New improvements to TIWWA are on the way!
Work is now under way on IP.Board 3.2 (the software that powers This is who we are) and our software's creators have started to divulge some of the great changes you can expect to see in the next upcoming major release. In the spirit of keeping everyone up to date, this entry in a series of future blog entries is based upon their ongoing announcements where I'll filter out the main benefits and changes for members and staff but rest assurred there are other behind the scenes changes which will bring improved speed and functionality too.
New Text Editor
- New editor and auto-save
- Cleaner interface, quick reply, quick quoting
- New post alert while typing reply
We've covered the new text editor in additional blog entries, just go to the to see them now!
Member Profile Enhancements
- New Photo Editor
One area of IP.Board that IPS wanted to spend some time improving was the calendar, and this blog entry is the first of several outlining changes and improvements you can expect to see in the calendar with IP.Board 3.2.
Expect to see the following Calender improvements, covered in greater detail below:
[*]Improved Layout and Design[*]Improved Consistency[*]Search Engine Optimisation improvements[*]RSVP Invitations
Improved layout and design.
While they are not ready to go into detail about some of these other changes just yet, the software designers are making other changes that closely relate to SEO in the general structure and layout of Calendar. For instance, they have consolidated all event posting pages into one, so there is just one "Add Event" button now, and they are changing the current daily view to less-closely resemble the event view. IPS feel these two views being essentially duplicates of each other is not only confusing to the user, but may be seen as duplicate pages by some search engines while crawling your site (if you view a day that has one event, and the event directly, the output is nearly identical, even though they are two separate views within Calendar).
Improved consistency with the rest of the site.
IPS are continuing to make improvements to Calendar to both bring it more in line with the rest of the suite of products and to modernize the application and make it more functional and useful.
As with posts within the forums, you will now be able to give the member who submits an event reputation when viewing the event in Calendar. The reputation box displays just like it would for a forum post, allowing users to quickly and easily understand the interface and functionality. By allowing reputation to be issued for event submissions in Calendar, it provides incentive to users to submit events in our Calendar, making it all the more useful for the entire community!
In our continued effort to increase consistency and functionality in Calendar, we have also implemented attachments for Calendar in the next update. When submitting or editing an event, the standard attachment uploader will be shown on the event posting form. You will be able to submit attachments, just like you would be able to for posts in the forum. You can embed the attachments anywhere within the event content, or let Calendar just append the attachments to the end of the event information, again just like a post within the forum. Attachments may be useful for Calendar to share an event poster or flyer, to share coupons for an event, or to attach documentation users may need to be informed of prior to the event, just to name a few uses.
Users can now optionally elect to be notified of new or updated events in Calendar, allowing TIWWA to notify users of changes to the Calendar that they may elect to be informed about. Previous versions of Calendar provided no way to push information to the user to notify them of changes in Calendar. Any user interested in an event saved to your Calendar would need to manually check on it periodically to verify any changes made to the event, which we can agree is certainly not an optimal experience or expectation. As of the next version of Calendar, users can follow both individual calendars and individual events, allowing them to be notified of additions to calendars they are following, and updates to events they follow. By letting Calendar notify users of changes, the software becomes more functional and useful in it's prime goal, sharing event-based data with the community.
TIWWA members will soon be able to comment on events submitted to Calendar. We can control on a per-calendar basis which member groups can comment on events in each calendar, and we can also specify whether comments must be moderated prior to becoming visible (again, on a per-calendar basis). Comments in Calendar use the central commenting class of IP.Board, meaning it works identically to all other applications (e.g., identical to the blog commenting system at the bottom of this page), allowing for a consistent interface users can understand and utilize without having to learn how to use yet another posting screen. If a user opts to follow an event to be notified of updates to the event, they will also be notified of comments made on the event, allowing TIWWA to better communicate updates to users about content they are interested in, and driving more activity within the Calendar in the process.
Alongside commenting, users can now "like" calendars and events (the aforementioned "follow" capability), giving them the opportunity to either show their support for the calendar/event, to be notified of updates to the calendar/event, or both. As with our Blog, Downloads etc., the Like system is a central class within our software that is reused within Calendar, again to provide a consistent interface to members so that they can learn and understand once, and expect to use throughout the entire site.
The general use share strip that you see below each topic (and elsewhere throughout our suite of applications) has been added to Calendar. This allows mebers to share events through social networking sites, through email, or even to print an event's details out with their printer. As Facebook support is enabled at TIWWA, the Facebook "Like" button will also show up for the member, allowing them to share the event on Facebook. This is likely to drive activity to TIWWA as the user's friends see this content shared on Facebook and follow it through to TIWWA, where they may be interested and join our site...a win-win!
Search Engine Optimisation improvements
including improved Friendly URLS, Meta Tags, support for hCalendar Microformat).
Often times you will find that when creating an event on your community you want to allow users the opportunity to let you know if they will be attending or not. This is useful for both real-world events (i.e. a club meetup at a coffee shop) and for online-only events (i.e. a developer seminar). As the event organizer you may need to know how many people will be attending, and/or if specific users will be attending. It is useful to have a way to allow users to signal that they will be attending the event.
In the "real world", this is usually done through what is known as "RSVP". Basically, an RSVP is a notification from a participant to the event organizer that the participant will be attending the event.
In the next version of Calendar, users will have the ability to create events that request attendees to RSVP for the event.
Creating and responding to an RSVP event
Creating an RSVP-requested event is as simple as checking a box on the event submission form.
When viewing an RSVP-requested event, a new box will be shown to the user to signal that the event organizer requests attendees to RSVP, and who has already RSVPed for the event.
If you have permission to remove attendees (as I do in this screenshot), a delete icon will show next to each attendee, affording you the opportunity to remove them from the list.
While we have some ideas in mind for future versions of Calendar to possibly expand the system as implemented presently, we wanted to go with a clear, simple and straight-forward approach for this first implementation of the RSVP system that we feel will be easily understood by your users (and thus, more likely to be used properly by your users as well). Creating an RSVP event is as simple as checking a box (if you have permission to do so), and signaling your attendance is as simple as clicking a button (again, if you have permission to do so). We feel this approach will make the feature more likely to be used, while still allowing us opportunities to expand the feature in the future.
We hope you enjoyed this blog entry and hope you'll keep an eye out for future related entries in our Staff Blog, some of which are already available!
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