GuildPortal Dev Blog

Updates from Aaron Lewis, GuildPortal Code Monkey

Posted 10/27/2012 4:38 PM by Aaron Lewis. 1540017 reads. Share:

10/27 Update - Activity Wall

The Activity Wall, a new widget, goes live today! It's like the walls you'll find commonly on social networking sites. It's what the old Status Updates widget was kind of trying to do, only it does it a lot better. It could also be looked at as a replacement for shout boxes altogether, since it supports media.

In order for people to post to it, they'll need to be granted higher than public/applicant access to your site. Here are some of the features:

Posting

The familiar WYSIWYG editor is used, only in a slimmer version. Tools available for now are: toggle full-screen edit mode, spell check, some formatting, insert link, insert image, and insert video (from either YouTube or Vimeo). You may find the area too small to work with, especially if you're inserting big images or videos, so make use of that full-screen toggle on the far left!

Adding Video

Adding video from YouTube or Vimeo is easy. Just go to the web page on YouTube or Vimeo where the video is shown, copy the address, click the blue Play icon to the far right in the wall editor, and paste the URL. Hit your tab key and you'll be presented with a preview of what it'll look like in your post, along with some options.

Most of them can be left alone. The one you want to pay attention to is "Play the video automatically on load." You'll probably want to un-check that box, else risk the wrath of guildies opening the page with the wall on it, getting hit with all kinds of videos starting to play at the same time!

The Next Thing

Sample wall postOnce you've added your text/video/images, click the post button and boom -- there you have it. Emoticons are automatically parsed based on defaults and/or any custom emoticons the guild uses. Clicking on the name of the poster displays the standard drop-down menu for doing things like viewing their profile, visiting their blog, chatting with them if they are online, and all that good stuff.

Images

Know how sometimes, you can put an image in a post or a news item and if it's too big, it'll stretch out the page, wrecking the design? Well, I think I've got that figured out now (and with all the layout possibilities there are due to customization, and the fact that IE ignores max-width unless everything's set a particular way at the parent level, it took a while -- that, and I'm dumb as a rock)! Anyway, when you post an image to the wall, it'll now do its best to fit inside the available space, without stretching things out. Notice: if your browser is way, way old, it'll probably be icky like before. So with a large image (the one shown is actually around 1200 pixels wide, in a widget that's about 700 pixels width), here's what a well-behaving browser will show (minus the purple arrows I thought were neat while putting the screens together in Fireworks):

But hey! What if the image is gigantic because there's that much going on? Easy to do with something like an in-game screenshot. And you might want to see it full size. No problem! You can click any images on the wall and they'll open up all sexy like in a gallery-type scroll view dyno-resizing nifty thingy. Stuff. Whatever you wanna call it. Hey, I'm not a writer, k? Anyway, it's got arrows (way better-looking than my purple ones up there) that you can use to move between other images on the wall.

The Morning After (after you post, I mean)

There are a few things at the bottom of each post. People can click on Comments to show comments or add their own. The date and time of the post has been sacrificed in a pagan ritual, making way for the more friendly "how long ago" display. There are tools to delete the post if you're a Super Admin or the original author, and if you're the author you can edit the post, too.

The comments are pretty simple. Not much to explain there. I thought about spinning it so they sounded all complicated and neat and shiny, but... Yeah. No. Oh, and both of those posts are from me. I talk to myself while testing, and for a reason I cannot fathom, I always revert to a despicable sub-set of the English language.

Future Enhancements

Instead of cramming the thing with everything I could think of, taking ideas from some of the major social sites out there, I decided to hold back and push it as it is now. I'm counting on feedback to direct the decision making when it comes to further enhancements for the wall. After all, there are things I found that I like which a lot of you might really not, and there were some features the big boys are sporting now that I really find... icky (who says "icky?" I do!).

