What we've been up to

It's been a while since we've written an update. That's mostly because the work that we've been doing is more behind the scenes development.

Here are some of the things that we've been working on:

  • We've been doing a lot of infrastructure work to keep our infrastructure secure and up-to-date.
  • The search capabilities within the CMS have been significantly upgraded. We use ElasticSearch as our search engine. We recently upgraded to their latest version and improved our integration.
  • We've been pulling out old functionality, mostly related to templating. There was an old way of using app layouts for app pages and we've been removing that from apps where it's no longer being used.
  • We continue to work on new UI components. They in place in a few random areas, but we can't do a major UI refresh until we get most of the new UI components built. Once we do then there will be a lot more updates to the user interface of our administration.

If you have any feedback or questions please let us know!

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Searching within apps now supports wildcard searches

You can now do wildcard searches when searching within an individual app, or doing a site-wide search.

The wildcard search only applies to the search term. If you do a more advanced search by a specific field then that field search is not treated as a wildcard search.

To enable wildcard searching go to the Search settings for the app. Then toggle the "Force a wildcard search with the search term" field to "Yes".

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Image Editor in the File Browser 🎉

You can now edit images in the file browser. This has been a long time coming!

Go to Site Manager -> File Browser

Find an image, click on it, then click the pencil icon to edit it. That'll open up the image editor.

You can do the following edits to an image:

  • Crop it
  • Resize it
  • Use Instagram-like filters
  • Draw on the image
  • Add a frame
  • Redact some of the image

When you edit the image you can also choose to create a new image (the default) or override an existing image.

This is part of our efforts to improve the experience of editing content. We have a lot more updates coming soon including a new image upload component that includes the image editor.

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Auto-increment CDN version

We've had support for setting a custom CDN version number for your files so that after a CSS or Javascript update is published you can use that update on the live site.

We recently made it even easier to manage the version number.

You can now choose to have the version number automaticaly incremented. When you turn the CDN off and then turn it back on the CDN version number will automatically update.

One less thing to think about and one less field to update! :)

To use this new feature, simply set the "How to set the version value" field to "Auto-increment a version number".

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UI Updates - Settings and Login

We are continuing to update parts of the administration as we build out the new user interface.

So far we have updated some of the Settings pages.

  • General Settings
  • Admin Theme
  • Admin Toolbar
  • Analytics & Custom Code
  • Cache
  • CDN

We also updated the login and password reset pages. The new login page looks similar to the old one but it definitely has some improvements behind the scenes. It works better on small screens and there is now a link to view the site that you're trying to log into.

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New Authors App

This week we deployed a new Authors app that gives you more control over the author information for blog posts.

When you add or edit a blog post you can attribute an author to the post. By default it'll be your author profile, but you can choose another person as the author.

That is useful if you're creating blog posts on behalf of someone else.

In the past, the author list was from the list of adminsitrative users. But, with the new Authors app you can now create author profiles for people that aren't administrative users. The new Authors app isn't linked with administrative users anymore.

To view the new Authors app go to Users -> Authors in your website administration.

Authors now have their own pages

Because the Authors app is a stand-alone app, each author can now have their own profile page.

We also added author pages to the Blog app so that you can easily show posts created by an author.

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Small Performance Improvements

Today we rolled out two updates that can help with the performance of your websites.

Google reCAPTCHA improvement

First, if your website uses Google reCAPTCHA V3 to help protect against spam then you'll get a small benefit. The Javascript for Google reCAPTCHA that we add to the page is now loaded asyncronously, which means that it no longer is a blocking resource. Granted, we should have done this from day one, but, better late than never, eh? ;)

Image loading improvement

The biggest component of the speed of a page is images. We have some updates that should be coming down the pipeline this spring about images. But in the meantime, we added a small one today.

Most modern browsers support lazy loading images. This means that if the image is not in view then it's not actually loaded until it's close to in view. This is done by adding an attribute to the HTML image tag like this:

loading="lazy"

You can now enable that for all images that are set in the editor. Go to Settings -> Rich Text Editor -> Settings and toggle on the "Set images to lazy load by default" field.

