jab16

This is a short blog post about my visit at J and Beyond in Barcelona. I had a very good time meeting people from the Joomla community. It was a very positive atmosphere and you felt like being part of a big family. I had a session about the new core features Custom Fields on Joomla 3.7. The presentation was a big success as we got a lot of very positive feedback.

 The slides can be found here.

dpcalendar 5 4

We just released DPCalendar version 5.4 with some amazing new features. Or mission is to make one of the smartest Joomla event system out of DPCalendar. Beside the well know integration plugins to integrate your Google calendar, iCloud or Exchange events we are investing a large amount of time to make the booking and ticket system more convenient for you. Read on what we did on that part of DPCalendar and for more amazing new features.

Booking and tickets improvements

The biggest change in the booking part is to set an end date where no more bookings are allowed. This date can be set in the event settings and can be an absolute or relative date to the start date of the event. Further changes are that the event limit is now globally per user or mail address. This means a person can not book on the second booking more tickets when the limit is already reached on the first booking.

When the event changes, the ticket holders will get notified about the changes. It is also possible now to download the invoices and tickets in the back end. They can also be resent.

booking actions

Overlapping checks

A check can be activated in the DPCalendar options when editing an event if it should be checked if there is already an event in that time frame. A warning will then be displayed above the input controls.

overlapping

CSV plugin enhancements

The CSV plugin got a bunch of new settings. Per CSV file the admin can define now which column represents the field of the event. Additionally the delimiter and the enclosure can be set.

csv plugin settings

Changelog

Beside that we fixed tons of minor bugs and did some small enhancements for a new experience for the Joomla calendar and event manager. The following list represents the full changelog of the new 5.4 version:

  • [#2914]   Overlapping check for events on same calendar
  • [#3540]   E-Mail notification on event change
  • [#3589]   Booking date stop
  • [#1256]   CSV plugin enhancement
  • [#3171]   Smart search end date not in the database
  • [#3267]   E-Mail event like in articles
  • [#3320]   Location display in all layouts on the upcoming module
  • [#3339]   Only allow single ticket
  • [#3486]   Automatic Meta Descriptions?
  • [#3490]   Delete series on front end
  • [#3533]   Adapt loader image like in calendar
  • [#3552]   Don't send ticket when body is empty
  • [#3557]   Language Strings en-GB en-US
  • [#3566]   Re send invoice to attendee
  • [#3568]   Re send ticket from back end
  • [#3614]   Upcoming Filter not working for exact phrases
  • [#3633]   Disable scroll wheel zooming
  • [#3638]   Download ticket from back end
  • [#3644]   Show events count in calendar list
  • [#3551]   Access level new events is not forced
  • [#3574]   Invite email always english
  • [#3575]   Ical sync error
  • [#3593]   Only first invited shown in frontend
  • [#3600]   404 error on booking from calendar tooltip
  • [#3607]   Events Not Showing
  • [#3627]   Links to DPCalendar events generated by tags module broken
  • [#3630]   Schema on events produces errors on location
  • [#3646]   Booking cancel button redirects to roo
  • [#3647]   DPCalender Tickets option deactivate

Kind regards

Allon Moritz aka laoneo
Founder of Digital Peak

custom fields

[UPDATE 31. October 2016]
Custom fields got merged into Core!! We are finalizing it. All open issues can be seen here and and pull requests here. You can expect it for version 3.7!!

For a long time the Joomla community has a demand for a simple but powerful custom fields feature in the core Joomla CMS. In the Joomla 2.5.x and 3.x series, the internal form library has evolved and it is now possible to build a custom fields extension around JForm and the internal plugin system of Joomla, which just works. That's why we created DPFields for our own extensions and the Joomla core extensions like the articles manager or the user manager. We soon realized that DPFields can perhaps fulfill the needs of a basic custom fields feature in Joomla. So we asked our fellow developers on the mailing list and got some positive feedback. After Allon joined the Joomla 4 architecture team, some discussions were held with the PLT members Chris Davenport and Marco Dings, if custom fields should come into Joomla 3.6 or waiting for Joomla 4. We all agreed that it would make sense to have it in the 3 series as well.

