Posts tagged with "integration"

ActiveBoard Themes & Templates

Up and coming in the wide world of ActiveBoard are some significant changes to the way that themes work, and the addition of both an on-the-fly style editing system, and a template editing back-end for the power user. Clients will be able to completely customize the way their forum looks and feels.

An overview of the new features includes:

  • Updated Administration Panel Sections
  • New Themes & Theme Selection
  • Easier-to-use Style Editor & Preview System
  • Theme Template Editor
  • Theme Backup and Storage Manager

Administration Panel

We took a good look at the options available in the Administration Panel with regard to the style of your ActiveBoard, and the options which govern how much of what displays, and the custom HTML options. The end result was a split from "Style & Appearance" into two new sections, "Theme & Style", and "Display".

The Theme & Style section encompases the browsing and selection of themes, style editing and previewing, header text and logo, forum icons, template editing and lastly theme management.

The Display section consists of the options which handle how many topics and comments per page show up, their default order, the SEO and meta configuration, and both your inline and custom HTML fields.

forum-theme-template-01.png

Themes & Selection

We've been aware that our theme selection has been a little dated for some time now, and wanted to do something about it. My colleague Willem was set to the task of devising a quick and snazzy way of selecting themes for your ActiveBoard, and he's come up with a slick system to accomplish the task.

forum-theme-template-02.png

Style Editing

Modifying the style of your forum has been a thorn in everyone's sides for a long time -- how to accomplish this in an usable way which is completely dynamic. A problem? I think not!

The new ActiveBoard style editor allows you to change the look and feel of your board on the fly, without leaving the page. You can view the forum, and navigate around with your changes visible even before you actually apply them to make sure they're just the way you want them.

forum-theme-template-03.png

Template Editor

For a long time, we've wanted to offer additional customizations to ActiveBoard on a per-client basis, but technically speaking this is difficult when you're using an internal framework and only the content is dynamically created by the clients and the members of their boards.

As a result, we've come up with a template parsing system which will allow you to modify the layout and display of the majority of your ActiveBoard.

This is actually related to my post from a little while ago, Templates & Layout Customization, which outlined template parsing in BlogBaker. The template parser in ActiveBoard has been expanded, so technically speaking it is more powerful than the options available in BlogBaker. We'll be bringing BlogBaker up to speed in this regard soon!

forum-theme-template-04.png

Theme Manager

If you can create, modify, and save themes... you had best be able to manage them too! We're not letting anyone down in this regard, and will be providing a theme management system to keep track of your saved themes. You will be able to activate any theme from the manager, edit them, delete, and also preview the theme on your forum as if you had activated it. In other words, your users will never be impacted while you test!

forum-theme-template-05.png

Magic & Beyond

Well, unfortunately it isn't magic! Sparklit is keen to provide all of our clients with high quality, ingeniously designed software which both the geeky power user, and the happy-go-lucky casual user can use easily and painlessly!

I'll also include a little hint of two things to come:

Search Upgrades

We'll be adding an upgraded search system which will support some fancy additional options: such as + to indicate the word must exist, - to indicate the word must not exist, and " to indicate a string of text which must exist in a search. This new search application will be based off of an implementation of Sphinx Search.

Permalinks

For the SEO-interested folks out there, and anyone who would like to see some pretty URLs... they're on the way! Imagine your forums having their own pretty names... an example from our example ActiveBoard might look like: http://example.activeboard.com/forum/suggestions-and-feedback

Keep your eyes out for these upgrades and more! Also, we're always open to feature suggestions and are also often able to do custom programming jobs for our clients as per their needs. SO! Don't hesitate to submit a feature request via email (general@sparklit.com), support request, or through the "Make a Suggestion" link in the tabs at the top on your Administration Panel.

(o``)--o

Spam Filter Added to ActiveBoard

We are pleased to say that our new spam filter has now been officially integrated with ActiveBoard!

Posts and topics that are detected as possible spam will be marked "flagged as spam." Under the "More..." option you can approve or deny these comments, as appropriate. If a spam comment makes it through without being flagged, please use the "Report Spam" option to remove the comment and help our spam filter learn and improve!

This option has been enabled by default, but if you'd like to disable the spam filter please go to:

Administration > Settings > Add-ons

Then, go to the bottom of the page and set Spam Filter to Off.

