JomSocial 2.6, a global overview of features
The most awaited JomSocial 2.6 has been released. This newest iteration has gone through almost 4 months of Alpha, Beta and RC (Release Candidate) testing phases. The first official Alpha was released on the first week of 2012 and has gone through 10 releases to break our record of having the longest ever beta tasting phase in any JomSocial version. It is also in a very wide margin, the most downloaded JomSocial ever with over 11,000 cumulative downloads during its testing phase.
We are confident, yes we are, that JomSocial 2.6 is now ready for public consumption. It will take your community to new heights, with a number of highly interactive, yet scalable features at your disposal.
Let us put JomSocial 2.6 on the operating table and peek at what it has to offer. [View the official changelog]
#1. Major notifications improvements
JomSocial 2.6 continues what JomSocial 2.2 has started, and JomSocial 2.4 has left off. Notification improvement has been worked on for quite a while as we realize that such a feature can not be designed overnight. While it seems such a trivial and straightforward feature (thanks to Facebook for making it looks so obvious), in development terms, it is quite frankly a momentous task.
Here is why. JomSocial is a community platform that can easily be deployed on any kind of server or webhosting as long as it supports Joomla, the glorious CMS that powers JomSocial. It is advantageous for us in a lot of aspects, but a dichotomy appears when we put performance into the equation. Any unconsidered, or unplanned, or rushed implementation of internal notification improvements can easily push resource usage beyond the boundary of acceptable limits on any shared hosting. As we do not own your hosting environment, nor do we know the kind of data usage that your site is exposed to, this is definitely a pivotal issue.
A not-so-popular decision was made roughly a year ago to design the notification improvement in phases. This had to be done as it would provide us with ample time to study its behavior (performance in this case) as the complexity of the feature grows.
We are glad the path was chosen, and be able to present you with the notifications pinnacle (for now) in JomSocial 2.6. As a measure to minimize performance bottleneck, we will only store user's notification items for only 20 days (which is configurable at the backend).
To be consistent with this feature, we have merge Preference, Privacy, Email and Notifications area into one unified page.
#2. Recurring Events
Designed in with performance in mind, Recurring events allow you to specify recurrence of an event, which in current stage supports daily, weekly and monthly repetitions creating a series of events.
To balance feature and speed, we come up with three rules on creation of recurring events.
a. Recurring event can only be created up to a year from the date of creation. A daily recurring event can have up to 60 repetitions, a weekly recurring event can have 52 repetitions, and a monthly recurrence can have up to 12 repetitions.
b. Modifying an event that is part of a recurring series will not modify past events in the series.
c. Event participants are not automatically part of other events within the same series.
#3. Document sharing in groups
We are slowly shifting our focus from creating independent, conspicuous feature into a more versatile and tightly integrated cluster of smart tools that improve upon existing features in JomSocial. Our experience over the past few years has taught us that some features in JomSocial tend to be the end of users journey in the community, as the features are simply a dead road. Starting with JomSocial 2.2, newer features are designed to assimilate with existing features that users are already familiar with.
The result of the new self-imposed constraint is the modular, future-proof file upload capability that see its way into JomSocial 2.6's group discussion feature. We specifically design the group file upload as part of discussion enhancements to bring a breath of fresh air into the discussion area. Coupled with our much improved notifications feature, we are almost certain that JomSocial 2.6 will generate a lot more activities in your social group. Why? Because upon submission of new file into a discussion, JomSocial will notify discussion participants about the new file, not to mention notifications for new replies in the discussion. Neat huh?
On the group page itself, users will be able to get a quick overview of all files in the discussion which will be sorted by download count, and followed by file types (Documents, Archive, Images, Audio&Video, and Other). As shown in the above picture, you can easily search for relevant files because the search engine is powered by Ajax. ;)
Permissible file types can be configured by modifying Joomla Global Configuration. Oh, have we told you that we support file storage onto Amazon S3?
#4. Much improved content distribution
Another on-going improvement that has been initiated in JomSocial 2.2 and found its way into JomSocial 2.6 is de-centralization of information to allow users to browse interesting pages casually without having jump over barriers. We eliminate non-sensical actions that prevent users from going straight to the content and participate in the social environment. This concept is well elaborated in our old blog here. With this in mind, we carefully implement a myriad of new design lingo to facilitate content discovery.
What do we hope from all these? Well, with JomSocial 2.6, your users are likely to spend more time on your site given the holistic integration of notifications and content discovery techniques across the board. Read more about increasing user loyalty with JomSocial 2.6 here.
#5. New My Group Updates view
Consistent with our endeavor to improve user loyalty, improved notifications, and less information barrier, we have implemented a new area that would allow your users to get a mashup of all updates within their participated groups. This feature was originally scheduled for JomSocial 2.4, but had to be moved to JomSocial 2.6 to fine tune it better (Im kidding, the real reason was we did not have much time to properly test this area back then).
#6. Video user-tagging
You may now tag your friends inside a particular video. (Your friends will get notified, of course).
#7. Support for popular template overrides
We have updated JA Social, GK Music, GK TWN2, RT Affinity, and RT Tachyon templates given their popularity and special support for JomSocial. We have pushed these templates to respective developers. Kindly consult your template developer for an updated version of these templates. Update for GK Musicity is underway as we speak.
Update: Rockettheme has release JomSocial 2.6 compatible update for Affinity and Tachyon
#8. Compatibility with YooTheme Warp templates, Zoo and WidgetKit tools
As elaborated in our earlier blog post, JomSocial 2.6 now properly support all YooTheme Warp templates, its Zoo extension and the funky WidgetKit tools.
#9. New module, mod_notify, and two updated modules
It would be such a waste to let all the work and time spent into notification improvement is let unnoticed whenever a user visit a non-JomSocial page. This time, we have packaged a simple yet important module, mod_notify which would allow you to put JomSocial's notification bubbles in all Joomla pages. Mod_hellome has been updated to include the notification bubbles, and we have also updated mod_latestevents for more flexibility in filtering events based on group and category ids.
#10. Two new applications
To complement the new video tagging feature, we have added two new applications. plg_myvideos will show user's videos in his profile while plg_mytaggedvideos will list his tagged videos.
Official JomSocial 2.6 Changelog (575 items)