WildApricot Free Product Webinar Archives

Version 5.0 Overview


Hello and welcome to the Version 5 overview webinar. I'm Picky Apricot Steve Andrews and I'm going to show you what's new in Version 5 of WildApricot, and explain how the upgrade process works.

Version 5 is a response to input from our users, who wanted easier and more flexible site design, and more - and more modern - website themes.

Consequently, much of the Version 5 release is focused on the introduction of a new CMS or content management system. A CMS, or website builder as it is also known, is the module used to set up and customize website pages.

WildApricot's new CMS represents a complete redesign of the entire page setup process. Though the new CMS does retain many elements of the old one, it introduces a number of new concepts, and a new approach to page design.

The guiding philosophy of the new CMS is to make site design both simpler and more flexible.

Now, let me show you how we've applied this philosophy in Version 5.

More flexible page layout

Previously in WildApricot, all pages shared the same layout, which they inherited from the website theme. Changing the page layout was a complicated process involving theme overrides and CSS, typically requiring the services of professional web designers.

With Version 5, different pages can have different layouts, and page layout can be modified using a graphical editor.

Pages now inherit their layout from page templates. You can modify page templates using the same tools you use to design pages.

Within the template, you can divide the page into different content areas, and add content such as logos, taglines, menus, and contact info. Any content you add to the template will automatically appear on all pages that are based on that template.

Page headers and footers now form part of pages templates, and are no longer set up separately.

Each page can be based on a different template, and multiple pages can share the same template. You could, for example, use one template for public pages, another for member-only pages, and a separate one for landing pages.

Using page templates allows you to promote consistency between pages while providing flexibility.

Templates are based on theme-specific master layouts, which provide a broad outline of the page, along with graphical elements that define the theme.

One-stop page management

In previous versions of WildApricot, page management took place on a different screen from page design, forcing you to jump back and forth between the two.

In Version 5, page management and page design both take place on the Site pages screen. The sidebar on the left lists your pages, and provides options for managing them. From the Sites page screen, you can add, modify, delete, or reorder pages.

When you create or modify a page, you can control various aspects of it by changing its page settings. Through page settings, you can control its menu name, page URL, page template, menu position, access restrictions, and meta-tags.

Restricting access to a page previously meant creating a restricted access section page then dragging the pages to be restricted under the RAS page. Now, restricting page access simply involves choosing the access level from the page settings.

Within the page settings, you can set the position of the page within the site menu. Using the Not in menu setting, you can now exclude a page from your menu, like a landing page for example.

You can also control the order of pages in the menu from the Reorder pages screen. Here, you can drag and drop pages to the desired location within the menu. You can make any page the home page simply by dragging it to the top of the list. You can set up multi-level menus by dragging a page under another. The previous limit of 3 menu levels has been dropped. You can now have as many menu levels as you want.

Restoring deleted page and previous versions

Before in WildApricot, you could undo only your most recent page revision. Now, each time you make a change to a page or a page template, a separate version is saved. This protects you against someone unintentionally messing up a page.

You can view the previous versions of any page or template, and restore any version.

Deleted pages can also be restored now, protecting you against accidental deletions. Prior to Version 5, once you deleted a page, it was gone. Restoring it from our backups was a complicated and time-consuming process. Now, when you delete a page or template, it is moved to the trash. From the trash, you can preview the deleted page or template, and restore it or empty the trash.

To protect you against browser crashes, Version 5 automatically saves a copy of the page or template you are editing every 10 seconds. If your browser crashes before you have a chance to save your changes, the system will prompt you next time to resume where you left off.

Easier and more powerful page design

In Version 4 of WildApricot, page design was somewhat restrictive, and a bit complicated.

First, there was the distinction between content pages and functional pages. Functional pages displayed specialized functionality like blogs and event calendars, while content pages were used for custom content such as text and graphics. But you couldn't combine these two types of content. If you wanted to display a membership application form on a page, then that's all the page could display.

Now, the concept of functional pages is gone. All pages can now display a mix of custom content and dynamic functionality. For example, you could create an events page consisting of an event calendar gadget and a content gadget displaying a list of your sponsors.

In Version 5, all content is added as gadgets. Gadgets existed in Version 4, but only to display a limited amount of data from your WildApricot database, such as a list of upcoming events. In Version 5, a gadget can be used to display custom content such as text or a picture, or to add dynamic content – basically, everything that used to be available as functional pages. In addition, you can now insert gadgets to display Google maps, slideshows, sitemaps, and social media links, among other new functionality. Even your site menu and login fields are now added as gadgets.

The gadget you'll be using the most often is the content gadget, used to add text, graphics, tables, and any other custom content you choose. To insert a gadget onto a page or page template, you simply drag it from the list and drop it onto the page where you want it to appear. You can then control the behavior and appearance of the gadget through its settings.

