've received a lot of feedback from clients running very large and busy sites.
    We love a short cut, especially when it makes our clients lives easier.
    There's plenty of time-saving features throughout Invision Community, and here are five of the best.
    Saved Actions
    If you routinely perform the same actions to a topic, such as replying before closing it or moving the topic to a different forum, then saved actions will save you a lot of time.
    Let's look at a practical example. You have a forum where your members can suggest new features for your product. You might choose to move some of these suggestions to another forum to shortlist them for inclusion in a future version, or to discuss further. You also may like to reply thanking the member for their idea, but it's not feasible at this time.
    Here you would set up two saved actions, one that replies and moves the topic to a specific forum, and one that replies to the topic and closes it for further commenting.

    Your saved actions are accessible via the moderation menu
    You and your moderating team can select these saved actions quickly when reading a topic to perform multiple moderation steps in one go.
    RSS Feeds
    If your community regularly discusses topics that feature in the latest news, then you can quickly seed these discussions using the RSS feed import tool.

    Not only can you import almost any public RSS feed into your community, but you also have control over how these topics are displayed, to whom they are attributed to and how the link back to the source article looks.
    RSS feed import is an often overlooked but handy tool at starting productive discussions without the need to source and post them manually.
    iCal Feeds
    The iCal feed can be considered as the sister feature to the RSS Feed Import tool. It works in a very similar way in that it can accept almost any public iCal feed and import events into your community's calendar.
    This is especially useful if you maintain an event stream outside of the community, but wish to share those events with your members in a native way, or perhaps you already have a calendar product used by your organisation.
    Using the iCal feed tool to populate your community calendar with key dates relevant to your community can be achieved very quickly.
    Auto-moderation
    Moderating a busy community can be a time-consuming task. Trying to review new posts and topics to ensure they meet your community standards as they come in can be daunting.
    Fortunately, Invision Community has an ace up its sleeve.
    Auto-moderation allows you to use the power of your community to identify and remove content that does not meet your community standards. The administrator sets up a threshold so that when a specific number of reports for that content item is crossed, the content is hidden.

    Auto-moderation has a lot of options to configure which we covered in this blog article recently.
    Group promotion
    Ensuring your members feel valued and rewarded for their contributions is key to member retention and keeping engagement high.
    A simple way to reward long term regular contributors is to elevate their permissions. This can mean that they have access to otherwise hidden areas, or they get more allowances in terms of upload space and fewer restrictions.
    To do this manually would take a significant amount of time. Thankfully, Invision Community has a feature called Group Promotion.
    This tool allows the administrator to set up specific thresholds such as post count, or time since joining which then move the member into a new group when triggered.
    This all happens automatically. Just set it up and let it run!
    We spoke about Group Promotion recently, take a look here to learn more about this feature.
    How many of you are already using these features, and which ones did we miss off our list? I'd love to know.
     
  5. Thanks
    TAMAN reacted to Joel R for an entry, Boundaries & Identity: Building Membership in a Community   
    Cultivating a strong Sense of Community is a clear goal for community builders.  Develop a strong sense of community, and you’ve built a community experience that sparks a more meaningful and connected community that your members will love. 
    A strong sense of community means:
    An integrated community where members feel personally related An impactful community where a member can influence and be influenced by the group.  A fulfilling community where members meet the needs of others and can feel rewarded.  A shared community, where users undergo common history, time together, and social experiences.  Do you believe you’ve developed a strong sense of community?  Follow long as we critically examine the first element in the Sense of Community: Membership. 

    Membership
    Boundaries of communities have always existed, whether it be neighborhoods, social groups, or online communities.  By definition, there are people who belong and people who do not.  It’s okay to decline membership to users, thereby providing a more comfortable space for members who are accepted. 
    Here are some time-tested tips from my years of community management that touch upon various attributes of membership:
    Don’t try to be everything to everyone.  It’s far better to be an exclusive community to a smaller, impassioned group of users than to dilute your community for a wide audience.  Not everybody deserves to belong, and by intentionally removing irrelevant members, it makes it a more purposeful community for those who can join.  Define who should belong, and outline the requirements on your Registration screen and Guest Sign-up widget. 
    Boundaries are walls, but safe walls.  Although there’s the pain of rejection and isolation of private communities, it’s offset with the positive benefits of joining.  It creates a space where members can feel safe to open up, to feel related to one another, and to feel protected.  Reinforce the benefits of joining the community to new members in a welcome message. 
    A new sense of identification.  Not only do members join the group, they should develop an extended sense of belonging and identity with the group.  The more strongly you can define the sense of belongingness, the more deeply the member will feel connected.  There should be a feeling of acceptance, an expectation that one fits in, and a willingness to sacrifice for the group.  Create a welcome team that immediately reaches out both publicly and privately, ask how the new member can contribute, and constantly highlight how the community has gone above-and-beyond in members helping members.   
    The higher the boundary, the greater the reward.  Personal investment is an important contributor to a member’s feeling of group membership.  By working for a membership, a member will feel like he’s earned a place – and that the membership will be more meaningful and valuable.  You can ask guests for their accreditations, background, or how they can contribute to the community. 
    The power of symbols.  Social groups throughout history have long used symbols, icons, ceremonies, and group language to cultivate a unique sense of identity.  These conventions are powerful representations of a group.  You can cultivate and write a common language in your Invision Community in large ways and small by uploading unique reactions, changing the language string, and celebrating community-specific holidays and events.     
    As you re-evaluate your community framework with me, take the time to outline what it means to be a member of your community.  Defining your membership goes hand-in-hand with defining your purpose.  It should touch upon these five attributes of membership: boundaries, emotional safety, sense of belonging, personal investment, and common symbolism.  Establish clear distinctions for your community’s membership qualifications, and you’ll be able to develop a deep Sense of Community from the very start of a member’s registration. 
    Share with me and others how you've defined your community's membership in the comments below.  I love to hear about other Invision Communities.  
    Joel, 
    Invision Community Advocate and Certified Community Manager
  6. Like
    TAMAN reacted to Joel R for an entry, How To Create Value from an Online Community   
    Online communities shine with the brilliance of humanity. Every day, our communities inspire, evoke, inform, motivate and engage in a hundred different ways.  Every member feels a uniquely individual sense of value from your community. 
    For too many communities, the strategy revolves around two simple pillars: content and engagement.  You inform. You engage. And you think your job is done.  However, you’ve barely scratched the surface of offering value. 
    You need to expand the ways in which you strategically match your community to member value. 
    New studies are coming out that show humans feel up to 27 emotions from admiration to triumph, and the best communities unleash a rainbow spectrum of value – functional and emotional, business to social - for their organizations and for their members.  This results in not just deeper and more extensive engagement, but greater financial payoff.
    Indeed, research from global management consulting firm Bain & Company shows brands like Apple, Samsung, and Amazon that demonstrate multiple elements of value have x3 greater customer loyalty and x4 faster revenue growth than others.   
    The elements of value can be divided into two broad categories.

