Dev Diary, October 2, 2014

Wanna know what’s cooking here at Oxwall? You are in luck, since we’ve got a fresh serving of latest news from the dev kitchen!

Oxwall 1.7.2

With the upcoming update we are taking an aim at Content Moderation. For quite sometime we’ve been looking for an opportunity to fix/improve the current flagging system (that was begging for an overhaul), and we finally found enough time to do just that.

The new user-friendly interface will be more intuitive, and allow to flag Users, Comments, Events, as well as Newsfeed status updates.screenshot1

The option for the Admin to appoint Moderators for each type of content will remain in place.

Welcome to the Family

In unrelated news – let’s welcome a new major addition to the grand family of third-party plugins available in the Oxwall Store. That’s right, our cooperation with TopCMM bore fruit in the form of 123 Flash Chat plugin. So, if you ever wanted to add a live chat room to your site or play around with PPM/PPV, you’ve got it now. Proceed to the Oxwall Store to learn more and download the plugin now. Take this announcement as our seal of approval.

screenshot2

Looking Ahead

Now that monumental work (that takes ages to release) is out of the way, things should fall back into a more regular and familiar pace. Nevertheless, even more great stuff is coming your way, as we have some ambitious plans for the short and long term futures. Watch this space for announcements and dev reports, since the next year and a half are shaping up to be quite exciting. Here’s why:

– Admin Panel Improvement;
– Content Management System Introduction;
– Default Theme Reimagining;
– Mobile Version Enhancement;
– User Interface Facelift;

There’s likely more stuff, and that’s quite a full plate, isn’t it? Still, our team is always excited and passionate about continuously improving the product, but only if the changes are consistent, healthy and gradually introduced.

Well, ‘till next time, when we’ll take a more detailed look at some of the things in our plan. In the meantime, subscribe to our updates on this blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ to never miss an announcement.

Cheers,
Oxwall Foundation Team

Oxwall 1.7.1 is out

Oxwall 1.7.1 is available for download immediately. All details about this release can be found here.

Important: If you are running Oxwall of any previous version, you are encouraged to wait until the auto-update prompt appears in your admin area. Before you attempt it, make sure to:

  • Back up your website. Seriously, folks, better safe than sorry;
  • Install all available plugin updates right after the platform update completes;
  • Install a theme update right after the platform update completes.

If you don’t want to perform the update yourself, our friends from Skalfa can do it for you. Also, check other companies specializing in Oxwall support.

Thanks,

Emil & the Oxwall team.

Oxwall 1.7.1 beta available

As we are returning to 5 week release cycle, Oxwall 1.7.1 public beta is out today.

Most notable changes are:

– New join form for mobile version (which didn’t make it to the 1.7 release);
– Messages plugin enhancements (based on feedback and real-life testing).

Here’s the complete changelog for Oxwall 1.7.1:

Platform

– new join form for mobile version;
– reorganized action buttons for profiles on the profile view page; new buttons ‘more’ and ‘moderate’ for grouped actions;
– default avatar image vulnerability in the Admin Panel is fixed;
– the bug preventing the save of changes in the admin panel > user settings >general due to the error ‘The image is not valid’ is fixed;
– all comments longer than 150 symbols are now truncated, and “View more” link is added;
– display of profile action buttons in mobile version is fixed;
– new option to create links to external sites in mobile menu;
– design improvements for account type administration interfaces;
– embedded videos are now playable on-site, no need to leave for external destinations.

Messages

– new form to create a message and select recipient;
– various performance improvements;
– new tooltip with user info on user avatar mouseover;
– new invitation labels within text inputs for clarity;
– new option to send messages to users who have no permission to ‘read’, ‘write’ and ‘continue chat’, in case the site has pre-installed Memberships and User Credits plugins;
– ‘Chat now’ button now disappears when user is online and the mode ‘Chat Only’ is turned on;
– new line formatting bug is fixed (sorry for this one).

Photos

– both “post_max_size” and “upload_max_filesize” PHP settings are now recognized during the calculation of file’s maximum limit for upload;
– action buttons for albums are now displayed on album view page;
– optimized display performance of ‘User’s albums’ widget on profile view for users with a large number of photos;
– the bug affecting ‘Add photo’ button for users with unavailable ‘upload photos’ service is fixed.

