Our priority for Affino 7 has been to make the most productive platform available for running your business online. The integrated nature of Affino means you only have to manage your community, content, products, design, , promotions and analytics in one place. This is by far the most effective approach for managing an online business. What we have done with Affino 7 is to improve in every way how how you manage your online business.
Affino 7 has a New Control Centre, with the pages delivered by a New Page Generation Engine, and it runs on a New Cloud Architecture, all with the intent to deliver the best Social Commerce platform on the market today.
We’ve brought together great productivity ideas from the Affino user community and the Comrz team. It has meant re-styling, re-factoring and re-architecting Affino from the ground up to be more productive and easier to learn. Affino 7 also has a great new minimalist look, and now works great on tablets and mobile devices. With Affino 7 we’ve set a new baseline which means that every new element we roll out in Affino will be that much better.
Affino has a brand new Control Centre and Live Edit tools. It is now optimised whether you’re using it on a desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile device, so you can use it anywhere any time. We’ve really raised the bar for every management interface in Affino. You fill find almost every task easier to do, with great new short-cuts, lookups, help items, searches, lists, entry forms, and navigation elements.
Affino has been brought right up to the leading edge with it’s platform support. It now runs on the latest technology which means it is faster, more reliable and more scalable than ever before. It also means that the Comrz team will be able to accelerate the development of the Affino platform in the weeks and months ahead.
There’s a great new Design Centre. The Design Objects are now completely managed within native browsers with no Flash requirement. All the Design Control screens have seen significant updates and Affino now has better than ever custom CSS support. We’ve also introduced some much needed enhancements such as padding on Design Cells and full Font styling, along with a breakthrough ability for you to be able to secure each and every Design Element of your page design.
Although all aspects of Affino have been updated in this release, some have been updated more than others. Newsletters, Recruitment, Customer Ladder and the Social CRM all see significant updates.
The new Affino 7 platform will allow us to roll out many great enhancements over the coming months, which simply weren’t possible on the previous architecture. It also means that Affino’s development will now accelerate as we’re approaching the end of a two year project to modernise Affino to the latest standards in website development.
This is a major release which you will need a new licence key for. Prior to updating you should update to the latest Affino 6 release, then request an Affino 7 licence key. Because Affino 7 runs on an entirely new architecture it will be essential that you liaise with your account manager for the update, and be prepared to do a thorough review post upgrade.
Unlike all other Affino upgrades, the upgrade to Affino 7 takes time, in particular re-generating all the Design Objects. Therefore the update must be scheduled for Offpeak hours, or with an awareness that the upgrade will take some time if done during daylight hours.
Depending on the size of your Affino instance, the entire upgrade process can take a number of hours. This is a one-off to upgrade your Design Objects to the new format. In practice most of your pages will start serving perfectly immediately, however some will inevitably take a bit longer as Affino works though each Design Object in turn.
Once your site is updated, you should run through all the usual updates and do thorough testing of your site. Affino 7 also runs on a new cloud architecture so your account manager will need to organise that for you. Much has changed in this release in how Skins are generated, and how CSS is applied, so it is essential that you check everything, in particular Custom Templates thoroughly. You will need to clear your browser cache and cookies if you are a site admin, whilst regular users / members should not have any issues.
It is essential that you run through the complete update process starting with the Affino Updater, followed by the System Update, Re-Initialise Site, Design Element Update, Skin Update and finally Clear Guest Cache; all of which are available on the Settings > Update screen.
Every single Control screen in Affino 7 is now a great deal more effective than before. It means users can now learn much faster how to manage Affino sites, we’ve slashed the learning curve for every task. Experienced users will also benefit greatly since we’ve taken the best elements we’ve been trialling on different parts of Affino over the past year, and have now rolled them out to every screen.
Each Control screen can be accessed directly by using a friendly URL, e.g. /control/social or /control/articles. It means you can easily remember (or let your browser remember) your most frequently used Control interfaces.
All the screens are now designed to flow so that you can always seamlessly navigate between all relevant elements you’re managing with a single click. You no longer have to know where everything is, you can simply click through to them as you need to since we’ve added direct links to all the listing, view and editing screens where you need them.