    Specialize in Functional Value
    Don’t deliver content.  Deliver time savings, cost savings, risk savings, organization, connection, education, and variety.
    What is the utility benefit to your users? 
    Functional values are the core reasons why members would visit your community.  It forms the baseline rationale for your community’s existence, and you want to not just be good – you want to be the best in delivering functional value in your field.
    Improve your Q&A boards for feedback, inquiry, or ideation.  Provide a template in a pinned topic where users fill out a consistent set of questions, so you can answer with the most appropriate and accurate options.  Use moderator tools like Recommended Replies to summarize and spotlight key points in a topic.  This saves time and focuses attention on expert information.    Super-charge the training for your response team.  Empower them to be subject experts by giving them private training, templates, and extra resources in a staff wiki so they can investigate the unique needs of user inquiries and provide the best responses.        Build a set of content resources in the Pages application, which is the most powerful application in the suite.  It can be used to create a set of content resources with unlimited custom fields, filters, and templates enabling you to offer variety, organization, and education that no other competitor can match.  Spark Emotional Value
    Don’t deliver engagement.  Deliver admiration, amusement, awe, empathy,  joy, nostalgia, satisfaction, and triumph.
    How does your community make your members feel better? 
    Here’s a little secret.  Even though functional value is the foundation of your community’s value proposition, emotional elements are 50% more valuable.  Fortunately, Invision Community comes loaded with ways to recognize, reward, and promote members. 
    Take the time to explain the purpose of a new group promotion, rank, or title.  Don’t let the reward be the goal in and of itself.  You should connect the feature with its underlying emotion by explaining what steps are required to earn the rank, how many others earned it, and what it’ll take to earn the next one.  Start with the Leaderboard.  Invision Community ships with the Leaderboard, which provides an overview of the most popular users and content.  Scan for up-and-coming members to investigate what triggers their emotional satisfaction; scan for popular content to discover what excites your membership.  Create multiple member journeys.  Most communities follow a pattern of new member to trusted member to moderator.  But members can become superusers in many ways. Members who enjoy nostalgia can organize a Year-in-Review topic. Members who enjoy affiliation should serve as Ambassadors to greet and mentor new members. Members who seek reputation will appreciate new outlets for publishing.  Define multiple pathways that strategically tap into the diverse desires of your members.  As you implement your initiatives to build a Community of Excellence, take the time to relate the initiative to the Elements of Value (Attachment: IPS Elements of Value Attachment.pdf).  You’ll find new and creative ways of offering value to strengthen the relationship between your community and your members. 
    Look deep within your community to unearth the rainbow spectrum of value. 
    You’ll discover a wellspring of extraordinary value waiting to help your members shine brightest.
  7. Like
    TAMAN reacted to Matt for an entry, 2019 Year of Community   
    It's a new year, and a new beginning. And the possibilities are endless for you and your community.
    It’s an exciting time to be leading an online community with Invision Community - whether you’re starting out or switching over - and the new year is the perfect opportunity to start anew.

    How are you celebrating the new year with your community? What are your community goals for 2019?

    To kick off the new year, I’ve outlined guidance for several types of communities, whether you’re just starting out or you’re looking to take your community to the next level.
    New Community
    Are you a new community or looking to start one? You’re in the best position because you have a blank slate and everything is possible. Invest in a formative experience during your first year of defining your community’s purpose.
    What are your community’s mission, goals, and objectives? What is your competitive advantage against other similar communities or are you developing a new niche? How are you going to develop content programming, site features, or digital services in support of that advantage? What is your marketing plan to attract new users? Who is your core base of users, and what’s your plan to cultivate your first set of superusers? What is your budget to create a sustainable plan for hosting? Interest Community
    Are you a hobbyist with an established community of passion? Your community is a labor of love for you, and while it can feel like you’re pouring your heart and soul into it on a daily basis, it can be refreshing to take a step back and take stock of your community’s purpose, engagement goals, and how you want to lead in 2019 through fresh eyes.
    What’s your plan to create more emotionally-driven storytelling in your community? How are you going to deepen your tribal connection to users and between users? How can you incorporate member feedback into your New Year’s resolutions through polls, surveys, and member insights? How are you building a scalable community that leverages automation, staff, and user generated content to achieve your objectives? What are your engagement metrics year over year for 2018, and what is your projection for 2019 metrics like active members, online activity, best answers, and other user targets? How are you going to achieve those engagement metrics through initiatives like new pathways for engagement or enhanced training for staff? Enterprise
    Are you a brand community that’s part of a parent organization? Your organization probably already understands the value of investing in an online community, but rest assured that you’re in good company. In the 50th Anniversary report by the research firm IDC, it’s estimated that 80% of all Fortune 5000 companies will host an online community by 2020.

    As a community manager, you’ve probably covered all the basics such as approving your community’s budget for the new year, provided performance reviews of your staff, and mapped out your community strategy to align with organizational goals. Nevertheless, there are always more opportunities to increase your community’s prominence:
    What new early-stage relationships do you want to cultivate with employees, suppliers, vendors or partners? How can you create more networking touch points between your community and key constituencies to deliver community-driven solutions? How can you present your community’s data to stakeholders in new ways for better insight? How can you vest key stakeholders into community decisions and let them be a rewarding part of the conversation? What growth areas are happening within the organization, and how can you make the community be an integral part of its delivery? My personal New Year’s resolution is to develop my website into a Community of Excellence. This involves incorporating thought leadership from professional community management resources, making data-driven decisions, and formalizing a growth plan based on best practices. I hope you’ll join me in a year-long journey of community management as we conceptualize, learn, and discuss how to co-build Communities of Excellence.

    It’s a new year of endless opportunities to drive new growth and excellence for our members and communities.

    What are your community goals for 2019? Share in the comments below or in the exclusive Client Lounge in the Invision Community forums, so we can cheer each other on, check-in periodically, and provide peer mentorship for each other.

    Join me in a Year of Community.
    - Joel R

    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).

  8. Thanks
    TAMAN reacted to Matt for an entry, Test drive Invision Community 4.4 now!   
    Do you want to take our latest release for a test drive?

    You already are!
    We've upgraded our own community for wider testing.
    A big focus has been on page speed, so you will notice that our community is significantly faster that it was on 4.3
    If you need a recap of what was added, take a look at our product updates blog which takes you through the highlights.
    As this is a pre-beta release, expect some funkiness as we scurry around and tidy up our custom theme wrapper and other areas as we spot them.
    If you you find a bug, we'd love for you to report it with as much detail as you can muster in the bug report area.
    We'd love to know what you think, let us know below.
  9. Thanks
    TAMAN reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.4: 6 New Micro Features   
    I really enjoy writing about the new features the development team have been slaving over for weeks (and sometimes months.)
    It's a real joy to be able to share the finished product after we've seen it through inception, discussion, planning, assigning to a developer, coding, peer reviewing and final group testing.
    Although sometimes, the features can be explained in a few screenshots, which makes for a pretty thin blog entry.
    With that in mind, I've grouped together 6 of the best new micro-features for Invision Community 4.4.
    Browser notifications
    We introduced browser notifications in a previous version of Invision Community.
    Once you've opted in to receive them, you'll get a fancy browser notification when new content is posted while you're off browsing other sites.
    However, the browser prompt to ask for permission to push notifications isn't subtle, and it attacks you the second you log in for the first time.
    In Invision Community 4.4, we've made it, so you're only asked to opt-in once you open the notification drop down.

