Rikki

New: Clubs

By Rikki,

This entry is about our IPS Community Suite 4.2 release.

We are happy to introduce the next major feature that will be available in IPS Community Suite 4.2 - Clubs.

Clubs are a brand new way of supporting sub-communities within your site. Many people have requested social group functionality in the past and Clubs are our implementation of this concept. Let's take a look at a few screenshots, and then go over what they are capable of doing.

homepage.jpg

The Club directory

club-home.jpg

A Club homepage

club-members.jpg

Club member listing

club-content.jpg

Example of content within a club (topics, in this case)

There's a lot to digest there! Let's go over the basic functionality.

 

Club Types

Four types of club are available:

  • Public clubs
    Clubs that anyone can see and participate in without joining.
  • Open club
    Clubs that anyone can see and join.
  • Closed club
    Clubs that anyone can see in the directory, but joining must be approved by a Club Leader or Club Moderator. Non-club-members who view the club will only see the member list - not the recent activity or content areas.
  • Private club
    Clubs that do not show in public, and users must be invited by a Club Leader or Club Moderator

As the site admin, you can of course configure which club types can be created and by whom. You could, for example, allow members to create public and open clubs, but allow a "VIP" group to also create Closed and Private clubs.

Members 2017-03-29 15-31-37.png

Admin configuration option for Club creations

 

Club Users

Each club has three levels of user:

  • Leader
    A leader has all of the permissions of a moderator, and can add other moderators. They can also add content areas (see below). The club owner is automatically a leader.
  • Moderators
    Moderators, as the name implies, have the ability to moderate content posted within the club. As the site administrator, you can define which moderator tools can be used. You could, for example, prevent any content being deleted from clubs, but allow it to be hidden. Moderators can also remove members from a club.
  • Users
    Anyone else that joins the club.

club_acp.png

Defining the moderator permissions available to club moderators

Your site administrator and moderators, with the appropriate permissions, are able to moderator content in any Club regardless of whether they are a member of it. 

Clubs can be created by any user who has permission. As you would expect, this is controlled by our regular permission settings.

For closed clubs, there's an approval process. Users can request to join and the request must be approved by a leader. Leaders get a notification when a user requests to join; the user gets a notification when their request is approved or denied.

approve.gif

Approving and declining join requests

 

Club Content

Club Leaders can add a variety of content areas to their club - forums, calendars, blogs and so on. It's important to note that these content areas are fully functional just as if they existed as a top-level admin created area. They will appear in search results, activity streams, users can follow them, embed links to them, and so on. If a user has permission to see a forum (for example) within a club it will behave exactly like other forums they see - and the same for all other kinds of content.

Each content area a leader adds can have a custom title, and will appear in the club navigation. This means, for example, that you can have multiple forums within a club, and give each a different name.

club_areas.png

Adding content areas to a club

 

Club Custom Fields

Clubs also support custom fields. Custom fields are defined by the site administrator and can be filled in by Club Owners. The values they enter are shown (along with the club description) on the club homepage.

club_custom_field.png

Custom fields in a club

On the Club Directory page, users can filter by the custom club fields.

club_filter.png

Filtering clubs

 

Club Locations

Clubs have built-in support for Google Maps, allowing users to specify a physical location for their club. Let's say you run a community for car enthusiasts; each club might be tied to a particular region's meetup. The Club Owner specifies the location when setting up the club, and clubs are then shown on map on the directory page:

club-location.jpg

Club locations

And within a club, the location is shown too:

club_location.png

 

Club Display

We offer two ways to display club headers within the club - the standard way, shown in the screenshots you've seen up to this point, but we also have a sidebar option. This is something the admin sets globally for the site, rather than per-club. This is useful where your site design doesn't facilitate another horizontal banner taking up valuable screen real-estate; moving the club banner to the sidebar alleviates this pressure on vertical space.

club_sidebar.png

Sidebar club style

Using Clubs in Other Ways

There's a lot of scope for using clubs beyond allowing users to create their own groups. You do not even have to call them "clubs" if that does not suit your use case. For example, on a company intranet you could rename Clubs to "Departments", and create a private group for each of your main roles. This would allow each department to have its own community, with its own forums, gallery, file sharing and so on, private and separate from other departments.

