We've just rolled out a software update for Hoop.la, UBB Forum, and QuestionShark that focuses primarily on adding a number of user interface (UI) improvements. Here's the detailed list of the newness:
1. Slideshow Option for Photos in Clips Widget
This is a Hoop.la-only feature. If you have a photos-only Clips widget, you can now display the photos as a slideshow in the widget.
To utilize this new option, create or edit a Clips widget and make sure you limit the "Clip Type" to "Photos" only. Then, choose the "Slideshow" option under "Style". You can optionally autoplay the slideshow in these settings as well. See the widget edit example below.
2. Unified Posting Button on Home Page
This is a Hoop.la-only feature. On the Hoop.la "home" page, we've added a new "Post Content" button on the top right so your members can create content immediately, without having to go to a specific content module first. On click of that button, the member will be presented with a list of all possible content types that they are permitted to post. (For instance, if they are not permitted to make blog posts, they will not see that option.)
3. Disable Community Rank Option
Some sites prefer not to display any kind of rank for their members. Previously, you could use custom CSS to hide most of the visible components of community rank on your site, but now we have a one-click setting (in the Member Settings section of your Admin Control Panel) that allows admins to completely remove all references to Community Rank.
4. Admins Can Now Register Members
Admins can now register members themselves. This does not replace normal member registration, but it provides a means for admins to register on behalf of others. This option is available as a submenu item in the Manage Members control panel and is also an option (that only admins can see) on the Members Directory.
5. Alternate Clips Interface and Control Over Supported Clip Types
This is a Hoop.la-only feature. Sites that use clips for documents more than photos and videos, may want to utilize the new "Simple Rows" format for displaying clips on the Clips page. This is a more simplified interface than our default "swatches" interface.
Here's what the "Clip Swatch" interface looks like:
And here is what the new "Simple Rows" interface looks like by comparison:
You can control this format on the Clips control panel page (Admin Control Panel > Modules > Clips). In addition, and on the same control panel page, you can also now determine exactly which types of clips you want to support on your site.
For example, if you don't want any photo clips, now you can simply disable that clip type so that no photos will be displayed or accepted.
6. Improved Tag Details Page
Previously, when you clicked on a tag link, you were taken to a complicated page that displayed the content associated with that tag in segregated boxes that differentiated by content type. We've vastly simplified that interface now and made it part of our "Search" page. This is also gives you a lot more control over drilling down through tag content.
7. Blog Quick Post Widget
This is a Hoop.la-only feature. We added a new standard widget: Blog Quick Post. This is nothing more than a simple way to quickly post to a blog as a short-form blog entry (with no title).
Note that as part of this we also refined our BlogEntries widget so that can you specify which kinds of blog posts you want to showcase (regular blog posts, short-form blog posts, and tweets).
8. Admins Can Place Members Into Groups Via Manage Members CP
If you have enabled groups for your account, your main site admins can now add or remove members to/from specific groups via the Manage Members admin control panel.
9. Theme Editor Improvement
Previously, the custom CSS and custom HEAD code fields for a theme were found inside the "Page Shell" section of the theme. That didn't make a whole lot of sense, so we've split the old "Page Shell" section into two new sections that are better named- "Custom CSS/HEAD Code" and "Page Background", as shown below.
10. Support for custom widgets and custom pages in Groups
This feature is for Hoop.la and UBB Forum sites only. Groups can now have custom widgets and custom pages.
As with most releases, there were numerous other small minor improvements and bug fixes in this software update.
If you’re using Hoop.la or UBB Forum, you have a lot of available space to run ads in your community. We don’t recommend running amok, since that will drive away your members; however, you might want to serve ads that contain relevant products and services.
Here are three quick ideas for ad products you can include on your community site.
It’s quick to sign up, and the requirements are minimal. Just be aware that they can decide to remove you from the program at any time, for any reason, and they may not even tell you why you were removed. Read their Terms of Service carefully.
For any of these services, all you need to do is copy the ad code they give you, and paste it within a designated ad widget, a custom widget, or the header/footer area of your site.
Sell Sponsored Links or Sponsor Slots
If you have a thriving niche community site going, you are like shiny gold to a potential sponsor. Create a “sponsor info” page on your site, and specify your terms. You’ll want to include dimensions for graphic ads, a timeframe for the ad to run, and any restrictions on the type of ads you want to run.
You can also use the standard “links” widget to run sponsored links easily. Just be sure you are transparent about sponsored/paid content or links on your site. Your members’ trust is a finite resource.
Amazon Affiliate Ads
Another very simple way to earn revenue at the same time you provide a service to your members is to run Amazon affiliate ads (https://affiliate-program.amaz...in/landing/main.html). This code can also be placed in a custom widget, and it will analyze the content of the page to serve relevant products, or you can specify exactly which items you want to promote.
With all of these ideas, you will definitely want to let your members know up-front that they are advertising.
Are you using any of these services? Did we miss any good ones that you'd recommend?
Hoop.la, UBB Forum, and QuestionShark have always had an API available to support custom integrations, but we've recently just released a completely revamped version of the API with comprehensive, public documentation.
Hoop.la's API conforms to the commonly used REST architecture. REST enables developers to easily integrate with the API via basic HTTP requests. All REST API requests use a structured JSON response, which makes it very easy to parse and extract information from the response. Additionally, as is traditionally supported in a REST architecture, the response status code can be inspected to determine if a given request was successful or not.
The REST API supports all of the basic end-user functionality including Activity Stream, Blog, UBB Forum, Calendar, Clips, Chat Rooms/Events, QuestionShark, Groups, and Portfolios. There are also some basic administrative API commands available.
If you are interested in enabling the REST API on your plan or have suggestions for additional API features, please let us know on our support community.
Here are the links to the REST API documentation for each of our different products:
Today, we rolled out an improved file uploader for Hoop.la, UBB Forum, and QuestionShark that removes a previous dependency on Flash. Now, no matter how you upload files, you will not be required to have Flash installed.
Because iPad users do not use our mobile interface (which had its own, non-Flash uploader already), they were not able to attach any files because the iPad does not support Flash. That problem is now solved and iPad users can now attach/upload photos and videos from their devices.
Hoop.la sites have a brand new feature for chat rooms and events, a chat pause button. Your users can use this to pause the flow of new posts to the chat room or event window. This is especially useful for very active chats where things can sometimes fly by too quickly.
Note that hitting pause does not prevent others from posting. It simply pauses new posts from appearing on your own screen.
You can also of course, reverse things by "unpausing".
Also note that if you hit the pause button you can still post, but when you post we will unpause things (otherwise, you might wonder if you really posted or not).
We've also made one other improvement to the chat screen, unrelated to the new pause button. If you scroll up, we will lock the window in place for you until you scroll back down to the bottom. Previously, you would be taken down to the bottom whenever there was a new post. This will make for a less jarring experience.