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Wild Apricot Software News October 2012

In previous posts (8/12, 3/12, 8/11), we’ve shared a few details about enhancements we’re working on for Version 5.0. Now, we’re ready to tell you a lot more!

Version 5.0, scheduled for release in the summer of 2013, will be focused on upgrading the Content Management System (CMS) used for creating the pages and content for your Wild Apricot website.  These changes will give you greater flexibility in designing and editing your content.

But before we look at what's coming, let’s take a moment to review how the current system works.

Right now in the Web pages module, there are four main sections:

  • Site pages – where you edit the actual pages in your website
  • Page management – where you can add and remove new pages, set access restrictions and re-order the pages in your menu.  Currently there are two types of pages
    • Functional pages (that have dynamic content based on your database)
    • Content pages (based on content you input yourself)
  • File management – where you can manage your uploaded photos and other documents
  • Site look and feel – which takes you to a list of options that control the appearance of your site

Key Enhancements in Version 5.0

While it’s too soon to go into very specific detail about how it will all work, here is an overview of some of the key improvements.


Additional page content flexibility and “drag-and-drop gadgets”

One of the biggest changes you’ll see when we move to Version 5.0 is that in the new CMS, we won’t distinguish between Content and Functional pages! 

Right now, if you choose a functional page, it can only be one kind of page – such as a directory, an events calendar, a membership application form – and there’s usually only a small area on the top of the page that can accommodate other content.

In Version 5.0, all pages will be able to have a mixture of static content and dynamic functional areas.  All of the dynamic functions of Functional Pages will be turned into gadgets that you can drag-and-drop on any page.

Gadgets

For example, in the current system, to make an events calendar, you would have to make a new Functional Page of the Calendar type.  However, with Version 5.0’s new CMS, you will be able to just drag a calendar gadget onto any page, and have the same functions as you did before.  And there’s also additional flexibility! For example, if you want to add a blog feature to the bottom of that Calendar page, you just drag a Blog gadget below your Calendar gadget.  If you only want the Calendar to be on one half of the page, you can set the page to 2-column, drag the Calendar gadget into the column of your choice, and put other content across from it.  The possibilities are endless!

Even the menus and login boxes have been turned into gadgets, so you can choose to move their location, or even remove them from certain pages.  And we’re adding a range of new gadgets too, such as rotating image slideshows.

What does this mean for me?

While it will take our current clients some getting used to, in the end the new CMS functionality will allow you to have much more control over what you can present on each page and your page layout.

You’ll now have much greater flexibility in what types of content appear on pages, and where that content is placed on the page; the ability to mix functional content with static content, or put different types of functional content on one page together.


Greater layout control with Page Templates

In the current version of Wild Apricot, you’re able to select a theme which has many elements included in it.  Elements such as headers and footers can be edited using special customization dialogs, but other elements such as menus and login boxes can only be edited if you use special override codes.  And if you want to have some of your own content repeated on every page, you have to copy and paste that content onto each page individually.

Because this current functionality is restrictive, we’ve come up with a brand new concept: page templates.

Page Templates

Our new themes will include multiple page templates for different types of pages (e.g., homepage, regular page, page with a side column, etc.)  Administrators can edit these page templates, or add their own. In addition, any content the administrator includes on a template page will be repeated on every instance of that particular page template.

This will allow users to create different page templates for different parts of their site, without having to copy/paste specific content multiple times.  It also gives you control over what elements show up on different types of pages, so you aren’t locked into the one page style based on the theme you selected.  Different types of pages can all have different types of layouts!

For example, you will be able to:

  • Create landing pages based on a different template, without a header, footer, menu;
  • Customize members-only section to use a different header and footer - by using a different page template;
  • Add a column to all pages by customizing the main page template to add another column of content across the whole site
What does this mean for me?

With Version 5.0, you’ll now have the ability to have different page layouts within a specific theme, and the ability to edit those page templates with custom content that automatically appears on every page.