    No more being attacked by a permission dialog
    Widget display settings
    One of the most popular features we've added to the front end in recent times is the drag and drop widgets.
    We see these used on almost every site we visit.
    A popular request, though, was to be able to hide them from specific devices. By default, the sidebars appear under the main content when viewed on a smaller device such as a phone.
    There may be times where you wish to show a block for those on tablets and desktops, but remove it for phones, so it doesn't take up precious retail space.
    Happily, you can now do this on each block with 4.4.

    Desktop only?
    Club Navigation
    Clubs are relatively new to Invision Community but they incredibly popular as they allow you to run micro-communities within your main community.
    You're not limited to just forums either; you can add gallery albums and more to each club.
    We've added the ability to re-arrange the club tabs allowing you to prioritise what you members see first.

    Rearranging club tabs
    Announcement URLS
    Announcements have been a core feature for a long time now. We use them whenever we have a holiday so we can notify our customers about reduced support on those days.
    We've made it so you can now link to an item, rather than have to provide new copy for each announcement.

    We may have overdone it a bit
    Time Frame selector
    We noticed that in numerous areas around the Admin CP we had time input boxes. These would sometimes be used for seconds, minutes, hours and even days.
    We've seen customers forced to enter things like 86400 seconds when they want the time frame to last a day. The lack of consistency wasn't great either.
    In Invision Community 4.4, we've added a new Time Frame selector which is used as standard on all areas we ask for a time frame to be entered.
    No more taking your socks off to work out how many seconds in a month.

    Time is no longer relative
    Group Name Styling
    For about as long as I can remember (and as I get older, this is not an impressive amount of time), we've allowed group names to be stylized when shown in the online user list.
    A very popular request is to extend that same group highlighting throughout the suite.
    Finally, Invision Community 4.4 brings this to the suite.

    If the group name is visible, that gets the styling, otherwise the name does
    These features may be micro in nature, but we hope they make a significant improvement to your community.
    Which are you most looking forward to? Drop a comment below and let us know.
  10. Like
    TAMAN reacted to Matt for an entry, Team Talk: What's your favourite feature?   
    It's not often that we get to blow our own trumpets. That's not just because we don't own trumpets, but also because we like to keep our heads down and focused on producing fantastic software [Ironic trumpet blowing - Editor].
    Many of our team also run their own Invision Communities.
    So this month, we asked:
    What is your favourite Invision Community feature?

    Here's what we said.
    Brandon
    My favorite feature would be Pages 'databases' feature. You can quickly and easily create databases of content, and then you can adjust the templates to make those databases display in a more relevant manner for the type of content you are working with, all without having to modify any code. On my wife's real estate website, I have used Pages to create databases for hosting leads, property listings, closings, and realtor contacts. Being a developer I've further enhanced some of those areas with plugins, but even right out of the box the system is powerful enough to do quite a lot with just a little bit of configuring and templating.

    Trying to remember the block names when creating Pages templates
    Jennifer
    So, I love Invision Community. I've loved it for ages and it's hard to pick just one favorite feature. I'm going to say that Clubs and Pages are probably my top two favorite things in the whole wide world on Invision Community.
    For clubs, it allows your members to create special interest groups/forums/galleries/etc without having to do all of that yourself. It makes pulling together people of similar interests really easy and it makes it to where you don't have to manage "as much" of the responsibility for having a billion forums or groups. I also find it's a great way to get people excited and talking about things that they love which spreads positivity and happiness, which I love as an administrator.
    For Pages! There is so much! From Databases that you can super customize to blocks! There is so little I can't do with Pages!! I've made a super custom link directory (https://rpginitiative.com/directory/), a directory of searchable people (https://rpginitiative.com/pb-directory/) and one of my favorites a copy and paste code directory (https://rpginitiative.com/codex/). They all are unique in look and feel and all have different purposes but they fill them so well. I of course have a basic Guides listing (https://rpginitiative.com/guides/) but I don't think it's nearly as cool. Pages gives me a sense of empowerment on my community. It gives me the ability to create content that is special to my site and doesn't have to be cookie cutter in any way.
    Honestly, the whole suite always makes me happy because I get the community I want out of it and to me that is always the best and most special thing about Invision Community. [This is the best answer - Editor]

    Mark H
    Given my forum’s niche, amateur pyrotechnics [Must be nicer to Mark - Editor], my favorite feature would be the Gallery. You can describe a pyrotechnic shell, effect, build process, etc, with as many pages of text as you wish, but photographs or videos are truly worth 1000 words. While our Gallery isn’t the largest one around, it does contains a large number of items that our members have contributed to showcase their work, some of which are quite impressive.

    Mark's last day at Invision Community
    Matt
    I've given this a lot of thought [Makes a change - Editor]. There are several contenders, Pages (because I wrote it), Social Promotion (because I wrote that too), Commerce (I did not write this) and Gallery. All deserve to be picked on their own merits.

    I decided to go with the profile completion system. It's not a massive feature, and it's not the most exciting feature but it does its one job very well.

    It helps reduce overwhelm when registering. It's critical to make the transition from guest to member as frictionless as possible, and having a dozen custom profile fields to complete is a good way to put people off.
    The profile completion system allows you defer data collection after registering, which reduces the barrier.

    Mark W
    The auto-upgrader. When I first started at Invision Community one of my responsibilities was doing upgrades - often from 2.x to 3.x at the time - hours and hours of uploading files by FTP (sometimes painfully slowly) and clicking the upgrader, over and over again. I'm glad those days are behind us!
    I think it was quite a good technical achievement too. The system knows what version you're coming from, what apps you have installed and only downloads the files you need. It knows if it needs to ask you for FTP access or if it can just write the files. Recently we made it so it knows if your themes are going to be compatible with the new version and warns you before you upgrade if they might not be.
    Perhaps most significantly for me though is the backend behind it. Releasing an update used to be a bit of a nightmare (we had to build zip files ourselves!) - now I just tag the release in our git repo and everything magically figures itself out [Only if following instructions to the letter - Editor]. It still delights me every time I do it.

