GuildPortal Dev Blog

Updates from Aaron Lewis, GuildPortal Code Monkey

Posted 10/27/2012 4:38 PM by Aaron Lewis. 1498750 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. 664056 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 5/22/2012 10:56 PM by Aaron Lewis. 238319 reads. Share:

Note: If you do not want to read through this whole post and just want to get to your mobile site, the address is your.guild.domain/m. For example, if your sub-domain is icanhaz and your primary domain is guildportal.com, your mobile site would be at icanhaz.guildportal.com/m
Phone showing GuildPortal Mobile I've been mostly working on support tickets and this nebulous thing I'm calling GP-5 (shhh, Sandy would be furious if she found out). Also, Sandy and I are really going to put our heads together to come up with something for the progression widget. However, with all this stuff going on, we managed to get something pretty neat out the door for those of you who use a phone to check up on your guild forums and web mail...

Now, a lot of people already know that GuildPortal can notify you of things such as when new web mail arrives, an event/raid is starting soon, whether someone replied to a topic that you are subscribed to, when your (or others, if you're an events admin) event/raid status changes are sent to your SMS-capable phone. Also, admins can be notified the instant a new applicant signs up to the site.

For those who didn't know about this feature, open Profile from any guild page, then click Text Messaging to set up your cell phone provider, number, whether notifications are enabled, and which types of notifications you want to receive.

Okay, this next part is a relatively big deal for us. If you go to your site's domain (like http://admins.guildportal.com) and add /m after it, you will be on a site that has some functionality of your full site, but has the added benefit of being much faster to load. So, if you're a member of the Admin Help Community, head on over to http://admins.guildportal.com/m right now on your phone and check it out. If not, try your own guild's domain.

The mobile site was written on jQuery Mobile, and so it should support the following devices with no problems (although not all the bells and whistles may be there on older devices -- like mine. Iphone 1. I swear it's gas-powered.):

The so-called "A-grade" browsers. Full enhanced experience with Ajax-based animated page transitions.
  • Apple iOS 3.2-5.0 - Tested on the original iPad (4.3 / 5.0), iPad 2 (4.3), original iPhone (3.1), iPhone 3 (3.2), 3GS (4.3), 4 (4.3 / 5.0), and 4S (5.0)
  • Android 2.1-2.3 – Tested on the HTC Incredible (2.2), original Droid (2.2), HTC Aria (2.1), Google Nexus S (2.3). Functional on 1.5 & 1.6 but performance may be sluggish, tested on Google G1 (1.5)
  • Android 3.1 (Honeycomb)  – Tested on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Motorola XOOM
  • Android 4.0 (ICS)  – Tested on a Galaxy Nexus S. Note: transition performance can be poor on upgradeddevices
  • Windows Phone 7-7.5 – Tested on the HTC Surround (7.0) HTC Trophy (7.5), LG-E900 (7.5), Nokia Lumia 800
  • Blackberry 6.0 – Tested on the Torch 9800 and Style 9670
  • Blackberry 7 – Tested on BlackBerry® Torch 9810
  • Blackberry Playbook (1.0-2.0) – Tested on PlayBook
  • Palm WebOS (1.4-2.0) – Tested on the Palm Pixi (1.4), Pre (1.4), Pre 2 (2.0)
  • Palm WebOS 3.0 – Tested on HP TouchPad
  • Firebox Mobile (10 Beta) – Tested on Android 2.3 device
  • Chrome for Android (Beta) – Tested on Android 4.0 device
  • Skyfire 4.1 - Tested on Android 2.3 device
  • Opera Mobile 11.5: Tested on Android 2.3
  • Meego 1.2 – Tested on Nokia 950 and N9
  • Samsung bada 2.0 – Tested on a Samsung Wave 3, Dolphin browser
  • UC Browser – Tested on Android 2.3 device
  • Kindle 3 and Fire - Tested on the built-in WebKit browser for each
  • Nook Color 1.4.1 – Tested on original Nook Color, not Nook Tablet
  • Chrome Desktop 11-17 - Tested on OS X 10.7 and Windows 7
  • Safari Desktop 4-5 - Tested on OS X 10.7 and Windows 7
  • Firefox Desktop 4-9 – Tested on OS X 10.7 and Windows 7
  • Internet Explorer 7-9 – Tested on Windows XP, Vista and 7
  • Opera Desktop 10-11 - Tested on OS X 10.7 and Windows 7
"B-grade" browsers  Ehanced experience except without Ajax navigation features.
  • Blackberry 5.0: Tested on the Storm 2 9550, Bold 9770
  • Opera Mini (5.0-6.5) - Tested on iOS 3.2/4.3 and Android 2.3
  • Nokia Symbian^3 - Tested on Nokia N8 (Symbian^3), C7 (Symbian^3), also works on N97 (Symbian^1)
C-Grade Basic non-enhanced HTML experience that is still functional
  • Blackberry 4.x - Tested on the Curve 8330
  • Windows Mobile - Tested on the HTC Leo (WinMo 5.2)
  • All older smartphone platforms and featurephones – Any device that doesn’t support media queries will receive the basic, C grade experience
There is a feedback button there in your member screen. Please feel free to use it. We would love to hear back from you on this. We will no doubt be adding more features (right now, only mail and forums really work completely, oh and the welcome message, underneath the user's start page for the guild).

For more information on graded mobile browser support based upon JQuery Mobile (which we are using for the /m functionality of your sites) library, click here.

