Add-on Some new XF2 addons I'm developing, ideas & feedback welcome!

whitesky

Well-known member
Hi everyone,
I'm very excited to talk about some new addons which I'm developing for Xenforo 2, and would love to hear any feedback and suggestions :)! There's a lot to cover, so feel free to skip to what interests you.

First, I'll summarize some brand new addons in development. Second, I'll detail some common theme features found in my styles (slideshow, footer layout etc) which will soon be ported into standalone addons. If you're familiar with or a user or one of my themes, this section should be of interest!

First, some new addons:

SEO & Index Tools

As a Wordpress & ecommerce site administrator for many years, I prefer having strong feature sets for controlling Search Engine Optimization. This addon intends to fill in the blanks which I feel Xenforo (a fantastic core forum system) has lacking with advanced SEO settings. With a heavy emphasis on the NOINDEX directive, users will have fine-tuned control over excluding erroneous content & URLs from their search engine presence. This can help place greater search ranking on the content that matters - such as your pages and posts. The addon will also scan and conditionally provide index settings for URLs added by third party addons, to help keep everything clean :)

In addition, the plugin also offers features such as board title filtering, Shema.org tweaks, and OG Meta settings (such as setting a default board image, or conditionally pulling page-specific OG Meta images from sections such as XF Media Gallery, Resources, or XenPorta articles), site verification settings for social media, and more.

The plugin will also provide beginner-friendly documentation over setting up a Google Search Console account for additional management of your indexed content.

XenPorta 2 Improvements
(Permission granted by author)
This is a collection of awesome new features for Jaxel's popular XenPorta 2 Pro system, such as:
  • Alternative list & article layouts
  • Article carousels
  • Grid/list enhancements
  • Widget-per-row grid settings
  • New horizontal list layout
  • Display feature/attached image as Featured Article Image above post (such as in Wordpress blogs).
This addon intends to give a more CMS/Wordpress appearance to your front-end, while not interfering in the core addon whatsoever. There are also numerous new Style Properties for customizing native XenPorta elements.

Dragonbyte Tech Ecommerce Improvements
(Permission granted by author, final features depend on adoption of feature requests to author)
Similarly, this is a huge collection of customizations I've been building for Dragonbyte Tech's terrific addon for roughly 6 months. Includes:
  • Three alternative product page layouts, including "Classic" ecommerce appearance with featured image
  • Additional sidebar / widget locations (checkout, address, etc)
  • Product thumbnail carousel (vertical/left or horizontal/under the featured image). Similar to most ecommerce sites
  • Set "products per row" grid setting individually to product widgets!
  • Product carousels
  • Fancy "Featured Product" flex grid
  • Customizable sale banners
  • Additional widgets
  • New locations & widgets such as checkout reminder/callout banners, "Are you interested in..", CTA's, etc
Advanced Widgets & Positions
Disappointed in the default Xenforo widget locations and widget types? Firstly, this addon brings many new locations such as under navigation / above footer, in a range of full-width and 2-split / 3-split layouts. Combined with an assortment of powerful new widgets, this addon will allow you to build a fantastic new CMS-like appearance to your front-end.

advanced-widgets.jpg
New customizable widgets are highly inspired from Wordpress and include:
  • Callout banner with background image, text and CTA (in three styles)
  • Text with icon widget (in icon side and above versions)
  • CTA button (multiple sizes)
  • Image with text block
  • Heading with separator
  • more tbd
Xenforo Media Gallery Improvements
Adds many new frontend features such as:
  • Three new alternative list and grid layouts
  • Set gallery items per row
  • Various gallery grid item display settings (set title/description location, zoom/hover, etc)
  • Click to zoom and Pinterest interact features on media view page
XenForo Page Builder Tools (Includes starter homepage, with additional page "presets")
It's been my dream to have a grid or drag'n'drop page builder for Xenforo, similar to vBulletin 4's Publishing Suite. However, I don't know if this currently could work within the confines of Xenforo without massive retooling. This addon is my best attempt in providing an easy method to create custom HTML based pages, and instead works with Xenforo's widget and widget position system.

page-builder1.jpgpage-builder-2.jpgpage-builder3.jpg

Instead of bundling bulky libraries such as Bootstrap, I've written a more lean & functional CSS/Library as the backbone. The addon provides a starter Homepage HTML node with an assortment of rows, grids and sample widgets. It will require my Advanced Widgets & Positions plugin (free), but will offer more premium widgets to achieve a look such as you'd find on Wordpress pages built with Divi Builder or WPBakery:
  • Wide parallax banners with text/CTA
  • Service/feature grids
  • Testimonials
  • Number/graph loaders
  • Various carousel sliders
  • Large image with text rows (left or right aligned)
  • Scroll to reveal animations
Once the core addon is stable, I can easily release free "presets" such as pre-configured Contact Page, About Us, Team, Services, etc. Each page can then be adjusted via the installed widgets.

