And perhaps most important is that now for the first time ocPortal is free software. That's free Open Source software, with no catches:
- No registration.
- No forced display of copyright or logo or ads.
- No commercial 'pro' versions (i.e. no crippling).
You can download ocPortal 4 today:
Update 29th September- this is now pointing to RC4
The thrust of the new versionAlmost every screen in ocPortal redesigned for increased usability and attractiveness. Our documentation has also been reworked to be more comprehensive and clear.
A new philosophy of feature minimalism to fight feature bloat and make ocPortal easier to learn and deploy.
- Systems that have always been in the core of ocPortal, such as galleries, do not have to even be installed anymore if staff do not want them.
- The Setup Wizard allows more things to be turned off, right from the offset.
- Other features that staff may not want can now also be disabled, removed from view to improve usability and strength of website design.
Page load times are 20%-80% faster (depending on server characteristics).
Even higher standardsocPortal 4 premiers a ground-breaking new approach to preventing cross-site-scripting security vulnerabilities. If we make a mistake in our coding we will pick up on it right away, almost totally avoiding the accidental and until-now inevitable XSS vulnerabilities that plague web applications. Our new approach is so elegant, we could publish a scientific paper on it.
The entire code of ocPortal is now written to be 'type strict', a process helped along by a new development version of PHP written by ocProducts. What this tech-speak means to you, our users, is that the proportion of bugs that could slip past us will drop, meaning your future ocPortal experience will be more stable than ever.
Stability has also been improved via a number of other techniques.
We have cleaned up our terminology, our template file naming, and generally improved code quality and consistency throughout the software.
Web standards improvements:
- We now provide support for real XHTML (this is not something many products actually have - which is a bit of a dirty little secret). In technical terms, ocPortal can now work through a strict XML DOM model. This prepares your website for the future when XHTML becomes more important
- ocPortal now has a new more flexible and semantically accurate CSS layout
- Markup semantics have been improved. This means the search engines of the future will better understand your website
- Full distinction between GET and POST forms. This means that you can now bookmark, and link to most result screens. It also means improved search engine access.
- A print stylesheet, to make your website print cleaner, using less ink
- Automatic cleanup of invalid XML syndicated onto the web site from external sources (e.g. RSS), so that external sources cannot dirty your clean and high quality website
A lot of new features…Menu improvements:
- the ability to place images on menus
- more control over the zone menu
- ability to easily override and customise the zone, management and community menus
A powerful new filtering syntax that can be used with many different ocPortal features.
- Better news archive
- 'Ping' support, so you can inform blog search engines about new articles you write
- Chicklets support ?
- A new "on this day in the website's history" news block
- News ticker
The word-filter now supports search and replace of swear words, in addition to the former 'blocking of submissions' approach.
OCF member accounts and usergroups improvements:
- Email address verification can now be disabled
- Auto-detection of timezones for new member's and guests
- Member blog posts available directly on profile screens, bringing the blog and forum closer together
- A powerful new punitive system, to replace the warning system
- A feature to allow the staff to easily delete lurking members who never contribute
- Secret usergroups
- "Club usergroups" that come with a forum and are managed by ordinary members
- Powerful member and usergroup searching, giving ocPortal social networking strengths
- Friends lists on member profiles
OCF forum improvements:
- The ability for member's to move public topics out to become personal topics
- Group-shared personal topics
- Easy quick creation of 'Happy birthday' topics
- You can now "sink" topics, the opposite of pinning them
- In-topic search
- An enhanced "reply" screen for moderators, with support for scheduling (deferring) replies
- Feature "hot topics" using the main_forum_topics block
- Import a filesystem directory of files into the downloads system
- Anti-leech functionality
- Moderate trackbacks
- Ban trackback spammers
- An effective trackback spam prevention measure
The reason for IP address bans can now be recorded
- New field types
- A new tabular listings view
- Emailed reports to the owner of entries, so they can see what hits they are getting
- Time-limited entries (useful if using the catalogue system for classified directory advertising)
- Support for SecPay and WorldPay as well as PayPal
- Usergroup subscriptions may now be configured work for either primary or secondary usergroup subscription
A very powerful new way of filtering and constraining form submissions. Useful for adding per-group word-filters, re-capitalisation of sentences, adding strong field type restrictions to catalogues, and many other things.
- Rollover buttons
- A new 'overlay' tag, for creating Comcode layers and popups
- Integration with the banner system, for text-triggered overlay banners
- A currency conversion tag
- List entering syntaxes for numerical and alphabetical lists
- Inline links now have automatic detection for their link titles
- Syntax highlighting (requires GeSHi to be installed)
- Full support for banner types, with configuration of the parameters that define a type and constrain the banners that may be included within it
- Text banners
- Flash banners
- Banner permissions (for adult advertising, for example)
- Unique-click assurance
- A new specific permission for members to not have to see banners
- A new block that can show banners from a single banner type together (for displaying a set of sponsor logos)
A new 'form to email' block that gives you the option to allow visitors to email you directly from your website.
A new collaborative task/message handling system, as an alternative to the support ticket system.
You can now recover form data if the web browser crashes.
- A new, more minimal and unassuming theme layout
- Say good bye to the 'TOP' and 'BOTTOM' templates - these have now been merged with 'HEADER' and 'FOOTER'
Forum driver improvements:
- phpBB 3 support
- Basic Invision Board display name support
- Much better control to tie ocPortal themes to forum skins
- Comment counts now shown for entries presented in ocPortal categories
- Automatic comment topic creation
PHP 6 and Unicode compatibility (in theory- PHP 6 is not out yet).
- Detection and explanation of various server issues that would inevitably cause ocPortal to not work correctly.
- Auto-creation of a .htaccess file, to give an optimal run-time environment
A new permissions log, so you can easily track down the cause of permission problems.
Optional spell checking functionality for all form submissions.
A new 'integration' module that can help to tie the interfaces of other web systems into ocPortal.
New features for those using ocPortal to develop websites for clients:
- The ability to easily remove all ocPortal branding from an ocPortal website, including from the Admin Zone
- A new simplified Admin Zone interface that automatically enables for those with reduced access
- A much better search interface
- Logging and stats for search keywords, to help you optimise your website navigation
- Users can search inside downloads, such as word documents
- Highlighting of search terms within results
Auto-correction of mistyped page names.
- Better support for different HTML mail clients
- Better support for text-mode webmail clients
- Much smaller email transfer sizes
- Improved algorithms to make email less likely to be seen as spam
- Recipients now have the ability to reply without having to battle the email background colour
Version history for language files.
The date and time internationalisation support has been completely overhauled, and now the calendar can be internationalised.
A great deal more…
How to upgradePlease be aware that as a major release of ocPortal, there are significant compatibility issues for themes. Virtually every template and CSS file in ocPortal has been changed, and many have been renamed. Realistically you will need to recreate your themes, and if you have invested a lot of time it is best if you do this on a copy of your current site (so when you upgrade the real site you can just plug your updated theme right in).
To perform an upgrade:
- Take a full backup of your files and database
- Close your website from the Admin Zone
- Upload all the files from the manual installer archive (available from the link towards the top of this announcement)
- except install.php
- Call up http://mysiteurl/upgrader.php, log in, and run through the upgrade steps (except the closing website and uploading a TAR steps, as you have already performed equivalents to these)
If you are not confident restoring backups if things go wrong, please wait for v4 final, as the upgrade process is not yet widely tested.