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Introducing Community Content System

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Posted 15 June 2009 - 01:31 PM

Introducing Community Content System

Many clients have expressed interest in tools that would allow them to extend IP.Board's traditional forum community functionality by providing methods of creating new pages within the IP.Board framework. Uses for such a system span from a simple custom portal all the way through to a complete website built utilizing IP.Board's powerful backend codebase. When your community and site systems are truly integrated, single sign on and a matching website/forum theme become much easier.

Our new Community Content System lets you do all of this and more. CCS is a new application that allows you to create content for your site. Blog entries over the next several days will discuss some of its powerful features in more detail along with examples showing you just how easy it is to create website pages and other content just by clicking through the admin control panel. For now in this introduction, here is a brief overview of its main features:

  • Page Templates
    If you are creating many pages for your website you will find that they generally follow a similar structure each time. By utilizing page templates, you can create templates complete with the full functionality of our skin system, including use of template conditionals and plugins. You can create the HTML structure once, and reuse it for some or all of your pages. Novice users can type in normal HTML code or power users can choose to use the powerful skin tags.

  • Page Manager
    The core of CCS: this tool allows you to create pages, plain and simple. No fancy terminology or new methods to learn. A wizard will guide you through creating your pages, and allow you to configure things like permissions for who can view the page, which page template to use, and more. Pages can be edited as raw HTML, raw PHP, or through our traditional WYSIWYG editor using BBCode. You can also set page-types as JavaScript or CSS and the system will automatically detect those special types.

  • Media Manager
    A tool to allow you to manage images and other media for your site. You can define the root path to your file storage directory, and then create folders and upload image files within that directory via the ACP. You can move and delete files and folders from the ACP as well.

  • Block Manager
    An extremely powerful tool that allows you to create "blocks" for your pages. Blocks are inserted utilizing template plugins so you can insert blocks anywhere in the CCS content or even anywhere in your forum community using the skin manager in the admin control panel. This means that content blocks you create in CCS are not just limited to that application! There are three types of blocks you will work with:

    • Custom - create blocks by editing BBCode (using our WYSIWYG editor), raw HTML, or raw PHP. Input any information you like.
    • Plugins - some blocks require code to execute in order to determine what should be shown. For instance, you may wish to show a mini-calendar on one of your pages or a login box so users can login right from your home page. Plugin blocks allow developers to create blocks that can easily plugin to the system without having to create code modifications.
    • Feeds - not just limited to RSS. You can create "feeds" of almost any type of data - forums, topics, replies, calendar events, blog entries, gallery images, download manager files, and of course traditional RSS imports. A wizard will guide you through creating these feeds, allowing you to specify how the feed should be pulled (do you want to show the last 5 gallery images? what about a random sampling of forum topics? how about all topics from the visitor's friends list since their last visit?) to make it simpler for you to define the block.

The system is very flexible, allowing you to do nearly anything you want, while at the same time providing a simple user interface and wizard-based approach for creating content to keep things easy for newer users. Power users can ignore all the special features and just type in raw-PHP if they prefer. The choice is up to the administrator.

The CCS supports friendly urls (you define the folders and page names while creating pages), and does not require the page output to be accessed through your forum directory. This means you can have your community at example.com/forums but your main web site can show under just example.com easily. You can use IP.Board's skin system (inheriting the forum skin) or you can elect to create raw pages without inheriting any CSS, wrapper, or JavaScript from IP.Board.

Pricing and Availability

The CCS was developed completely separately from the IPB3 and applications process allowing us to develop CCS without any delay in IPB3's development time. As such, we are happy to say we will be able to release CCS about two weeks after IPB3's first supported release! Pricing will be announced at that time.

We are sure there will be many questions about the CCS and we welcome them. Over the next several days there will be blog entries on our company blog going into greater detail on each of the core features of CCS. Hopefully all of your detailed questions will be answered then. Please accept our apologies if we may sometimes ask you to wait for the next blog update before answering your questions. Thank you!

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