I am stunned to learn that it is exactly four months since we wrote Kick-Starting Version 4.1 and therefore high time for a follow up and update on progress. We had to take our eye off the ball for a few weeks because the WordPress team made some substantial engine changes to WP version 2.8 which resulted in our 4.0.3 update which, at this time, is available in beta and will drop pretty soon (when WP 2.8 releases).
Having said that, work on Simple:Press Forum 4.1 never stopped and here are just a few of the things that have made the cut so far. So – on top of topic titles being included in searches and our new auto-subscription feature some of the major items our users can expect to see include:
- A new, replacement uploader. Long overdue, the new uploader will work for images, videos and other media as well as other file types – all configurable by the admin. There is also an option for each member who is permitted to upload to have their own, personal folder. The uploader has a decent browser and can handle multiple files.
- Topic Tags. Tag new topics with… well… tags! We have auto-suggest, tag management and tag searching as well as a related topics dropdown based on the current topic tags.
- Sub-forums. Yes, we have been talking about them for a long time and they have been a frequent request and finally they will make their debut.
- Support for WP Roles. To help ease the management of user and their membership in spf user groups, 4.1 will now support auto user group assignment based on their WP Role. Give an existing or new user a new WP Role and he can be auto moved into a corresponding user group. This new feature fully works with the Role Manager plugin and other role modifying plugins that use the standard WP interfaces. This has been called a must have feature by many users. It’s in 4.1!
- Storage Location Configurator. That’s an awful title for something that sounds very dull but can actually be a great aid to performance and organization. With 4.1, you will be able to store a lot of the forum items such as skins and icon sets, hooks and custom code, outside of the plugins folder down in wp-content. This can also become the home of avatars, smileys and the new forum user badges as well as uploads you may allow your users to make.
- Forum Slugs. We have made some changes and improvements to the creation of ‘slugs’ which should aid our non-English speaking users – although to be honest, we have a lot of testing left to do to make sure all is well.
- Admin Redesign and Restructure. The entire set of admin pages – already surely one of the prettiest in the WP world! – have undergone a complete overhaul and rewrite with heavy emphasis on Ajax and only loading what is necessary.
- Special Forum Ranks. Joining the already existing forum ranks (based on post count) will be the new special forum ranks. Special ranks allow you to assign custom ranks to any user and is not based on post count. Want a special rank that matches the User Group? Done! Want special ranks for donators or paid members? Special ranks will allow that!
- Forum Badges. With the new forum badges, you can now assign a unique badge (ie graphic image) to each forum rank and special rank. The user’s badge will display in the userinfo area.
- Improved User Management. This will be welcomed by those users with large memberships – quicker and easier user group and forum rank assignments – and no more long, long waits for the data to save!
- Spoilers. We have had quite a few requests for handling ‘spoilers’ and think we have come up with a neat solution
- Print a Post. Ever wanted to print out the content of a post? Well, we know some of you have as we have been asked for it. Just a click on the new print icon!
- More Display Options. It sometimes feels like every user would like to hide something different from the display. Well we have tried to cover as much as we can think of that can now be turned off.
- Meta Description Tags for Forums and Topics. Another often asked for feature, meta tags and keyword descriptions will make their appearance in 4.1. As is customary with Simple:Press Forum, you have multiple options on how to configure the meta description. You can have a fixed meta description, have it based on the forum name or even the topic name. You can also customize the meta keywords or, if using the new tags feature, have the meta keywords based on the tags for a topic.
- Block Admin Pages. It’s a common complaint against WP that after registration or login, users are dumped into the admin pages (profile and dashboard) to be confused! This has given rise to many plugins to plug the hole and now we have built the feature into SPF.
- Profile Overhaul. The user profile is getting a complete overhaul. There will be more configuration options as to what fields are available and now the admins will have access to the fields. We have added some additional custom profile field types too. This one is still in development, but looks promising and often requested!
There is much more of course. In particular, a LOT of code and query optimizations have taken place and continues to be implemented. The speed improvement should be quite noticeable. A lot of small problems have also been corrected. And there are still some more big-ticket items in the planning stage.
As always, you can check out the other features and our current status on V4.1 by viewing our mantis bug tracker 4.1 page.
We look forward to getting this feature laden release out to our users this Summer!
Andy (Yellow Swordfish) and Steve (Mr Papa)
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