Forum Welcome Row
Add a responsive hero banner (parallax background support, text and CTA support) to your forum home page. Or, select alternatively from a user "toolbar" welcome row, with configurable useful links and avatar.

welcome-row1.jpgwelcome-row2.jpg

BBCodes Extended
This is my own take on addons such as Xon's fantastic Advanced BBCodes Pack. This bundle will offer roughly two dozen BBCodes including advanced tables, sliders and content-oriented functionality such found in Wordpress shortcodes and advanced editor plugins. Further, it will have 100% full Style Property support to allow BBCodes to look perfectly seamless in any theme.

Features from my themes, to be made into addons:

Advanced Footer System

Building upon the block layout included in my themes, I aim to make this the definitive advanced footer addon for Xenforo. Select from various pre-configured footer designs, or customize your own columns and blocks. This addon directly ties into Xenforo's widget positions to easily allow adding countless widgets. Includes parallax rows, callouts, responsive column scaling and more.

As seen in my themes:
advanced-footer1.jpgadvanced-footer2.jpg

Slideshow
This addon will turn my free included slideshow into a more powerful addon, which can work cross-theme and allow easy customization through the admin panel. In addition, you can assign featured threads to automatically create slides with excerpt content and featured attached image (or, upload or link slide images). If work allows for it, I also hope to provide syncing and compatibility with FTLSlider and XenPorta 2 featured threads, creating one unified slider solution :)

Xenforo Social & Follow Features
While Xenforo by default provides sharing to various social sites, it does not include social follow profiles. With this addon, select from dozens of different social media sites/profiles, or add your own with custom icons or logos. Display your "Follow Us" profiles in different locations, including a built-in Follow Us widget.

Partner Logo Carousel
Upload/link your sponsor, partnered or affiliate logos and display them in a responsive carousel. Includes Style Property customization and dozens of settings.
___

Thanks for reading!
-Robert
 

whitesky

Well-known member
Some useful Q&A.

Q: What is NOINDEX, and how does it impact my SEO?
A:
"Noindexing" is the process of blocking certain URLs or content types from being "indexed", or stored and displayed in search results by Google or Bing. When done correctly, this can have a beneficial impact on your SEO by distributing greater weight to the content that matters, such as your pages and threads.

Q: I'm an SEO beginner, can I screw things up with your addon?
A:
Changing how search providers scan your website should always be done with care and thought. Thus, all index related settings in the addon will be disabled by default, with clear "recommended" or "advanced" labels and descriptions. In fact, users will not be able to manage index related settings until checking a disclaimer box to enable the system. In most cases, checking the recommended settings and reading the advanced option descriptions and deciding for yourself should be no issue for beginners.

Q: Will your addons be compatible in many themes, 3rd party etc?
A:
Yes, all my work has full Style Property support for customizing styling and will be compatible (if not directly tested) with many popular theme providers

Q: Pricing?
A:
I have not determined pricing for many addons yet, however numerous will be free such as the "Improvements" addons and Advanced Widgets & Positions.

Q: Any timetable for release?
A:
I am not committing to any release roadmap yet, however the XenPorta / Ecommerce Improvements addons , and Advanced Widgets & Positions addons are nearly completely and will be first to release. I will likely follow with the first of my theme feature ports, which should be the Advanced Footer system.

Q: Why are you turning your theme features into new addons?
A:
There are two reasons for this decision. First, it is no longer sustainable for me to bundle and keep developing so many free features into a single theme cost. Basically, I am locking myself out from participating in the addon marketplace when they can be obtained simply by buying a theme. Second, coding such features directly into a style severely limits possible functionality compared to an addon, and has somewhat stagnated their development. By moving to an addon approach, these features can become much more powerful by integrating directly into Xenforo (editing via the Admin panel, using permissions, options etc). Plus, they will be cross-theme compatible 🥳!