Similarly, they'd also work well in situations where you as the site admin want to create entire micro-communities. Take for example a video game publisher. Using Clubs, they could create a micro-community for each of their games, complete with forums, galleries and so forth, and then set the Clubs directory as their overall community homepage. Immediately, they have a setup that hasn't until now been possible out-of-the-box with IPS Community Suite.

 

We expect our clients will come up with some really innovative uses for the new Club functionality, and we can't wait to see what you do. We'd love to hear your feedback - let us know what you think in the comments.

David.., ASTRAPI, Matt and 46 others like this
Rikki

New: Reactions

By Rikki,

This entry is about our IPS Community Suite 4.2 release.

IPS Community Suite has long had a reputation system; first we had a simple up/down system, later updated to introduce a Likes system as an alternative. Whichever system you chose to use, it tied in with our reputation system.

We're pleased to introduce the latest updates to the reputation system, and it's something that has been requested for quite some time: Reactions.

Quite simply, reactions allow users to 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.

Let's see how they work in a post, and then cover the options you'll have available.

reactions.gif

What you see above is the default setup for a site that has used the Like system in version 4.1. We include 5 reactions by default:

  • Like
  • Thanks
  • Confused
  • Sad
  • Haha

If you currently use the older style up/down reputation system, don't fret - you'll still get the new reactions on upgrade, but they'll be disabled by default and instead the new reaction UI will show up/down reactions. This gives you the flexibility to decide which of the new reactions, if any, you want to allow.

So, those are the basics - but what configuration options can you expect to see? First, you can of course add your own reactions! We expect that beyond the default reactions you'd expect to find, some sites will want reaction types specific to their use-case. On an intranet, you might want to have 'agree' and 'disagree' reactions for staff to use when responding to discussions. On a gaming community, you might replace the icons to be some graphic from a video game that means something to your particular userbase. There's a wealth of possibilities.

Each reaction you set up can be configured to adjust the original author's reputation count - a reaction can be positive (i.e. award a reputation point), negative (i.e. subtract a reputation point), or neutral (i.e. leave the reputation count unchanged). Our default set won't include any negative reactions, but you are free to configure these and new reactions to suit your own use-case. A user's total reputation count is still shown alongside their content and in their profile, of course.

If you don't want to use the new reactions for whatever reason, you can disable all of them except Like, and it'll behave just the like 4.1-and-earlier system:

react_like.gif

 

Sites that currently use the up/down system don't show a list of names of users, and instead show an overall reputation score for the content. With the new reaction system, you can enable this even if you don't use up/down reactions. This is great if you plan to use reactions as, for example, an agree/disagree system, or where the content score is more important to your site than the individual reaction types.

reaction count.png

How the reaction UI looks with the 'count only' setting enabled

As you'd expect, you can click individual reaction counts (or the overall reputation score, if you enable that setting) to view who reacted to the content. This remains a permission setting that you can apply per-group.

react who.png

On touch devices, on-hover functionality is not suitable, and so for these devices the reactions UI looks like this:

react_mobile.gif

Reactions play well with all areas of the suite, including Recommended Replies:

react_recommend.png

...and activity streams...

react_activity.png

...and a couple of places we aren't quite ready to reveal yet ;) 

 

We hope you're looking forward to this new feature as much as we are. It's already been a hit on our internal testing site, and we're looking forward to seeing how clients customize it for use on their own community.

Developer note: Reactions are one of two new features (the other currently unannounced) so far that make use of PHP Traits.

kysil, Dan, media and 69 others like this
Andy Millne

This entry is about our IPS Community Suite 4.2 release.

Following on from our previous news entry "Add Similar Event" we are pleased to announce another feature that will make adding and discovering new events as easy as possible.

Support for geographic event locations has been in Calendar for some time now but with 4.2 we have taken this a step further with venue support. When enabled, members can set the event location from a list of pre-defined venues. Address details and maps will then be automatically shown in the event view.

