For the people who are responsible for building and configuring a community, the Community Admin is a very important place. Want to change the number of tags in a Tag Cloud or the number of posts required for a new rank? You can do it in the Community Admin. Want to rearrange your discussions, give users’ kudos more clout, or show more images on an album page? Those settings and 800 or so of their closest friends are in the Community Admin, too.
If you’ve been a Lithium customer for more than 20 minutes, you’ve had occasion to visit the old Community Admin. It was, shall we say, a wee bit clunky and awkward, with an interface only a mother could love. It was also the product (victim) of evolution, having grown organically with the Lithium Community Platform over the course of many years. As features were added, we bolted on new Admin pages, tossed more permissions into the list, and tucked a few more layout settings onto pages that were already scroll-athons.
The changes in the Community Admin described in the pages that follow fall into these rough categories:
Page layout and organization
Scope of settings
Page layout and organization
The most obvious change to the Community Admin is the layout of the pages and the organization of settings. For starters, the Community Admin is no longer the ugly step-child of the community. The Admin now sports the same attractive, easy-to-read page layout as Studio. Even though you don’t typically visit the Community Admin to admire the view, it’s a relief that the pages are no longer cringe-worthy.
Even more striking (and potentially unsettling) is the degree to which we’ve reorganized all of the Community Admin settings. We started with the premise that similar and related settings should be grouped together in a more task-based approach. The result is a set of nine logical sections, each of which contain pages chock-full of groups of related settings. For really complicated features (you know who you are, Twitter and Facebook), we've further divided pages into tabs so that you don't have to slog through all the other Twitter stuff to get to the Twitter badge settings.
A good way to familiarize yourself with the organization of settings in the New Community Admin is to simply start clicking around. Faster still is the new Search feature you can use to locate settings. The Community Admin search works the same as it does elsewhere in the community. You start typing a search term and the system presents suggested a bunch of matches. Search spans the setting title and any description or help text.
Reminder: Both the Community Admin and the New Community Admin are fully functional. You can use either one to make configuration changes in your community. New features, such as Social Support Manager Moderation can only be configured using the New Community Admin.
Scope of settings
As was true in the old Community Admin, you can choose options and settings at various levels in the community. You might want to set some options one way for the community as a whole and another way for specific discussions.
The new Community Admin has simplified both choosing where you want to set options and determining where you are at any given time. A color-coded area in the upper left corner of the page shows you which section of the community your settings affect.
Blue indicates the community as a whole
Peach is for categories
Violet is for discussions
One of the coolest things about the New Community Admin is the clever way you can flit around from the community level to individual discussions and back again. The system keeps track of where you are and applies the settings accordingly.
The pages for setting permissions was a bear. The more features we added, the more it growled under the weight of still more permission settings. In the New Community Admin, inheritance still works the same way (permissions for discussions, for example, inherit the settings from the category where they're located; and the category inherits the defaults from a higher level category or the community-wide settings).
What's changed, however, is the way you find the permissions you want to set. No more scrolling until the cows come home. Instead, the permissions are organized into sections that you can open and close. You can quickly scan the list to find the section you want and hey! presto! you're finished.
This is another facet of the New Community Admin that you will quickly come to adore. Remember the old wordy tabular Boards and Categories page? It's gone. In its place is a seriously handsome, easy-to-navigate tree hierarchy that works just like your typical file and folder browser. No more plowing through umpteen lines of text to see what each category contains. Instead, cute little icons show you how many of each type of discussion are in each category.
And best of all, you can add or remove categories and discussions right in the tree! It's enough to spark a whole new building boom (just remember the golden rules of community health and liveliness before you toss in too many new discussions).
As the author of many of the settings descriptions and FAQs, I have a lot to answer for, including the dogged consistency that had me tearing my hair out to find some way to reword Turn on kudos so that it provided meaningful help. As part of the New Community Admin project, we decided to invest in making the settings as clear and descriptive as possible and to ditch the help that wasn't remotely helpful. As a result, observant or aesthetically inclined users will immediately notice the absence of those attractive little question marks that littered the landscape in the old Admin. What you'll find instead is help text that appears when you click a setting. Click another setting and the help text goes away. Be sure to let us know if it's not working for you (there's a link at the bottom of the page to a discussion devoted to the New Community Admin).
