Tapatalk Available Now - the First and Only .NET forum with official support!

I'm happy to announce that beginning version 5.5, we'll be bundling an official Tapatalk plugin with the software package.
 
What this means is you can offer a native mobile app experience to your members, with no additional charge, as soon as you have the plugin installed on your forum.
 
A bit about Tapatalk
 
Tapatalk is the only cross platform (iOS, Android, Windows Phone) mobile app designed to enhance the user experience for internet forums on mobile devices.
 
Users can download the app on their phone and begin browsing your forum within minutes.
 
The benefits of Tapatalk-APG vNext integration are numerous...
  1. The experience is more responsive for the end user and the load is lighter on the server (compared to browser based app)
  2. The official Tapatalk app is free and available on all brands of mobile phones and tablets
  3. You will have increased visibility and targeted traffic - other forum users will be able to find you via the Tapatalk network on their mobile devices
  4. This is an official plugin made by Tapatalk and us -> so it's written and tested by Tapatalk's engineers and myself to ensure that it not only works, but also works very well
  5. The Tapatalk app has native support for Google Analytics, which makes tracking user interactions a breeze!

Plugin installation is very easy too, as it's written as an HTTP Handler (the main plugin) + an HTTP Module (Smart Banner) - meaning you just drop the plugin dlls to the forum's bin folder and add 2 lines of code into the forum's web.config file, and you're done .
 
With Smart Banner, you don't even have to tell your members about Tapatalk availability. As long as your members visit your forum from a supported mobile device, they will be automatically notified of the Tapatalk integration.
 
I've installed the plugin on this support forum, so if you're interested you can test it now. Here's how:
  1. Go to your app store, search for Tapatalk and download and install the app on your phone / tablet.
  2. Even if you already have Tapatalk installed, make sure you search and download Tapatalk again as the plugin doesn't work with earlier versions of the app (like the Tapatalk HD)
  3. Open the Tapatalk app, and search for "ASPPlayground". You'll find our support forum.
  4. You can then browse as a guest, or log in using your forum's login / password
The official plugin and version 5.5 will be available in about a week. For now, give it a try on this support forum and see how good the mobile experience can be .

A few final words on the plugin - you do not have to install it if you don't want to. This Tapatalk plugin is offered as an option, not a mandatory component. You can continue to use our jQuery Mobile based web app for your forum, but I do recommend you give Tapatalk a try.
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What's next - Akismet auto spam filtering coming to APG vNext

The worst enemy of popular forums

The most frustrating problem that plagues many forums today is Web Spam - unsolicited ads (often with links to spam sites with malicious intent) pretend to be genuine forum posts, preying on your members.
 
And these Web Spammers are difficult to deal with. Sometimes spam posts are created by spam bots (computer program), which can be more easily defeated using things like Captcha. In this case spam posts will be rejected before they land on your forum.
 
Other times spammers hire people to register multiple forum accounts and post ads on their behalf. In this case Spam can be very hard to prevent as there are no reliable ways to differentiate human spammers from regular members, until they post something on your forum.
 
In the past, forum owners rely on 2 basic methods to try dealing with these spammers:
  1. Asking members to report or flag spam posts - hoping the community members will self-regulate by identifying and removing spam themselves. Software like APG vNext has the ability to automatically remove posts that are flagged as spam by forum members.
  2. Screening every new post and approve each manually - employing trusted members as moderators to read and approve posts before they show up on the system.
The problems with the above methods are they only work short-term, or they don't work at all. Many people won't even bother reporting / flagging posts and would just leave feeling frustrated seeing spam posts everywhere.
 
And moderators aren't as reliable either - people could get busy or simply become lazy and reluctant because the work (filtering spam) feel like chores and unrewarding.
 
So here comes the solution for these issues:

Entering Akismet Integration - the automated spam fighter


 

vNext 5.0 Android Upload Fixed

Some users reported the new mobile upload feature didn't work with Android phones after the initial release of vNext 5.0. After working with the users and a 3rd party dev tools provider, I'm happy to report the problem with Android native browser upload has been fixed.
 
The problem was caused by a limitation and a browser bug in Android:
  1. Limitation: Android browsers cannot fire click event on a hidden element (CSS; display:none)
  2. Bug: Android browsers reported size = 0 for files uploaded via the HTML 5.0 FileAPI
I released a hotfix yesterday that works around this limitation and bug, and Android phone users can now upload without any issue. It's just that they can only upload one file at a time, instead of multiple at once as they can with iOS based devices.
 
The hotfixes are available for download in the private download forum.
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APG vNext 4.5 - upcoming maintenance update

I'll soon be releasing version 4.5 (in a week).
 
 
4.5 is designed as a maintenance release to fix issues and enhance the software behaviour for the many features introduced in 4.4.
 
Here are some notable features / fixes:

Ability to display more than 1 featured article per row

You'll be able to show 1~4 featured articles per row on the News / Forum home page. Due to the page design, you may want to display more than 1 article per row.

Mark Helpful / Answer enhancements

You'll be able to decide who can mark posts helpful. Right now anyone who has read permission can mark a post helpful. This can be undesirable for forums with a lot of members (a lot of posts ended up "Helpful").
 
In 4.5, you can set to only allow Original Poster (along with moderators and admins) to mark posts helpful. Or you can reserve the privilege for users with "Reply" permission only (as opposed to anyone with "read" permission).
 
In addition, in the current version when a post is marked as helpful / answer, the software always triggers email notification. This can be undesirable again for forums with a lot of members (some users can get a huge amount of notification). In 4.5, you can turn notification off on a per forum basis.

Menu Editor update

The Top Nav menu editor introduced in 4.4 has 2 bugs ->
  • cannot edit a menu item after it's dragged (sorted), and
  • you can't add 2 root menu items.
These issues will be fixed in 4.5 as well.

CSS Cache Issue

Some users on cloud platforms occasionally experience issues with CSS not being sent correctly. It is a mysterious bug that could be related to ASP.NET 4.0 (4.5 seems to fix the problem) or certain cloud platforms.
 
In 4.5 I add a detection mechanism to workaround the issue, so when the software detects a CSS issue, it'll rebuild the CSS cache on its own.

AdminCP and help file improvements

Many AdminCP pages are re-organized to make the presentation of options more logical. The help files will be completed for all pages as well.

Upload issues with certain browsers

The drag & drop upload mechanism has some minor issues that causes JavaScript errors with older browsers. This will be fixed in 4.5.
 
Version 4.5 should be available in a week or so and more info will be available at release.
 
Thanks for your time and have a good weekend!
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