So let me know what you would like to see done moving forward. Maybe WYSIWYG editing of comments instead of the simple type-and-hit-enter behavior it has now? Or automatically-entered posts by the site when people apply, add a shout, post something in the forums, add a news item, create a new raid, add an image to the gallery (all linked automatically to the source item)? Anyway, let me know!

Chat Updates

When someone requests a one-on-one chat session, you will now hear a... beeping thingy. Useful if you have more than one browser window open, are looking at a different screen, or have your head spun around facing behind you, like that girl from the Exorcist. I do that sometimes. Don't judge me!

Typical GP Chat

Also, on-demand playable sound effects have been fixed in guild chat. Type /sounds for a clickable list of the currently available ones. In addition, lots of little bugs and stuff were fixed.

Other Stuff

  • Many widgets have had their displays cleaned up a little. There will be more of this going forward, as we move to a more universally clean (and still customizable) theme format. This is primarily being done to enable us (and you) to create much higher quality themes than is now possible. We will be making use of HTML5, CSS3, and responsive design principles.
  • Quirky behaviors in some of the style editors have been un-quirkified.
  • Your hamster has been watching you with malice as you sleep.
  • The ability to add an image to a post via link instead of the image manager has been restored.
  • Many other bug fixes.

Posted 10/10/2012 9:59 AM by Aaron Lewis. 681338 reads. Share:

Many enhancements have been incrementally rolled out since the last release announcement. I'll summarize what's been going on, minus a lot of the minor bug fixes:
  • New Feature Promotion Letters. Whenever a member is promoted to a higher level, you can replace the default system-sent mail with your own custom one, and you can have a unique letter for every level. For example, you can have a different letter sent when someone is promoted to member versus when someone is promoted to officer or council. Get started with promotion letters in Control Panel General Promotion letters or Guild Bar Admin Member Management Promotion Letters.
  • Enhancement New World of Warcraft roster with in-game WoW Guild Achievements. Configuration-free, fast sorting and filtering, more frequently updated, real thumbnails of your characters.. Stay tuned, more new stuff for WoW is on the way.
  • Enhancement WYSIWYG editor file selection/uploading. The editor tool for selecting an image has been revamped to function much like the file manager in the Control Panel. However, you now have additional buttons: one to add media (sound, video, etc) and another to add Flash content. All three tools allow for direct upload while editing your content.
  • New Feature User uploads from WYSIWYG Editor. Previously, there was no way for members to upload images or any other media for use in their forum posts. Now, they have access to the three tools mentioned above, but all of their uploads are stored in a special sub-directory off the guild root with the format /MemberUploads/memberid. That is their root directory, and they can create sub-directories, drag-and-drop copy files, and directly edit images (add text, skew, rotate, crop, etc). They cannot, however, see the guild root folder or navigate to the root of other guild member folders.
  • Enhancement Page Footer. The old page footer had a pretty low limit on the number of characters it allowed. This limitation has been eased up, and you may now also specify a background gradient fade and the top edge color and size for the footer area. If you want a solid color instead of a gradient, just select the same color for both the start and end colors. Control Panel Style Tools Page Footer or Guild Bar Admin Site Customization Footer.
  • Css For those who use custom CSS, the class for the new footer area is gp5-footer.
  • Enhancement 8 new GuildWars 2 themes have been added.
  • Maint Some of you may have noticed the new error reporting form you are taken to when you encounter a run-time error. Many of you who have, have filled out the "what were you doing when the error happened" field, and I just wanted to drop a quick "thank ya" for doing so. The details you provide, along with the actual error details, are both put together to automatically create a new support ticket, which is assigned directly to -- waaaaaaaait for it -- development. Anyway, it makes getting to the cause of a problem much easier and has resulted in many hotfixes over the past month! Oh, and to the individual who typed in "I was sleeping".. lol
Finally, a bunch of bugs were fixed.