We've also made some improvements in the online help, which you can now access using the HELP link at the top of each page! Look for some serious changes to the Admin FAQ pages over the course of the next two releases.
Which brings us to the remaining source of information about the New Community Admin: the Lithosphere! Right here in your own community there's a Documentation TKB that's the repository for all our formal product documentation as well as sundry other TKBs that are also loaded with good information.
As I mentioned in the 9.17 release notes post, we know there's still room for improvement in the Community Admin, so don't be shy about giving us feedback.
You can find more information about the New Community Admin in this Documentation TKB article and in the PDF guide that's attached to it (it has lots of pictures).
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In a previous post we introduced the new spreadsheet that is becoming part of our standard new release information. Starting with the 9.9 release, we're attaching a spreadsheet that lists all new and revised terminology to the release notes blog article.
This article will attempt to fill in some of the "now what?" blanks. First, who should read this article. The answer is pretty much everyone. If you have custom text, you'll want to know how to make new terminology match your existing terms. Ditto for communities that have versions for multiple languages. And even if neither applies to you, you might just be interested in how all this word magic happens. All will be revealed!
Next, a bit about the spreadsheet. The first thing you'll notice when you pop it open, is that it's, um, shall we say not the prettiest thing you've ever seen. It's generated automatically by tools that have no aesthetic sensibilities. It's just tab after tab of text strings (those are the words and phrases that appear on community pages). For each language, you'll see the name of the new or revised text keys (the key name is how the program knows what key to display) and the old and new values for the key. The key value is the part that you see in the community. In languages other than English, you'll also see the English value for the key for reference purposes.
What to do
If you've done any customization or language updates in the past, you're probably familiar with the idea of sending us a spreadsheet with your change requests. For the next few months (until we can offer you a more direct way to make changes yourself), the process remains the same. Only the spreadsheet is different.
Here's what you do:
Review the new and revised text for the languages you're interested in.
If you want to use alternate text, add a column all the way over on the right and enter the new text on the appropriate line.
Contact your CSM or open a case and send us the spreadsheet.
We'll review your changes and get back to you with any questions and to coordinate implementation.
That's all there is to it.
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As many of you know, we provide language support for communities all around the world. In all, we provide translated strings in 17 languages in addition to English.
For the uninitiated, strings are what we call the bits of text -- words, phrases, buttons, commands, menus, and help text, for example -- that appear on community pages. With a few exceptions (and their numbers are shrinking) every word you see on a page lives in a string in one of our string files. Those of you who have changed the terminology in your communities, either in English or other languages, have your own custom string files as well.
You might be interested to know that we have somewhere in the neighborhood of 19,000 strings divided across close to a dozen files. Things like that happen when you have a product with as many features and as much history as ours. Part of my job here at Lithium is to ride herd on the English strings and make them as meaningful and useful as I can. All of the other languages are the province of our globalization manager, ElsebethF.
The reason for this post is provide information about the new policies and commitments we're putting into place for Elsebeth's 17 languages. Some of them will delight you (we hope).
First, the question we're asked most often: When will the translated version be available? The answer is 1 week after the GA date of the English release. This means that depending on our upgrade schedule, you will see translations available within days of being upgraded to a new release.
Notice we said GA. That's important. We don't translate strings for features that are still in the Beta program; we only start translating strings for features once they are formally released.
Something else we plan to do this week is make a complete list of all new and revised strings available for your review as part of the release notes for each release, starting with 9.9. It will be in the form of a spreadsheet attached to the release notes blog post. But wait, you say, the 9.9 release notes have already been published. And you're right. We're working the kinks out of producing the list right now and expect to have it posted on the 9.9 release notes within a day or two. Check back in a couple of days.
Update: The list of changes in the 9.9 release are posted here! The zip file attached to that post contains a spreadsheet that lists every single change in every language we support. Enjoy! For future releases, expect to see a similar spreadsheet attached to the blog articles that announces new features for the release.
So you have the list. What's next? For the moment, we'd like you to review it and use the Customer Portal (or your normal process) for making change requests. Soon, you'll be able to take care of these changes yourself. Which brings me to the other thing that's truly exciting (at least I think so): the tool we're developing that will allow you to edit your strings yourself. We gave a glimpse of our inline text editing feature, PACE, at the user conference, and are planning to make it available in the next 3 months. At that time, you will be able to edit strings not only in English, but also in any other language used in your community. Stay tuned!
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