We hope this new development will help cut down on the spam out there. Happy posting everyone!

Flickr Integration & Galleries

Now that our galleries feature has launched, see this blog post. We can brag about the cool widget interface.

Check out this koala on my blog! Isn't it cute? I just want to give it a giant hug.

koala_blog.PNG

Enough said.

We also rolled out Flickr integration with our galleries. You should totally add your Flickr account to BlogBaker!

1. Go to Administration > Settings > Plugins. Click on��� add_flickr_account.PNG

2. You may be asked to sign into your Yahoo/Flickr account.
sign_into_flickr.PNG

3. Authorize the BlogBaker Application. Don't worry, We will only put the photos on your blog when you tell us to.
flickr_access.PNG

4. Your Flickr account will now be associated with your blog. Feel free to add your Flickr account to all your BlogBaker blogs!

flickr_account.PNG

5. Add the gallery widget to your blog template
gallery_widget.PNG

6. Select your Flickr username and gallery name
gallery_widget_config.PNG

Enjoy all the new BlogBaker features guys! We'll be back next week with more updates. Have a good weekend.

GeSHi and line height fun

Being a developer, one of the major features I (and my colleagues) wanted to see in BlogBaker was syntax highlighting for code blocks. In the future, many posts will include snippets of code used to help describe problems that we are working on and how we are working to accomplish them. Additionally, many of us will be creating personal blogs outside of work, and will want to be able to insert code snippets.

It's fairly straight forward to turn some code into a snippet, and is entirely based on custom <pre> tags.

For example, if I wanted to paste the contents of a simple Hello World PHP script, I would edit the HTML view of my post, and enter <pre lang="php">, paste my PHP script, and close </pre>. See below example:

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class foobar
{
    public function greetings()
    {
        echo "Hello World!";
    }
}
 
$foo = new foober;
$foo->greetings(); // prints "Hello World!"

Tada!

During the addition of this feature, however, I ran into an unexpected hiccup regarding line heights. I had seen GeSHi used before on a friends blog, and noticed that the height of the line numbers did not match up with the height of the code. See below screenshot:

Line Height Example 1

Very odd... and to top it off, I noticed the same issue on my development blog and during testing. At first, I thought that I had conflicting CSS changing the line-heights, height of the parent element, or something of that nature. Other alternatively possibilities included that the error might be a browser rendering bug.

A breakthrough came when I had one of my coworkers (Brendan) test out what I was working on in his browsers. Brendan noted that it was correct in one of his browsers, but out of alignment in another browser. Further investigation revealed that no explicit monospace font family style was being applied to the

<pre&gtl tags surrounding the code, and as a result the browser used whatever default had been selected. In most browsers this appears to be Courier New, which appears render differently in different situations.

Before concluding anything about Courier New itself, I checked and doublechecked that there were no styles affecting elements inside the columns which might change their height (ie. 1px padding or margin on elements), but I was unable to find anything. To matters more interesting, the columns were not even out of alignment by a uniform amount. For example, 150 lines of code were maybe 19 px off by the end -- VERY odd, and suggests that there are likely not any errant styles.

After that, I tried changing the font family of the monospace tags, forcing it to Consolas and Courier in CSS. After that, all my tests started showing up in perfect alignment across all browsers.

Line Height Example 2

So, a word to those using GeSHi: if you run into line-height issues, check what font family is being used to render the preformatted tags!

User integration with ActiveBoard

One of the most exciting features we've been planning for BlogBaker is integration with ActiveBoard. We know that many of you have accounts on ActiveBoard and are looking to start a blog to go along with your board. We are planning a number of features that will allow interaction between your blog and ActiveBoard including:

  • Recent threads widget for BlogBaker that will show your recent activity on ActiveBoard.
  • Common profile and avatar system between ActiveBoard and BlogBaker.
  • Eventually, a common templating system between ActiveBoard and BlogBaker so you can more easily customize your look-and-feel on both sites.

The first step in this process will be integrating your user accounts on ActiveBoard so they can be recognized by both systems. Beginning early next week, we will be adding a simple migration wizard on ActiveBoard for upgrading user accounts to the new system.

Please let us know in the comments if you have any questions about user integration :)

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