Affino 7.1 is now out, and it’s a major release in every way. Whilst there are many aspects to this Affino release, the two key threads are improved scaling and greater engagement. Affino 7.1 has been significantly re-architected to scale with new search and analytics engines. With the release of Affino 7.1 we will also be migrating sites to our new super-scaling cloud.
We’ve rolled out big updates to many core Affino services including Messaging, Search, Analysis, Customer Ladder and Relationships. We’ve also introduced great features such as Store Credits for incentivising customers, and Design Panels for creating great popups.
The combined improvements in the Customer Ladder (engagement), Messaging and Analysis add up to a breakthrough for sales and marketing automation. The new Messaging Campaigns for bulk premium, personal and SMS messages, come with advanced targeting, filtering and triggering options and great analytics.
Site Search has been completely re-engineered around Solr which gives Affino greatly improved performance on searches, and allows for much smarter searching. Core management elements such as relating content have also seen big updates focused on making editorial teams much more productive.
Altogether there are nearly 400 great new updates in this release, many of which will be transformative when fully rolled out on existing Affino sites.
We have also fixed most of the identified low-level issues which arose from the Affino 7 launch, and which are inevitable with the introduction of such a significant new platform.
The Affino 7.1 release is a signifiant update, and unlike most Affino releases, this one takes some time to run as we’re completely restructuring all the analytics data and refreshing the search indices. Given how intense this update is on the infrastructure, and that your site will be moved to the new hosting cloud, it is essential that you co-ordinate your update with your account manager.
Also in this release is a significant change to how most images are presented as you can now set the margins around the main images using Design Styles / CSS. It is essential to review your pages to ensure that the images are presented as expected, and note that you can now optimise the layout.
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.
Affino’s new Messaging platform replaces Newsletters of previous releases. We’ve completely reworked the bulk messaging approach in Affino and have rolled out new Message Campaigns and Mailing Lists. The new messaging platform is a major step forward for Affino and it greatly improves Affino’s sales and marketing automation capabilities.
Message Campaigns are a powerful new approach to messaging which allow for Premium, SMS and Personal bulk messages. Message Campaigns have highly nuanced filtering and can be used to create one-off messages, send out regular mailers with automatically assembled messages, and they can act as auto-responders or notifiers when triggered by Conversion Events.
Mailing Lists act as smart subscriber lists which can be used in any number of message campaigns. They track both the subscriptions and un-subscribers.
Bounce Handling has been completely re-written. Now works very well and is fully SSL encrypted. Affino Bounce Handling now only works with Gmail / Google Apps Email accounts (ensure that you ‘disable’ spam handling on your Gmail account).
There are new Message Campaign and Mailing List Analysis tools which greatly improve your ability to track the success or your campaigns and the growth of your mailing lists. It is now much easier to spot trends over time, as well as see what the immediate follow-through is on any individual message that’s sent out.
Message Analysis has also been improved further by following the industry-standard naming conventions, plus a richer, more visual experience.
The Analysis Centre is now far more capable and scalable. When you go in to the new Analysis Centre you’ll notice that we’ve reorganised it according to activity, with useful charts on the right. We’ve added some key new analysis tools including Message Campaign Analysis and Mailing List Analysis, and updated most of the core analytic tools to make them faster, more useful and more accurate than before.
The Audit Centre is now far better tuned and makes it easier to track down activity, access and failed logins. Campaign Statistics now have a direct connection with advertisers, campaigns and creatives. Customer Ladder Analysis has had another major update which provides actionable lead generation. Dashboards now have a new lease of life as they now track up to the last two years (a big increase from the previous 3 months).
Message, Message Campaign and Mailing List Analysis screens provide dramatically improved messaging analytics over anything Affino has had before. You now have clear oversight on the impact of each message, as well as the campaign and mailing list trends.
Site and Search, along with Contact and Account Analysis screens all get big updates. They’re extended back to the last two years whilst taking a fraction of the time. All of these updates are also just the start now that we have made the shift to the new data architecture. In the future we’ll be able to highlight trends throughout Affino.
Almost all of Affino’s Display-side searches have been updated in this release. Affino now uses the Solr search engine for running searches which means that they are faster, more scalable, more accurate and more capable. Site searches are also more configurable for each Zone since we’ve rolled the Search Settings directly into the Search Profiles, giving you much more flexibility on how you tune your searches.
It is now possible to search using conditional logic, ranges, like statements and much more. It is also possible to switch the Site Search to search for Members rather than site content.
This is a very significant update for sales and marketing automation in Affino. Conversion Events have many key updates with new incentives including Content Subscriptions, i.e. users can automatically be subscribed to content alerts and Store Credits (points) for making purchases in the online store.