Q: What will happen to existing theme users?
A:
While I haven't determined how to roll out theme feature addons yet, existing theme users will in no way be adversely affected. I am considering various options such as offering "lite" and "pro" theme versions, where for a higher price you can obtain a bundle of the necessary addons. Regardless of what plan is decided, existing theme users will maintain their features, whether this includes gaining free licenses for the necessary addons. I will not begin to rollout changes until the best possible plan is in place.

Q: Will you port your theme Node Grid into an addon as well?
A:
I currently have no plans to provide my node grid as an addon, as I already feel [TH] Nodes by @ThemeHouse is a fantastic solution for this. In fact I often recommend it for my theme users looking for a more premium alternative.
 

sbj

Well-known member
I always stayed away from themes, because they break things all the time (in combination with addons). They look great and there are some excellent theme designers around, but in my opinion the good look was never worth it to open a can of worms if I may say so.

I think the addon approach is much more robust.
  • Because a) all themes come with a lot of template modifications and js/css additions, which means a lot of potential problems with other addons, so not being forced to install the theme itself, one will keep the original XF template modifications which is the basis for all addons in the marketplace.
  • Because b) that way each person can choose himself what feature they want to see on their forums by installing only those addons, so every forum will have its own unique "look" based on their preferences.
  • And because c) one has more control over things like with permissions, criteria and more specific settings.
  • And because d) people who don't use any themes are not forced to buy a theme just to get 1 tiny feature they want which only comes with the look of that theme.
  • And e) one can combine themes from other developers with features of addons, so I can choose to buy themes from dev x but get features from your addons.
I am interested to see the outcome of this.

2 more things to say.

1) Since you are improving the looks of MG and XenPorta, I would also suggest to take a look at Bob's popular addons SC/AMS/UBS etc. They have great custom layouts already, but maybe you can do more advanced stuff.

2) I think the page builder tools has the best potential to be the next big thing and I am very curious to see how deep that one can go. Of course your approach is more design/artsy focused and not much content focused. But still this has good potential, if we can drag and drop stuff and create are own unique pages easily.

Hope my feedback is helpful, thank you.
 

imno007

Well-known member
I don't use it myself, but I have seen people requesting prefix support for Media Galley, so that might be something you could look into doing.

Myself, I'm mainly interested to see what you can do with the Page Builder Tools. I'm sure many people would like to see some options to both manually and auto feature threads included - but maybe you already have both in mind with the "Service/feature grids"...?

As for Advanced Widgets & Positions, what I'd really like to see is some way of adding widgets on a per node basis, but since I've never seen anyone do it I'm guessing it's not possible.
 

whitesky

Well-known member
I think the addon approach is much more robust.
  • Because a) all themes come with a lot of template modifications and js/css additions, which means a lot of potential problems with other addons, so not being forced to install the theme itself, one will keep the original XF template modifications which is the basis for all addons in the marketplace.
Thanks sbj, your entire bullet list is spot on actually and I completely agree! The biggest issue I've had to deal with is as you said, themes must contain so many template customizations that over time, it becomes a headache dealing with and managing compatibility with addon template modifications. Plus, some theme feature ideas have to be quietly abandoned because the template edits they require would be too problematic.

1) Since you are improving the looks of MG and XenPorta, I would also suggest to take a look at Bob's popular addons SC/AMS/UBS etc.
Definitely looking into this (y) and would certainly love to add awesome enhancements and (hopefully) some good feature requests to the author.

2) I think the page builder tools has the best potential to be the next big thing and I am very curious to see how deep that one can go. Of course your approach is more design/artsy focused and not much content focused. But still this has good potential, if we can drag and drop stuff and create are own unique pages easily.
I would say artsy and content :). Essentially I'm trying to offer a way to create pages that don't have that Xenforo feel, similar to some fantastic themes/pages you'd find built on Wordpress. Right now the main sticking point is that I'm not 100% happy with using the widget positions interface. I'd like to create a interface to manage adding dynamic rows and locations, as the admin Widget Positions page wasn't meant IMO for something like this and could get very messy, very fast.

I'm sure many people would like to see some options to both manually and auto feature threads included - but maybe you already have both in mind with the "Service/feature grids"...?
Thanks and noted - great idea as I should implement some sort of featured threads fallback for users who don't have something like XenPorta or FTLSlider.
 
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