This is not the regular update. There's just been enough testing that I'm comfy letting you all know about it. :)

Posted 4/7/2012 4:15 PM by Aaron Lewis. 26319 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 7/29/2010 1:38 PM by Aaron Lewis. 6000 reads. Share:

Forum and topic listings will now show the thumbnail image of the most recent poster next to their name link. This can be disabled by an admin by clicking the Edit button at the bottom of the forum widget and then clicking Display Options.

Only thumbnail images that were uploaded via the characters/settings page will display. Images that are hosted externally will not. This is for security, as browsers (like Chrome) are sometimes blocking pages that have images on them which are hosted on domains with a bad rep. If your thumb is hosted elsewhere and you would like for it to show up, right click and save it to your hard drive, then upload it in your Characters/Settings page.

The custom HTML editor in the Control Panel for banner, footer, and widget areas has been updated to occupy more of the available space, and the font size has been reduced a bit so that you can see more of your code at once.

When creating a new Ventrilo server, you now have the ability to specify which codec you would like for it to use.

If you try to edit the Footer Text under Style Tools, but you have Custom HTML defined for it, the Control Panel will now let you know, providing a link where you can either disable or edit your Custom HTML.

If you imported a theme through Control Panel > Style Tools > Browse Themes, it would not previously bring over the dynamic text banner settings, in order to avoid overwriting any existing banner. Now, it still doesn't overwrite your actual banner, but it will bring the settings over into your Banner Builder in order to make it easy for you to create a new dynamic text banner with the intended style set forth by the person who created the theme.

Posted 7/22/2010 2:29 PM by Aaron Lewis. 10056 reads. Share:

We've been pretty busy over the past week! Here's a list of some of the things that have either already gone live or are going live with today's code push:
  • 28 new themes have been added!
  • A problem with the signature generator import galleries redirecting to the guild home page has been fixed, and the signature generator has had some neat new features added to it.
  • Importing a theme was automatically centering the banner, even if that was not how the theme was configured. This has been fixed.
  • Auto-forum posting of applications, where an admin had previously (at any point) checked the box to disable it, remained disabled and the box wouldn't show as checked when they went back, so they were unable to re-enable it. Those who were affected will need to go back into the Application Questions area of the control panel and re-enable it by un-checking the box.
  • Integrated rosters for DAOC have been updated to work with the new XML structure that Mythic is returning, and they have been updated to have all the features of the integrated rosters of newer games (client-side filtering, sorting, and an updated appearance).
  • When applying a theme, users have the option to send a quick "thank you" note to the author of the theme. If you like their work, let them know!
  • When sharing a theme, custom HTML for the left, right and center widgets will now also be exported as part of the theme, and applied to any site that imports the theme. Previously these elements were not applied, so only simpler themes could be shared to their full effect.
  • Custom CSS additions are also now copied when sharing a theme. Keep in mind these are just for the "CSS Additions" part of your total custom CSS configuration. Total CSS replacements are not copied. CSS Additions only add on to the existing output, they do not completely replace it.
  • If you have supplied custom images for your tabs, you now have the option to have them display even when using the "Side Nav" type of navigation. Click the "Display Tab Images Inside Side Nav" checkbox in the Control Panel, under Style Tools > Navigation Style (make sure you have Side Nav selected from the drop-down list at the top). This will display the images vertically (top to bottom). Full default/current/hover functionality is supported.
  • Many, many new sets of forum icons are available. You can get to them via Control Panel > Style Tools > Forum Icons. Select from the "Available Sets" drop-down box and click Preview to check them out!
As always, thanks for choosing GuildPortal!

Posted 7/6/2010 1:54 PM by Aaron Lewis. 5962 reads. Share:

Guild newsletters are now available! As a site admin, to enable and configure your newsletter, open the Control Panel and select Newsletter from the left menu. Users who wish to receive your newsletter will need to enable Guild Newsletters in their Characters/Settings page and be associate-level or higher in your guild. Moving forward, we might change this to being enabled by default, but for the moment we're making it opt-in to avoid "spamming" a whole lot of people at the beginning.

Some might have noticed a lot of ninja-enhancements going live over the past weeks:
  • When editing a page's properties (Control Panel > Pages & Content > select a page and then click the Page Properties tab), you now have the option to specify a hover image, in addition to the previously available default and selected images.
  • The Banner Builder (Control Panel > Style Tools) has an additional effect that you can apply to the text called "perspective." It renders the text at an angle (which you can also specify using the slider).
  • "Nav Bar Builder" and "Navigation Type" have been combined into "Navigation Style" (Control Panel > Style Tools). You can now select the type of navigation you want your site to use (Nav Bar, Side Nav or Standard Tabs) and the interface will show the appropriate options.
  • The Content Boxes (Widgets) styling options now allow for an icon to be shown in the header, without the need to provide custom HTML.
  • The Forum Specific style tools now use the updated gradient generator/guild storage image picker, so if you're using images you've uploaded through the file manager, you won't need to go back and forth, copying and pasting URLs. Many image fields throughout the Control Panel have been updated to use this tool.
  • You can now provide hover state images for the following forum icons: reply, quote, edit, and delete. In addition, pre-set forum icon themes are now importing all of the images they should. Check it out in the Control Panel, under Style Tools > Forum Icons.
  • The signature generator, available in Characters/Settings, has been cleaned up, had some effects and options added, and has been given some more images that you can import from the gallery. If you have any packs of thumbnail images or backgrounds that you'd like seen added for your game, please let us know!
  • The GPHelper add-on for World of Warcraft now imports bank items into more appropriate categories.