This is a major Affino release with hundreds of great new features and updates. There are four transforming aspects of this release: Deep Social Integration with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn; major performance improvements; extensive evolution for real-world use cases; and the reworked Affino Media Libraries.
We have transformed what it is to have an Affino User Account so that Affino users can now be authenticated by the three leading social networks, which allows for seamless integration between Affino and the networks. It means that users’ online identities can be used to populate and update their Affino profiles.
Many Affino sites are growing rapidly and Affino has been optimised to be up to 800% more efficient in real-world scenarios with this release. Targeted optimisation and dozens of scalability fixes make Affino 6.0.4 far more robust than any previous Affino release.
Other key enhancements are the updated Forums, which have been greatly refined in this release to be more user centric, and a greatly improved Application Bar which has a new Commerce panel and improved usability and options on the other panels.
Affino is now far more capable of real-world commercial, media and community scenarios with hundreds of enhancements and fixes for real-world user cases. We look forward to seeing Affino communities accelerate their development and for all Affino sites to become more engaging and entertaining.
It is essential that you do not update to Affino 6.0.4 without confirming with Comrz support or your account manager beforehand.
This is a major Affino release, and as such you should check with the Comrz team to ensure that it is safe to update your site. This roll-out will be an incremental one with sites under development updating first, followed by the social and promotional sites, and finally transactional sites.
It is recommended that you run through the complete update process starting with the Affino Updater, followed by the System Update, Re-Initialise Site, Design Element Update and Skin Update.
In the age where the majority of users already have their identities on the leading social portals it is essential that Affino user accounts can be tied seamlessly into the social fabric of the web, and in this release we’ve done just that.
Affino now has multiple user account types and connects with the key social and commercial communities. Previously it was only possible to have full Affino accounts where the email address was the key identifier, now Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn accounts are just as valid.
By embracing social user accounts we enable much deeper integration into the social platforms in an age where increasingly communication is moving away from email and into newsfeeds and micro-blogs.
Affino also introduces powerful mechanisms which encourage users to fill out their profiles, the key ones being Conversion Events and the new Completion Profile (see below). These help drive deeper user engagement and help members to rise up the customer ladder.
Affino now integrates with LinkedIn for the first time. Users can now populate almost their entire Affino profile from LinkedIn including all professional and educational details available in LinkedIn. Users can also use LinkedIn for authentication, micro-blogging, promoting their blog posts.
Register via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn
Affino registration has been rewritten from the ground up to allow users to register via their Facebook / Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. This pre-populates their registration details as far as Affino is able to get the information from the social connector and it also joins their Affino account with the social platform.
The key benefits are that users have some or indeed most of their registration details pre-filled. Their profiles are also connected directly to the sites so that they can seamlessly share content.
Login / Authentication with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn
Affino users can now be authenticated by the leading social networks; this means that with just two clicks users can become members, no need to register. It means that communities can grow much faster and users can participate in discussions more easily.
This is also an essential milestone for Affino Facebook apps since it means that Affino can be used to drive Facebook apps for the first time.
Update Profile with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn info
Users can now update their profile information by pulling in the latest details from their social profiles. Two clicks will join accounts and pull in the latest details.
A great usage case scenario is that you can import a 10,000 member newsletter list, send out an invite to join the community, users can then simply click to join and all their profiles will be populated with profile details, status updates and avatars.
Enhanced Customer Ladder
We’ve added lots of smarts to the Customer Ladder in the form of evolved Conversion Events and improved analytics. You can now graph any activity, e.g. the number of new connections being made between your users and the leading social networks.
You can also now create Conversion Events based around the size of member’s networks, e.g. a person registers and they have 500,000 Twitter followers then it can trigger an event which could send a special invite and alert the marketing team.
As a whole the Customer Ladder has become a great deal more capable in this release.
As of Affino 6.0 users have been able to do Guest comments by entering in their email address, equally users can be imported into mailing lists. Affino now has a ‘claim process’ in place whereby users can claim ownership of their comments when they register or update their profiles with their email address.