Posted 8/24/2012 6:49 PM by Aaron Lewis. 548140 reads. Share:

There are a couple releases rolled up in this:
  • Those who have topic update notifications sent to their mobile devices (via SMS) will now be able to click a link that will take them directly to the topic on the mobile version of their site (site.url/m).
  • Clicking on profile links now displays a context menu that provides the following options: Member Detail (displays the window that used to be the only option when clicking a profile link), Private Chat (if they're online), Visit Site (their personal site), Visit Wall, Send Mail and, if you're a roster admin of the guild, a link that will open up the member editor.
  • The voice server status widget now displays detail for both Ventrilo and Mumble servers. Previously, only Ventrilo server detail was available.
  • The Global Guild Bar can now have the foreground text of the main bar customized.
  • The Star Wars: The Old Republic server status widget was hanging when the SWTOR servers were slow to respond, so the duration the data is cached has been increased.
  • The Who's Online widget will now auto-update its list as members log in and time out.
  • Links to support videos in the Control Panel Dashboard have been fixed.
  • New CSS classes have been added for the Shouts widget for those who want to modify the appearance of it at a more detailed level. They are gp-shout, gp-shout-source, gp-shout-body and gp-shout-ally-link. They, along with full descriptions of where they appear and what they contain, are documented in the GuildPortal CSS class listing (available from many of the Custom editor sections of the Control Panel).
  • The Forums widget would stretch out beyond the boundaries of the page width style settings if any of the forums had a lot of sub-forums. This only happened in IE, but it's fixed anyhow.
  • The One-on-One Chat area that displays incoming chat was not scrolling far enough down when new items came in. This has been fixed, along with an overhaul of the One-on-One Chat UI.
  • The member editor grid in the Control Panel now offers the option to export to Excel, PDF, Word or CSV.
  • The member editor grid has also been enhanced with an easy-to-use filtering control that lets you build complex queries against your member listing. For example, you could easily build a query to return all members with an access level less than officer that haven't logged on for over a year.
  • The queries involved in reading posts in a topic have been optimized quite a bit, so your forums are a bit quicker.
  • The border color of Guild Global Bar sub-menus can now be customized.
  • The size of the content zones (left, center and right) on any guild page can now be dynamically resized by simply clicking and dragging when you are logged in with Designer rights. You don't even need to enter page edit mode.
  • When updating to the latest version of a widget-type mod, your settings for which page it appears on, the title, and the order were all wiped out. This no longer happens.

Posted 8/6/2012 1:14 PM by Aaron Lewis. 21490 reads. Share:

  • Some refactoring of required Javascript files was done in order to reduce the number of files that browsers were having to download, which should decrease overall page load times.
  • Admins now have the ability to customize the appearance of the global guild bar. They also have the ability to disable it altogether, for all visitors to their site. We highly recommend you do not do this however, as many future features may only be available to those who have it enabled.
  • The window that comes up when you click a member link has been cleaned up, and an error on one of that tabs has been fixed.
  • In your Profile settings, there is now a privacy option that will prevent you from appearing on anybody's global guild bar when you are online.
  • The notification of member login window has been made less of a punk in FireFox.
  • The global guild bar now has a default faded appearance, so you can see the style of the guild site behind it, and it fades in to full view when a member hovers their mouse over it.
  • A bug affecting searching of guilds from the public-side pages has been fixed.

Posted 7/30/2012 4:22 PM by Aaron Lewis. 146278 reads. Share:

