What's New on FP?
So guys, now that we're reaching that point where FP no longer feels like a construction zone, I figured it would be good to create a topic just providing a little bit more clarity in terms of our new features, and just the overall benefits of XenForo 2.1. Given that FP was on XenForo 1.5 before this week, there are a lot of new features, just from upgrading our software.
Here's a topic where XenForo announced what was new in 2.0 when it was first released, back in September 2017. That should definitely give you an idea of just how outdated FP was. Anyways, I'll give a little bit of a quick rundown of new frontend features that you may have already noticed.
- Emoji support.
- Retina avatar and smilie support.
- Enhanced message editing.
- Alerts in favicon.
- Customizable member stats: https://forumpromotion.net/forum/members/ (member list is so much better)
- What’s New menu option: https://forumpromotion.net/forum/whats-new/
- Find Friends sub-menu option under Forums: https://forumpromotion.net/forum/find-threads/started or /contributed or /unanswered
- New media embedding features: We can do so much more with embedding media in BBCode. I've included an example at the end of this post.
- Quick thread: Creating topics from the forum view is officially possible.
Now these are all things that have been present on XenForo for nearly two years, so that tells you we were really missing out. Let's go over the particular benefits of XenForo 2.1. XenForo has an official topic about that as well: https://xenforo.com/community/threads/xenforo-2-1-0-add-ons-released.160095/
I'd say most improvements were on the backend, but here are the two big frontend features.
- Native push notifications on supported devices/browsers (basically everything besides Apple)
- Reactions became a built in feature. No need to install an add-on now.
Now let's go over the changes that we've made with some of our shiny new toys.
- Discord integration: https://forumpromotion.net/forum/discord/
There's always been a big question mark in regards to having a chatbox/shoutbox attached to a forum. Most people would say that it's idiotic, and that it will steal activity from the forums. It's something I personally haven't done since I was probably like 14 years old, and I had an official Chatango.com chatbox on my sports forum. At the same time, this official FP Discord has existed for a number of years now. Maybe having it actually as a widget on here will result in some lost activity. In general, we all felt like this was a way in which members of our community could become a little more personable with each other. Nothing beats an IM/voice chat. If we lose activity because of that, I'd say it's worth it. Connecting forum administrators is what we're about. Reaching some mythical total post milestone is not what we're about.
- FP Credits/Shop: https://forumpromotion.net/forum/fp-shop/
One of the obstacles we faced with this conversion was the fact that the credits/shop add-on we had on XenForo 1.5 was not available on XenForo 2. We had to seek out an alternative. With the new credit/shops add-on that we now have, a ton of great features have come with it. Take a look around. Our FP Shop has an automated system that allows you to do all kinds of things, like change your username, sticky your advertisement topic, etc. There's not a lot right now, but we're working on getting more options there. On top of that, we also have bank and lottery features. A bank is actually something that was suggested here recently, so I'm sure we have a few peeps. We're probably going to end up lowering that interest rate though. Then the lottery is something that was super popular when we had this on FP in the phpBB 3.0 days, and it's awesome to see this feature back.
- Ads Manager: https://forumpromotion.net/forum/ads-manager/
We actually had this add-on on XenForo 1.5, but it has been greatly improved with this upgrade. Most of the benefits of this add-on are seen on the backend when it comes to coordinating with BuySellAds, but you will also see that you guys can now pay via PayPal to get your Promotion Directory topics made a sticky for a certain amount of time, whether it's a week, month, or year. This is also an automated system.
- Advanced Forum Stats
This is that table that you see on the index page, which shows you the latest posts, latest threads, hottest threads, most viewed threads, etc. I wasn't sure how I felt about this type of table being displayed right up top on the forum, but Malcolm talked me into it. I do feel like we're seeing more community participation because of this feature. This table can be hidden, so feel free to hide it if you're not a fan.
You guys have probably already noticed this around the forum, but FP has gone a little more with the Twitter approach. Hashtags are officially a thing. #NYAN
- Light Style & Dark Style
Basically since the conversion, Malcolm has been making improvements to our main style, which is the light style. I know it was a little bright, but I feel like we've found our middle ground with this light style. As of yesterday, we've also now installed U.IX Dark, providing our users with a dark style as well. I've personally used a little bit of both. They're both awesome styles, so it's a difficult decision for me.