We have rolled the new Control searches to almost all modules, so you can search and drill-down to the content and settings you need faster. Where necessary we have also re-organised the management screens and you will notice that in many places the Help is now more helpful.
We have made big changes as well to the App Bar which has been touch optimised and has a much more powerful Browse Mode. For the first time editors will be able to change the country, logged in / out status, and the type of device they are browsing from. This allows for greatly improved customer support and service.
Another improvement is that Affino 7 is simply faster than any Affino release since Affino 1, especially on the Control side. This means everything gets done faster.
Affino 7 has been greatly optimised to run on mobiles and tablets. The Control Centre has been optimised so that it works seamlessly on tablets and mobile devices. This means that you can manage you Affino sites on the go, wherever you are. iPhones, iPads and Android tablets will use the dedicated new Mobile Centre, whilst iPads have an updated full Control Centre experience.
Affino Skins now support the Viewport tag, and the mobile CSS optimised Skins have been further optimised for mobiles and tablets. Future Affino versions will be further optimised to be more adaptive / responsive / grid based.
Affino 7 now runs on a much more scalable, automated architecture. For the first time Affino will run on ColdFusion 10, Linux, Apache, Apache Tomcat (Java) and Scalr. There are too many benefits from moving to this architecture to list out, but the key ones are: more scalability, faster development, more reliability and more possibilities for automation. We will also continue so support Windows running the same setup, but without the auto-scaling offered by Scalr.
In some cases Affino 7 has moved forward 5 years in advance of where it was with platform support. A great deal of effort has gone into making the move, but the payback will be immense over the coming months as we roll out great new functionality to Affino which up until now simply has not been possible with the previous cloud architecture.
Affino 7 has a new Design Centre. It will be instantly familiar to you when using it, but it has been almost completely rewritten to create a platform which we can rapidly evolve. There are many immediate benefits: it’s more intuitive, faster designs, better styling and faster Skin generation. We have also removed many of the inconsistencies. We’ve managed to retain all the elements which made the previous Design Centre great, whilst opening up many new possibilities for further improving the Design Centre.
Affino 7 has a new Object Designer. This looks and works similarly to the previous one, but is now completely browser based and no longer requires Flash to run. It means it is faster and more intuitive in daily use.
Design Styles have improved CSS support. It is now possible to fully style fonts, with much more control over how they’re styled and a complete separation between Titles, Headings and Normal text. Affino now also allows you to completely customise
It is now possible to secure any cell on the live page. This means that you can control access to all design elements in Affino 7, creating different page layouts from different user groups all within the same overall page design.
Also new are Sticky Highlight buttons. These can be set to always stay on the screen when scrolling down. When you mouse-over you can set for the menus and buttons to stand out and the rest of the screen to fade out.
Added together, you can have much better looking sites than before. This release also means that Template Design is now a big step closer for Affino since we’ve developed most of the tech which will make it possible.
Affino’s Recruitment platform has been evolved a great deal in Affino 7. We have updated how jobs can be added; how they’re listed; how candidates can register; how jobs are pulled in from Broadbean, and much more. All these enhancements make it easier for new candidates to join, and for consultants to manage their jobs.
It is now possible to run multiple recruitment sites targeting different regions for the first time. Affino now handles Region Groups, i.e. South East / South West which include multiple regions, e.g. Counties / States. When coupled with the new Salary Management means it is now possible to completely tailor the jobs boards for each region.
Other enhancements include: Recommended Jobs now prioritise promoted jobs, i.e. those with brand logos; most Recruitment Brief (job) attributes are no longer required; some attributes changed to text to allow for 3rd party integration including start date and duration; job titles can be defined by sector; new Job Seeker option so that non-candidates don’t have to fill out such extensive profiles; CV management is also improved; it is now possible to map multiple consultants on to each recruitment sector; Affino now highlights similar jobs when looking at any specific job.
Analytics - the Analysis Control Centre has seen some of the biggest updates in this release, with major improvements of the Customer Ladder Analysis, Newsletter Analysis and the new Opportunities Analysis screens. Affino also has greatly improved accuracy with Affino Analytics. Improved Bot and Denial of Services detection, which means that Affino statistics now more accurately represent real world usage. Note that your Affino statistics will be considerably lower than before in many cases. Note also that they are now more accurate than Google Analytics in most scenarios.