What was done:
  • The password reset e-mail was made to include the account names.
  • Header elements (H1, H2, etc) were set to no padding, causing them to appear flush with the sides of the widget body. Padding was added so it's not so ugry.
  • A bug causing the "additional options available" prompt to vanish when adding a new widget has been fixed.
  • A global guild bar (aka GloBar) has been added, which shows the count of members in the guild chat room, provides a list of everyone online, and shows how many unread web-mail items you have. You can disable it in your Profile settings if you don't dig it. Customization options are on the way!
  • Guild chat room UI bits are all expando-flexy now, so you can resize it to your liking.
  • The admin command /roomname in guild chat now works.
  • Apparently, Verizon is mysteriously cutting off e-mail-to-text service for random subscribers, making it impossible for our notifications to get through. If you're a Verizon subscriber and your texts from GuildPortal are not working, head over here for information on how to make sure the e-mail-to-text service is activated: http://support.verizonwireless.com/faqs/TXT%20messaging/faq_vtext_website.html
  • The news category selection drop-down, which appears when editing or adding a new news item, now sorts and also shows the associated image that will be automatically placed within the new item's body, if there is one configured for the category.
  • A bug causing the shout box to behave like a brat in certain situations has been fixed.
  • Several of the third-party components we use have been updated to their latest versions.
  • The alert window, which appears when a guild mate logs in, has been fixed so that it never shows white text on the light gray background.
  • Shouts were caching too long, so you wouldn't see them if you refreshed the page immediately after adding one. This has been fixed.
  • Member titles, set in member admin, have had their allowed length increased to 1,000 characters (5x what it was before).

Posted 4/16/2012 4:32 PM by Aaron Lewis. 143598 reads. Share:

Today's update includes the following:
  • A rendering fix for the iPhone (things were getting squished!).
  • The addition of tagging functionality to the custom status change notifications for calendar events. You can now include [username], [eventname] and [eventdateandtime] in your notifications, and they will be dynamically replaced in the messages that are sent out to the recipient.
  • A bug that caused the custom emoticons section of the control panel to go all whacky has been fixed.
  • Forum icons now align more towards the top, by the forum title. This will help with forums that have a lot of sub-forums.
  • Sub-forum icons will now show up when viewing them alongside the topics listing of their parent forum.
  • The standard roster will no longer show characters without names.
  • The control panel has been cleaned up a bit.
  • Blogs now support custom CSS + HTML.

Posted 4/7/2012 4:15 PM by Aaron Lewis. 26325 reads. Share:

GuildPortal has just been dramatically improved when it comes to using custom HTML + CSS. First, we've added a "Navigation" selection in the Control Panel (under Custom HTML). Clicking that takes you to three editors. You can modify the code that is output before navigation items (pages on your site), the code that is output for navigation items, and the code that is output after navigation items.

Once you specify the code, you can then use the Full Page custom HTML editor's new tag, $block[nav=html], and your pages will be rendered as the page loads, using your mark-up.

Also, three more tags have been added to the Full Page HTML: leftwidgets, centerwidgets, and rightwidgets. You no longer have to stick with designs that render the main widget body in a tabular format, and can control exactly where your widgets appear.

A new option has been added that prevents GuildPortal from rendering any style information based on your point-and-click settings in the Style Tools area of the Control Panel. This makes it so the only style info comes from your custom CSS, without any interference from GP, except for a few helper rules for margins and the like. You can enable this option in the Control Panel by expanding Custom HTML, selecting Custom CSS, selecting the Full Custom CSS tab, and checking the box at the bottom that says "Disable all GuildPortal CSS Output".

Finally, editors for all of the custom HTML, custom CSS and custom Javascript selections in the Control Panel have been enhanced with the CodeMirror editor, which provides syntax hilighting and automatic tag completion.

These enhancements, in combination with the already existing Banner, Footer, Widgets, and Full Page custom HTML and Custom CSS, provide complete control over how your site looks. Now you can bring your favorite templates from anywhere -- and there are a lot of free template sites out there. Oh, hey, and if you find any really great ones and port them to your GuildPortal site, share them, it's easy! Just open the Control Panel, expand Style Tools, and then click Share Theme.