Blackbeard's Tea Party - Community Calendar - IPS Community Suite 2017-03-20 20-45-26.png

Event view shows the venue map and address as well as a link to other events at the venue

Additionally, a link will be added so that other events occurring at this venue can be discovered.

venue2.png

Venue view shows all events at the location

Venues can be added via the admin control panel or inline when adding events (for users with permission)

venueacp.png

ACP venue management

venue2.png

Inline adding of venues when adding events

If a venue has not already been added then a fallback to the standard address form input is provided.

We have a few more Calendar improvements still to reveal so be sure to follow News & Updates for further announcements.

Andy Millne

This entry is about our IPS Community Suite 4.2 release.

Social Sign In has long been a feature of the IPS Community Suite but we are always looking for ways to make interaction easier for your visitors. A small but significant improvement we are able to add for 4.2 is to include social sign in links directly at the point where your customers are ready to contribute.

 

socialsign.png

Hassle free inline sign in brings your customers right back where they need to be to comment

Visitors are much more likely to comment when the registration process is as fluid as possible and social sign in has fast become a familiar and efficient way of doing so. After signing up via these methods users are logged in and brought right back to where they started ready to comment.

Feedback from our testers has already shown that this change has an immediate effect on the volume of new registrations and we look forward to making it widely available with 4.2.

Andy Millne

This entry is about our IPS Community Suite 4.2 release.

Recurring events are not new with IPS Community Suite but often you may wish to create similar events that don't necessarily occur on a regular schedule. Previously this has meant creating a new event for each and then manually re-entering the information for event description, location, cover photo, RSVP options and so on. Often the only thing changing between the events would be the date and time.

Starting with IPS Community Suite 4.2 it is now possible to create a similar event based on one you have already added with a single action.

addsimilar.png

Create a copy of an event in one simple step

After opting to add a similar event you will be presented with the add new event form with all of the event info already filled out for you. Just set the date and time, make any required adjustments and submit your new event.

Note: This option is only presented to the author of the original event in order to reduce visual clutter for regular visitors.

We will be announcing many more interface improvements such as this in the coming weeks so be sure to follow the News & Updates section for updates.

bfarber

This entry is about our IPS Community Suite 4.2 release

Improvements to our Gallery application, both in terms of new functionality and minor enhancements, are coming in 4.2. One area that was identified early on for improvement was the Gallery image view page and specifically how the lightbox feature available on this page behaved.

We adjusted the buttons that overlay the main Gallery image to use icons instead of text

2017-03-21_1458.png

 

If you click to view an alternative image size, we improved the header styling of this page as well for clarity and to allow easier downloading of the image you are viewing

2017-03-21_1459.png

 

When viewing an image, you can open the image in a lightbox by clicking the icon at the very top far right corner. When doing so, there was previously a button at the bottom left hand corner of the lightbox if you wanted to download the image. We modernized this experience by implementing an overlay that you can click on in order to download the full size image instead.

2017-03-21_1506.png

 

You will notice there are now left/right arrows in the lightbox view here. You can click left/right to scroll through the images in the container, just as if you clicked through the images in the photostrip immediately below the image on the main page. You can also use the left/right arrow keys on your keyboard. While this would navigate through the photostrip previously, it will now also navigate through the images in the lightbox as well.

When viewing on your mobile device, the lightbox has been cleaned up allowing more image to display which is a welcome change for your mobile users.

We have more changes coming to Gallery in 4.2 which we will be revealing soon but in the mean time we hope you enjoy these useful improvements.

bfarber

This entry is about our IPS Community Suite 4.2 release

IPS Community Suite comes with a default profile photo which is used when members have not set a profile photo for their account. While this model has served the software well for years, we felt it was time for an update to the software to keep pace with current internet trends. This has led to one of the latest changes you can expect to see with version 4.2: letter profile photos

When upgrading you will be asked if you wish to use letter profile photos, or if you wish to stick with the generic per-theme default profile photo that is used presently. You can change your mind any time after upgrading by adjusting the setting in the AdminCP as well.