It is now possible to chain together Conversion Events, and it’s much more clear which events trigger others. It’s also possible to set up conditional logic so that events are triggered if user does a and b but not c.
Customer Ladder Analysis has been revamped again to be even more useful, and far more scalable. Wherever there is a user list it is now possible to pull up the full Contact listing, or to export the users using User Export. This allows you to quickly identify target lists and action them.
Affino also supports more Conversion Event types so that you can now track, incentivise and be notified the instant a shopping basket fails; when a person shares content, or sends an Ecard; a user changes their password, updates their profile; or views any content on a site.
Relating content in Affino has taken the biggest step forward since we originally introduced related items. It is now possible to order related items; order related content panels; one-click relate / unrelate; create one or two way relationships between content; and have multiple different related content panels per Skin.
Related Media can now be styled to display media previews, and related jobs are further refined to be more engaging. Added up this is a major improvement and will save a great deal of time for content editors.
Affino gets its very own Store Credits system. This is a big step forward and now allows you for the first time to incentivise customers monetarily for dozens of differing activities. As with all points systems you can issue points depending on spend, but you can go much further and provide financial incentives for sharing, answering questions, invites and much more.
Store Credits work across multiple currencies and you can set limits on the percentage of an order they can be used for, and for the initial amount of credits required for them to be used. You can also set a point multiplier on individual products which allows for double or triple value points on certain products being purchased.
Store credits can also be used for returns and can be assigned manually to any customer at any time. Credits are made very prominent throughout and users can see their available store credits and spend on their My Accounts screen.
Panels are new popup page elements which are automatically displayed when a user mouse-overs a button. These provide far more powerful menu options since they can contain nearly any Design Element. This means popup logins, article listings, combination listings, videos, media thumbnails, countdowns and much more.
With the release of Affino 7.1, Affino is finally ready to super-scale. We will be moving all Affino SaaS sites to the new cloud once they have been updated. The new cloud runs on Scalr and Linux which is a big change from previously. There are some clear benefits and there may be some turbulence during the transition.
The move to Linux means that some URLs, especially for Design and Integration Scripts might break, because they’re now case sensitive. It is essential that you give your Affino site a thorough test, especially if you have many scripts. The great benefits for moving to Scalr are that at a minimum all sites will have fail-over protection, so that if your server fails, then immediately a new server is created. Load-balanced Affino sites will have a higher level of protection as their instance will simply grow with traffic, so a very busy load-balanced site might grow to 5, 10, or more servers at a peak.
Accounts - it is now possible to bulk assign Contacts to Accounts by looking up email addresses and companies associated with the contacts
Articles - the default publishing timeframe has been increased from 10 years to 100 years, i.e. Publish End is now default set to 100 years in the future; New Call To Action attribute allows you to create specific calls to action for each article, e.g. Download Report, Breaking News, Special Offer etc.
Article Listing DE - it is now possible to add a second right-aligned Title to any Article Listing DE instance, this means for instance that you can add a custom more link; a new option allows you to display the Original Section (small) above each article, especially useful for rich content sites
Application Bar - it is now possible to see the User Profile on the Security Panel; it is now possible to Relate to content directly from the App Bar
Article Export / Archive - it is now possible to export archived data prior to deletion using Article Export
Auto Related Content DE - New presentation style filter on content so that it is possible for example to separate out Auto-related Events and Products
Brightcove - Affino now supports Brightcove videos as a new media item type. You will need to use the full embed code as Brightcove does not support oembeds. It is also essential that you set up a Media Provider Profile on your Zone for your Brightcove account.
Bounce Handling - greatly improved, now works exclusively with Gmail. Works considerably more reliably than previously.
Broadbean Integration - big updates in Affino / Broadbean integration. Now pulls in much more job brief data, and handles the return path for job applications.
Browse Menu DE - now works with the Online Directory
Campaigns - it is now possible to go directly to the relevant Campaign Analysis screen from any Advertiser, Campaign and Creative; it is also now possible to filter Campaigns and Creatives by Topic, you assign Topics to them and then on the Campaign Theme assign whether the campaigns are targeted by the User’s Interests or by the Channel Topics; behind the scenes we’ve also greatly improved the scalability of campaigns
Catalogue Items / Products - it is now possible to display the Catalogue Attribute descriptions alongside the Catalogue Attributes on the live page
Charts - All the charts on Site Analysis, Contacts and Accounts screens have been extensively updated to be more useful, provide richer information and to work across all platforms
Checkout - Affino now restricts the checkout to showing only the latest 30 addresses for any user when checking out (there were issues with a user who had 700 addresses); product messages are now default checked where enabled; Store Credits are also fully integrated
Comments and Ratings - direct article and media links from comments notifications and the comments queue.
