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-   Geek Gazette (http://www.thevbgeek.com/forumdisplay.php?f=56)
-   -   GAZ info (http://www.thevbgeek.com/showthread.php?t=2999)

The Geek 03-24-2007 09:53 PM

GAZ info
 
Geek Gazette (GAZ) is a community newsletter system for vB 3.6x and higher.

Why? Well, I actually prototyped it toward the end of 2005 but helved it to focus on core products. Due to an urgent requirement at one of my other sites, I blew the dust off it and brought it up to a beta state. I am reluctant to support another project (hence the reason I pulled GeekMart until mythicol joined) however it seems to be (for the most part) done. There are still some bugs with it, but they should be easily squashed with a handful of private beta testers. I'm in no rush to release it, I'm more in the mood to get it fine tuned part time while I work on my other projects. Ill release it when it hits RC and the beta testers are content with it.

I have received loads of requests for beta testing so far - please be patient as I try and evaluate the best candidates for testing. Please don't feel bad if you don't get picked :)

A quick run down of its features.

Multiple newsletters

You can have an unlimited amount of newsletters set up. For instance, you may have one for a weekly overview of the site and one for a monthly overview. You may also want a semi annual focusing on certain parts of your site.

Cron powered

GAZ is built to power itself with as little to no intervention from you. GAZ will take 'snapshots' of the data it needs whenever you set it to. It will also process and send itself off to users without you having to do anything with it.

Module Powered

GAZ comes with a module system (similar to GARS) that allows you to create multiple configurations and layouts.

Ajax Issue Browser

Users can browse previous editions of issues.

brihan 03-24-2007 10:30 PM

Looking forward to it.

I send out a newsletter every Monday & Friday to all registered members on my old UBB board.

I am in the process of setting up a Vbulletin (I already have GAL installed) and this might be exactly what I'm looking for.

I just received my first Gazette. Please send me more GAZ updates as they become available.

Thank you,

Brian

Hornstar6969 03-25-2007 01:13 AM

sounds good, I have quite a big board with over 60 000 members and I would like to beta test it to see how it can handle with server load etc. also there is a hack on vbulletin that helps with sending out mass emails, maybe you could integrate that into this.

Let me know if you would like me to beta test it. thanks.

KenDude 03-25-2007 06:35 AM

I sent a PM volunteering to test as well. I have a pretty active site and we had been sending out a monthly newsletter in our old software, since switching to vbulletin a few months back I haven't been able to find one I like that allows me to marry content from the site along with custom content for each newsletter into a nice looking format.

This Gazette might just be the ticket... :)

Lizard King 03-25-2007 09:30 AM

Sam , you can count me in for troubleshooting :)

The Geek 03-25-2007 11:28 AM

Hey Guys, thanks to everyone for the PMs - there is obviously great support for a project such as this.

Just to let you know that the 5 positions are currently closed.

nexia 03-25-2007 02:59 PM

mine is closed, i take it... ;)

already have a sugg: don't use userfields... it slows down the filtering... use a new field in the usertable, so you just have to list one query. and it is easier to install, easier to uninstall, no need to edit a userfield by the admin (less support requested)

i'm going to install it now.. lol

Michael-MI 03-25-2007 03:25 PM

Have any idea on price? I would love to get a newsletter started up on our site.

Thanks!

nexia 03-25-2007 03:33 PM

i have an idea on price: 750$..

oh, you mean about GAZ ?!...

bah.. add a zero, give it a comma, and that's a good one...lol

Infantrymen 03-25-2007 04:32 PM

Great idea! Cheers!

The Geek 03-25-2007 06:47 PM

I avoid altering vB's datastructure. In fact, I have never done it. Not because I think it is a 'bad thing', but because I feel that you should do it if at all possible (saying that - I may have to break my own rule for the next iteration of gal).

Personally, I think the saving on processing time is only marginal but the payout if FAR more flexability.

For instance, I can have 3 newsletter and users can subscribe to a combination of one or more of them. You would have to add 3 more fields to the userprofile page for that.