Article List DE - it is now possible to select a Content Duration so that you can filter to only display the most recent content. This is especially useful for automated Newsletters where you just want to send stories which are new for the latest period.
Bot Handling - improved IP tracking of malicious and non-compliant bots
Broadbean Integration - Affino now integrates with the Aplitrack API for returning applicant data.
Campaigns - new Guest creative preview means you can now preview creatives for both guests and logged in members. This is essential when using custom creative scripts to ensure they work reliably
Carousels - new unified approach means that all the Carousels have all the great new consistent look and feel throughout
Checkout - new extended sessions for users when checking out, to smooth the checkout process, especially when it’s taking the use a long time to complete it
Cookie Bar - no longer has animation effect by default, can be turned on as required, less obtrusive now
Customer Ladder - is it now possible to chain Conversion Events together, i.e. one can trigger others off with delayed actions. This allows you for example to set up progressive access to new content on the site by incrementally adding users to new security groups. At the same time you can trigger messages to the users to motivate them to further engage.
Design Images - new interface for viewing the images
Feature Scroller - new option to allow images to be displayed from secured media libraries, so there is no longer a need to have the media publicly accessible; feature images are loaded up sequentially so the first one loads up fast
Forums - reposting now includes media as well as text; it is possible to set forum posts as the Answer right from the Thread screens; improved replying; URLs automatically shortened on the display so that forum pages no longer break.
Gravatar Integration - Affino now automatically looks up users Gravatars on registration and user import
Help - inline help is improved throughout Affino. More still to be done, but now much more descriptive in many scenarios.
Imports - further checks and notices on imports to help identify any problems with the data being imported
Lead Generation - improved lead listing and export
Mac OSX Compatibility - improved handling of CSV imports
Members - improved member search
Newsletters - there have been many key improvements to Newsletters including: new Blocked list management whereby users can permanently block themselves from being added to newsletters; full tracking of message sends and reads; improved analytics; improved message formatting; improvements in message content; fortnightly message scheduling; newsletter subscription notices have an improved look, in fact there are many improvements to the newsletter sign-up process; greatly improved newsletter management
Orders - orders are no longer deleted, which means that all failed orders are now logged permanently
Opportunity Pipelining - new Opportunity management to go with the existing Contract management. It allows you to manage your opportunity pipeline and provides basic opportunity analytics. When combined with the Contact and Account management, and Media management, it is the core of a simple but effective CRM. At some point this will be further integrated into the automated Lead generation and Store.
Product Search - numerous usability and styling enhancements including: clear all option now resets the entire search; search URL improved for easier sharing; search filters are only shown if there are relevant options; filters are now remembered better when drilling down into the search results; it is no longer possible to set both price sliders to the same value; excluded words list now also works on the Product Search, resulting in much faster searches; new Class assigned to the Clear All option, and new character limit options on the search results; it is also possible now to show a border around each listed item, and to set the height at which the product panels are
Workflows - publishing workflows now apply to content which is pulled in on incoming feeds. This allows monitoring of content pulled in from external sources
User Export - Member Type added as a new export filter
All Management Screens are enhanced so aren’t mentioned below as is normally done. Instead listed are the elements which have had key fixes or minor enhancements on the display-side.
Catalogue Items Import
Comments and Ratings
Coupons and Discounts
Feed Listing DE
Public Profiles / Profile Completion
User / User Export
These are integrations which have had essential maintenance in this release:
Google Merchant Centre
Affino benefits from using some great frameworks, here are the updates we’ve rolled out for these frameworks in this release:
JQuery updated to 1.8.21
JQueryUI updated to 1.8.23
HighCharts updated to 2.3.3
TinyMCE updated to v3.5.7
What’s Coming Next
As with all releases there were some elements we really wanted in Affino 7.0, but we’ve had to draw the line somewhere. These will now be coming in Affino 7.x including: improved popup selectors, the new Media uploader, new Dashboard, new Social platform and new Search engine. We’ll also continue to evolve the Mobile interfaces quickly and complete the migration from Flash for the remaining few elements.