Control Centre - all popup mutli-selectors have been updated to be one-click select / de-select with an instant more button listing. This is a really great enhancement. It is now possible to minimise the top navigation, useful for smaller screens.
Design Menus - Design Menu font sizes can now be set using Point sizes.
Design Centre - many usability improvements
Design Styles - this release sees yet more improvements to your ability to style your Affino pages with the addition of Image Padding on Design Styles. All key images now have their own IDs and you can set the Top, Left, Right and Base padding directly on Design Styles. By default images will have 0 px padding on top and 5 px padding on left, right and base.
Dropbox Integration - updated to support v1 Dropbox integration. Upload limit increased to 1 GB.
Dynamic Forms - it is now possible to upload a media file along with each dynamic form. This means users can attach all kinds of media, including PDF, Image, Document and even YouTube video when submitting a form. It now is also possible to set pre-filled data on form fields, including first name, last name, job title, company name, country, email, mobile and phone. So when a registered user comes to fill out a dynamic (custom) form then selected fields will already be pre-filled with their data. We’ve also added a new Contact Email Address option to Dynamic Forms so that you can set the notification sender to be the email entered into the dynamic form. This way editors can directly reply to the senders.
Email Addresses - more refined email validation
Events - events go from having panel navigation through to having vertical navigation and many more options for how you can present each event. This means that the events module has taken a further step towards being a pro-level events module and is no longer a simple events listing solution. Content is now much more approachable rather than simply having one big listing. It is now also possible to lock down event details further and set the order in which you display the navigation tabs.
Feature Scroller DE - Major enhancements to the features scroller so that it is possible to display arrow-based navigation overlaid on the Carousel; the navigation thumbnails can now be displayed top or bottom of the carousel; it is possible to display related articles overlaid on the Feature Image for richer more engaging carousels
Form Entries - improved protection against accidentally deleting any form entries. It is now necessary to click on the delete button and the deletion approval before you delete any entries.
Forums - it is now possible to let users Close forum threads, and a new Yesterday button added to the Today screen, if you missed the action from the day before. It is now possible to designate a key Issue forum and a key Project forum for each Zone. This means that each thread in any customer or public facing forum can be used as the template for an issue or project thread. Which in turn makes tracking customer projects far simpler.
Geo-targeting - updated Geo IP Address list
Incoming Feeds - Affino now provides more details on why incoming feeds may not be working. Affino also now impersonates Firefox when calling incoming feeds to ensure feed compatibility.
Low-stock Notifications - improved notifications
Member Search - refined experience for searching Groups, Members and Members who have viewed Profiles
Mobile - numerous further mobile optimisations including: Media Selector now optimised; Control Centre video guides now work better; Control Centre help now better formatted on mobiles; sending Ecards now looks better; content editing further optimised throughout
Opportunities - improved opportunities management with bigger, resizable fields and auto-links.
Orders - improved order search and filtering
Order Export - it is now possible to export far more details on each order, including full Invoice and Billing addresses, VAT, Net Total, Coupon Value, AWB Details and Shipping Price.
POP Mail - now with native SSL support. Note that you will need to use a Gmail account to for bounced email handling on Message Campaigns.
Predictive Search - improved formatting when no thumbnail present
Product Searches / Virtual Channels - added canonical links to improve Google indexing
Public Profiles - improved privacy and security on public profiles. Particularly important updates for recruitment sites with very tight privacy requirements.
Publishing - the default publishing timeframe has been extended from 10 years to 100 years; it is also now possible to bulk make articles live / not live on the Control Centre article listing; presentation styles are now always shown on each article in the Control Centre; it is now possible to define custom labels for many more article form attributes including: Text 2, Text 3, Text 4, Step by Step Title, Info Box Title, Code and Credits.
Recommendations - significantly improved recommendations, with a more randomised display of recommendations, i.e. user doesn’t always get shown the same set, plus the ability to see more recommendations on the screen at the click of a button. Recommended Jobs (Briefs) now much more effective with premium job highlights and dynamic rotation. Members now encouraged to update their profile based on each type of recommendation.
Recruitment - This is another major update to recruitment with multiple enhancements throughout. It is now possible to add a ‘Job Seeker’ profiling option so that only job seekers are presented with all the recruitment related demographic options; candidates can remove jobs they’ve applied for; improved job recommendations; improved navigation between search results, latest jobs, recommendations and ‘my jobs’; job recommendations are now also made on the basis of jobs searched for in the absence of user profile data. Jobs are now public by default; streamlined process for uploading CVs when a user is applying for a job.
