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IPB 4.5: features

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Invision Community has come a long way over the past five years.

We've added many new features and invigorated the front-end user experience to keep it current and in-line with modern interfaces.

One area that has remained largely the same is the Admin Control Panel.

When we released Invision Community 4.0 back in 2014, the Admin Control Panel was updated but has stayed relatively dormant since.

But that's all about to change with the upcoming release of Invision Community 4.5!

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The Admin Control Panel in 4.5 has received a substantial update, resulting in a modern color scheme and a clean, minimalistic design.

We felt that a lighter, more open design allowed the content more space and to feel less crowded. 

The dark grays have been replaced with shades of blue and aqua which closely reflects Invision Community's new branding, while other colors have been lightened and saturated.

Along with the new color scheme, the overall layout of the ACP has intentionally been kept similar to the existing version, resulting in a design that feels surprisingly familiar yet refreshingly new at the same time.

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We hope you've enjoyed this small sneak peek into Invision Community 4.5 and we look forward to introducing you to some more new features in the upcoming weeks!

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Without a doubt, clubs is one of the most popular features added to Invision Community in recent times.

Invision Community clubs allows you to run sub-communities on your site. We've seen clubs used in many ways, including managing geographically local groups and clan groups for large gaming sites.

This popularity drives us to keep incrementally improving the feature set for clubs, and Invision Community 4.5 is no different.

One thing that was raised many times was a way for club owners and leaders to create simple pages with general information members need.

Happily, in Invision Community 4.5, this feature now exists (and more!)

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In addition to the title and visual editor that allows full formatting of the page content, there is an additional visibility setting which allows owners and leaders to define which types of members can view the page.

This is perfect for showing a page that is only visible to non-members which informs them how to join the club.

Likewise, it is a great way to display moderation guidelines to the club moderators only.

Of course, owners and leaders will always be able to see all pages added to a club.

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Additionally, once a page is added to a club, a tab will be added alongside others, and the page can be re-arranged just like the rest. 

Using this, owners and leaders can create an alternative unique index page for the club.

This is just one of many club improvements finished for Invision Community 4.5. We'll be talking about these in a future blog!

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You'd be forgiven for thinking that RSS feeds belong in some bygone era of the web where Netscape was king and getting online meant listening to your modem scream at your phone line.

There's certainly a lot of newer web technologies to share data, but the venerable RSS feed still has a place.

Invision Community has supported RSS feed importing and exporting for a very long time now; however, it has been restricted to just Forums and Blogs.

Importing an RSS feed is a simple way to populate content on your community. It's even a great way to share content to and from your site without creating blocks or writing custom code.

Invision Community 4.5 now centralizes RSS feed importing, so it is available for Forums, Blogs and Pages.

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You can now choose to import an RSS feed to any Pages database. Better yet, there is now full support for image enclosures.

RSS feeds have a special tag to note that the feed entry has an attached image. Lots of RSS feeds use this, such as the NASA Image Of The Day feed. Until now, this image has just been silently discarded.

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Now, it is imported as an attachment (so it can be moved around in the post or Pages entry). If the Pages database you are importing to has record images enabled, you can optionally import the enclosure as a record image which some template sets can use as a header image, just as our blog here does.

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But what about exporting enclosures?

Happily, Invision Community 4.5 can now export the main content image of an item as an enclosure. This certainly makes the Gallery RSS feed export a lot more useful!

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While these updates are not revolutionary, they certainly make RSS feed importing and exporting much more useful. We've been asked to support RSS feed importing into Pages for quite a while now.

What do you think of these changes? What will you import into your Pages databases?

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Invision Community has supported member referrals via the Commerce app since Commerce was called Nexus all those years ago.

Community owners have been able to see at a glance who is spreading the word and members have received the kudos associated with a growing referral count in return. 

When planning Invision Community 4.5 we saw that this feature had the potential to be so much more… So what have we done to improve it?

See Who Was Referred

In addition to seeing a count of referrals, it’s now possible for both admins and members to see who they referred. If Commerce is enabled admins can also see how much commission (if any) was earned. 

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The new referral settings page shows links, code snippets and who you've referred

Member Promotion

Seeing a rising count of who has been referred gives members a great feeling of community involvement but wouldn’t it be great if you could reward your members in other ways too? 

Referral counts now work as a member filter when using the group promotion feature.

You can now automatically promote members that have referred more than a specific number of members to another user group and give them access to exclusive content. This still works alongside paid subscriptions so be another method for members not willing or able to pay for subscriptions to get access.

Integration With Sharing

If the feature is enabled, any time a link is shared via the built-in share links, referrals will be tracked. This occurs automatically without the member needing to think about it. It’s now easier than ever to see who your superfans are and who is bringing new people to the community.

Blocks

As well as the default share links we have added a new sidebar block that can be added anywhere across your community. This prominent call to action can be added on pages you think are most likely to result in recommendations.

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The new "Invite a friend" widget

Given that referral capabilities have been expanded into many more areas outside of Commerce we decided that this should now be available as a core feature. Earning commission on sales as a result of referrals will still, of course, require Commerce to be installed.