Anyhoo, keep up the observations.

nexia 03-25-2007 08:19 PM

oh, then if you have the ability to add more gazettes, my suggestion is irrelevent... lol

Webmist 03-25-2007 09:24 PM

Sounds great. I currently have listmessenger intergrated somewhat into my forum using the user profile fields. Would love to have a newletter built for vb. Will it have import and export for user info? Like who's subscribed to what?

jluerken 03-26-2007 10:33 AM

One of the biggest gaps in Vbulletin might get closed with your product. I am looking forward to it :D

henrikhansen 03-26-2007 02:23 PM

Even thougth GAZ is built to power itself with as little to no intervention,
I would find it quite useful if GAZ had an option to include some
comments in the top of the newsletters, fx in case the forum owner
wants to tell about new features, competitions etc.

The Geek 03-26-2007 04:59 PM

It does :)

acers 03-26-2007 05:15 PM

geek some question, (just trying to see if this would fit in or replace the rather clumsy phplist integration i use right now)
1) Would it be possible to send just custom messages(with attachments parsed, eg html mails). (think of it as a template). Ok you might probably say its better to use standalone application for this like phplist but user management is bit of a problem there.
2) Does it have ability to attach attachments? (eg no offsite image linking. more like phpmailer class where you can embed the attachments.)
3) would it be extendable via modules to send custom things. eg i have a fantasy league and i would want it to send a mail every time a race is added. so i can query the db, use a pre defined template, push the data and one image in there and send.

just checking if i should wait around eagerly for this :D don't mind the questions. :)

The Geek 03-26-2007 06:17 PM

Hey Acers,

1- If I understand you right - yes :)
2- Not as it is now. All images, etc.. are linked offsite. Kirby has made the same suggestion - however it is too early to tell yet if it will have this ability.
3- Every element (content block) is a module. So yes, it would be very extendable that way :)

acers 03-27-2007 07:01 AM

nice can't wait for the RC :)

Lizard King 03-27-2007 08:50 AM

It is one of the best addon's that have been build for vBulletin.
I know it is so early to ask but if there will be an option to integrate other vbulletin hacks inside , maybe vblogetin , gallery etc...

You know i am a big fan or Gal and Gars but for me GAZ is way more important then other hacks :rolleyes:

The Geek 03-27-2007 09:17 AM

Hey Liz, thanks :)

All it will take for that extra integration is a simple module. I am not currently planning on creating additional modules right now. Maybe for release I may do one for polls and for gars, but not sure about vbblogetin yet :)

acers 03-27-2007 02:25 PM

hey geek, can you show us the admincp side screens :)
dying to have a look at how this looks from the backend.

DerTobi75 03-27-2007 04:27 PM

Will only HTML Mails possible or can users choose if they like to get HTML or Text mails?

The Geek 03-27-2007 04:37 PM

Plain text or HTML

The Geek 03-27-2007 05:34 PM

14 Attachment(s)
Just so everyone knows:

The private beta testing team have provided phenomenal feedback and are actively participating in taking the project to a whole new level. IMO The project could be bug fixed and rolled out pretty quickly, however the testing team have proposed a lot of great ideas that will make it a substantially better product that is simpler for non technical admins to use. Implementing these ideas will result in a more delayed release - however it will result in a far superior product which I think is a very worth while trade off.

My primary aim is to continue working on my core products and supporting my customers, my secondary aim is to implement the ideas put forward by the team. Therefore it will take a little bit longer for this project to see general release - but at least it won't be at the expense of working on GARS, GAL and GAB. The good news is that very talented private testers (i.e. Kirby) are taking a very active interest in the project and have already contibuted loads from a coding perspective!

Hang tight all, I am sure it wont be terribly long before you see more from this project.

Here are some current screenies to satisfy the cravings for now:

Note that its all phrased and such in this current incarnation - but there are already plans on making it far better so these can be seen as alpha screen shots and will change.

Settings

Attachment 750

This screen allows you to set most of the global settings for the system. You can choose the style and such to send from. It looks like this will be further improved to end up using the users style and language settings!

Newsletters

Attachment 749

This is where you can create multiple newsletters to send out (i.e. a weekly, monthly, yearly or one focused on certain aspects of your site). newsletter is NOT what is sent out. What is sent out are issues which belong to newsletters.

Right now, the newsletter is little more than a category like area. It looks like some settings (i.e. the recipients qualifiers) will be located as options here

Attachment 748

Issues

This is a list of the issues for the selected newsletter. Each newsletter goes out in 'issues'. Users can also browse back issues (not shown). Note that currently, the user selection process happens on a per-issue basis. That will be moved to the newsletter as the project develops

Attachment 746Attachment 744 Attachment 745

Generators

A generators purpose is to make 'issues' and is primarily run by a cron job (though this can be manual as well). It is a 'boiler plate' for issues therefore many of the options in issues are also found in the generator.