Registration - the registration process has been refined somewhat, so that certain entry fields are now in a more consistent order and if there is only one Member Type option then it is set but no longer shown.
Security - new Admin IP Address option on Zones which overrides the maximum login attempts so that users based in company offices will not lock out all other users; further content checks to prevent malicious code
SEO - we’ve removed the Keyword Meta tag; we’ve also moved the Page Title Format from the Zone level to the Channel level. This will allow a lot more refined SEO on different types of content.
Sharing - sharing can now be tracked and incentivised by using conversion events, and it is now possible to bulk-share to your contacts and members of your Account. We’ve combined ecard and ‘send this page’ into a single function so that it is now possible to share from anywhere on the site.
Signatures - new option on the User Profile for globally enabling / disabling signatures
Social CRM - Opportunities and Contracts now moved to be with Accounts and Contracts so that all key Social CRM elements are now managed in one place; Further usability enhancements on Contracts and Accounts
Telephone Numbers - validation added to all the telephone number fields throughout Affino so that only numbers and + () - characters can be entered.
Ticker DE v1 - New Ticker Design Element which smoothly scrolls latest article highlights across. Simply select the Section you want to pull the headlines from, select the Design Style and configure how many you want to display, along with the timeframe.
Topic Filter DE v1 - New Design Element which allows users to filter the page content by topic. This way it is possible to have a Topic Channel showing content from all categories and the user can select just the categories they wish to read about / view / network on. Once selected, the page refreshes and shows content just from the selected categories.
Topics - new custom Topic link which can be used in custom scripts and Affino extensions
Twitter Integration - key integration update for Twitter v1.1 API, plus support for embedded Tweets. Just drop in the URL to the Tweet.
Affino at Scale is a big theme for the 7.1 release, with many key scaling issues addressed in great ways. bit.ly/WwjCxs— Affino (@affino) March 2, 2013
User Import / Export - It is now possible to filter imports and exports using Security Groups, Account Types and Accounts. It is also possible to assign users to specific security groups / accounts by including them in the CSV; it is now possible to import and export the custom Demographic Profile attributes for users; when importing users Affino can automatically pull in Gravatar Avatars for any matching email address
Users - it is now possible to add users where there are existing Mailing LIst subscribers with the same email address. The new registration simply inherits the email subscriptions. It is also possible to have Non-members; these are a new User Type which allows you to add user accounts to the site who can be attributed to content and events, but who are not full site members; it is not necessary to enter in elements such as emails and passwords for non-members. Privacy has also been evolved so that users designated as Private no longer appear in any of the public member listings except to the users themselves and to community moderators. It is now possible to suspend user syncing, this is especially important where some community members ‘over share’. Users can now also be unsubscribed from all messages and notifications and blocked from receiving them.
Who’s Online - can now be set to display all users, whether or not they have participated in the site. I can also be set to just display members of a specific Security Group, or members who are logged in on Team Time.
Fixes are elements which didn’t work as well as they should, and have now been made to work better. Minor enhancements provide subtle improvements that most people won’t notice, but which nonetheless improve on the overall Affino experience.
Articles / Article List DE / Article Import
Auto Related Content DE
Badge Highlights DE
Campaigns / Campaign Analysis / Campaign Themes / Campaign Banner Display
Catalogue Items / Catalogue Import
Competitions / Competition Analysis
Control Centre / Control Login
Customers Also Bought DE
Customer Ladder Analysis
Design Images / Design Objects / Design Object Smart Copy / Design Scripts / Design Styles / CSS / Object Designer (performance and Mac) / Skins / Skin Previews / Backgrounds
Highlights Scroller DE (Horizontal)
Incoming Feeds / Incoming Feeds DE
IP Address Tracking
Media Items / Media Selector / Media Upload / Media Promotion Panel
Newsletters / Newsletter Signup DE
Online Directory Search
Orders / Order Notifications / Order Lists / Order Export
Recommendations / Recommendations DE
Recruitment Briefs / Candidate Search
Region / Region Groups
Searches / Predictive Search / Product Search / Scoped Searches
User Import / Users
No elements removed in this release, but expect quite a few to be trimmed in Affino 7.5.
These are integrations which have had essential maintenance in this release, if you rely on any of them then you’ll want to update at the earliest opportunity:
Affino benefits from using some great frameworks, here are the updates we’ve rolled out for these frameworks in this release:
JQuery updated to 1.8.3
JQueryUI updated to 1.9.2
HighCharts updated to 3.0.1
TinyMCE updated to 3.5.8