Improved editing interface will provide more features and save screen switching

Our current editing interface is very simple – similar to the text editor used in a document editing software like Word.

But there is limited flexibility for more advanced editing – such as putting some padded space around images or gadgets, or changing the background color on something – without going to the settings page.

So, now we’re incorporating advanced editing capability right into one screen, using tabs and toolbars. When you’re editing pages in Version 5.0, you’ll be able to do all of the following from one screen:

  • Review your site structure (currently Page Management), and re-order pages or add new pages without leaving the page editing screen
  • Edit the name of your page or change its template
  • Edit the settings of each gadget you drag and drop into the page, including options such as margins, width, background color, and more
  • Changing page layout - adding columns or rows
  • Edit the page settings, including access levels

Site Structure

What does this mean for me?

You'll no longer have to switch between Page Management and page editing, and you’ll have much more flexibility in page layout and content management on the page.

Previously, all of these things were on different pages, or required the use of sophisticated theme overrides or CSS code.  Now, you’ll be able to do many of these things easily, in a drag-and-drop interface, with simple options and no code!


Restore and delete content

Another huge change will be the addition of page revision history.  You’ll be able to see a list of previous edits and authors, so you won’t lose old versions.  If you want to go back to an old version, you can restore it from a previously saved version.  Content will also be auto-saved, so you don’t have to worry about losing all your work if your browser crashes.

Revision History

Revision History

We’re also introducing a Trash option, which will work much like the trash bin on your computer’s desktop.  Moving a page to Trash will “delete” it, but you’ll be able to see the pages you’ve put there, and you’ll be able to choose to restore a page, or delete it forever.  Currently, if you wish to restore a deleted page, you would have to contact our support team, and they would have to restore it from a backup – a lengthy process for everyone.

What does this mean for me?

The Revision History will allow you to restore old versions, and the addition of Trash bin will let you recover deleted content.


These are just a few of the improvements we’ll be introducing with Version 5.0, so stay tuned for more updates!

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Published Tuesday, 30 October 2012 at 8:30 AM
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Comments

  • John DonahoJohn Donaho

    John Donaho said:

    These changes look fantastic. Can't wait for the new version!
    Tuesday, 30 October 2012 at 9:01 AM
  • Chief ApricotChief Apricot

    Chief Apricot said:

    Thanks John! We target to finish the bulk of development this quarter - though it will depend on how our internal reviews go. Next big milestone is coming up in ~2 weeks. We will provide more details in subsequent monthly newsletters, stay tuned!
    Tuesday, 30 October 2012 at 9:16 AM
  • Chris GierymskiChris Gierymski

    Chris Gierymski said:

    I always look forward to your improvements and enhancements as they are extremely useful and distinguish Wild Apricot from any other provider.
    Tuesday, 30 October 2012 at 9:26 AM
  • Chief ApricotChief Apricot

    Chief Apricot said:

    Thanks Chris, I hope we will be able to meet your expectations this time around as well :-)
    FYI, this particular release is almost 100% focused on CMS so there unfortunately will be no enhancements to other modules - but we are already doing the planning for subsequent release 5.1 to move forward in other places.
    Tuesday, 30 October 2012 at 10:27 AM
  • Josh HuntJosh Hunt

    Josh Hunt said:

    Please add the ability to have my members be affiliates so they can earn money by recommending the site.
    Tuesday, 30 October 2012 at 11:02 AM
  • TomTom

    Tom said:

    The streamlining through elimination of separate areas for page editing/management and functional/static pages is a huge step forward. Looking forward to hearing about all the updates!
    Tuesday, 30 October 2012 at 11:10 AM
  • Jamie ZaharopoulosJamie Zaharopoulos

    Jamie Zaharopoulos said:

    It would be really nice to ahve multiple languages support.

    Here in Quebec it is mandatory for us to have a bilingual website (english and french) and we have used a sort of workaround to be able to have a decent website functional in both languages.