Introduction

We will take the source code of DPFields 1.2.x and port it to the Joomla CMS. The name of of the custom fields extension will be com_fields and will integrate as a horizontal component. A horizontal component is new construct which will make the life of extension developers much easier in Joomla 4. But that's another story.

The component itself manages the fields for the different contexts. The fields system plugin will then hook into various events to add the custom fields to the edit forms or display them on the front. Every component in the Joomla core which can make use of custom fields will have some new menu items to manage the fields. It is a similar approach as with categories. For the beginning we will add custom fields to the articles and users.

Let's get it!

To test out the custom fields feature for Joomla, install the patch from PR #11833 or download Joomla from the custom fields branch from our fork https://github.com/Digital-Peak/joomla-cms/tree/custom-fields.

download

Let's test it!

This short tutorial will show you how to create your first custom field for an article and display it on the front with a custom field.

Create a custom field

  1. Log in on the back end.
  2. Navigate to Content -> Articles.
  3. Click on the left sidebar on Fields.
  4. Click on the New button on the top.
  5. Define a title and label.
  6. Click the Save & Close button on the top.
custom fields sidebar edit field

Create an article

  1. Log in on the back end.
  2. Navigate to Content -> Articles.
  3. Click on the New button on the top.
  4. Define a title.
  5. Open the Fields tab.
  6. Add some text on the custom field.
  7. Click the Save & Close button on the top.
edit article 

View it on the front

  1. Log in on the back end.
  2. Create an article menu item in the menu manager and select the new article.
  3. Go to the front site of your Joomla installation.
  4. Open the article.
  5. Check if the custom field is displayed.
front article 

What will come next?

After some internal testing and hopefully feedback from early-bird testers, we will create the pull request. That starts a next round of input from a wider range of Joomlers. If all goes well we hope it will be in Joomla on the J and Beyond conference. We will keep you updated on that blog how it goes.

Future of DPFields

The future of DPFields is unknown at that point, but you will always be safe as we provide a migration path. For the closer future you don't have to worry as we will keep DPFields alive and do active development of new features for it (if accepted, we will port it to core then). If com_fields will get the attention we hope within the Joomla community, then we will provide a migration path for all DPFields users and shut down the project. If not, we will keep the DPFields extension suite definitely alive. For you as user, nothing will change right now, and we will make sure you will have a neat experience, with com_fields or com_dpfields.

 

[UPDATE 31. April 2016]

The development of the custom fields feature moved to it's won repository at https://github.com/joomla-projects/custom-fields.

[UPDATE 5. May 2016]

As the Joomla PLT team decided to change the version number for the version 3.5.2 to 3.6.0, com_fields will be part of Joomla 3.7.

[UPDATE 29. August 2016]

Custom fields PR #11833 has landed with over 100 issues closed, 50 pr's done and 200 commit. Please do further testing there and not on the custom fields project!

[UPDATE 31. October 2016]

Custom fields PR #11833 got merged. We are finalizing it now.

joomla airbnb

This is a guest post blog from one of our DPCalendar users who wanted to integrate Airbnb into Joomla. It's a step by step tutorial how to connect these two systems using the iCal plugin available in the DPCalendar Standard version. With DPCalendar it is possible to present a single calendar view of a users holiday rental website with the popular Airbnb accommodation rental site, this article explains the steps involved in getting it up and running.

It is assumed at this point you have read and followed our instructions for getting started and have created your local calendar. It is also assumed you have a presence on the Airbnb website and have access to the user admin section. It is also worth understanding the different types of calendars is use, we will be using both a local native view and a subscribed view see here.

There are 2 steps involved in providing a single calendar view to both sites

  • Exporting the Airbnb calendar to your jooma website, to be viewed within DPCalendar as a subscribed calendar.
  • Exporting your DPCalendar to be replicated onto your Airbnb calendar.

