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InstantForum 2015 Alpha 1 Online

I hope everyone had a great holiday. We've been hard at work and have some exciting news. I’m delighted to announce our first alpha preview of the forthcoming InstantForum 2015 release. This preview is now available online within our demo area for your feedback and testing.

You can access the InstantForum 2015 demo here…

Open Demo

We've improved several areas within this release and introduced a number of significant new features. I’ll provide a brief overview of these additions and improvements below however please our blog in the  coming weeks for further information on our 2015 release. 

New Features

New Homepage

You can now quickly switch between your forums, latest topics or popular topics from the InstantForum homepage.  No need to visit a separate latest posts or popular posts page. 

Topic Types

Topic types offer an additional way to help you identify & organize your conversations within InstantForum. You can create any number of color coded topic types to help you organize your conversations. Users can filter by any topic type via the InstantForum homepage as shown in the image above. 

Based on the behavior defined for the topic type (Question, Problem, Idea, Announcement etc) alternative options will be shown to users when viewing a topic with a particular topic type.

For example if a topic is associated with a topic type that has the behaviour of "Problem" the normal like button will be replaced with a "Me Too" button allowing users to indicate they are also effected by the problem. If a topic is associated with a topic type that has a behaviour of Idea he like button will be replaced with a "Vote Up" button. If a topic is associated with a topic type that has a behaviour of Question he like button will be replaced with a "Helpful" button. 

If a topic is not associated with any specific topic type or the topic type behavior is set to general the normal like button will be displayed when viewing the topic. 

You can of course create & manage topic types via the administrator control panel as shown below...

Paid Forum Subscription Plans via PayPal.com

The new forum subscription plans feature allows you to charge a subscription fee for access to specific forums within your community. You can create any number of paid subscription plans via the Admin CP and associate these subscription plans with specific forums and / or users. 

If a user attempts to access a forum that requires a paid subscription plan and they've not already purchased a subscription the user will be presented with the choice to purchase one of the subscription plans associated with the forum. Currently payments are managed via PayPal.com, you will need a PayPal.com account to accept payments. We'll consider further payment gateways for future releases. 

After the user completes the purchase the purchased subscription plan is automatically associated with the user allowing the user to now access the forum and topics within the forum. 

In addition when editing a user’s profile via the Admin CP you can see purchased subscription plans for each user and manually associate specific plans with users if needed... 

 

New User Profiles

We've re-vamped the user profile page to make it even easier for users to build a great, personalized profile within InstantForum.  There are no separate “View Profile” & “Edit Profile” pages. You can now edit your profile inline from your profile page as shown below...

 We've also introduced several new profile fields (SnapChat, WhatsApp) and added the ability for you to hide your age and year of birth from within your profile. 

New Banner Image & Profile Photos

We’ve introduced a new user banner image which is shown at the top of each profile page and within each user card.  This new banner image will hopefully allow users to create a more personalized profile. 

We've introduced a new way to upload your profile photo & the new banner image. The new upload dialog now supports drag & drop as well as a real-time progress indicator for image upload.

We've also added the ability to crop your photo or banner image to the correct size after the upload is complete avoiding stretched images and ensuring you always get a beautiful looking profile photo or profile banner.

New Private Message Notifications

We’ve added an option for you to easily review new & existing private messages. A small envelope icon will now always be shown alongside your username within the main navigation.  When you click the envelope a menu will display showing your private message inbox. 

If you have unread private messages a small red indicator will be shown over the envelope with a count of how many unread messages you have as shown below...

 

New Login Dialog for Anonymous Users

When you click login within the main navigation you’ll now be presented with a login dialog rather than being taken away to the login page. This is a quality of life change designed to help you quickly login from any page within InstantForum. 

Improvements 

- Added separate appearance thresholds for our StopForumSpam integration. The username, email address & IP address appearance threshold can now be defined separately. This is to help reduce false positives seen around common usernames. 
- Added a new “Show IP & Abuse” dialog for moderators and forum administrators. This new dialog displays results for the user directly from StopForumSpam and also shows the users location and several other links allowing you to further research the users IP address. 
- Improved user cards. We've streamlined the user cards that show when you hover over a user’s photo within InstantForum...

Other Improvements

- Improved client side form validation
- New collapseable & expandable quotes to help reduce duplicate information within posts

Fixes

- Fixed bug that prevented email button appearing in private message user cards
- Fixed issue with "Update all associated" link when editing moderator
- Fixed issue with date of birth control validation

Known Issues

This is a alpha release and we are aware the responsive design and mobile skin don't work correctly. These areas will of course be addressed before final release. We would suggest reviewing the demo on a full screen desktop for now. 

- Mobile & responsive designs not working 100%
- Theme Roller not working 100%
- Edit Profile dialog title reads Edit Photo
- Upload progress bar / indicator for user photos & banner image uploads not working 100%

How you can help us 

We would welcome your feedback on the new features listed above within our 2015 release. Please don't report any issues we've identified within the "Known Issues" section above. The known issues will be resolved between now and the final 2015 release. We would welcome bug reports only at this stage as we are near feature complete for the 2015 update.  Thank you in advance for any feedback you can provide. 

That’s It!

We hope you like the improvements coming in our 2015 release. We would certainly welcome your feedback no matter how small. If you have any feedback please don’t hesitate to post a comment below or contact us directly. 


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