    Mark (not) doing upgrades now
    Marc S
    For me it has to be the block manager. The block manager makes it was so easy to set up the basic structure of your site. And it's hard to believe we used to disable hooks to remove an item, or even comment them out in some cases. Adding something like a list of new posts was something you would need a 3rd party plugin to achieve, and adding a simple bit of text is something you would have likely done in your theme. This brought a large amount of flexibility for users that wouldn't have previous had the capability to make some of these changes, and generally just made life easier for others.
    Daniel
    Pages App because of blocks and databases.
    I have all kind of custom databases which I use daily to organise my work (Linklists, Knowledge Bases, Documentation) It saves one a lot of time and makes coding own apps quite unnecessary in most cases.
    Ryan
    Okay, I think I've finally decided that Reactions is my favorite feature. It's really cool to see how clients implement the feature on their own sites with different reaction types. Also, I wrote the backend and it was probably one of my favorite things I've done in the software.

    Indeed
    Stuart
    I like OAuth and RestAPI, I wanted us to do those since 4.0 and they work really well. [That's it? Can I make up the rest of the answer? - Editor]
    Those are our favourite features - but what are yours?

    We'd love to hear, let us know below!
  11. Like
    TAMAN reacted to Matt for an entry, Gamification for your community   
    It's 2 am, and my bleary red eyes are fighting sleep. My thumbs are still glued to the Playstation controller as I try and persuade my on-screen avatar to complete the level. If I manage it, I've won another trophy.
    Many of us have been there. Investing a considerable amount of time into a game just to get to the next level, win a trophy or better yet, complete the entire game.
    I still remember the thrill of finishing Metal Gear Solid. I had become a recluse and lost track of time. Each time I thought about putting the gamepad down, there was just one more tiny thing to achieve.

     
    For decades, game designers have been using gamification to keep players plugged in and wanting more. A well-designed game hooks you completely, and you can't help but keep playing.
    In more recent times, social media has switched onto gamification. Each like and share you receive triggers a little dopamine kick in your brain. It's a pleasurable sensation which keeps you coming back for more. How many times have you opened Twitter back up moments after closing it?
    What does this mean for communities?
    Applying game mechanics to your community can have a powerful effect on member retention and engagement on your site.
    There are three main areas we can use gamification for: onboarding, driving engagement and encouraging positive behavior.
    Let's look at these areas in more detail.
    Onboarding
    When a new member joins your community, you want them to complete as much of their profile as possible. Ideally, this would mean that they upload a photo and complete any custom profile fields you have created.
    The more information a user provides, the more chance there is that they will come back and that others will start to engage with them. A relatively anonymous member will not be taken seriously by your veteran members.
    Traditionally, new members are presented with either a massive registration form or they are never prompted to complete their profile after sign up.
    Presenting a sizeable complex registration form is a sure way to reduce your guest to member conversion rates. A persons attention is a rare resource so do not waste the one opportunity you have for a new sign up!
    Invision Community has a profile completion feature which displays a progress bar at the top of each page.

    Members are encouraged to complete their profile
    This is a great way to add gamification to the onboarding process. You get the best of both worlds. A short compact registration form and a very persuasive reason to upload a photo and complete any profile fields.
    Very few can resist the temptation to leave their profile 90% complete!
    Gamification can help you convert a new lurker into a contributing member by leveraging the member groups and promotion feature.
    Set up your default Member group with specific restrictions that would be attractive to your community. This may be custom signatures, or it could be custom member titles. Perhaps limit the number of images that can be seen per day in Gallery.
    The key is to limit access in a way that doesn't agitate or annoy your new members but encourages them to level up.
    Create a new group "Full Members" and remove those restrictions. Create a promotion rule that after five posts, they get to level up.
    This will encourage lurkers to join in the discussion, so they reach the next level.
    You will want to be careful with this feature. You don't want to encourage noise and vapid posting just to reach the next level. 5-10 posts are enough to get them engaged.
    Meet Player One
    The number one thing you need to have a thriving community is constant user engagement. It is the lifeblood of any discussion focused site.
    Game mechanics will help drive user engagement using Invision Community's features strategically.
    But first, we must understand the types of players that will frequent your site.
    The High-Status Seeker
    We've all come across this type of forum member. These members tend to wear their content counts with pride. They cite how long they've been members for. They are the elite member's others look up to.

     
    The High-Status Seeker will want to be in the top three of your leaderboard every single day.
    In many ways, the High-Status Seeker is the ideal member. They want to move up the levels as fast as possible and show their experience and dominance to others. They will have an eye on becoming a moderator and getting access to exclusive private forums.
    The Social Butterfly
    This type of forum member isn't as interested as status as others. They are content to be active and participate in many different conversations. They typically like open-ended games like MMORPG where the reward is just playing the game.
     

    The Social Butterfly can be reluctant to engage with gamification elements in your community, but in many ways, they do not need to as they are likely to become long-standing members anyway.
    Engagement and Loyalty
    Now we have met the players, let's look at some of the features Invision Community has built in to create a game-like environment to drive up engagement and retention.
    Content Count
    The humble content count has been around since the dawn of the forum age. In simple terms, it displays the number of posts and comments the member has added to the community since they joined. When content is deleted, the post count is typically untouched.
    High-Status seekers love their content count and protect it with their life! Getting to 10,000 posts is a real achievement and sets them apart from newer or less engaged members.
    Reputation
    Allowing others to like your posts is a powerful way to not only get more engagement but also encourages quality content to be posted. Content with actual value, humor or flair tends to receive more likes than average. This gives the author a good morale boost which they will want to replicate.
    In many ways, this is the critical driver for the Social Butterfly. Acknowledgment for their efforts is what keeps them happy and content.
    Leaderboard
    While the Social Butterfly may be content with receiving likes on their content, the High-Status Seeker will want to top the leaderboard for as many days as they can confirming their status.
    The leaderboard is generated each night and adds up each person's reputation given for that day. The winner is crowned for all to see.

    The leaderboard
    The winner also gets a trophy on their profile for 'winning the day.' High-Status Seekers love this feature and do all they can to ensure they are in the top three.
    Our Picks
    Invision Community introduced the social promotion feature to 4.2. We use it to promote our blogs and good content we see members posting on our forum.
    To have your content picked for promotion is a huge thrill, and will undoubtedly put a smile on the face of the author. Both High-Status Seekers and Social Butterflies will love seeing their content promoted on social media and on the site itself.
    It is also a great way to keep your social media feeds topped up with quality content.

    Our Picks
    We are seeing a good number of communities using Our Picks as their home page to give their site more of an Instagram feel.
    Level up with member groups
    Who doesn't love being invited into a VIP area to sit in the good seats with the red ropes making it clear that not everyone is invited (yet!)
    This is a key strategy to engage High-Status Seekers. With member groups, you can create exclusive VIP areas that normal members can see, but cannot view topics or post into.
    In practice, it is as simple as creating a new member group called "VIP Members." This member group has access to specific forums.

