Blogs

Our community blogs

  1. You can now purchase IPS Community Suite 4 or, if you are an existing license holder of IP.Board, you can download the upgrade as part of your license! Be sure to read this important information if you are upgrading from IP.Board 3.

    IPS Community in the Cloud clients can simply submit a support request when you are ready to upgrade and we will take care of it for you.

    IPS Community Suite 4 - Now Available

    You can now purchase IPS Community Suite 4 or, if you are an existing license holder of IP.Board, you can download the upgrade as part of your license! Be sure to read this important information if you are upgrading from IP.Board 3.

    IPS Community in the Cloud clients can simply submit a support request when you are ready to upgrade and we will take care of it for you.

    Background

    Online communities are a huge part of the Internet. Millions of people around the world use online communities to connect with each other about the things that matter to them. At IPS, we've been facilitating this for over 13 years, working with some of the most amazing and interesting sites. Fan communities such as those provided by Warner Music Group and Live Nation for their artists, sports leagues such as the NHL for their fan communities or Bethesda Softworks for their games all use communities to bring fans together. Business like Evernote use communities to reach their customers on a more personal level. And specialist sites like FindLaw use communities to help people find the information they need. Every day new communities are born and we're thrilled at IPS to be involved with this amazing part of the Internet, a part that we feel makes the Internet great.

    Two years ago we started on an ambitious project. We wanted to make our platform even better. We wanted to bring all of our applications together in a tightly-integrated suite with a modern codebase, gorgeous interface and unrivaled experience for users.

    Philosophy

    Being a web developer for a distributed application like the IPS Community Suite is an interesting position. The Internet moves very quickly: what looks good, works well and users will enjoy today might not tomorrow. Web development always needs to be modern, fresh and cutting edge to stay relevant. At the same time, a web developer needs to have understanding and respect for everything that has come before, and know what users expect. It’s no good creating a website that most people won’t understand how to use, or might not even work on some platforms. Over the years, we’ve seen a lot of projects rise and fall in popularity, and the ones that don’t do so well tend to fall into one of these two categories - either they fall behind and start to feel clunky, or overexcited developers get too carried away and create something that nobody wants.

    At IPS, we don’t do either. We make a platform that is modern and both easy and fun to use and customize. In short, we make the best community platform available. This is the philosophy which underlies IPS Community Suite 4.

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    Features / Technology

    IPS Community Suite 4 is designed for the modern web. The default theme is designed to be clean and simple both so it’s easy to use and simple for designers to expand upon. The design is also responsive meaning it looks great whether you’re on a desktop or a mobile phone, or anything in between (and we do that the right way: we don’t just remove things on smaller screens) and this is true not only for the front-end but even the administration control panel too.

    Our editor supports drag-and-drop uploading, automatic media embedding, auto-saving and mentions. Every email the suite sends looks great no matter what client you’re using. These are just a few of the countless features that make IPS Community Suite 4 great.

    Check out the full feature tour

    The platform is built on modern, but solid, technology. We use PHP and MySQL because they run on pretty much every web server, but we use modern coding techniques within them like the namespacing, late static binding and closures provided by PHP 5.4, and we use HTML5 features like local storage and geolocation. And it’s coded well with meticulous care; things like valid HTML markup which doesn’t really matter to the average user, matters deeply to us.

    Finally, it’s ready for communities of any size. You can use Amazon S3 for file storage. You can leverage caching technology, including memcached to page output caching for guests which can even mean most requests never even establish a connection to your database.

    And that’s without mentioning all of the features which have always made IPS stand out, like the spam monitoring service, monetization, Sphinx integration and so on.

    Expansion Potential

    But not only is IPS Community Suite great out of the box, its potential for expansion is huge, and there’s a great community of third party designers and developers working with us.

    Tools for developers

    The framework that IPS Community Suite runs on is powerful, but flexible and developers can get started with ease. It is possible to override any class anywhere in the entire framework using a technique called monkey patching, allowing customization of any aspect of the suite. Whole new applications can be created easily, using central classes for common concepts like content handling. And the framework is designed to be safe at low levels: output escaping for XSS protection (note, not input escaping, which is the wrong way round to do it) and prepared statements for SQL injection protection are handled at a low level, global basis, and customizations are sandboxed so an error in a customization cannot bring down the community.

    Tools for designers

    Designers also benefit from a powerful designer mode that allows customization of HTML, CSS and other theme resources using local files so they can use their own code editors and tools. Designers can even create theme settings allowing end-users to customize even further. We also provide tools to allow designers to see the changes made to templates between versions so themes can be updated for new versions. Of course, for the less technically inclined, there is a powerful “easy mode” for creating themes allowing anyone to customize the look easily.

    Tools for translators

    Translators too can translate the IPS Community Suite easily. A “quick translation” tool allows any word or phrase to be translated just by clicking and holding to bring up a textbox, or an extensive list of all words and phrases can be browsed. Furthermore, we have been meticulously careful to use phrases throughout the entire suite that can be translated into any language with understanding of the differences many languages have with English such as grammar structure and pluralization.

    All of these customizations can be exported with one click and distributed as a single file. To install an application, plugin, theme or language, users only need to upload a single file in the administrator control panel. No more uploading dozens of files with FTP.

    Rapid Development

    Perhaps though, the most significant thing about IPS Community Suite 4 is what comes next. We now have a solid platform for future development. With the new modern framework, new features and improvements can be written much quicker than ever before. In addition, we have been using new tools and techniques within our development team for faster development, testing and deployment of new releases.

    For when a new release is ready, IPS Community Suite 4 includes a powerful delta upgrade system: no matter what version you are on, you can download an upgrade package for the latest version - this includes only the files you need, so upgrading is quick and painless.

    With these three significant improvements (to the framework, to our development processes and to the upgrade process for users) we have been able to adopt a much more rapid release cycle. A more streamlined process also allows us to be much more open about our future plans. The benefits of this have already been seen: since releasing IPS Community Suite 4, we have already added several new features. And this is just the beginning.

    Conclusion

    IPS Community Suite 4 has been a huge project. It’s an amazing experience to see the communities that have already upgraded - the countless hours of planning, discussions, whiteboard drawings and thousands of lines of code come that have come together in this incredible platform already spawning online communities of all genres. We’re hugely excited to see the many more to come.