Groups

– group description text on the group listing page is now truncated after 300 symbols;
– now user automatically unfollows the group after leaving it;
– the bug allowing unauthorized users to delete wall comments is fixed.

Forum

– performance optimization for supporting large number of topics.

Video

– vimeo support now fixed.

Birthdays

– design improvements for the widget and newsfeed listing.

Events

– display of private events in user dashboard is fixed.

Public release of Oxwall 1.7.1 is scheduled for Monday, August 25. Beta testers now have time to test the new release. Developers and designers need to check their items for compatibility.

Thank you,
Oxwall Foundation team

Oxwall Store: important improvements

Hello there Oxwallers,

Our community grows. It’s exciting to see this growth since it assures that our work is important, and warrants that Oxwall is here to stay. With user growth some aspects of the community work also need to evolve, and today it’s the Oxwall Store that is affected.

We just released some small and big improvements that I want to introduce. They are based on developers’, designers’ and users’ feedback, and also on our own careful examination of the usage patterns. Let’s look in detail:

My purchases:

  • Item list is now divided into Plugins and Themes;
  • Search by item name (new);
  • Add review for purchased items right there (new).

My items:

  • Item list is now divided into Plugins and Themes;
  • Search by license key and buyer’s username.

Item listing improvements:

  • Oxwall Store now supports version compatibility between items and the platform. From now on every item should state platform versions that it supports, and users will see it;
  • Mandatory “Terms of Use” field for items (new);
  • Optional “ReadMe” field for items (new).

Suspended items:

  • Suspended items are now shown to license holders in “My Items”;
  • “Item suspended” page is shown to all but license holders;
  • Suspended items can’t be deleted by owners but will be deleted in 4 months unless activated by Store moderators.

Reviews:

  • Now authors can not only modify but also delete their reviews.

Apart from these changes there are many tiny things changed to help developers better manage their items.

Policy updates

Last but not least, we have updated Oxwall Store Terms of Use, and added Store Item Policy and Item Review Policy. Everybody is encouraged to actually read this document, it’s written by humans for humans in the most comprehensive way possible.

Enjoy the updated Oxwall Store and leave your feedback! We are always listening. Also, there’s a special Store-related forum, so developers can find additional technical info and questions.

Nominate Oxwall for People’s Choice CMS Awards

Hi guys!

We hope you are enjoying the summer (as well as our latest release), and have some free time on your hands. Feel like giving us a small pat on the back for all the work we put into the project? Here’s your chance.

The nominations for the annual People’s Choice CMS Awards are open until August 15, and we need a little help from you to get to the finals. We already claimed the accolades for Best Social Network Solution in the past, and it’d be nice to repeat that.

So here’s where you come in –

  • Go to People’s Choice CMS Awards nomination form;
  • Enter your name and email;
  • Enter “Oxwall” as the product name;
  • Tick off the “Best Social Networking Solution” “Best Free PHP CMS” and “Best Open Source PHP CMS” categories;
  • Give an example of when you’ve used Oxwall or list URLs of sites you’ve created with it.

And that’s it. The process is free and takes only a couple of minutes, but it gives us an enormous confidence boost, confirming that we are moving in the right direction.

Thanks,
Emil
Oxwall Foundation

Oxwall 1.7 release

Today is July 8, and as promised, Oxwall 1.7 sees the light of the day. This is another big milestone for the product: an important platform update, plus completely redesigned photos and messages.

Oxwall 1.7 is available for download immediately. All details about this release can be found here.

Backup!

If you are running Oxwall of any previous version, you are encouraged to wait until the auto-update prompt appears in your admin area (that make take up to 24 hours). Before you attempt it, make sure to:

  • Back up your website. Seriously, folks, better safe than sorry;
  • Install all available plugin updates right after the platform update completes;
  • Install theme update right after the platform update completes.

If you don’t want to perform the update yourself, our friends from Skalfa can do it for you. Also, check other companies specializing in Oxwall support.