    Group promotions
    A member group promotion rule can then be used to level up members who reach specific goals, such as 5,000 posts.
    This feature can be used to stretch members to achieve a large goal, or you can use it for a series of mini-goals. Either forum access or increased feature access can be leveraged to encourage goal completion.
    Become part of the team
    "Welcome to the team!" is a message that most members would love to receive. Being handed access to the private team forums where strategic discussions are held, topics are discussed and where the cool kids hang out is probably the ultimate goal for the High-Status Seeker.
    Wearing the moderator's badge is a tangible benefit and validation for all their work in the community.
    Inviting great members to become moderators is not only a massive boost for the member, but it is an excellent way to offload some of the workload for day to day moderation tasks such as flagging spammers, checking reported content and dealing with minor squabbles in topics.
    Final Thoughts
    Gamification is definitely a strategy that you should use to build the base of your community, but it should not be the only strategy you deploy.
    Extrinsic motivation in the form of reputation points, member titles and badges are effective, but at some point, those rewards run dry.
    I would encourage a mix of short-term rewards such as winning the day and mini-goals to level up through member groups along with longer-term goals such to stretch members. Long-term goals can be access to the "5k" club when the member hits 5,000 pieces of content. However, you will need mini goals to keep them moving forwards, or you risk the ultimate goal being too distant to want to reach.
    Once your members are hooked on your gamification, social bonds will grow, and members will want to come back just to engage with their friends.
    When you reach that point, you know you have an excellent robust community that will stand the test of time.
  12. Haha
    TAMAN reacted to Matt for an entry, Team Talk: Who is your celebrity look-alike?   
    For most of us, at some point in our lives we've been told we look like someone famous. Maybe it's an actor from a favourite movie, or a member of a popular band.
    This has certainly come up a few times among the team in chat. We often joke about our more famous doppelgängers. We've often wondered who'd play us in the movie version of Invision Community. I'm holding out for Ryan Reynolds [Keep dreaming - Editor].
    More recently, friend to Invision Community @Joel R mentioned that it'd make a really fun blog entry. So please direct all constructive criticism to Joel if this is not as promised, a fun blog entry.
    Ok, lets get started.
    Andy is DJ Qualls
    You may recognise DJ Qualls from comedies such as Road Trip and Road Trip: Beer Pong [Great list there - Editor]. This comparison was straight from Andy. He gets compared to him by his friends quite often apparently [He needs new friends- Editor].
    Personally, I think it's just the fact that he also wears the exact same glasses.

    Andy is DJ Qualls
    Brandon is Adam Levine
    Brandon was incredibly quick to mention that his dentist routinely says that he looks like Adam Levine, which seems like an odd thing to mention at most appointments. You may have heard of Adam from the band Maroon 5 and a few movies that I've not bothered watching [Awesome research for this piece - Editor].

     
    Brandon is Adam Levine
    Daniel is Daniel Brühl
    Not only do they have the same first name, they also share a nose [Who has it today? - Editor]. You might have seen Daniel playing Nikki Lauder in the movie Rush, as well as that shady guy in Captain America: Civil War.

    Nose twins
    Jennifer is Charlize Theron
    Jennifer had several looks for this blog entry, and chose the one featured below, which is very reminiscent of Charlize's role in Mad Max. You may know Charlize from her many movies. Including Max Max [Again, great research - Editor].

    The eyes have it.
    Lindy is Tony Soprano
    This is a comparison I've been making for years. Lindy has a certain "aura" that reminds me a little of the the mafia boss with a conscience. There was a hotdog incident at his house which I don't want to go into right now [No, please do - Editor].
    Tony Soprano was played by the late James Gandolfini.

    Both know how to hide bodies
    Marc is Casey Affleck
    Honestly, this took a while to figure out because Marc looks like no other human being alive. We even tried those "Who is your celeb twin" apps and they threw errors and deleted themselves in a panic. This is the best we could do. Casey Affleck is of course Batman's younger brother [Have you ever read a comic? - Editor].

    Yeah, it's not great is it.
    Mark is Ansel Elgort
    So one night I sat down to watch Baby Driver, featuring Ansel. It was uncanny how much he reminded me of our resident developer Mark. Even down to the facial expressions. It's uncanny.

    I honestly have no idea which is which
    Mark H is Ben Folds
    Full disclosure, the photo Mark submitted could politely be described as "vintage" [Not sure that's polite - Editor]. However, as soon as I saw it, I was amazed at how much he looked like my favourite singer/songwriter Ben Folds. I'm not saying this photo of Mark his old, but lets say it cost us $10,000 to have an expert colour it from the black and white original.

    Classic Mark
    Matt is David Boreanez
    Over the course of my 20s and 30s [Clearly not now you're old - Editor], I was often compared to "Angel from Buffy" played by David Boreanez. I thought it was because of my cool but brooding demeanour [lol - Editor] but maybe it's just one of those chance genetic occurrences.

    Well, similar hair at least
    Rhett is Bruce Willis
    Rhett never lets our servers Die Hard [Jeez, you went there - Editor] but he does resemble Bruce Willis. It's not just that they visit the same hair dresser either.

    Twins!
    Ryan is Ethan Hawke
    We've saved the best to last, because this comparison caused actual goosebumps. Someone even said "wow" when they saw it. These two could be related. Ethan Hawke is a huge movie star, so Ryan was quite happy with this comparison.

    Uncle Ethan?
    So, there you have it.

    If there was a movie to be made featuring our lives, then this is the cast that would be our first choice.

    Who do you look like? We've love to see your pictures too. Let us know below!
     
  13. Like
    TAMAN reacted to Matt for an entry, We're now using Invision Community 4.3!   
    Cue the music; switch on the dramatic lighting, we've got fantastic news!
    We're now running Invision Community 4.3 on here for some advanced testing before we unleash the first beta release.

    There's a subtle hint above
    If you need a recap of what was added, take a look at our product updates blog which takes you through the highlights.
    As this is a pre-beta release, expect some funkiness as we scurry around and tidy up our custom theme wrapper and other areas as we spot them.
    If you you find a bug, we'd love for you to report it with as much detail as you can muster in the bug report area.
    We'd love to know what you think, let us know below.
  14. Like
    TAMAN reacted to Matt for an entry, Team Talk: What is the geekiest thing you do in your spare time?   
    We, at Invision Community, love nothing more after a relaxing day writing PHP code, making commits in git and fighting with jQuery to indulge in a little therapeutic "me time".
    Given that we've all chosen to work in a nerdy industry (nerds are cool now, we checked) it's no surprise that our down time is spent on nerdy pursuits.
    Here's how our team spent their allotted and begrudgingly given free time.
    Ryan (Developer who loves of loud noises)
    I'm an audio nerd. I go out of my way to hand pick each individual component whenever I'm building a an audio system. My computer, for example, currently has 4 satellite speakers (two Bose, two DCM models which are no longer in production - what is a shame, they are better than any I've ever had), and a sub-woofer (Bose). My living room system is my pride and joy - everything currently runs through a Sony 7.1 channel surround sound system, with a Polk Audio center channel, two Kenwood JL series tower speakers (before JL Audio was it's own thing - each contain a 1.5" tweeter, 5" Midrange, and 12" Subwoofer), two side-surround satellites that need replacing, and will soon have two rear-surround Bose satellites. Each system has specifically been fine-tuned and equalized to my specification.
    (Editor: I'd be happy with a HomePod)
    The same applies to my guitar amps - I've spent years fine-tuning my amps to perfection, and constantly adjust and tweak various settings to get different sounds.