Up to 800% Performance Gains
Affino has a new caching engine which intelligently caches up to 10,000 pages for each site. These pages are the anonymous views for guest users and Bots. Affino will also pre-cache the 20 most popular pages on any site at any time so that users get instant delivery of those pages. This frees up computational resources massively and means that in real-world testing average page speeds have improved by up to 800%.
The continuous pre-caching of pages has the added benefit that little-used sites will be much more responsive as they don’t have to be loaded into the production cache, and are instead served in a matter of milliseconds.
There has been considerable targeted optimisation, whereby the Comrz team has analysed and optimised many of the elements in Affino which required the highest computational resources and in many cases these have completely removed or been optimised so they take up 20% or less of the resources they did previously.
Dozens of scaling errors have been fixed in this release which further improve performance by removing computational stress events, and make certain functions available on very large Affino sites. The rapid growth and growing traffic volumes on Affino sites mean Affino has to be continuously redesigned to scale to support ever larger sites.
The net effect of all these changes will be much faster Affino sites, with greatly reduced computational requirements, and greatly improved scalability. It is hard to stress just how significant these gains are, but they will be very clear on your sites.
The Media Library has been transformed in this release so that we now have optimised the experience on both the Control and Display sides. This makes for much more effective media management and transforms the ability to create engaging customer-facing Media Libraries.
Many elements have been completely re-styled and made more contemporary.
The Media Centre has been greatly refined to provide a much more usable experience for finding and managing media.
It is now possible to create custom interfaces for media libraries for the first time. It provides much more flexibility to media sites and allows for more effective monetization of media.
Two new media listings have been introduced: it is now possible to select any media section and turn it into a video wall; it is also possible to transform the section layout into a video listing.
Affino now supports CSV files as an official Media Library file format. This is especially important as these are used in most Affino imports and exports.
The forums have had dozens of updates in this release which are aimed at making them more social, engaging and simpler to use. A key change has been embracing Avatars throughout so that it is much easier now to see at-a-glance who’s participating in discussions.
Simple things like: tracking when threads were posted; how many discussions are going on; who’s moderating are all much easier to spot. All the screens have been refined, whether it is the thread listing, search, and entry forms or thread details. There is also a new paging format for more effective browsing of Threads.
Affino ‘bug’ forums can now be created with the advent of new Forum options which provide greater flexibility for how they can be used. It is also possible to have a formal ‘Reference URL’ field in each post.
It is now possible to tag Forum Threads; this allows one-click searches across a forum for all threads with the same tags.
The Application Bar has had some key updates in this release, the main one being the new eCommerce panel which gives great insight into the commercial aspects of each webpage. It is now possible to see all the essential information at a glance which was previously only possible through deep browsing of settings and attributes.
The Design Panel has had a major upgrade and now shows much more relevant information and gives you access to all key design attributes for each page. It also allows you to update all skins from a single click. The Text Item panel and Page Dashboard have also been further refined.
The net result is that you now have much better intelligence right on the page, which means faster diagnosis and actions.
Users will now be able to see at any stage how complete their profile is, and what the best action is for them to complete their profile further. This encourages users to fill out their details which in turn make for better community and improved targeting and analytics. This smart element is shown on members profiles and can be placed anywhere as a Design Element.
Accounts – greatly improved usability when managing accounts; improved styling and new ability to set Parent Accounts
Article Highlights DE v1 – new Design Element which can be used alongside any standard content listing to show Tags, Recent Articles, Latest Comments and Popular Articles. This replaces the previous Tag Cloud Design Element.