- XPress: WordPress & XenForo Integration
It's funny, I'm at the end, and I'm just now mentioning XPress. We have ditched our old static homepage that wasn't remotely mobile friendly, and we have reintroduced our blog on the homepage. We don't know how much of an emphasis we are really going to place on this blog, but we'd like to try and have a new article published every week or two. I know, the blog has failed numerous times here on FP, but so long as we roll with this feature with realistic expectations, I think we'll be okay. The XPress add-on allows a blog post to show up as a thread, and then the blog comments show up as replies to that thread. That's one thing to keep in mind.
Here's a few other things:
- Covers: You could add covers to your profile before, and that feature has returned. One new feature though: now you guys can also add covers to your threads too.
- Conversation Search: If you're like me, XenForo's default PM features can really be frustrating to you. I've got a million PMs, and I have a lot of trouble referencing back to PMs from long ago. XenForo lacks a default PM search function, for some reason.Anyways, now you can search through your PMs: https://forumpromotion.net/forum/conversationsearch/
- Consistent Branding. I've already discussed this pretty in depth, but we had Elli design us some new logos/graphics for us. They've been present on our social media for a while now, but you're now officially seeing it on the forum, with our logo and favicon.
Also, let's talk about some potential future plans, depending on your thoughts:
- Social Groups? It basically just sets up something along the lines of the public and private groups that you'd see on Facebook. Yaketys actually has a similar social groups add-on, and they have a group designated for politics, and a group dedicated for adult discussions. I feel we could take this add-on a step further, and potentially have private groups set up for administrators utilizing a particular software. For example, we could have a "ProBoards Partners" social group, and it would be a private group specifically dedicated for discussion between ProBoards forum owners. They could talk, get advice from each other, etc.
- Referral Contests? So long as we have the necessary features in place to prevent cheating, there are lots of great benefits to having this add-on. Yes, we can have a referral contest with great prizes every now and then, but there's a little bit more to this. I think it's also important to provide you guys with your own unique referral/affiliate links, and then offering benefits to those who recruit new members who register through these links. Not just in a particular contest, but all the time.
- Mailing Lists? We already have an add-on ready to go with these features available, but we haven't determined how we'd like to set it up just yet. One thing I've seen from a number of other forums is a "Weekly Digest" type of email being sent out each week. This email would just showcase a number of particularly active/noteworthy discussions that took place during that week. I know newsletter emails have also been tried and tried here at FP, but I don't feel like FP has ever actually tried an automated weekly digest. It requires very little work on our end, so that's one thing.
- Forum layout changes? I know this a promotion forum, and attempts have been made in the past to kind of shift FP into a webmaster forum. That's typically been met with a ton of criticism from our old timers, for just trying to be like TAZ or whatever. At the end of the day, I feel like straight up ad/promo message boards have become less and less prevalent, and I really don't see us hitting any kind of growth spurt, continuing to specifically hone in on that niche. I think FP has the potential to be a home for forum administrators everywhere.. Not just being a place to drop an advertisement, but a place for webmasters to connect and get advice from each other. Especially with free hosted communities, whether it's ProBoards, Forumotion, etc. This isn't about making small aesthetic changes, or "putting lipstick on a pig" as
@Cosmicwould say. This is about trying to do something different. Regardless, I'd like to see us put more of our attention on actual discussions, especially in regards to forum administration. Perhaps that's where the Social Groups add-on comes in though. That's what we need to figure out.
As you can see we've got lots of stuff going on, and I'd especially like to show my appreciation to Malcolm, ChrisGrigg, and Elli for their assistance in getting us where we need to be. I look forward to reading your responses. Also, don't hesitate to help get the word out. FP needs everyone to pitch in with that aspect. I'd like to encourage every member to take one of these ad images and place it somewhere, whether it's in a random ad spot on your blog, or in your signature on a particular forum. Especially on those official software/host forums, such as XenForo, ProBoards Support, Forumotion Support, phpBB, etc. If you have an account at any of these places, or similar dedicated software/host forums, please think about doing a little bit of FP promotion on there.
Thank you for your continued support of Forum Promotion. Hope everyone is having a spectacular weekend.