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Social Groups 2.0 Dev Update: Addons and Pages

Posted by rsyvarth , 15 March 2012 · 3,278 views

Over the past few months I have been working diligently on a new version of Social Groups which I hope you will really enjoy. In this first update on 2.0, I am going to cover two new features that work together to make up the new core of the application: Addons and Pages.

Ever since I initially released the first build of Social Groups, I have been getting a ton of requests for new features. Most of the ideas have focused on site-specific addons to integrate groups more closely with other features in the IPB ecosystem or to enhance the appeal and focus of a group. I generally have turned down many of these requests since it would have taken a significant amount of work to modify the app to work in the requested fashion and then it would only benefit maybe half of the people who own the app while creating extra bulk for others. With that in mind I decided that the best approach was to make Social Groups into a platform with the capability to handle 3rd party addon applications.

Through this new system, the app is much more easily customized to handle the needs of each community and even the needs of individual groups. In essence, the addons and pages create a customized portal for each group with information relevant to that group.

Addons

Addons are customized features that can enhance each Social Groups application. They function in a manner that is very similar to ‘mods’ within IPB, allowing for new features to be created and distributed separately from the core of the application.

Addons are very simple to install: just upload the files and press the install button in the ACP Social Groups app area! No file edits, button mashing, screaming, or fancy dancing is needed (although you can dance if you want). As soon as you upload the files for an addon, an entry will show up in the “Addon Management” page with a super handy install button. Just press that button and the rest of the work will be done through some addon-installer magic.

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The addon management page!

The ease of installation of the addons only scratches the surface. Using the addons framework, developers will be able to create hooks, templates, settings, database changes, and even whole pages for the Social Groups application. Almost anything should be possible using this platform, from a simple block to display a static welcome message to a complete gallery system.

You might be thinking, “Having a whole bunch of features to add to your groups is cool but what I really need is a way to bring all of the features together into an extremely customizable user interface!” Fear not; with the pages, all of this will be possible.

Pages

Pages are exactly what they sound like, layouts that you can add to your groups which can be anything from a page for rules to a customized portal. Instead of making you read a long paragraph where I explain all of the cool things you can do with Pages, I am just going to show you. So sit back and relax while you enjoy this super awesome screencast that will explain this cool new feature to you:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlVGvanAGn4

That is all for today but keep on the lookout for the second and third blog entries which should be coming your way soon! The application is currently in early Alpha stages and being tested by a few people so it should be up for a public beta after most of the major bugs have been squashed.

I really think that these features will help make Social Groups a more usable and overall a more enjoyable product and I hope you do too. Please leave any feedback you have in the comments below.

  • stoo2000, Windstiller, joelle and 16 others like this



Abso-effing-lutely FANTASTIC!

This is exactly what I have been wanting ever since I purchased your Social Groups and IP.Blogs.


I tried to make my own customisable portal page with jQuery and ProtoType but failed at saving it all to the database. You've integrated this beautifully by the looks of it. This v2 of Social Groups will definitely go down well with my members and I can't wait for it to be released.
    • dedent likes this
Amazing how you can create a product better than IP Content. IPS should take some advice from this app to help make IP Content a lot easier to use. The edit page part just dragging things around is a lot more modern web than going into an admin cp, creating a block, getting a code and putting that code into a template.
    • IPB Bob, Windstiller, rmnp4ms and 5 others like this

Amazing how you can create a product better than IP Content. IPS should take some advice from this app to help make IP Content a lot easier to use. The edit page part just dragging things around is a lot more modern web than going into an admin cp, creating a block, getting a code and putting that code into a template.


totally agree
    • IPB Bob likes this
looks really promising ...
I am so excited about this new version. My top 5 apps that I want to see developed:

1. blog addon (either an auto blog created with group creation or just a feed from a blog)
2. links addon
3. social sharing addon (kind of like a facebook wall feature)
4. calendar addon (basically modifies the code in the calendar feature to add a drop down menu that says 'visible to xyz group?') - then you would see an event added in the main calendar appear in the group calendar addon. this affords the luxury of all the incredible features of the current calendar app without reinventing the wheel for a brand new, social-groups only calendar app)
5. a poll addon (allows you to vote on question without getting into the full ipb topic/poll thing - so again, pulling code from the ipb or maybe the social groups forum and make it a featured display thing)
That interface is brilliant. It's what IP.Content should be!

Brilliant work Robert :)
    • Marcher Technologies likes this
That screencast alone will have me purchasing this. For months I've been seeing 'Social Groups' and never given it a second look, but this is ace.
Impressing. I'll be buying this one too if I have to.
Great!
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Gauche Suede
Mar 17 2012 07:40 PM
Brilliant :wink:
IP.Content and social groups are two completely different things.. IP.Content is a content management framework that allows a person to develop a complex site. It isn't a site out of the box like you get with Joomla.. and thank god for that because of the flexibility you get.

This app certainly looks impressive nonetheless. I wonder though if we have any solid examples where this is really popular ? I wonder if fragmenting the community would work with anything but really large sites.
Looks awesome. I'll be purchasing when 2.0 comes out.
I think where some people are drawing the comparison between Social Groups and IP.Content is in the page edit and layout creation process. Social Groups looks like it's intuitive, easy and even fun to use... whereas IP.Content is the complete opposite.

If you've ever used IP.Content to create pages and layouts, you know it's convoluted, a complete chore to use and not at all fun.

Granted, IPB can't be great at all things -- they did a fantastic job with the Board 3.2. Let's hope they carry that through to Content and Blog and take a hint from Social Groups as to the kind of user experience that will win us over.

Our community could definitely use Social Groups 2.0 so will be purchasing this.

Nice stuff.
This is an awesome interface/admin solution. I really hope IPS is watching closely... THIS is what we (and probably the majority of IPS customers) want in terms of layout control. A modern, intuitive way to control layout. Major kudos to rsyvarth!

James

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