For some gadgets, you can choose a theme-specific gadget style to display the gadget with a title bar and border. For content gadgets, you can set a background color or background image.

Creating complex layouts

To provide precise control over the positioning of gadgets, we have greatly expanded the use of layouts. In Version 4, you could insert a layout to split a content page into multiple rows and columns. In Version 5, you can add any number of layouts to a page or page template, allowing you to create multiple sections, each with its own combination of rows and columns. You can then drag and drop gadgets into the layout cells. For maximum flexibility, you can ignore the layouts and drop a gadget above or below the layout, or above or below another gadget.

After you've inserted a multi-column layout, you can adjust the column widths at will.

Like gadgets, layouts also have settings that you can modify to control its appearance. For example, you can set a background color or background image for the layout.

System pages that perform routine functions such as authentication and event registration can also be customized.

Enhanced content editor

In Version 4, you used the content editor to modify content pages. In Version 5, you use the content editor to modify content gadgets. Though the content editor has been significantly enhanced, existing users will find most of the functionality familiar.

One significant enhancement to provide even more control over positioning of content is addition of layers. Existing users might remember using layers to position text and graphics when setting up their page header or page footer. With layering now available from the content editor, you can position custom content anywhere you want and even overlap other content.

Another important enhancement is the ability to format links as buttons. Previously, you could only link text or pictures. While formatting a link, you can choose from a number of theme-specific button styles.

If you've formatted a chunk of text just the way you want, you can now copy and paste the text style or text attributes to another chunk of text or to an entire paragraph. What gets copied is either the style of the text – like H1, for example – or just its attributes – like 14 point bold Verdana – depending on whether you select just a portion of text, or an entire paragraph.

You can tweak the HTML for content gadgets as you did for content pages, but now using an enhanced HTML editor. The new HTML editor features line numbers, autocomplete, and tag matching, while retaining code structure and indenting.

Advanced customization

While Version 5 provides much more control over the look and feel of WildApricot sites, WildApricot continues to provide tools for advanced customization.

The Colors & Styles screen has been completely reorganized and simplified, and now includes a setting to specify a site background color or image.

Through theme overrides, you can customize the available gadgets, and even add your own.

Master layouts, which provide the foundation for page templates, can also be modified through theme overrides.

New website themes

Several new website themes, with a more modern look and feel, have been added. Some of the new themes feature simple, clean layouts that makes them a good starting point for those who want to completely customize their WildApricot site.

In the future, we will be able to deliver more website themes faster, thanks to the changes we have made to our CMS.

The new website themes are somewhat more scaleable – aka responsive – on mobile screens but not as responsive as we planned. An option can be turned on – through code – to make them even more responsive, but this feature has not been fully tested. In the future, we hope to offer fully responsive behavior.

Non-CMS changes

Though the focus of Version 5 is on the CMS changes, other aspects of WildApricot have been enhanced as well.

Before Version 5, navigating to a particular admin screen was often a two-step process: click the Module tab then click the option within that module. Now, you can jump to most admin screens simply by selecting a pull-down menu option. For example, you can jump directly to the advanced contact search screen.

A number of enhancements have been made to the events module. You can now set up events and accept registrations without having to set up a publicly accessible events calendar.

So you can provide people with a direct link to details for a particular event, a URL is now available for each event. You can copy the event URL and share it through social media or email.

Access to events can now be restricted by membership level or member group, or limited to administrators only.

For more control over what appears on the event registration form, you can now choose which common fields appear on the form for each event.

And finally, you can now archive a filtered list of contacts from the Contacts module.

Version 5 upgrade process

We're eager for you to experience Version 5’s enhanced features as soon as possible. But we also understand that major upgrades can be challenging for our users. So, to ensure a smooth transition to Version 5, WildApricot will be upgrading users in several batches over a two-month period.

A few weeks before the first set of upgrades, emails will go out to WildApricot administrators informing them of the upgrade date for their sites. As well, a message will be displayed to administrators in admin view. If you want, you can change your upgrade date by contacting Product Support.

For example, you might want to get started with the new version right away. Or else, you might want to postpone the upgrade to allow more time to get used to the new features.

So you can get a feel for the enhanced CMS before your site is upgraded, a preview version of your upgraded site will be available from your WildApricot dashboard. This preview version is a snapshot of your existing site, upgraded to Version 5. You can take your new site for a test drive, but any changes you make to the preview version will be discarded when your actual site is upgraded to Version 5.

You won't have do anything yourself to convert your site - we'll take care of everything, even if you have a complex site, full of theme overrides. The most heavily customized sites will be converted manually by WildApricot developers.

During the gradual upgrade period, the ability to add or change theme overrides will be disabled.

As you see, Version 5 will offer significant improvements in the way you set up and customize your WildApricot site. We hope you agree that Version 5 was worth the wait.

Thank you for listening.

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