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Responsive transparent images improve reflow of pages

A transparent responsive image placeholder has been added to most images on the BLOX CMS front end in order to reduce "reflow" as the page loads.

This technique makes the page less jumpy as it is loads, allowing users to start reading page elements more quickly, and helps them feel as if the page loads faster. In addition, this can reduce the cost of the browser process to re-calculate positions and geometries of elements on the page. Google recommends this technique as part of their PageSpeed Tool Insights.

This change does not eliminate 100% of reflow on the page - there are still third party widgets, ads or other elements on the page that may still jump around slightly as the page loads. But in general, there should be improved usability, especially on mobile.

Also note that though there may be improved browser efficiencies in terms of how much processing the browser has to do, this does not necessarily speed up the page. It may, however, give the perception that the page is loading faster.

(FLEXBLOX-4124)

Read detailed Flex release notes here.

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User Reactions adds the ability to change your mind

We've had a great response to our User Reactions feature - and many media organizations are using it as a way to let their readers engage with articles without commenting. Check out our community forum for a discussion on this topic!

Based on user feedback, we've made some minor improvements to the User Reactions tool.

Firstly, users can now change their vote if they made a mistake, just by clicking on another emotion. Note that another analytics event will be fired on the correction as well.

We've also made other minor improvements and bug fixes: There was a Google Tag Manager error that was preventing User Reaction votes from being recorded to analytics, and there were some spacing issues on small devices when large numbers of votes were recorded.

More information:

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Improve your syndication processes with workflows

It is now possible to add a default Workflow setting to a channel or importer in the Syndication app.

In this way, sites can decide to have articles from a specific feed come in already set as a specific workflow - such as First Read. This allows greater control over process for syndicated content.

This is currently only available for RSS feeds and YouTube channels. This workflow functionality will be added to other channel types in the near future.

More information:

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Maximizing revenue by A/B testing recommended content

Recommended content widgets from Outbrain will now have a built-in multivariate testing functionality.

Minor incremental changes will be made on the fly in order to A/B test various design options to maximize revenue. Winning design tweaks will "win" and be rolled out to all sites for maximum monetary advantage.

Due to this testing, you may see minor differences your widget's design.

More information about Outbrain recommended content.

Read more about Flex Templates full release notes.

Google Maps now requires an API key on each site

All sites should implement the URL property (in the API keys property group) called Google Maps API browser key. As stated in previous release updates, Google Maps v3 no longer supports "keyless" API access.

This API key needs to be enabled (in the Google API Manager) for both Google Maps Javascript API and Google Static Maps API.

For a walk through on how to set up your Google Static Maps API key, click here.

Read more Flex Templates release notes.

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New easier login link

We are adding a new login link to the bottom of the user signup form. This simple addition will be less confusing for users who already have an account but accidentally click on the "sign up" form.

Now, they will be able to simply click on the "Already have an account?" link to be taken to the login page.

Read more Flex Templates release notes.

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Infinity Scroll is on a roll with new improvements

Several of our media partners have been experimenting with our various Infinity Scroll options. They are also tracking data on engagement from users and increased ad impressions.

Thanks to customer feedback, this week we are are making some great improvements and tweaks to the Infinity Scroll "Content Discovery" mode.

And since Infinity Scroll can be added on a section-by-section basis, it is easy to see how it will best work for you!

  • Infinity Scroll improvements:
    • When using Infinity Scroll, the "sticky" Utility Region, asset_side_bottom, will always sort to the bottom to avoid regions overlapping. 
    • The Infinity Scroll sticky sidebar was not properly recognizing images in "showcase" mode, and would overlap them. This has now been fixed. 
    • When in Infinity Scroll mode, the "View Comments" button spacing has been adjusted.

Read more Flex Templates release notes.

[Infinity Scroll set up and documentation]

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Prevent mistakes by adding new "confirm email" field

The user application will now support a "confirm email" field. When enabled, users will be requested to re-confirm their email address during new user account sign up. This new field will help prevent mistakes and confusion for end users and improve the process when creating an account.

Read more Flex Templates release notes.

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Find Classifieds easier with new "refine search" interface

Users can now find what they're looking for in the BLOX Classifieds interface easier due to a new "refine search" option. This interface shows faceted search fields which can be clicked on easily to add that search refinement to the current search. It's a great way to quickly find something!

Read more Flex Templates release notes.

[ BLOX Classifieds information  |  BLOX Classifieds documentation ]

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Introducing HTML5 ads to replace Flash ads

In this release of BLOX Ad Manager, we are adding a new HTML5 ad type. HTML5 ads act like mini web pages and can be uploaded—including index files, JavaScript, CSS and images all together—in a Zip file.

These will help replace Flash ads which are no longer fully supported by most modern browsers. We will soon be ending support for all Flash ad types in the BLOX Ad Manager application.

Removal of Flash ad types in BLOX Ad Manager is important for many reasons. Flash ads have security issues, are not supported on most mobile devices, and only 25% of users on TownNews.com systems have the Flash viewer installed.

April 11, 2017: Release of new HTML5 ad type.

June 1, 2017: We will remove the ability to create new Flash ad types, including: Flash ads, Expandable Flash ads, and Flash Page Curl ads.

October 1, 2017: All existing Flash ads will be disabled and will no longer serve online.

Read more BLOX Ad Manager release notes.

BLOX Ad Manager documentation  |   HTML5 Ad FAQ  |  IAB HTML5 ad guidelines ]

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Release highlights for the week of March 27, 2017

Let your audience talk back with User Reactions

TownNews.com is introducing a new, easy way to hear how your readers feel - User Reactions! With a simple touch, users can express how they feel about a particular story, right at the bottom of the article content.

[ BLOX Core detailed release notes | User Reactions documentation ]


Create more detailed author cards

We've added a new field to users called "title." This will now create a job title which will appear in the user's author card, under their name.

BLOX Core detailed release notes ]


Other releases this week

Also this week we are doing releases for:

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