Artworks – improved and optimised layout of Artworks Media Library presentation
Blog Archive DE v3 – greatly improved Blog Archive Design Element which now goes way beyond simply showing previous Blog posts; now also shows Popular Blog posts, latest comments and latest comments on Blog posts in a nice tabbed interface; it also works for browsing Blogs at all levels including the main Blogs page
Checkout – the checkout pages now have thumbnails for the items
Comments and Ratings – no longer highlight when there are 0 comments on items, instead users are encouraged to comment; major optimisation of comment posting so that it now happens instantaneously
Community Manager – new External Info panel available for contact which shows all key information for connected users; main user panel also highlights the number of followers each member has, both on-site and with any connected social network
Conferences – Conferences have now been entirely removed from Affino. In the future we will be using a combination of Groups and the Affino Messenger to replicate the functionality offered by Conferences
Conversion Events – Conversion Event can now be triggered when a user reads a newsletter message; Conversion Event can now be triggered when a user exceeds a given number of followers, these are a total of all their followers both on-site and on their connected social networks
Design Centre – new larger previews of Design Objects and Skins for easier browsing; completely new Snapshot engine for greatly optimised image processing
Detailed Media Section DE – new Artworks layout which allows the framed presentation of media with a pop-up browser for a more detailed view
Detailed Standard Section DE – improved listing formatting
Dynamic Forms – improved search interface for Dynamic Messages from Dynamic Forms, now works in a more intuitive manner
Encrypted Passwords – all passwords in Affino are now encrypted. This means that all interfaces for editing passwords and the password reminder notifications have been updated and in effect modernised. This means greater security but also more care required by site owners
Google Base Integration – custom Google Base tracking code added to inbound URLs for 3rd party tracking and analysis
Incoming Feeds – optimised the default incoming feed settings so as to greatly improve and optimise incoming feed content
New News Article Templates – Affino now has dedicated News Article detail and listing templates; these allow greatly improved presentation of news articles
Online Forms – improved form layout
Ooyala Integration v2 – Affino now handles 3rd party Ooyala embeds, extracting and generating the relevant details and preview images
Order Processing – now track payment gateway status codes in orders when they have been returned by payment gateways. This greatly improves ecommerce managers’ ability to identify where their checkout process / orders are failing
Pending Users – it is now possible to instantly assign users to accounts from the Pending Users listing. If an account exists then users can be instantly assigned to the account; if it doesn’t then the account is automatically created and the user assigned to it
Public Profiles – restructured Main Tab to show the members’ content on the left and profile on the right; this will be further refined in future releases to present members’ newsfeeds on the left; new Profile Completion page element highlights how far you’ve gone to completing your profile; new Comments page element shows your latest comments; members can now enter their Twitter ID as a distinct element
Redirects – we’ve completely rewritten Redirects in Affino. They now work as 301 SEO Redirects so that when setting up a new site it is possible to simply import a list of the old ranking pages and repoint them to the new locations. This is a major enhancement for SEO delivery
Related Accessories – it is now possible to relate accessories as well as products, this improves the retail experience and increases conversion rates
Related Items – new vertical layout option for related media to improve presentation when using narrow right-hand column
Shopping Basket – new styling options and improved formatting for pop-up shopping basket
SoundCloud Integration v2 – greatly enhanced SoundCloud integration so that it is now possible to use SoundCloud files in the MP3 player. Members can now also upload SoundCloud files on their profile pages.
Spam Prevention – added hidden field to the newsletter sign-up to further prevent spam account creation on Affino now that Affino has Newsletter Accounts
Stand Alone MP3 Player DE – new ‘Mini Player’ mode to include small audio player in page designs
Standard Sections – improved the usability of Standard Sections by changing defaults to better map today’s norms
Tagging – tagging is now faster and more intuitive as users can simply click – tag – and enter to submit (two less steps)
Users – it is now possible to edit all user attributes from the main user editing screen
Video / MP3 Players – it is now possible to style the Buy Button on the media players to improve the visibility and ease purchasing of media items
Video Promotion Panel – new smart promotion panel which can promote related products and accessories when watching a video, e.g. if a viewer is watching a video on surfing they may be shown a surfboard and other surf gear in a panel below the video player. The panel is smart in that it can be set to only promote associated products once the video has been purchased.