When that is enabled, then when you edit a page, all new images and existing images that are in the editor will be set to lazy load.

There won't be any negative implications to enabling this on your website. If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact us

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New Theme Settings view

We just updated the Admin Theme Settings page to use our new admin UI.

I know, I know, who uses that page, right? Well, it does get some use, plus, it was a quick win in our quest to improve our software's user interface.

This week we also released a new color picker widget. You can set it in action on the Admin Theme Settings page under Settings -> Admin Theme.

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Stripe is now a supported payment option in the Store app

If you have the Store app you can now use Stripe to process credit card payments.

It does require some extra Javascript and coding, so if you're interested in using Stripe please contact us.

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Updated store checkout flow

We've been working on integrating Stripe as a payment provider into the store app. While we were working on that we realized that we needed to rethink how the checkout flow goes.

The checkout flow used to follow these steps:

  • Cart
  • Shipping
  • Billing (and choose shipping method)
  • Review
  • Receipt

In order to follow best practices with Stripe payments, the payment step needed to be last (right before the Receipt step). We are still working on the Stripe integration, but in preparation for it, we have gone ahead and revised the store checkout flow. This also involved updating all the websites that are currently using the Store app to support the new checkout flow.

The new store checkout flow is:

  • Cart
  • Shipping Address
  • Shipping Method
  • Payment
  • Receipt

We chose to put the process of choosing the shipping method for the order to its own step. This allows the payment step to focus only on payments. It also makes it a better flow if there are no shipping methods (i.e. free shipping), or there is a coupon for free shipping.

The next store update will be in a few days when we complete the Stripe payment integration.

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New File Browser in beta

We've been working for quite a while on our new file browser. It's close to being done and we wanted to get it out there for you to try.

You can access it under Site Manager -> File Browser (beta).

We are still polishing it a little, but please try it out and let us know if you have any feedback.

When we release the final version we'll have it fully integrated with the editor, file upload fields, and image upload fields.

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Small design change - new font

Nope, you're not crazy, the font in the administration was recently changed. :)

As we work through our interface updates we decided to update the font everywhere.

It's a small change, but hopefully you like it.

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You can now add more custom code to pages

Last month we added support for setting custom code that can show on all pages.

You can now do the same thing for individual pages. When you're editing the page go to the "Custom Code" tab. (It used to be called the more verbose "CSS / Javascript & Head Code" tab.)

You could already set custom Head code, CSS, or Javascript on pages. But now, you can also set custom Body code and Footer code.

The Body code is for any code that should be output right after the opening <body> tag on the page.

The Footer code is for any code that should be output right before the closing </body> tag on the page. If you have any custom Javascript this is probably the best spot to put it for performance reasons.

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Starter plan can now change the app URL

Up until today if you were on our Starter plan you could not change the URL of an app. For example, if you had a blog you couldn't change the URL from "blog" to "news".

We thought about it and decided that that was a silly restriction. No more.

Now you can edit the app instance name, url, and app key on any BranchCMS plan.

Goodbye unnecessary restrictions! ;)

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Show or hide the breadcrumb text in the administration

Breadcrumb text is the nativation links on a website that show the user where they are on the website. They are great for larger websites, but not really necessary on small websites.

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Until now, you had to remvoe some tags in the templates to hide the breadcrumb text. Our goal is to enable more design changes in the website administration without having to edit templates. We've added one more thing that you can now do in the administration.

You can now easily show or hide the breadcrumb text site-wide in the administration.

To do that, click on Settings in the top bar and then click on Breadcrumb Trail.

Toggle the "Show the breadcrumb trail on this website" to enable or disable the breadcrumb trail.

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Fixed issue with renaming a folder in the file browser

In the past if you renamed a folder in the file browser then things would go wonky and a series of subfolders could be created.

That has now been fixed.

Now, if you rename a folder, it's renamed like you'd expect.

BTW - we're working on a brand new file browser that we hope to release soon. It'll be an improvement over what's there with a number of new features!