Step 1, export from Airbnb to DPCalendar

After this step you will have a combined view of your DPCalendar calendar and Airbnb calendar within Joomla, which will refresh from Airbnb whenever a user loads your Joomla page. Lets assume we have setup our local DPCalendar and it has a title of "Local Calendar1" and we know how to create an event and for that event to be viewed on our site either by using a menu item or perhaps the mini module, what we now want to be able to do is to overlay that view with the content from the corresponding Airbnb calendar.

First we need to logon to our Airbnb admin area and take a copy of the Uri which we will need when we setup our Ical plugin.

  • Logon to Airbnb with your admin userid.
  • Click your name in the top-right corner.
  • Select Your Listings from the menu, you will now be presented with all of your listings.
  • For the listing you want to edit, click Manage Listing and Calendar.
  • You will now be shown the calendar for that specific listing.
  • Click Settings in the top-right corner of your calendar view.
  • Under Sync Calendars, select Export calendar.
Airbnb reservation settings

You will then be provided with a Uri which you can now cut and paste into your Ical plugin settings.

Airbnb ics link

Now we can go back to out Joomla site and open up the DPCalendar Ical plugin and proceed as follows.

  • First ensure our plugin is enabled.
  • Select New , name your Ical calendar and paste in your Uri copied from the Airbnb site above.
  • Optionally change the colour of your calendar entries.
  • When your ready Save & Close (both the Ical entry and the plugin)
Airbnb dpcalendar ics uri

We now have a link setup from the Joomla site to the Airbnb site, now we can add the calendar feed to our local calendar. In this example I'm using the mini calendar module, but the same applies using the menu item calendar display.

  • Select the mini module item you want to use to display your combined calendars
  • Give it a suitable title (Combined Calendar worked for me)
  • In the field to Select Calendars you will be given the option to select 1 or more calendars to display in this module, these are represented as a single calendar view
  • Select your local DPCalendar AND your Airbnb calendar
Airbnb select calendars module

Step 2, export from DPCalendar to Airbnb

At this stage we now have a single view on our Joomla site of our local calendar AND the Airbnb calendar, the view of the Airbnb calendar will be refreshed when a user loads the page on our Joomla site, we now want to reflect any changes made to the DPCalendar back to the Airbnb calendar to complete the integration.

The steps to be performed are essentially the same steps as above, but instead of exporting from Airbnb, we now want to import.

First we need to obtain our DPCalendar Uri for our local native calendar, there are 2 options to find this:-

  1. If you are using a menu item to display the calendar, navigate to the menu entry and select Calendar Options Tab, ensure the option for Show Calendars is set to Yes and expand, now from the front end you will be shown the calendar name and an option to download its ICal file, at this point you can right click the ICal option and Copy Link Location, this is what we will need on the Airbnb site.
  2. Alternatively the Uri requird can be constructed as follows http://your-site-name-here.com/index.php?option=com_dpcalendar&task=ical.download&id=30 simply substitute your site name and the calendar id, which can be found in the back end DPCalendar Component and is the id of the native DPCalendar you want to export to Airbnb.
Airbnb check calendar

Now that we have our Uri, we can logon to our Airbnb admin area and copy the Uri into the calendar import setting.

  • Logon to Airbnb with your admin userid.
  • Click your name in the top-right corner.
  • Select Your Listing from the menu, you will now be presented with all of your listings.
  • For the listing you want to edit, click Manage Listing and Calendar.
  • You will now be shown the calendar for that specific listing.
  • Click Settings in the top-right corner of your calendar view.
  • Under Sync Calendars, select Import calendar.
Airbnb import calendar

Simply paste your Uri into the Calendar Address (URL) field, give your Calendar a name e.g. DPCalendar1 and press the Import button, the Airbnb calendar will now synch with your Joomla site and continue to do so automatically every few hours.

An entry exported from DPCalendar will appear on the Airbnb admin view as shown.

Airbnb event calendar

And on the front end guest view.

