You will notice that from midnight GMT on 19th December 2007, we are publicly testing out the upgraded system that has been 'in the works' over the past months. We hope you will enjoy some of the new features that are now provided, as well as the update to the look and feel of some of the existing features. We've been guided by a desire to provide new and popular features to the forum, whilst still retaining our traditional restrained, tidy feel and look, reflecting the nature of the conversations of this forum.
Please be advised that the upgraded system is currently in beta testing, which means we (and you) are prone to find quirks and glitches for the first few days and weeks. Please be very encouraged to use this thread as an area for reporting 'bugs' or other issues.
New features in the upgraded system:
The upgrade has provided us with the ability to add many new features to the Discusion Community system. Among these are the following:
- New layout: The content of the Community has been given something of a 'facelift; with a new interface, layout, and design scheme. The goal has been to give the forum a cleaner, crisper feel, while grouping features together in a more logical manner. The toolbar at the top of forum pages has, for example, been substantially re-designed. While it may take a short time to find familiar features that used to be located in a different place, we are confident that the new arrangement is more sensible and groups common features together. Other 'tidying' changes have taken place throughout: fewer heavy tables, cleaner posts, and collapsable elements across the system, that allow you to display elements you want to see, and 'collapse' those you don't.
- Entirely re-designed profiles: You will notice that the profile system has been entirely re-designed. Profiles are now much more in-depth, with tabbed interfaces, feature boxes, etc. While you can always edit your profile in the old manner (i.e. through the User Control Panel), you can also in-line edit some of the details: so it is possible to update your details from within your profile itself. Within the coming weeks, it will also be possible to configure additional display options in your profile: such as your own colour scheme and layout.
- Member avatars: Part of the new profiles are 'avatars', or small images chosen by you to associate with your profile. We have deliberately not placed avatars on posts, as many forums do, as we feel this is rather too casual and cumbersome for this forum. However, avatars do allow your profile to be identified graphically when linked from others', etc.
- Member chat in profiles: Profiles now feature a tab called 'Member Chat', allowing public discussions to be carried out in profiles - for social or other informal conversations not suited to the thematic areas of the Community, but open to Commuinty members.
- New photos and albums system: The old photo albums system has received a complete overhaul, and been properly integrated into the profile system. You can now create multiple albums within your profile, each containing multiple images with captions. Edit captions, move photos and upload new images, re-organise albums - all within a familiar interface. The newest photos you add are automatically highlighted in a dedicated box in your profile, to draw them to the attention of other members.
- Social groups: The Community now supports social groups, allowing members to find others with similar interests, forming groups that can share photos and conversation in special group areas. Any registered member can create groups (e.g. a group for Church musicians, iconographers, members in Australia, etc.), which others can join. Each group has space for photo sharing and its own discussion area.
- Friends: While the Discussion Community has long supported a Contacts List, allowing members to create a listing of other members similar to an address book, the new system allows for a fully robust friends network. Invite other members to become your friends, at which point their small icon (avatar) appears in the Friends Listing in your profile - and yours in theirs. You can use Member Chat to communicate with friends, invite them to active threads, etc.
- Tagged threads: Threads can now be 'tagged', that is, given special keywords that group together threads in similar themes, wherever they occur on the system. You can search by tags through the advanced search interface. For the moment, only administrators can create tags, while we finish testing this system; but soon you will be able to add tags to your own new threads, as well as to others' threads.
We hope you enjoy! Again, any bugs please in this thread, so we can work out the kinks that are sure to remain in this early phase of open testing and usage,
INXC, Dcn Matthew