What's New in InstantForum 2013
Our goal for InstantForum 2013 was to deliver a bevy of new features, enhancements and performance improvements designed to offer a delightful, compelling desktop & mobile social experience for your customer community.
Community, Incredibly Mobile
We want to offer a compelling and beautiful community experience for mobile users. To achieve this goal we've created a completely new mobile skin for our 2013 release.
We took a mobile first approach whilst wire framing and developing our new mobile skin and we hope this shows in the simplicity we’ve achieved within the UI.
We feel the new mobile skin is a significant improvement over the previous mobile experience offered in our 2012 release and we hope you will agree.
Take a minute to make up your own mind using the demo to the right.
- Native UI theme on iOS & Android
- Built upon the jQuery mobile framework
- Incredibly touch friendly
- Gesture support (swipe to close)
- Detects the latest mobile & tablet devices
Works great on...
To support the broadest range of devices and provide a great touch experience we opted to build the new mobile skin upon the jQuery Mobile framework.
Post & Share Photos or Videos, On the Go
This was one of the most requested features since we introduced the mobile skin back in 2012. With 2013 we've now added the option to add images or videos to posts. You can browse for images on your mobile device or take a photo / video on your mobile device and embed this right into posts.
Easily create, share & download themes for your community.
We've introduced a new theme roller allowing you to visually customize in real-time over 160 visual properties to create a completely unique visual theme that perfectly suites your community.
If you're not the creative type you can browse through our growing collection of themes others have created through our new theme marketplace embedded directly into InstantForum.
New Theme Browser
Our new theme roller is completely real-time meaning you will see your changes reflected immediately on the page below the theme roller as you make changes. Once you are happy with your changes you can save the theme locally to use throughout your community or share your theme with others via the new theme marketplace.
- Over 35 high quality themes at release
- Browse & preview themes without leaving your community
- Download & customize existing themes in a few clicks
- Themes work across all desktop skins
- Single click theme installation
New Theme Roller
Our new theme roller is completely real-time meaning you will see your changes reflected immediately on the page below the theme roller. Once you are happy with your changes you can save the theme locally to use throughout your community or choose to share your theme with others via the new InstantASP marketplace.
- Visual theme roller (no code editing)
- Easily add your brand logo
- Change colours to match your brand
- See theme changes in real-time
- Adjust over 160 visual elements
- Easily add background images
- Adjust gradients, opacities & textures
- Change text & link fonts, colors & sizes
- Share your theme within the new theme marketplace
- Outputs native CSS3 (for manual editing)
Responsive, Fluid Design
To help you get around on mobile devices whilst using our traditional desktop skin we’ve added a number of responsive design improvements. These improvements will ensure content flows appropriately and looks great on any screen size.
Our 2013 release provides a highly optimized experience for smaller screens with our desktop skin. Highlights include...
- CSS3 media queries are now used to provide a responsive design
- Navigation is moved to a touch friendly button for smaller screens
- Images will scale correctly to fit on smaller tablet or mobile screens
- Recent activity & other panels that include member photos will now reflow
Complete C# Migration
InstantForum is now written 100% in C# and of course supports the latest Visual Studio 2012 & 2013 IDEs.
We also took this opportunity to refactor and modernize many areas of our source code. Some improvements include…
- Migrated entire code base to C#
- New Inversion of Control (IoC) container
- New Data Access Layer (DAL) based on PetaPoco
- New support for LINQ on all object collections
- Cleaner JSON web services API
- Improved .NET API
- Reduced FQN references (better readability)
- Visual Studio 2012 / 2013 ready
Many of the core services within InstantForum now implement the provider model design pattern developed by Microsoft. The goal here is to make our software more extensible in preparation for offering additional providers via the InstantASP marketplace.
Font Awesome Icons
InstantForum now uses the Font Awesome icon library. This improves performance and provides a nice set of consistent, retina friendly vector icons. This also means you can now customize the colour of icons via the new theme roller.
Site layout is now managed exclusively through the single master page file found within the root of each InstantForum skin. No need to edit multiple files making it much easier to customize the layout & design of your community.
Enhanced Security & Encryption
We’ve added a number of new password hashing algorhythms into InstantForum to ensure your user’s data always remains secure.
- MD5, SHA1, SHA256, SHA384 & SHA512 password hashing support
- Passwords are now salted with a cryptographically safe salt
We’ve also stream-lined our password retrieval process to accommodate for the hashing options. Users must now reset account passwords and they cannot be retrieved via email.
We’ve improved several areas of our rich text editor used to compose messages within InstantForum.
The main highlights include improved cross-browser support when adding links, images or wrapping IFCode around text. The editor is also completely customizable through the new theme roller. This includes the toolbars, toolbar icons, menus & model pop-ups within the editor. Other improvements include...