Airbnb calendar

Side notes

We now have a 2 way flow between our Joomla site and Airbnb, but there are some points worth remembering.

  • We have simply subscribed to the Airbnb calendar, therefore we do NOT maintain any of the Airbnb data on our Joomla website.
  • Airbnb has no concept of an event or a booking, therefore if you create an event in DPCalendar against the local calendar, this will be imported into Airbnb at the next cycle and will block the specific dates from the Airbnb calendar. This is regardless of whether you have made any corresponding booking within DPCalendar; therefore I suggest you only ever create an event when you make a booking within DPCalendar.
  • The Ical plugin will cache the view of the Airbnb calendar for a number of seconds which can be modified in the plugin advanced options.
  • The Airbnb calendar works on the basis that any day which does NOT have a rental price listed on the Airbnb calendar is considered to be blocked by the owner, and will export an entry for that day with the item description as "Not available" , therefore to avoid double entries. only block dates on the Airbnb calendar, and this will be reflected on your combined calendar view on your Joomla site. Similarly be creating an event/booking in DPCalendar this will be imported into Airbnb and mark the dates as blocked and unable to be booked.
  • If you subsequently unpublish or delete an event from DPCalendar, this will be picked up by Airbnb at the next automatic sync and will unblock the entry in the Airbnb calendar

gradual engagementThe advent of Web applications has an interesting effect on the venerable 4Ps of the traditional marketing mix concept (Product, Price, Place, Promotion), in that the single website (or mobile app) can be all 4 things at once. The problem is, of course, that having a single item perform multiple roles simultaneously can be tricky to handle.

For instance, a Web application’s product offering is often itself the service (or the set of services) which a particular website is offering, and hence has to be fully functional. However, newcomers to the site may not necessarily understand all the dimensions of that service, and will need to be taught how to navigate the application’s features. At the same time, the website also has to attract its target market by showcasing all the benefits of the service(s) as compared to its competitors. And above all, users have to be encouraged to sign up for the service.

So how should this juggling act be resolved? One of the more common user design (UX) patterns in use out there is called gradual engagement. In essence, gradual engagement is designed to slowly (but immediately) immerse a prospective user into interacting with the web application, by guiding the user through using the application with plenty of tooltips and helpful hints, while delaying the sign-up until towards the end. The idea is, as the name suggests, to gradually engage the user with your product or service in such a way that when the sign-up page is reached, it is seen as an almost organic and natural part of using the service – and by doing so, lowering the prospective user’s barriers towards the process.

Gradual engagement as a UX pattern has been around since the mid-to-late 2000s, and has seen a great deal of success in many scenarios. It has also been viewed with concern, because it could be seen as a form of bait-and-switch tactic if implemented incorrectly. Here are some factors to consider whether or not your website can deploy a form of gradual engagement:

Main Focus

Your web or mobile application is far more likely to benefit from using gradual engagement if it focuses on delivering a single service (e.g. Twitter), or a small set of closely-related services (e.g. Windows Central), instead of being a portal to an umbrella of not-necessarily-similar features (e.g. Microsoft Live).

Instant Gratification

Gradual engagement works well when your prospective users can see immediate results from using your web application. This allows you to build rapport quickly with them and increases their engagement with the application. It does not matter whether the ultimate fulfilment of the application comes later (e.g. online shopping), as long as the process is seen to have immediate effects (e.g. items are added to a shopping cart, which can be edited without navigating away from the main shopping page).

Low-friction Process

The easier you make it for your prospective users to get started doing what they came to you to do, the easier it will be for them to continue onwards and stay engaged with your service. Providing helpful hints and tips on the salient features of your application as they progress through will help, as will an analysis on the application’s design itself.

Many mobile games that are free-to-play (especially endless runners) use the process of gradual engagement to encourage players to keep playing and bring them on board the gaming experience. Only later, once they’ve started to enjoy the game, are they introduced to the in-app purchases or sign-in features. Which other Web or mobile applications have you seen use gradual engagement?

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