New releases

January 23, 2006 | Leave a comment

The eagle-eyed among you will have spotted that Elgg v0.4 hasn’t been released yet; we’re working on a couple of small issues to do with the wysiwyg editor, which should be resolved shortly. It does make me wonder why there isn’t a wysiwyg editor in the HTML specification; there are a number of solutions around the web that emulate one using a sophisticated combination of javascript and stylesheet trickiness, but it would be a great deal more efficient to have one rendered in the browser. That way each browser could have its own implementation, there would be no overhead or possible javascript problems, and everything could intelligently fall back to a standard text editor when required.

Actually, the editor mostly works fine, but there are persistent issues with Safari on the Mac that may mean we enable it as an option from your account settings screen. Obviously we want Elgg to be as cross-platform as possible; that’s the big advantage of hosting information on the web!

However, it’s not particularly helpful to talk about problems first when there are so many great things to shout about – that one minor issue aside, I’m really excited about the new release. The template has been completely redesigned to use CSS more intelligently, so you can completely change the look of your page solely through changing the stylesheet. This is much easier to do, and there are plenty of editors out there for CSS editing; if you use Mozilla Firefox, I highly recommend the Web Developer Toolbar, which allows you to change CSS on the fly and immediately see the impact on a page.

We’ve also incorporated the Resources tab in the release, so users and communities can subscribe to external content. This will shortly be improved even further; if you keep a weblog outside Elgg, you’ll be able to take its RSS feed, specify access restrictions plus a tag or set of tags, and each new item on that weblog will be imported into your Elgg weblog with those tags and access restrictions. You can then, of course, edit that content, or add more custom tags on a per-post basis. For the moment, you can make your external content available to other people who view your profile, and share a ‘feedbook’ with your community members. You can now restrict membership of communities as well.

What else? There’s the email blog comments option, the ability to keep track of threads in blogs you don’t own, the anti-spam features and a whole host of other little improvements, performance enhancements and fixes.

Another exciting development is Curverider, which allows any organisation to obtain Elgg-related hosting, design, custom programming and systems integration work, from the people who know Elgg best. There’s also the Elgg hub, a website that provides links to this installation, as well as a growing information repository about the system and the people using it; this is a growing document, hosted on the same software as Wikipedia – anyone is free to sign up and add to the knowledge available there. Shortly we’ll begin sharing case studies, allowing you to see some of the different ways that people have found it useful and integrated it into their own systems.

Click here to download the Curverider press release.

I’ll make an announcement once 0.4 goes live for download; I’ll also add a podcast item to the news account where I’ll talk some more about the new features.

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