Here's a snap of a theme developed using custom HTML and CSS from a freely-available one meant for a completely different system:

Posted 1/20/2012 8:26 AM by Aaron Lewis. 22881 reads. Share:

  • Welcome Letter goes live with today's update! When you have one set up, it is sent out to people when they have their access level to the site upgraded from public to member (or higher). To start using this, open your Control Panel and click Welcome Letter.
  • The Idle Monitor will now let Super Admins know who received warnings for inactivity, and who was automatically disbanded.
  • The Mass Move functionality in the forums editor is now working correctly.
  • $block[variable] tags now work correctly in mods.

Posted 1/17/2012 11:08 AM by Aaron Lewis. 11574 reads. Share:

Most of the updates done since the last change log entry have to do with bug fixes and small tweaks in response to support tickets. Aside from those, the following has gone live:
  • Mass Move is available in the Forum editor. This allows you to move a lot of topics at once from one forum to another.
  • Many raid progression entries have been added for different games to get them up-to-date with their latest expansions.
  • The correct amount of available file space is now shown in the file manager.
  • The login bar border color can now be customized in the control panel.
  • The WoW GPHelper add-on has been updated to a new version, to make it compatible with WoW's latest update. Those who use it will need to download and install the latest version.
  • Date/time stamps are now shown on event comments.

Posted 12/16/2011 8:09 AM by Aaron Lewis. 17295 reads. Share:

  • Multiple choice voting is now available! When creating a new poll, just click the checkbox at the bottom to indicate that it is multiple choice.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic Server Status widget is now available to ST:TOR guilds. It displays your server name, up/down status, and current population.
  • The most recent posts count to display has been split out from the regular forum and most recent posts stand-alone widgets, so they can each have their own values.
  • When browsing Site Mods, you now have the option to display only those that are installed on your site.
  • 30 signature backgrounds were added to the signature generator background gallery specifically for Star Wars: The Old Republic.
  • The crafting marketplace now requires explicit selection of the tradeskill required to make the requested item.
  • The crafting marketplace now displays orders from all approved alliance guilds!
  • The needs list widget now has a new field for "days/times available."
  • The event signup texting reminder is now firing.
  • Section wrapper opacity now allows for more fine-grained selection.
  • There is a new "mailbox" in your mail widgets, called "GuildPortal Updates." It displays these entries, and is there in an effort to better communicate changes to the service to our members.
  • Spaghetti is good with or without meatballs, but better with.

Posted 8/13/2010 4:52 PM by Aaron Lewis. 5898 reads. Share:

  • The nav bar can now be positioned above the banner. It's an increasingly popular look lately, so there you go. The option can be set through Control Panel > Style Tools > Navigation Style > Tab Bar Location. 
  • In addition, right next to the options for the location is a spinner for setting the absolute height (in pixels) of the Nav Bar. Dynamically generated gradient images (with or without gloss) will be regenerated for you to match the new height.
  • You can now set the spacing between widgets using the spinner found at Control Panel > Style Tools > Content Boxes (Widgets) > Spacing Between Widgets.
  • Icons for LOTRO "Creeps" guilds, which doesn't in the least mean anything derogatory (they're monsters!) now display in the integrated roster.
  • Recurring events are back to functioning the way they should.
  • The Page Options will no longer permit the entry of non-sound files or URLs that point only at web pages.
  • An issue where a user's time zone preference would switch to something else -- seemingly at random -- has been fixed. We apologize for any temporal shifts and the appearance of any DeLoreans (no, sincerely, we're sorry if any of those have appeared).

Posted 8/11/2010 1:46 PM by Aaron Lewis. 138159 reads. Share:

For those who'd like a little more integration between their guild sites and the social networking giants out there, we have added two new widgets: Twitter Feed and Facebook Like.

The Twitter Feed widget lets you tap into any publicly-available Twitter user's feed and display it on your site, just like any other widget. It also comes with some customization options and automatic (without having to refresh the page) updates.

The Facebook Like widget displays a link to visitors which they can click to "Like" your site on Facebook, as well as see how many others have already done so. Regardless of where you place the widget, it's site-level, so place it wherever you want, and the like count will apply everywhere.