We hope that these are welcome improvements and they help you encourage more members to participate in your community.

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Almost every single day, we receive feedback on our popular clubs feature. Some of the requests are big in scope, and some a little smaller.

Following on from our previous blog entry for Club Pages, we’re pleased to announce a collection of smaller, but no less useful improvements.

Improved Map Display

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The Clubs location map better shows where local clubs are

A small but useful change to the clubs map means the view is now centered and zoomed around available clubs. Previously the map would show a world view even if all of the clubs were located in a concentrated geographical area.

Member Tab

A commitment to privacy always influences our development decisions, and this is true in clubs as well as other areas. It is now possible to set who can view the club member list on a per club basis. Clubs can be set to show the member list to everyone, only to club members or only to club leaders and moderators.

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You can now decide who can see your club

Club Widgets

A common request for clubs is that widgets should be able to display content from within clubs. With 4.5, this is now possible and allows you to better bring attention to your club content from anywhere in your community.

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Content widgets can now show club specific content

Some people wanted to control where widgets would show more finely. This wasn’t previously possible, but now it is. When adding widgets to a page, you can now set whether you want it to appear everywhere, everywhere except clubs, or only in clubs.

Join Requests

Club leaders can invite members who they believe will enjoy their content to join. Likewise, members can request to join a club that is not open for all to join instantly.

For a site with a lot of clubs, this could mean that you are invited to many clubs or find that your pending request goes unnoticed.

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Your member can quickly manage their pending invites

Members can now cancel pending requests themselves quickly and easily from the Club homepage.

Clubs are becoming an increasingly popular part of Invision Community and really helps foster a sense of involvement.

We are always interested and surprised by the variety of ways this feature is being used. Let us know how you’re using clubs in the comments and keep the great suggestions coming!

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Ever since Invision Community 4.x was launched you have been asking for the ability to categorize blogs in your community.

We heard you load and clear, but sometimes when a feature sounds straightforward, it requires some re-engineering of the framework. Because users in your community can create both blog entries and their own blogs to hold these entries, this was one of those areas.

Starting with Invision Community 4.5 I’m pleased to announce that it is now possible for blog authors to categorize their blog entries and it's now possible for administrators to categories blogs.

Blog Entry Categories
When creating a new blog entry, your members will now be able to create a new category for the entry or choose an existing one that had been created previously.

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Choosing your category when creating a new blog entry

When a reader then visits the blog they can choose to display only those categories that interest them.

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Filtering by category

Blog Categories
Running a community where users can create their own blogs, you don’t only need to make sure individual pieces of content are categorized correctly, you also need to make sure the blogs themselves have a logical place. Well guess what? Now you can!

As an admin you can now set up predefined categories in the control panel and Blog authors can then choose which one to create their new blog in.

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Managing blog categories

We realize some of you have been waiting a long time to see these changes so we hope you enjoy this and everything else to come in Invision Community 4.5!

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We have come a long way since the late 90s when someone had the genius idea of using a small yellow smiling face image instead of the more common colon-bracket representation of a smiling face.

In Invision Community, there are various places that photography can be used to create visual interest. From uploads in topics, to cover photos for blogs and members.

The humble upload field has served these areas well, but sourcing images to use can be a pain; especially when you have to walk the minefield that is copyright and attribution.

Fortunately, there are a few "CC0" online stock photo libraries that offer quality photography that requires no attribution and are not hampered by copyrights.

One such library is the ever-popular Pixabay, which was established in 2012 and features a very powerful API. Pixabay has over a million images ready to use from llamas to sausages and everything in-between.

Invision Community 4.5 now includes support for Pixabay which brings those images to your fingertips (or mouse pointer if you're on a desktop.)

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This video shows the feature in use.

As you can see, not only can you upload into posts from the stock photo library, but you can also use it to add a cover image to your profile and blog entries.

Finding quality photography has never been so easy!

For those that love technical details, the stock photo picker is a programmatic option on the upload form field type making it very easy to add to your own code and apps.

How will you use this new feature? Let me know!

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OMG! 😱 This would be so helpful to illustrate stories! No more worries about whether or not an image will lead to copyright claims. (Because I really hate dealing with those emails.)

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Every single day, your members are searching your community for answers or interesting conversations to join.

Wouldn't it be great if you could learn what is being searched for to identify hot issues, commonly asked questions and discover trends?

We thought so too, which is why Invision Community 4.5 comes with search statistics.

For the first time, Invision Community gathers anonymized information on what your members are searching for so you can use this to highlight more relevant content and shape strategic decisions with your community's structure.

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Search statistics help you track searches performed on your community

When a member searches, their identity is converted into a unique key that cannot be reversed to identify the member. This allows us to track a single member's search usage over many search sessions without being able to link it to a specific member account.

The AdminCP now features a dashboard to review the most popular search terms as well as a raw log of recent searches along with the results they returned.

We have a lot of ideas in mind for additional changes down the road with the tracking of popular search terms, but for now, we hope you like the new statistics page and find the information presented useful for your future site plans.

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