VoicePay Integration – Affino now integrates with the VoicePay payment gateway
Articles – fixed issue which occurred when copying an article and then changing the section
Blog Highlights DE – now displays active links in the correct colour
Browse Menu DE – fixed the search so that it now displays the full results set reliably
Campaigns – fixed the issue whereby it was not possible to re-use Campaign Placement areas in a Design Object, i.e. move them; resolved issues which were causing Campaign Analytics to error out
Carousel DE – numerous formatting improvements which more gracefully handle different usage scenarios
Catalogue Item Attributes – major fixes done, now much more robust when handling complex scenarios; works reliably for inventory variations; works reliably for tick-box options
Catalogue Item Export – fixed issues which were causing the export to error out
Catalogue Item Import – numerous fixes to improve the integrity of catalogue imports
Channels – fixed issue with editing Group channels; resolved error when applying a Campaign Theme to a channel
Checkout – purchase notification now always send out the County / Region details, previously text entries were not being sent out; fixed issue which caused shipping not to update when changing addresses in Chrome; fixed issues which caused multi-page checkouts to error out; added new attribute so that it is possible to set a title to the Guidance Panel; fixed formatting on ‘delivery not required’ message
Comment and Rating Profile – fixed errors with creating and copying C & R Profiles
Comments and Ratings – fixed issue whereby some users were unable to post comments; editing comments now also works reliably; correct comment creator ID now being shown on notification emails; fixed issues with Comment and Rating Section highlights so they now only appear as selected and use the Design Menu when selected
Community Manager – fixed issue with broken thumbnails on analysis listings
Community Tools DE – when empty it no longer displays a menu on the screen, i.e. is now hidden
Competitions – fixed handling of text answers in competitions; fixed error with listing competitions
Contacts – contacts can now be edited reliably again
Content – fixed issue with deleting final content item from a Channel
Conversion Events – registration, downloads and login Conversion events now working reliably
Coupon Import – fixed issues with importing Coupons; now works reliably
Cover Flow DE – fixed numerous layout issues so that covers are displayed better. In effect Cover Flows are now ready for deployment in media sites
Customer Ladder Analytics – New Prospects panel now accurately showing new prospects
Dailymotion Integration – now works reliably for all videos
Dashboard – fixed issues with displaying details on the Top Articles widget; now displays the total number of users reliably
Design Centre – Affino now gracefully handles previews of Design Objects and Skins where elements have been deleted from the Affino instance, no longer errors out; resolved eBay Profile error which was causing some Design Object previews to error out; Object Designer now allows you to pull in Design Objects from the right-hand menu
Design Styles – fixed issues which were preventing Design Styles from being copied; improved layout to always show buttons appropriately when listing in Control Centre
Detailed Media Section DE – now displaying artist under Artwork information
Discounts – fixed issue which meant it was not possible to assign catalogue items to a discount where there were too many catalogue items
Dynamic Forms – now displaying conditional fields reliably; fixed issues which prevented forms from being added, edited or copied; notification emails now send reliably again
eCommerce – fixed issue where error was being thrown when users are viewing Products in certain scenarios; now allow 500 items to be listed out on the Order Processing screen; include the order Comments in the order confirmation email and when viewing orders in Order Processing
eTest– fixed issues with analysis erroring out; fixed issues when creating eTest questions; fixed issue when viewing eTest results
Events – no longer taken to the 404 page when adding a Location to an Event
Facebook Integration – all known Facebook Integration issues resolved
Friend Requests – notification formatting issues resolved
Google Base Integration – fixed issues which were preventing all catalogue items from being promoted to Google Base; optimised the process extensively; improved handling of removing entire product catalogues from Google Base; now encode all Access Tokens to prevent character errors; Manufacturer Code now supersedes Catalogue Item code; optimised catalogue item deletion when integrated with Google Base; Google Base integration now takes into account the Channel filter
Google Sitemaps – resolved time zone issues which were causing errors with Google Webmaster Tools
Groups – fixed issue which was causing the group listing to error out in certain scenarios
