So far I have covered 4 new exciting features that will be shipped in the upcoming release of Social Groups 2.0 over the span of two blog entries. If you have not yet seen these I would suggest that you go read up on Addons and Pages and Forums and Ranks. Today I am going to cover the last two large feature addition as well as some other smaller features that I have deemed noteworthy.
With all of the new pages and subforums that you will now be able to create with Social Groups 2.0 you will probably need some sort of super awesome way to navigate between them right? I thought so, that is why I have created this new navigation system which will let you quickly and easily control the navigation of your group! One of the cool features of the new navigation system is the autolink creation in the navigation panel when you add a subforum and or when you add a page.
This feature is another one of those interactive ones, so I have another video for you! (Yay)
Among communities of extreme specialization it is very possible that a single group or a category of groups may want their page to have a different style than your standard forum theme. This is especially common among gamers. To tackle this issue I have come up with Themes for Social Groups. This feature will allow for group owners to select their own theme that will be used for styling all pages within their group.
Here is a group running an example theme. This is based off of the “Overlay” skin from ipbforumskins. I take no credit for the design.
As you can see above almost any element on the page can be changed with a theme since all it does on a basic level is include a block of CSS into the page. You can make anything from a simple background image edit to an entirely new style for your site with a single theme.
Applying a theme to your group is simple. All you have to do is go to the Look and Feel page in the Group Control Panel and select the theme you wish to use. Each theme has both a thumbnail and a full sized preview associated with it so that you can provide your users with an idea of what the theme will look like before they apply it to their group.
You can view a larger preview of the theme by pressing the magnifying glass in the corner of the theme selector.
It is important to note that the theme system doesn’t currently allow you to edit the html output of the page like the template system in IPB. All it does on the backend is include HTML into the page, whether that is CSS, JS, HTML, or a combination of these is up to the theme author. This also means that to create a theme you will at least need to have some basic HTML and CSS skills (sorry, no Visual Skin Editor here).
Of course along with this release there have been tons of other smaller changes. Here are just a few of the more notable ones in brief.
With the addition of addons and themes super admins can now designate the addons and themes that are available to group in that category. Also, if a group is moved from one category to another, the group categorization will check for addons that are not allowed and remove them from the page(s).
Require Group Approval
Some communities may require for groups to go through a moderator review process before they become publicly accessible. There is now a setting that will require groups to be approved by a moderator before anyone other than the group owner and other moderators are able to view it.
Group Creation Process
The group creation page has been reworked so that it is now split into 2 steps. First is the group creation page as it is in currently but a second step has been added for customizing the group so that you can choose a theme, upload a logo, banner, and background directly after creating the group.
Group Privacy Settings
The group privacy settings have been reworked slightly in order to have more clear and consistent results. Privacy is now split into 2 settings, the first is group visibility which can either be 'public' or 'hidden'. Setting it to hidden will require a direct link to the group in order to access it. The second setting allows you to control membership approval and has 4 options: Open, Admin Approval, Invite Only, and Invite with Admin Approval.
Select News Forum
In the News addon block there is now a setting to control where the group news is posted. This will allow you to set up a news forum within your group using the new sub forum system and then automatically post all of your news to that forum.
Custom Text Block
A stock addon with the application is included called 'Text Block' which rather simply lets a block of text be included on a group page. The block can contain any BBCode that you want to include in the page as well: from youtube videos to images.
Search / VNC
There is now a search plugin included so that you can search for groups through IPB's built in search plugin. This also allows for you to use VNC for new groups.
That is all I have for now. Please leave any thoughts and feedback you have in the comments below. Social Groups 2.0 Beta is currently in testing in a few different locations. Expect a public release to come around soon!