Attachment 740Attachment 739 Attachment 738

Note that many of these options will be moved to the newsletter area

Modules

Any of you familiar with GARS knows my almost obsession with modules. A module is an external file that generates content. Modules are to gars and GAZ as hooks are to vB. It allows the admin to 'layout' their newsletters in any way they see fit without having to change the coding or architecture of the system. Currently, there are 4 modules; text (which allows the user to display custom text eg A navigation menu), Info (shows a 'news' like block of information that can use the issues bbcode/html/plain text messages to display relevant information. This is usually used as an issue 'overview' or 'introduction'), statistics (shows the top statistics like newest member, thread count, etc...) and threadblock. The threadblock is the key module that allows you to format snapshots of your forum(s) in a variety of ways. Most blocks of information are threadblocks in a variety of different configurations.

Note that in the HTML configuration, there are 5 'slots' to put 0 or more modules in (top, left. centre, right and bottom). You use the same modules to layout the plain text format, however this only has 1 view (centre column) because you can not have 'layouts' in a plain text email.

This gives you the ability to customise the plain text and HTML portions of an issue.

Modules are combined into a 'set' which is then applied to an issue. Therefore you can create additional 'sets' for subsequent issues or newsletters to meet your needs.

Here is a bunch of screenies of the modules in action:
Attachment 747

HTML configuration:
Attachment 741 Attachment 742 Attachment 743

Plain text:
Attachment 751

Anyhoo - much of this will change thanks to the team. Feel free to make suggestions, etc... but please note that it is impossible to determine an ETA, or what the final price will be (though I think it is fair to say that none of my projects are very pricey)

That is about all I have to say on the subject for now other than: Thanks again to the small group of private testers I have and thank you for your interest in the project.

nJoy

nexia 03-27-2007 06:52 PM

and i can say i'm not part of that great deal of testers... not that i do not want, but i had other things in hands these last 3 days that were not planned... (kids, you know!)... and an election here... (more than 6 millions visitors on my main site in the last 36 hours!)

and i started bother Samuel about some other feature i wanted for the Mart... THANKS A LOT for your availability Samuel !!!

btw, i'll be more than happy to deal with the GAZ in the next days... if i'm not bothered by my kids again... LOL LOL

acers 03-28-2007 05:08 AM

1 Attachment(s)
wow the modules look great and imo it should be real easy to extend this for anything :) thank you geek.
I have some more questions and some suggestions :D

1) I am noticing that the mail you sent out uses the vb stylesheets for styling. Plus you are not using inline style statements. That would work on desktop clents(actually only on desktop clients will it work perfectly), but on say gmail, there seems to be major problems in rendering.(see attachment) thw whole stylehas been discarded. On phplist i tend to avoid using css as far as possible for styling and instead use tables and inline css. see this article(http://www.xavierfrenette.com/articl...ebmail/#others)
notice that outside of body everything will be stripped.
well so the mantra is inline css, avoid divs and floats(again hotmail, gmail hate both)

Anyway this is on simpler styles. If you have a custom style on board, then there are even more problems.(yes you can create a simple style for newsletters) but it still won't fix the css issues.
So point being a template for newsletter is very essential. Uses tables to render. A basic template with variables for module and header and logo insertion (say {gaz_modul1}at top for 1st module and so on defined within the template.,) That way the overall structure of the module will be available to the user to change(although it would be a mean ask :) )So you can have templates defined for this as (gaz_main - as the master template, gaz_module1 as say module template and so on and by default use table positioning and inline css.)

2) Also i didn't quite see this in screenshots but is this feature present? I would want that if i code a custom module, i should be able to see the that its rendering or picking up per newsletter before i send. Love the modules approach though :)

thanks

The Geek 03-28-2007 08:31 AM

Hey man,

I didnt test in gmail, but I tested in hotmail with similar results. The inline styles seemed fine, but I had to click an almost invisisble link for the system to download the css and apply it (which it did fine afterwards). Hardly intuitive and desired.