Jobs – back button now works when users go from viewing a job back to the listing
Keyword Manager – auto-tagging of content now working reliably
Latest Articles DE – now displays active links in the correct colour
Live Editor – now prevent articles from being posted when they’re missing formatted titles; screen names now being auto-populated when using formatted titles
Logins – auto logins now being tracked reliably; numerous login re-direct issues fixed
Main Menu – fixed issue with creating CSS Main Menus; fixed issue with some elements of the CSS Main Menu were not being handled under SSL; fixed Menu Path issue with the Flex Accordion menu
Media – Zip files can now be embedded in articles and forum posts
Media Editor – fixed numerous issues caused by new Adobe Flash 10.x security restrictions; videos now playing reliably
Media Uploads – resolved issue which was causing media uploads to fail on sites with high media volumes; fixed issue with uploading MP3 files to albums; fixed issue for some accounts when uploading media to blogs
Member Listing – optimised some sort options which were causing the listing to time out; fixed issue which was causing members listing to error out for specific user cases
Message Boards – can now be viewed by Guest users again
MP3 Player – mini MP3 player tracker now aligns properly and resets itself to the beginning when the track is complete
My Account – fixed issues with My Account screen and with the print views which were specific to certain scenarios
My Messages – it is now possible to look up multiple users when sending messages; replying to messages now also works reliably and displays the full original title; fixed issues when creating messages; My Message attachments now display reliably for all users
Newsletters – duplicate newsletter messages no longer sent when Affino load-balanced across multiple servers; updated the Text DE to reduce spacing in newsletter messages, now looks as intended; fixed domain issue which was blocking newsletter messages from being sent out
Online Forms – fixed character set issues with submitting online forms
Ooyala Integration – Ooyala embeds now working in personal media
Page Dashboard – now works for all timeframes
Payment Methods – fixed issue with editing Payment Methods
PayPal Integration – numerous PayPal integration enhancements and fixes to resolve rounding issues and errors
Personalisation Profile – now accepts line breaks in the invite acceptance notification email
Polls – it is now possible to have multiple Poll DE’s on the same page and have them working reliably; pending users are no longer able to vote in restricted polls
Sections – can now be copied reliably again
Shopping Basket – zero quantity items are removed from the shopping basket; text alignment now works reliably
Site Analysis – numerous optimisations to fix errors when viewing stats on whole site performance; also fixed sorting issues
Site Settings – added new validation checks on fields to prevent them erroring out; expanded some of the site information fields to handle more information
SlideShare Integration – fixed issues with missing titles and information on SlideShare embeds following API / embed code changes
Smart Article DE – the header image now also has a clickable link
Smart Image & Text DE– fixed alignment issues where some items were out of alignment by 1 pixel when using Dynamic Menus; Focus States now working reliably when using sub-level navigation
Social Campaigns – can now target members irrespective of gender
SoundCloud Integration – fixed issues with handling SoundCloud embeds following changes in SoundCloud API
Structure Copy – fixed errors which caused Structure Copy to fail in specific scenarios
Subscriptions – fixed issues with recurring automated billing
Team Time – improved styling as numerous styling issues resolved for different usage scenarios
To Do Lists – now working for Mac OSX and no longer include Control Centre menus
User Import – optimised to handle much larger user imports by running a scheduled task (rather than simply attempting to import 1,000s of users in one go; much more scalable
User Thumbnails – fixed issue in numerous locations whereby some user thumbnails were appearing much larger than normal
Video Carousel DE – fixed issues which were causing it to error out and not display videos; also now enforce the maximum items limit; new High Def mode when viewing YouTube and Dailymotion videos full-screen
Video Player – now gracefully handles missing preview videos and images; improved access to the buy buttons; sidebar menu can now be closed reliably; users can now click on and close ads on YouTube and Dailymotion videos; greatly improved Playlist presentation; live streams can now be paused and the live streaming bar is now working reliably
Vimeo Integration – updated handling of Vimeo embed codes to be compatible with latest Vimeo API
Zone – fixed error caused when copying a Zone