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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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:
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.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org), support request, or through the "Make a Suggestion" link in the tabs at the top on your Administration Panel.