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Improved clearing the cache when editing content

We improved the process of clearing the cache for app items to include when bulk changes are applied. This includes:

  • reordering
  • publishing or unpublishing
  • featuring or unfeaturing
  • bulk assigning changes
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Site settings are now available in templates

We recently added support for setting the company information for a website under Settings -> Company Information. That data is now available to use within your website templates.

We also exposed some of the Structured Data settings like the aggregate ratings for template use.

View the developer documentation.

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Miscellaneous Bug Fixes 🪲
  • If you've set a custom favicon for your website then it will now properly show when you're in the administration.
  • Fixed an issue with trying to access a template variable that doesn't exist.
  • Storage app: fixed issue with initializing payment information with Stripe for a new customer.
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See updates, send us feedback, and view our road map

We are now using a great tool called Sleekplan within our administration to share product updates with you.

We may sometimes share an important update with you like this one and have it automatically pop up to get your attention.

Other times, you can click on the Updates and Feedback link in the sidebar.

updates-link.png

This new tool lets us share product updates and our road map with you.

You can let us know if you like an update or not by clicking on one of the emojis below the post.

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You can also subscribe to get notified of future updates.

Share an idea or suggest a feature

You can also share your ideas with us on how we can improve. Or, you can also view existing suggestions and vote or comment on them to let us know that they are important to you.

Submit a bug report

If you see something wrong, you can also share a bug report with us.

We hope that this helps you feel more involved with our team as we try to build a better website platform.

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Members app - customize how the profile URL is created

Our Members app allows you to have a member directory on your website. It is useful for chambers of commerce and other member organizations.

When a new profile is created it's URL slug (the last part of the URL) can be automatically generated from a combination of the profile company name, first name, middle name, and last name.

You can now customize how that is set up. For example, if you only want the URL slug generated from the company name then you can now do that.

Note, this new setting only applies to when a profile is first created. It does not apply to existing profiles.

To edit this setting, click on the Settings link in the sidebar of the Members app.
Then click on the "General Setting" link.
Then click on the "Profile URL Pattern" tab.

Select the values to use to generate the URL slug and save your changes.

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Customize store checkout forms

If you are a developer and are building a store app, you can now have more control over the Shipping and Billing checkout steps.

With the store app forms you can now more easily reorder fields, change field labels, and set field attributes right in the administration.

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Set custom headers when processing a form submission

When a form is submitted you can apply some custom logic to the form submission data before any emails get sent out and the form data is saved. This is done with the form Post Process Script.

For example, you could use some logic to set who the notification email should go to, change the email subject, integrate with a third-party API, and much more.

You can set now custom headers for the email notification. (Note, this does not apply to autoresponders.)

{% do form.addEmailHeader('EMAIL_HEADER', 'email-header-value') %}

An example scenario could be if you needed to set some custom email headers to help your internal email system route emails from your website and filter for spam.

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JSON-LD Improvements - SEO

When you search Google for a company and you get the company information on the right side of your screen (if you're not on a mobile device)?

Well, some of that information can be set with some special HTML on your website called JSON-LD. It's basically some configuration and settings about your company name, logo, social media, contact information, and more.

It's also known as "Structured Data".

We've recently updated our JSON-LD support.

  • Improved how JSON-LD can be set in template by developers.
  • Added support for aggregate rating information on the company structured data settings.
  • Added support for setting the organization type.
  • Added support for settning a company description.

To edit the settings first click on Settings in the top bar.

click-settings.png

Then click the Company Information link to edit the company name and basic contact information.

This company information can also be used in emails or in templates.

Expand the SEO, Marketing & Social section and click on Structured Data to edit company settings that are specific to the JSON-LD/Structured data.

json-ld-settings.png

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Storage app - canceling subscriptions

With our new Storage app for Self-Storage businesses, you can now cancel subscriptions in the administration.

To do it first click on Subscriptions in the sidebar. Then click on the subscription that you want to cancel.

Then click on the Cancel Subscription link at the top.

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