Theme support

With this release we drop support for the following themes maintained by Oxwall Foundation:

  • Grunge
  • Basic
  • City
  • Green
  • Pastel
  • Graphite
  • Graphite+
  • Club
  • Rainy
  • Spring
  • Stars
  • Silent

If you use one of these themes, please be aware that they are not getting updated to Oxwall 1.7. Feel free to choose another theme in the Oxwall Store (check 1.7 compatibility), or apply the changes by yourself if you have the skills. The reason for this decision is simple: focus. In order to concentrate on iterating critical product components, we have to cut off non-core ones.

Have fun and tell us how you like the new Oxwall. We hope to impress you once again, not less than we do with every release.

Emil & the Oxwall team.

Oxwall 1.7 on July 8, beta today

Finally, we have definite release date for the next version. Oxwall 1.7 will be out on July 8, with developer beta available today.

As you know, we first planned to have 1.6.1 release with a lot of improvements and fixes. However, a few distinct platform changes creeped in, so this release is shaping up more important than just a new build, and we call it minor version advance, namely Oxwall 1.7.

Important changes

Attention, developers, designers, and admins! Apart from some updated plugins, there are platform changes that require your attention:

  • New option to assign specific user roles for each account type;
  • New option to assign separate list of profile questions for each account type;
  • Modified user permission check (developers, you need to adapt your plugins!);
  • Attachments for all media (messages, forums, comments, etc) are redesigned (designers, you may need to adapt your themes!);
  • Comment box redesigned (designers, you may need to adapt your themes!);

For all changes see complete changelog.

Apart from that there are two major advancements to highlight:

Complete photo redesign

We’ve been working on the new photo plugin for the last 6 months. Hopefully, it works better than the current one, so your community enjoys easier and more effective photo sharing facilities:

Photo list

Single photo view

Newsfeed photos

Among the most notable features are:

  • New advanced bulk photo upload;
  • New photo list view;
  • New photo album view;
  • Optimized photo preview (info and comments in sidebar);
  • Search by keywords, users, hashtags;
  • Full-screen slideshow;
  • Photos posted to newsfeed are now collected in a photo album.

There are a lot of hidden gems in this one, so we’ll leave them for you to discover when Oxwall 1.7 gets released to the public.

Mailbox + Chat = Messages: complete redesign + mobile version support

The new Messages plugin comes to replace the two old plugins: Instant Messenger and Mailbox. When you install the new plugin, it will migrate the data from the Mailbox and deactivate it automatically.

Oxwall messages

 

Messages  Messages

What’s in it?

  • Chat only mode, mail only mode, or both;
  • Additional on-page interface for chat with saved history;
  • Now possible to send a message from mailbox to any recipient;
  • Revamped attachments for both chat and mail;
  • Inline images and video in chat;
  • Chat and mail is now also in Oxwall mobile browser version.

We hope you will appreciate the interconnectedness and easiness of the new way of sending messages in Oxwall.

This plugin is deeper than a few screenshots could show, so we invite you to explore its capabilities.

Developer beta

It’s available for download now. If you signed up for beta testing, you will be able to obtain it from the private beta release forum. Check it out.

If you are a developer or a designer but haven’t signed up for it yet, you are recommended to do that right away. There’s a high chance that you need to update your work to make it compatible with Oxwall 1.7. Developer’s guide to the platform changes is packed with the beta.

We are eager to send the new bulk of awesomeness your way. July 8 is the day it hits the ground, together with the updated versions of plugins by 3rd party developers.

All hail Oxwall!

Emil & the Oxwall team

Dev Diary, April 30, 2014

Here we are again with our Dev Diary series. This time we want to let you know about the upcoming changes in internal communication tools in Oxwall.

As you know, there are two plugins now, Mailbox and Chat. They are independent, so you can only communicate in real-time chat or using mailbox (that mimicks email). There are several important issues with that though, namely:

  • Messaging communication keeps getting transformed. There’s a reason why the border between email and instant messaging blurred so much, and we are not fully content with any one of these.
  • People don’t necessarily want to remember where the talk happened. It’s just convenient to have everything in one place with ability to search.
  • Sometimes it’s really much more convenient to keep your chat going in a focused, standard page interface, than to type and read in that small chat window; or to have back-and-forth email followup’s in bite-sized messages.

Fundamentally, while a social website is a complex system, sending a message is a trivial, casual, frequent operation. It means, there have to be different ways to send, receive, and respond to messages, all suitable for context and task at hand.