    Still not loud enough, we checked
    Jennifer (Designer who loves board games)
    As everyone likely knows I do a lot of pretty nerdy things, from cosplaying to video games to play by post roleplaying (collaborative writing) to collecting nerdy-shirts and playing board games but I think one of my more nerdy things would be that I collect socks and intentionally mismatch them (aka I'm Bi-sockual). I collect socks of all shapes and sizes to have for any occasion including socks with capes, leg warmers and more. I have a pretty nerdy collection including a ton of super hero socks, some Power Puff girls and more.
    (Editor: Socks with capes. What a time to be alive)

    These are clean, we checked
    Daniel (Developer who loves amusing English words)
    It all started several years ago as a present.. I fall in love with this hobby and got some nice trees from my ex-wife. The collection grew and grew.
    That's my "poor mans" bonsai collection.. I once trashed a 1000€ plant, then I sold all other which were worth more then 500€ except one and now I just have these left, but it's enought to keep me busy... and to not cause any sadness if something happens to them...Now i really enjoy trying to create my own stuff instead of taking care of bought stuff.
    (Editor: Daniel is hands down the most interesting person I've ever met)

    These are legal, we checked.
    Brandon (Developer who loves movies)
    I haven't done one in a while, but I like to have movie marathons sometimes. For instance, I'll plan to sit down one day and do nothing but watch Star Wars movies (or Harry Potter, or LOTR or whatever) all day in order. You then have to make the ever important decision of putting the prequels first, or after the originals, but otherwise it tends to be a fun experience watching the continuity from one distinct movie to the next (or, alternatively, looking for broken continuity). When I do this, we tend to eat popcorn, milkshakes and candy for lunch and dinner. Most of my family cannot sit still that long and will just bounce in and out during the marathon.
    (Editor: I'm in, when do you want me to pop over?)

    Spongebob lives under the sea, we checked
    Marc S (Tech who loves things that crash)
    I guess other than coding, the nerdiest thing I do is watch Formula 1 racing. Whilst this doesn't seem that nerdy, I do go a little overboard with it (as my wife reminds me regularly). This should give you a bit of an idea.
    At present we are approaching pre season testing. For those not familiar with formula 1, this is a testing phase before the new season, for teams to test their new cars. This means that the new cars are just being shown to the world for the first time. I will watch for these to see them as soon as they come out, then will take a look at what new parts I can see on the car in comparison to last year. Today for example saw the first glimpse of Mercedes, and at 3pm Ferrari will show off their new car online.
    In addition to that, I've been looking at the stats from last year, along with the know changes this year in engines. I have my own analysis of who I think will be the winners and losers, through the changes from last season in drivers, engine suppliers, and even paddock staff. 
    Testing starts on the cars on Monday in barcelona. Whilst this is not on TV, I will be keeping myself updated with the latest events on there. My daily routine whilst testing is on consists of.
    Testing live stream running throughout the day during testing
    Teds notebook in the evening - An show which analyses the days testing
    F1 show - Another show which analyses each days testing
    Autosport review - Article online with analysis
    Sky news site - Usually some good analysis on there
    BBC Sport - Again, some good analysis and different points of view
    Motorsport.com - Pretty good website for analysis
    And of course the formula 1 website itself.
    Boring to many (Editor: yep), but I guess everyone has to have a hobby. For me its formula 1 analysis. Would love to have a go in one, but to do so it hugely expensive! (Editor: given your history with crashing things, you'd never get insurance)

    John Woo directed this clip, we checked
    Andy (Developer who loves to follow instructions)
    Following a recent project we worked on for LEGO, I rediscovered a love for the brick with the Saturn V. Since then I’ve also started a nice little collection of cars including the incredibly geeky 2704 piece Porsche 911 GT3 RS with functional PDK gearbox and the VW campervan. My family bought me a few more sets for Christmas and I’m toying (no pun intended (Editor: Puns are my thing, it's the only job I have left)) with building a city with the larger modular sets. I’d say that was fairly geeky but I really enjoy the downtime of sitting down and building. I’m not terribly creative so following a set of instructions and seeing things come together appeals to me more than free building.

    Andy did build this, we checked
    Right, that's enough of that, everyone back to work!
    How do you spend your spare time? Let us know below!
  15. Like
    TAMAN reacted to Matt for an entry, Happy 16th Birthday To Us!   
    This month, we turn sweet sixteen!

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

    Click on this image to see it unless you have excellent eyesight
    We're still here because we are always innovating and adapting. The software we're working on right now is vastly different from the one we started out with. And that is how it should be. We listen to our customers and we implement the great ideas.
    Of course, we'd not have lasted a year without our customers. We're genuinely thrilled to still be doing a job we love and serving customers who have trusted their community with us.
    Thank you all for choosing us and we're looking forward to the next 16 years.
  16. Like
    TAMAN 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.
  17. Like
    TAMAN reacted to Mark for an entry, 4.3: Videos   
    Videos are everywhere. We shoot them on our smart phones, share them to social media, messengers and more.
    Up until now, the only way to share a video to Invision Community was to use a service like YouTube or Vimeo. If you uploaded a video file it would be treated like an attachment, and if the user clicked the link it would download it to their computer.
    In Invision Community 4.3 we've improved this. Now if you upload a video file (mp4/3gp/mov/ogg/ogv/mpg/mpeg/flv/webm/wmv/avi/m4v), it will embed similarly to an image.

    Uploading a video
    When viewing an uploaded video, if it is in a format that the user's browser and platform natively supports, it will show an embedded player. This will have all of the features supported by the operating system - for example, almost all browsers support fullscreen, and Safari supports Airplay and picture in picture.

    An uploaded video
    If the video is in a format not supported, it displays exactly as it does now - as a download link.

    An uploaded video in a browser without playback support for that format
  18. Like
    TAMAN reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.3: Welcome to the future, blog!   
    Good news!
    We've taken Invision Community's Blog app by the scruff of the neck and dragged it into 2018!
    There has been a growing trend for imagery to play a very important part of a blog entry. This update reflects that.
    Introducing Grid View
    We have added a new view that shows your blog entries as cards with space for a cover photo.
    We've very visual creatures, and a good photograph can entice readers into your blogs to read more. 
    As you would expect, you can disable this mode from the Admin CP for purists that prefer the traditional list format.

     
    For those who's sense of adventure runs deep, the new grid mode allows you to show a list of latest blog entries as the blog home page.

