Commons 1.1.5

I have just released version 1.1.5 of the CUNY Academic Commons. The main purpose for this release was to fix a recently introduced bug that was preventing users from inviting others to their BuddyPress groups. Several other issues were addresse as well:

  • A plugin WP Resume was included to allow the creation of resum├ęs and CVs on your Commons blog
  • PDF export for MediaWiki pages and categories was activated
  • Some bugs with the way that the Atahualpa theme handles custom headers were fixed
  • See the 1.1.5 milestone for full details on the release.
  • Commons 1.1.4

    I’ve just finished tagging and releasing version 1.1.4 of the CUNY Academic Commons. This bugfix release addresses several issues and requests from the member community, including:

    • Bugfixes in several WordPress plugins (Widgetize Google Gadgets, Media Element HTML 5)
    • Fixed bug that was causing a few members to get email notification from groups they used to be members of
    • Installed the Widget Context WP plugin, which allows blog owners greater control over the way that widgets display on different parts of their sites
    • Improved the layout of the group header and added a Post Topic button to the group forum interface for greater usability

    As always, you can get full details about the release from the 1.1.4 milestone

    Commons 1.1.3

    I just released version 1.1.3 of the CUNY Academic Commons. This version was timed to fix a critical bug that was making WordPress ignore the wildcard filters that the Commons uses to restrict membership to *.cuny.edu addresses. Several other small issues were addressed:

    • The new email notification system now sends emails to post authors by default (a setting you can change at Settings > Notifications)
    • Upgraded the popular Atahualpa theme and corrected an error that was making the plugin’s Dashboard menu unavailable. (Blogs using Atahualpa may find that they need to adjust their headers slightly after this upgrade.)
    • Upgraded a large number of plugins and themes to the latest versions

    For full details on the upgrade, see the 1.1.3 milestone.

    Commons 1.1.2

    Another quick release today, CUNY Academic Commons version 1.1.2. As with the previous maintenance release, there were a few issues that needed to be resolved quickly. To wit:

    • Problems with the way that forum attachments were being accessed and stored
    • A WordPress security release (3.0.3)

    I also took the opportunity to sneak in a few small fixes, related to Ron’s Post Gallery Widget and to the External Blogs plugin.

    See the 1.1.2 milestone for details on this release.

    Commons 1.1.1

    I just tagged and released the CUNY Academic Commons version 1.1.1. This is a quick follow-up release to Monday’s big 1.1 release and addresses some important bugs related to that release. A few highlights:

    • Cross-browser appearance of the front page slider improved
    • Email notifications of forum posts now have the full body text and improved formatting
    • Incorrect email notification settings have been cleaned up
    • The time window for the Who’s Online widget is increased

    For a full account of the release, please visit the 1.1.1 milestone

    Commons 1.1

    I just released version 1.1 of the CUNY Academic Commons. 1.1 is our first big feature release since we’ve begun versioning the site, and there’s a lot of new stuff for users to check out. Stay tuned to the Commons news blog over the next few days for details about the new features. In the meantime, I hope this executive summary will tide you over:

    • Upgraded to WP 3.0.2, for an improved Dashboard experience
    • A new email notification system, which allows immediate or digest (daily or weekly) notifications of group activity (plugin)
    • A host of new, high quality blog themes from WooThemes
    • The ability for group admins to pull external RSS feeds into a group activity stream (plugin)
    • The ability for group admins to change the URL slug of a group (plugin)
    • Improvements in the way that the slider images on the site home page are managed, courtesy of a plugin custom developed for the Commons by Ron Rennick (plugin)
    • The ability for group admins to change the URL slug of a group (plugin)
    • Many UI bugs fixed

    For more on what was changed in 1.1, see the 1.1 milestone.

    Recent Site Developments

    Over the past several weeks, the Commons development team has made a series of major and minor changes to the site. I’d like to detail them here and discuss our future plans.

    Admin Bar Improvements
    We’ve taken several steps to tie the site together through better navigation bars. You’ve probably noticed some big changes to our two nav bars, the BP Admin bar (so named for “BuddyPress admin”) and the main nav bar. Here’s a screenshot showing both nav bars: navbars

    The new BP Admin bar essentially provides sitewide navigation, since it appears on every single page of the site, including each user’s blog. We’ve created a navigational tool that is significantly more robust than it was; now, instead of clicking “Home” and simply returning to the home page of the Commons, users can access the main sections of the site (People/Groups/Blogs/Wiki/Forums/News/About) directly from the admin bar.

    If that first drop-down menu on the admin bar provides links to the major areas of the site, the second dropdown menu, titled “My Commons,” offers a more personalized set of links. When the user scrolls over that menu, a list of custom links (“My Friends,” “My Groups,” “By Blogs,” etc.) appears.

    The next two dropdown menus, “My Blogs” and “My Groups” are somewhat redundant, since they seem, at first to replicate options available on the “My Commons” menu. But you’ll notice when you mouse over them that they offer more direct links to the user’s content, so that, for instance, one can choose to create a new post on specific blog simply by clicking My Blogs > (Name of Blog) > New Post.

    Active State Navigation
    We’ve added active-state navigation to the site, which means that the relevant section of the main nav bar will turn a lighter color when you are on that part of the site. In the following screenshot, the “wiki” link on the nav bar lights up to show the user that she is on the wiki:

    We hope that this makes the site a little easier to use.

    Direct Access to Forums
    Previously, the only way to create a forum post was to do so through the group interface. We’re now providing direct access to the discussion forums via the forums link on the nav bars.

    What’s nice about this is that members of the site can start new discussion topics outside of their groups. Additionally, users can take advantage of increased functionality on the forums (attaching files, bookmarking favorites, etc.) when posting directly on them.

    Redesigned News Page
    We’ve redesigned the News page so that it provides a better overall picture of activity on the Commons. If you’re wondering what has been going on since the last time you visited the site, head to this page first to see recent sitewide activity. This is a very useful way to stay up to date on happenings in the Commons.

    Assorted Bug Fixes and Usability Improvements
    We’ve made a number of fixes to minor usability issues:
    — Links to identities on social networking services from member profile pages now lead directly to those sites
    — The default listings of Newest/Active/Popular members and groups on the homepage has been changed; the default for groups is now “Popular,” to emphasize size, and the default for Members is “Active,” to promote active users.

    Known Issues and Future Plans
    We’ve accomplished a great deal recently, but we know we have a lot to do. Here are some of the most pressing items on our to-do lists:

    — Create a Help Section with screencasts and an introduction for new users
    — Redesign home page of Commons to take better advantage of feeds
    — Create a sitewide search that will include the wiki, blogs, member profiles, groups, and forums
    — Add wiki feeds to sitewide feeds
    — Assess group needs on Commons
    — Get SiteWide tags working
    — Formalize bug tracking system
    — Implement a system for user suggestions
    — Add login widget to homepage
    — Fix email capability on BuddyPress (group wire email is currently not working)
    — Build more robust member profile pages

    That’s just a short list of some of the things we have planned. And, of course, we’d love to hear your thoughts about all of this. Please use the comments to let us know what you think and what you’d like to see!