But then, communication is different. While casual messaging is sufficient for some websites, other may really benefit from a more formal, email-style approach. Since Oxwall websites are used for different purposes, we have to support both paradigms and make them work nicely together, if required.

With all this in mind, we decided to do the following:
– Make a unified Messages plugin that will incorporate functionality of both Mailbox and Chat plugins;
– Allow to enable either of those, or both at once;
– Have chats and “emails” in one interface with search (retaining chat and contact list windows, of course);
– Provide granular (if excessive) permission settings for every action in mailbox and chat.

Screenshot from 2014-04-30 17:30:54

The new Messages plugin will be available as the successor of the two current plugins with the platform 1.6.1 release. We hope communication in Oxwall will become much more efficient now. And of course, we are ready to iterate on your feedback.

Thank you for being such a fantastic community!

Dev Diary, February 21, 2014

Ah, the last breathes of winter… It’s getting warmer, so the life’s good, and that’s exactly the attitude that boosts our strive to get a few more ideas through to the next release. One such idea is the improvement of the Photos plugin – a real essential toy in the arsenal of any serious social site. Our goal here is to fix all the obvious bugs and add some exciting options to make users happier.

As you know, at present the plugin operates by means of either basic uploader, or through flash upload. And frankly, both are dated. The flash one cannot be customized in css/html, and requires an additional plugin in the browser. Sometimes this leads to unnecessary confusion, and that’s what we want to eliminate.

The solution – a photo uploader that uses native browser capabilities and doesn’t require additional browser extensions. Also, it’s easily customizable in css/html, maintains drag’n’drop interface, and allows quick editing at the very first step (rotate, hashtags, album name, etc.)

Photo1

 VIEW PHOTOS

One of the things we learned with the old system is that most users find comments under pictures inconvenient. When the page is scrolled down for more comments, the picture itself gets out of sight, and is basically “lost.”

An easy solution to prevent this is to move comments and description to the right side of the picture. That’s the trend across the industry anyway, and seems to be the right approach for us. Still, we are leaving the old system as an available option as well, so you can choose what’s working better for you.

Untitled-1

 PHOTO LIST

We’ve also decided to play with the visual presentation of the photo list, which was kind of boring (being strictly square and all). The addition of a Pinterest-like mode should spice things up a bit, don’t you think?

Untitled-2

SEARCH PHOTOS

There are no search options for photos in Oxwall right now, which isn’t handy, since users resort to tags when they are looking for something. We’ll change that by making it possible to search by descriptions, usernames and hash tags.

Capture4

So that’s the gist of things to come. But there’s even more interface stuff that we are tinkering with right now. Liking and varying privacy settings for different photo albums are on the plate too, and will be ready to be served with Oxwall 1.6.1, or soon thereafter.

Keep reading our Dev Diary guys, and learn what else keeps us busy.

Dev Diary, February 6, 2014

We know that as a rule our posts tend to be surprise announcements of releases, despite the fact that many community members are keen on learning what us, Oxwall guys, are actually up to in the times between updates. Well, recently we’ve come to think that it’s a pretty good idea to let you in on all the fun we have inside, namely, our work process and development progress. Ready? Here we go.

We understand that there are still many elements within Oxwall software that can be improved. Let’s take a look at one such area, which will likely make it to the next iteration – the functionality extension of user roles and account types.

The problem here is the lack of option for admins to assign an individual user role per individual account type during new member registration. At the moment all new site members get the same user role, unless admins set said roles manually, which significantly complicates their work on community-driven sites. Say, you have a literature-driven community with writers and readers. These roles are obviously different for members, as writers write posts, while readers can comment or grade them. Putting an option in place for admins to assign individual user roles during registration will make their lives much easier.

Now, there are also a couple of related issues with account types. The interface is somewhat difficult to grasp, and there is also the fact that one question can be assigned per one account type only. Both of these will be tackled, and in the result the interface will become significantly more user-friendly, while single profile questions will be allowed to be assigned per multiple account types simultaneously.
Hopefully this gives you a bit of insight on the things that keep us occupied. There’s a lot of stuff we have to share with you, so keep reading our blog for more info on our adventures in development.

Love,
Oxwall Team.