    I love wild apricot and it would be very nice to have the ability to use multiple languages. i am worried that with the new update it will break the workaround and i will be forced to switch to another provider or fear being fined by the government for not having a working french site.
    Tuesday, 30 October 2012 at 11:13 AM
  • Chief ApricotChief Apricot

    Chief Apricot said:

    Jamie - we are not likely to add built-in multi-language support for a while. The workaround usually works by creating a duplicate set of web pages and then using Javascript to hide/display the right set. This shouldn't be affected by upcoming update.
    Tuesday, 30 October 2012 at 1:20 PM
  • Chief ApricotChief Apricot

    Chief Apricot said:

    Thanks Tom, we do hope that this will make the system easier to learn for new users.
    Tuesday, 30 October 2012 at 1:20 PM
  • Chief ApricotChief Apricot

    Chief Apricot said:

    Josh - affiliate program is on our wishlist but is not likely to be added for a while, there are many more frequent requests ahead of it in the queue.
    Tuesday, 30 October 2012 at 1:23 PM
  • Dale KoetkeDale Koetke

    Dale Koetke said:

    Chief Apricot,

    This sounds like a great collection of features which is definitely a big step forward. Thank you!

    I would implore you to re-focus on the membership and event management areas of Wild Apricot next, as this is really the core of your value prop. For example, not being able to apply discounts to renewals is a real hassle for me.

    However, a huge way to differentiate compared to other products would be full integration with QuickBooks. I imagine every one of your customers uses this for accounting, but the current one-way export/import is fragile and complex. As a result we need to manage two sets of accounts: Wild Apricot and Quickbooks. QuickBooks has a thorough partner program and I would encourage you to investigate this.
    Wednesday, 31 October 2012 at 9:53 AM
  • Chief ApricotChief Apricot

    Chief Apricot said:

    Hi Dale, that's exactly the plan - version 5.1 will focus on improvements in other modules, also some mobile stuff. And membership renewal discounts is one of the top candidates for 5.1
    We have QuickBooks export though I've heard from some clients who are having trouble with it - possibly because we currently use the lowest common denominator approach via IIF file export. I would appreciate if you could post about more advanced integration with QB on our wishlist forum - whatever you know about it.
    Wednesday, 31 October 2012 at 10:10 AM
  • Gordon StewartGordon Stewart

    Gordon Stewart said:

    It looks like you have some really good changes planned here.

    However, every time there are announcements of new features I always look first for any mention of recurring event management.

    Is it really not included ?
    Wednesday, 31 October 2012 at 5:15 PM
  • Amy KAmy K

    Amy K said:

    This all looks great! Any chance 5.1 will have custom member profiles or profile templates?
    Wednesday, 31 October 2012 at 11:58 PM
  • Chief ApricotChief Apricot

    Chief Apricot said:

    Hi Gordon, recurring events is a tough nut to crack - but it is in our top 10 candidates for 5.1
    Friday, 02 November 2012 at 1:34 PM
  • Chief ApricotChief Apricot

    Chief Apricot said:

    Hi Amy - I am not sure what exactly you mean by that but it doesn't sound like anything in 5.50 scope. Can you point me to the relevant wishlist thread on this so I can review and give you a status update?
    Tuesday, 06 November 2012 at 9:25 AM
  • DwigDwig

    Dwig said:

    Chief,

    "... recurring events is a tough nut to crack ..."

    Check out the way the Mozilla Sunbird/Lightning calendars handle recurring events; it's as good as any that I've seen.
    Saturday, 10 November 2012 at 4:03 PM
  • Chief ApricotChief Apricot

    Chief Apricot said:

    Dwig - thanks, we will check it out.
    Wednesday, 14 November 2012 at 9:42 AM
  • Kira GiehllKira Giehll

    Kira Giehll said:

    Looking forward to the improvements!
    Saturday, 17 November 2012 at 10:30 AM
Sorry, this blog post is closed for further comments.

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