     
    This puts valuable and engaging content right in front of your audience.
    This list view persists when you view a blog's entries giving a consistent feel.

     
    Viewing an entry
    We've given the blog entry page a little make-over by featuring the cover photo above the content. The slimmed down blog details bar allows your audience to focus on the content.

     
    Default Cover Photos
    You may have spotted that entries without a cover photo have a rather fetching geometric pattern in different colors.

     
    This is a new micro-feature of Invision Community 4.3. Currently, if you do not have a cover photo on a blog, profile or event, the bar is a rather sad shade of black.
    The new default cover photo feature makes it much more cheerful. Here's what a profile looks like.

     
    Much better.
    Here's a few technical details for those that love to know all the things.
    The grid view feature can be turned off in the ACP (but doing so will make me very sad) You can choose the default home page view: Latest Entries or List of Blogs. You can still view a list of blogs when you're on the latest entries page. This choice is stored in a little cookie (GDPR friendly, it doesn't contain any identifying data) so navigating back gets you the last view you chose. Let us know what you think! We love it, and hope you do too.
  19. Like
    TAMAN reacted to Charles for an entry, Invision Community 4.3   
    We are happy to announce the new Invision Community 4.3 is available!
    Some highlights in Invision Community 4.3 include...
    Improved Search
    We now support Elasticsearch for scalable and accurate searching that MySQL alone cannot provided. There are also enhancements to the overall search interfaces based on your feedback.

     
    Emoji
    Express yourself with native emoji support in all editors. You can also keep your custom emoticons as you have now.

     
    Member Management
    The AdminCP interface to manage your members is all new allowing you easier control and management of your membership.

     
    Automatic Community Moderation
    You as the administrator set up rules to define how many unique member reports a piece of content needs to receive before it's automatically hidden from view and moderators notified.

     
    Clubs
    The new Clubs feature has been a huge hit with Invision Community users and we are expanding it to include invite-only options, notifications, exposure on the main community pages, paid memberships, and more.
    Custom Email Footers
    Your community generates a lot of email and you can now include dynamic content in the footer to help drive engagement and content discovery. 
    New Gallery Interface
    We have reworked our Gallery system with a simplified upload process and more streamlined image viewing.
     
    The full list follows. Enjoy!
    Content Discovery
    We now support Elasticsearch which is a search utility that allows for much faster and more reliable searching. The REST API now supports search functions. Both MySQL and Elasticsearch have new settings for the admin to use to set search-defaults and default content weighting to better customize search logic to your community. Visitors can now search for Content Pages and Commerce Products. When entering a search term, members now see a more clear interface so they know what areas they are searching in and the method of search. Member Engagement
    Commerce can now send a customizable account welcome email after checkout. You can whitelist emails in the spam service to stop false-positives. REST API has many enhancements to mange members. Ability to join any OAuth service for login management. Invision Community can now be an OAuth endpoint. Wordpress OAuth login method built in. Support for Google's Invisible ReCaptcha. Groups can be excluded from Leaderboard (such as admins or bot groups). All emails generated by Invision Community can now contain admin-defined extra promotional text in the footer such as Our Picks, and Social Links. Admins can now define the order of Complete Your Profile to better control user experience. Clubs
    Option to make a Club visible but invite-only Admins can set an option so any Club a member is part of will also show in the parent application. So if you are in a Club that has a Gallery tab then those image will show both in the Club and in the main Gallery section of the community. Club members can now follow an entire Club rather than just each content section. There is a new option on the Club directory page for a list view which is useful for communities with many Clubs. If you have Commerce you can now enable paid memberships to Clubs. Admins can set limits on number of Clubs per group. If a group has delete permission in their Club, they can now delete empty containers as well. Members can ignore invitations. Moderation and Administration
    Unrestricted moderator or administrator permission sets in the AdminCP are visually flagged. This prevents administrator confusion when they cannot do something as they will be able to quickly see if their account has restrictions. You can choose to be notified with a new Club is created. Moderators can now reply to any content item with a hidden reply. Download screenshot/watermarks can now be rebuilt if you change settings. Support for Facebook Pixel to easily track visitors. Moderators can now delete Gallery albums. Automatic moderation tools with rules to define when content should auto-hide based on user reports. Totally new member management view in AdminCP. More areas are mass-selectable like comments and AdminCP functions for easier management. New Features
    Commerce now has full Stripe support including fraud tools, Apple Pay, and other Stripe features. Commerce packages can now have various custom email events configured (expiring soon, purchased, expired). Full Emojii support in the editor. Complete overhaul of the Gallery upload and image views. Announcements system overhaul. Now global on all pages (not via widget) and new modes including dismissible announcements and top-header floating bar option. Many new reports on traffic and engagement in the AdminCP. Blog has new view modes to offer options for a traditional site blog or a community multi-member blog platform. The content-starter can now leave one reply to Reviews on their item. Commerce now makes it much easier to do basic account-subscriptions when there is no product attached. Useful Improvements
    Forums has a new widget where you can filter by tags. If tags are not required, the tag input box now indicates this so the member knows they do not have to put in tags. Member cover photos can now be clicked to see the full image. Any item with a poll now has a symbol on the list view. Twitch.tv embed support. You can now update/overwrite media in the Pages Media Manager. Mapbox as an additional map provider to Google Maps. Technical Changes
    Direct support for Sparkpost has been removed. Anyone currently using Sparkpost will automatically have their settings converted to the Sparkpost SMTP mode so your email will still work. Your cache engines (like Redis) will be checked on upgrade and in the support tool to ensure they are reachable. Third-party applications will now be visually labeled to distinguish them from Invision Community official applications. The queued tasks list in the AdminCP is now collapsed by default as queued tasks are not something people need to pay much attention to during normal operations. When upgrading from version 3 series you must convert your database to UTF8 and the system saves your original data in tables prefixed with orig. The AdminCP now alerts you these are still present and allows you to remove them to reclaim storage space. On new installs there are now reasonable defaults for upload limits to keep people from eating up storage space. Categories in all apps (forums, gallery albums, databases, etc.) no longer allow HTML in their titles. This has been a concern both in terms of security and usability so we were forced to restrict it. Large improvements to the Redis cache engine including use for sessions. The login with HTTPS option has been removed and those who were using it will be given instructions to convert their entire community to HTTPS. Images loaded through the proxy system now honor image limits for normal uploads. We now consider BBCode deprecated. We are not removing support but will not fix any future issues that may come up.
     
    There's a lot to talk about here so we are going to lock this entry to comments so things do not get confusing. Feel free to comment on upcoming feature-specific entries or start a topic in our Feedback forum.
     