Your link will prove very helpful - however at first read, it doesnt appear that there is much that can be done in some of the browsers. For instance, that article states that GMail strips out anything from the header AND it strips out any style attribtutes. So even if we went all inline with styles, it would still look the same as above :(

I havent finished the article yet - but I will spend more time on it and see if a clever approach can be taken :)

As it stands right now, each element of the issues have their own templates (header, navbar, content, footer) so you will be able to customize these any way you see fit.

As to your module question, what you would be able to do is add it to a set and preview an existing issue (or generate a new issue) to preview until you like what you see - then finalize it... so basically... yes :)

acers 03-28-2007 09:47 AM

yes thats the drawback of inline styles i faced too.
but for the sake of cross email site stability, its unfortunately the only way i could find. case in points:
Link 1 to see
link 2 that reinforces the point

umm i have had success with some style attributes inline on gmail(there is terrible leave one space proble in <td> tags there. I think bg colour and basic attributes would work(umm see the first article.


here is some more food of thought :) For the image attachments, i think you can try(ofcourse the practicality you can decide) this method. When you make a new template, scan the template for image code img tag and ask the user to upload in next stage the images.(pedestrian approach copied from phplist as usual :D ) but that way for the lists going out using simple attach classes, the images can be attached in the mail. It will do two things. 1) it will stop a user warning for external images(which many users still think means a spam mail) and 2) it will stop making the mails go to spam itself.

Nikke 03-28-2007 07:29 PM

I'd love to beta test it. I run a community at www.pokerimestari.com with 3000 users!

Ganondorf 03-28-2007 08:50 PM

It would like to be a beta-tester of the Gaz, therefore it would very like to participate of this project and power to help, work with vBulletin to some time and would very like to be able to contribute with this new project and power to help reporting bugs and any another imperfection that comes to have in the Gaz.

Grateful, I am thankful for being able to have taken care of me;
To the disposal,
Ganondorf

The Geek 03-28-2007 09:31 PM

Thanks for your interest Gan - but the limited spots filled up almost instantly :(

Hang fire - Im sure a public release inst a million miles off :)

Tigratrus 04-03-2007 01:54 AM

Hey Geek - just a quick check in to say we're working with it and we'll have some idiot-proofing (that IS what you hired us for, no?) commentary soon. Making my list...

Susan and James (not coders by any stretch, but have been known to break things)

rrr 04-07-2007 03:20 AM

One quick question. I searched for "subscribe" and didn't find any info in this thread.

How are members initially subscribed to the newsletters?

Like if you have 10,000+ members who haven't opted in to any mailings, will there be a way for them to click one link and subscribe (like if the admin was to send a mass PM to all members).

The Geek 04-07-2007 08:02 AM

When you create a newsletter, you have the option to automatically subscribe all members to it. THen if they are in the usergroup list for the newsletter, they will get one. There is also a tool that allows you to mass update users email format and which newsletters they are subscribed to.

rrr 04-07-2007 08:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by The Geek (Post 17814)
When you create a newsletter, you have the option to automatically subscribe all members to it. THen if they are in the usergroup list for the newsletter, they will get one. There is also a tool that allows you to mass update users email format and which newsletters they are subscribed to.

Thanks for clarifying that.

I wouldn't feel comfortable mass subscribing all members to a newsletter. People are very sketchy about spam these days...even on a forum they registered for.

But if I could send them a Private Message through the forum with a link that allows them to easily subscribe, they would know that they aren't on any "lists", and they have the choice to subscribe if they want forum updates via a newsletter.

Could I suggest that as a feature for the release :)? That way we can promote responsible email marketing and allow members to opt in.

COBRAws 04-16-2007 09:57 PM

I missed a spot :( oh damn, ill have to wait for the RC :D:D

COBRAws 04-26-2007 09:05 PM

Is is possible to output calendar events into a module so its shown in the newsletter as an Event Calendar/Agenda with upcoming events?

The Geek 04-27-2007 09:01 AM

It would be, but a module doesnt exist for that yet :)

rrr 04-27-2007 10:46 PM

Just a usability note. When I visit: http://www.thevbgeek.com/newsletter.php

I think I would expect to see a list of newsletters that have been sent out, with hyperlinked titles with some text next to it showing the date it was sent.

Right now, when I look at: http://www.thevbgeek.com/newsletter.php

I'm not exactly sure what I'm seeing. Is that the current newsletter that was published?

If so, where exactly do I click to see previous newsletters?


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