- Improved inline AJAX spell checker
- New color pickers for text formatting
- Improved insert link, video & image dialogs
- Improved cut and paste support from Word
- New HTML5 Video support
- Improved cross browser support
- Customizable using the new theme roller
Social Sign In
You can now convert oAuth accounts to local InstantForum accounts. oAuth users can now optionally provide a email address and password to create a local account. Once you create a local account you can still login using your oAuth provider or if you stop using your oAuth provider (you delete your Facebook or Twitter accounts) you can still login using your local credentials.
Username is now Required
If we are not able to automatically obtain a username from a 3rd party oAuth provider we will no longer show “Unknown (Google)” or “Unknown (AOL)”. Users are now required to provide a unique local username when logging in via oAuth if we cannot automatically obtain the username or if the username is taken.
We’ve improved the 3rd party oAuth login controls to allow you to easily embed these on your own pages or within other pages within your community. We’ve also made it much easier to update our social login feature out of band as the 3rd party oAuth APIs continue to evolve.
Lighting Quick Performance
Probably the most exciting performance improvement from our perspective is the new compile time client side script bundling and minification.
- Complete move to generic collections
- Object lifecycles are now managed through the new IoC container
- Eliminated boxing & un-boxing issues throughout code
- Optimized skinning system to prevent traversal through control collection
- Added support for output caching to dynamically loaded skin controls
- Moved to “foreach” not “for” loops for small gain with newer .NET versions
- Reduced mark-up required for many common controls
- Fewer requests per page due to the use of the Font Awesome icon library
- A standardized set of optimized images to provide gradient effects
- Theme images use the new HTML 5 Data URI scheme to reduce requests
We continue to embrace the latest .NET framework to offer a rock solid, modern code-base. Our InstantForum 2013 release now moves exclusively to .NET 4.0 or later. We no longer target 3.5.
SQL Server 2012
We are delighted to announce official support for the latest release of SQL Server from Microsoft. InstantForum 2013 now works great with SQL Server 2005, 2008 or 2012 including express editions.
InstantForum 2013 works great on Windows Azure web sites or Virtual Machines. You can also use InstantForum in the more scalable cloud services environment with minimal configuration.
No need for IIS
We've removed the dependency on IIS for local development. This makes our code more portable and greatly eases deployment into your development environments.
Complete Cross Browser Support (event the old ones)
Whilst InstantForum takes advantage of the latest HTML 5 & CSS 3 features we've also taken great care to ensure InstantForum 2013 works great in older browsers that don't support the new HTML 5 & CSS 3 mark-up.
InstantForum 2013 has been tested on and supports the following web & mobile browsers....
- Internet Explorer 7, 8, 9, 10 & 11 Preview
- Chrome 25, 26, 27, 28 & 29
- FireFox 20, 21, 22, 23
- Safari 5.1 & 6
- Opera v11 to v18
- Mobile Safari (iOS 5, iOS 5.1, iOS 6 & iOS 7)
- Chrome (all versions of Android)
- IE10 for Windows Phone 8
- Firefox for Android (v1 to v24)
- Mobile Opera (for both iOS and Android)
And so much more...
Other notable improvements
- New modern HTML5 desktop skin
- New database view state management
- New optional SQL cache dependency provider
- New support for Vimeo video embeds in posts
- New support for syntax highlighting for code blocks in posts
- New Google Maps API v3.0 Integration
- New client side form validation feedback
- New Bulk Move & Achieving options
- Google Maps on Who’s On page showing visitor locations
- New share bar at the bottom of every topic page
- New custom InstantASP ASP.NET membership provider
- New single click "Subscribe to all forums" option
- New Explore menu within the main navigation
- New friendly client side error handling for all AJAX requests
- Improved the layout and usability of the like, share and post information pop-ups
- Removed dependency on IIS for working with InstantForum in visual Studio<
General bug fixes & minor improvements
We’ve also fixed a whole bunch of bugs & little frustrating issues in this release.
We’ve listened closely to our customers and tried to address all the top issues reported since our previous release. These fixes & improvements include...
- Marking a post as an answer will now automatically highlight the post (no need to refresh)
- Each recurring event has it's own start and end date - no longer inherits from master event date
- Liking posts will now update the like count shown on the like button correctly
- Wrapping IFCode around text or using the remove formatting option will no longer cause the selected text to move onto 1 line
- You should now be able to place your cursor correctly at the end of very long posts within the rich text editor
- Remove formatting within the rich text editor will produce better results with word documents
- Line spacing should now be consistent when posting within the rich text editor regardless of browser
- Fixed issue that caused an ASP.NET exception with the post preview web service
- Fixed issue that allowed you to move a category to a child forum
- If you accidentally convert a forum to a category you can now convert it back
- Fixed issue that prevented you from deleting tags with specific characters
- Additional server side input validation for all key required fields