  20. Like
    TAMAN reacted to Matt for an entry, 6 ways to simplify your community and drive up engagement   
    Despite your best efforts, is engagement a problem for your community? You have your site promotion running well and you are seeing plenty of traffic but it doesn't convert into comments, posts or reactions?
    Invision Community is a powerful platform that offers layers of complexity for the many sites it powers. When you are struggling to convert page views into comments, it's worth taking a step back and evaluating your site from a new user's point of view.
    We'll take you through our 6 best tips to simplify your site and increase engagement using built in tools.
    #1 Use Social Sign In with at least Facebook and Twitter enabled.
    Social sign in makes it easy for causal visitors to become content contributors by creating an account. Social sign in removes the complex registration form that may put some off.

     
    It's a fact that most people visiting your site will have either a Facebook account or a Twitter account. Use that to your advantage!
    #2 Use Profile Completion
    One of the biggest reasons sites fail to convert visitors into members is because of large or complex forms. If you have many required profile fields, your potential member is likely to abandon the form. Use the Profile Completion system with fewer fields where possible for a simpler registration form.

     
    The Profile Completion system allows new members to complete their profile in their own time. Of course, you can still enforce vital fields before members can contribute.
    #3 Use Fluid View
    Traditional forums can be a little daunting to site visitors used to Facebook. The top down categorisation is a strength for separating conversations. Yet, it can be confusing for a first time visitor to navigate.

     
    Fluid view breaks down these boundaries by presenting your conversations in one simple list. By removing the need to jump between forum containers, new visitors are encourage to keep diving deeper into your conversations. An engaged visitor is more likely to contribute.
    #4 Keep your forum structure simple
    Even with fluid view enabled, complex forum structures can confuse. Consider a brand new forum with a hundred different conversation areas. Would a new user know where to go and post? Would they be put off thinking they are posting in the wrong area? The best advice is always start off with as few forum containers as possible and increase them as your community grows.
    #5 Use Reactions
    One of the simplest ways to increase engagement is to turn on Reactions. Reactions allow other members to leave feedback on a post in a few clicks. The default reactions allow one to like, give thanks, express confusion, sadness or happiness. You can add your own reactions to tailor the platform to your niche and personality.

     
    Non-verbal engagement is important for your active posters. If they receive reactions to their posts, they are more likely to reply more and return often to see what feedback they have received.
    #6 Use the Sign In/Sign Up widget
    A very simple way to increase visitor to member conversion is to just ask them to register. Invision Community ships with a drag and drop widget that you can use to outline what your site is about and encourage registration.

     
    In one very simple but prominent box, you can see what the site is about and how to join in.
    Summary
    New and existing communities should take a moment to see their site through a new visitor's eyes. Consider how easy your structure is to navigate and how many barriers to registration there are.
    You can streamline both registration and conversation presentation with our built in tools. The key to increasing engagement is to make it a simple as possible to join your community. Make sure your barriers or entry are set low.
    Not using Invision Community? We can convert you from other platforms preserving your data. Our migration page has more information on the platforms we can convert you from.
  21. Thanks
    TAMAN 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.
     
  22. Thanks
    TAMAN reacted to Charles for an entry, Invision Community 4.2   
    Here is the roundup of what's new in Invision Community 4.2!
    Highlights
    There's a lot of new feature in 4.2 but here are a few of the highlights:
    Promoting Content - A new way to promote content in your Community internally, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

     
    Clubs - Clubs are a brand new way of supporting sub-communities within your site. Many people have requested social group functionality in the past and Clubs are our implementation of this concept.

     
    Reactions - Offer more fine-grained sentiments towards content than a simple up/down or 'like'. They are now in common usage on social networks, and so users expect to be able to be more nuanced in their response to something they see.

     
    Complete Your Profile - Encourage or require members to fill out the details on their profile. Also now allows for quick registration to encourage joining.

     
    And a whole lot more..
    It goes on... here is the full list!
    Leaderboard Enhancements Richer Embeds Group Promotion Improvement Fluid Forum View Member History Editor Uploading Improvements Authy Integration Commerce Improvements New REST API Endpoints Gallery Improvements Statistic Reporting Copy Topic to Database Downloads Index Page Blog Sidebar Promoting Content Clubs Reactions Calendar Venues Social Sign In Streamlining Calendar Add Similar Event Gallery Lightbox Navigation Letter Profile Photos SEO Improvements Device Management Delayed Deletes Calendar Event Reminders Content Messages Recommended Replies Complete Your Profile Be sure to visit each entry above for more information and screenshots. We hope you enjoy Invision Community 4.2!
     
  23. Like
    TAMAN 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.
     
  24. Like
    TAMAN reacted to Mark for an entry, New: Leaderboard Enhancements   
    This entry is about our IPS Community Suite 4.2 release
     
    Top Members
    For 4.2 we made some improvements to the Top Members section of the Leaderboard. A new overview page tab shows a selection of the top members across different criteria.

    Top Members Overview Page showing members with Most Reputation and Most Content
    The filter menu allows you to view more members in any chosen category, and a new AdminCP setting controls which categories should be available.

    Top Members Categories
    In the AdminCP you can configure which categories are shown on the overview page, the filter menu, and how many results show for each.

    Top Members AdminCP Settings
     
    Popular Contributors Widget
    Another small change is the Popular Contributors widget now contains a link to the appropriate section of the Leaderboard.

    Popular Contributors Widget
  25. Like
    TAMAN reacted to Rikki for an entry, New: Richer Embeds   
    This is an entry about our IPS Community Suite 4.2 release.
    You are probably already familiar with our content embedding feature in IPS Community Suite. When a link to content in the community is pasted into the editor (e.g. a topic, or a post, or a gallery image, etc.) it is automatically expanded into a preview of the content, usually with an accompanying image, allowing users to click through to that content if they are interested.

    An embedded Gallery image in IPS Community Suite 4.1
    While it has proved a useful feature to members, each embed used essentially the same structure - a small thumbnail on the left, a title, and a few lines of text. This works fine for topics, but isn't ideal for other kinds of rich content that might be posted.
    In IPS Community Suite 4.2, we greatly improved upon our embedding handling, giving every type of content within every application its own customized embed style, allowing that content to be displayed however works best. This means larger high-res previews of Gallery images, a button to download a file right from the embed for Downloads files, showing a map for Calendar events, and so on. We worked to keep a consistent overall style between apps, but allow each to display its own relevant information.
    For users, things will work exactly as they do now - they simply paste a link to content, and it will continue to expand automatically. The changes are also backwards compatible. Any existing embeds in your community will automatically show the new styling you see below - no rebuilding necessary.
    So with that in mind, let's take a look what the new embeds look like! I won't show every single embed here because there's a huge number, but I'll try and give you a feel for how we approached the embed styles for each app.

    Gallery Image

    Comment on a Gallery Image

    Gallery Album

    Forum Topic

    Downloads File

    Review on a Downloads File

    Calendar Event

    Comment on a Calendar Event

    Commerce Product

    Record from a Pages database
    I hope that gives you a good overview of what to expect when your users try out the new embeds for themselves. As always, please share your feedback in the comments below!
     
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