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AdminCP members list

We have tested many languages to ensure maximum compatibility. The font used in the image is automatically selected based upon the characters to be written to the image, so sites that have more than one language will see compatibility for all of the profile photos that are created automatically.

The colors are not set for each letter. You will notice in the screenshot that each "A" letter photo has a different color. They are chosen randomly when generated.

2017-03-21_1442.png

Letter photos in a sidebar widget

We hope that this change helps bring your communities to life with a little more style, flair, and uniqueness for each new user on your site.

 

Developer Note

The code is structured in such a manner that third party developers can further extend the feature with plugins. The methods for writing text to images are exposed through our central \IPS\Image class introducing new possibilities in your own custom code.

Charles

This entry is about our IPS Community Suite 4.2 release.

Improving your SEO can be a complex undertaking with many different approaches but there are things that everyone knows are good practice and also more modern approaches to SEO that have changed since we first started developing IPS Community Suite. So it was time for a review and update.

Unfortunately no pretty screenshots on this one as this is all behind the scenes stuff but still quite useful to know :). Also, some of this may sound a bit technical and dry but feel free to search some of these technologies if you are curious.

  • Move from HTML structured data to JSON-LD and enhance our existing markup with sensible additions.
  • Calendar, blog, forum and pages (articles) data marked up for rich snippets.
  • General review of our schema.org markup and enhance where appropriate. Use sitelinks search and other sensible markup such as the website and logo markup.
  • Allow administrators to specify social profile links in the AdminCP which we then show links to in the footer and also make available in schema.org markup.
  • Fix many duplicate page title issues.
  • Review and ensure nofollow/noindex tags are used in appropriate areas.
  • Add item tags as HTML meta tags
  • Adding <link rel="next" value="next page url"> helps search engines know next/previous page.

 

Nothing like a bulleted list of items to get you excited! But really these should be welcome improvements to all.

 

Mark

This entry is about our IPS Community Suite 4.2 release.

One of our more technically-oriented features for 4.2, we have added more detailed logs of user logins, and the devices and IP addresses used. This brings several new features:

 

Notification of a new device sign in

If enabled, users can receive an email notification when a new device is used to log into their account:

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 17.47.55.png

Email sent when a login from a new device is detected

When a user signs in for the first time, a special key is set to recognise the browser on subsequent logins. This mean the notification email does not trigger on a new IP address, which would be annoying when travelling or if using a network where the IP address changes regularly. Instead, the notification is only triggered if someone signs into your account from a new physical device or web browser.

 

UserCP Device Management

If enabled, a new page will show in the user's settings page showing all the devices which have been used to log into their within the last 90 days (which is recent enough that could still be logged in if "Remember Me" was checked).

Recently Used Devices.png

Recently Used Devices

Users can see the device, browser, physical location (obtained by a GeoIP lookup) and if applicable, how the login was processed (for example, if the sign in was with Facebook or Twitter, this will show). If they chose "Remember Me" when logging in, they can undo that (handy if you realise you accidentally left yourself signed in on a public computer).

If they see anything they don't recognise, a page to walk them through the necessary steps to re-secure their account is available.

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 17.00.06.png

Secure Account Information

 

New Two-Factor Authentication Setting

"Logging into the front-end" is one of the options of when to prompt for Two Factor Authentication. In 4.2, this has been separated into two distinct settings:

  • Logging into the front-end from a new device
  • Logging into the front-end from a known device

If you enable the former, but not the latter, and the user has previously logged in devices, the system will automatically show an explanation to users alongside the other available recovery option. This can be useful especially if you do not want to offer other recovery options.

 

AdminCP Device Management

In the AdminCP, administrators can see all the device and IPs a member has used. They can also disable automatic login for any device.

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 17.30.18.png

Edit member page shows most recently used device and IP address

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 17.31.20.png Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 17.31.26.png

Viewing a device's details

The system can also detect if another user is using the same device and will show this in the list of devices.

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 17.32.11.png  Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 17.32.15.png

Users sharing the same device