Daniel is the owner & lead developer at compojoom.com.

Hotspots 4.0 has been released.

Hotspots 4.0 has been released.

After a lot of months of work, Hotspots 4 has been finally released. I have blogged in the past about the changes that are comming with this release (if you want to understand the reasoning behind the new frontend UI, make sure to read that post)  and since I don't like to repeat myself, this time we'll do something different! We are going to make an image heavy post :)

What's new in hotspots? Here are few of the most important changes.

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Updates to our subscription plans

Since we have launched our new site back in December 2013 we have introduced the light, advanced & lifetime plans. Seven months later it is time for a refresh based on your feedback.

Here are the changes in detail:

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CMC 1.5 now integrates Mailchimp even better with Joomla!

Yesterday, we've released a new CMC version out into the wild. With this version we've introduced some of the requested features on our forum.

For example - if a user is logged into your website we can now pre-fill his email & name in the newsletter form leaving him with one single action to do - and that is click the subscribe button. Our module is now also able to determine who is subscribed and show him an option to unsubscribe or to update his subscription.

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Hotspots 4 alpha 1 preview video!

Latetly a lot of people asked me "What's going on with Hotspots 4? When is it going to be released?" As usual I won't commit to a deadline - it's going to be released when it is ready :).

If you want to speed up that process - you can test the alpha version that I released in the dev. downloads section. Currently this alpha is missing some of the features that we already have in version 3 such as KML support, full screen view, print & rss. But the rest of the functionality is there! There are a few glitches, but as a whole it looks good! I've made a small video demo to show you how the new Hotspots user interface will look and behave.

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Changes coming up with Hotspots 4

No matter if you have a good product or not, sooner or later one has to step back and rethink what one is doing. I've spent the last couple of weeks working on the Hotspots frontend. We are actually rewriting it to use Backbone & Backbone.Marionette. If the last 2 names doesn't ring a bell with you, don't worry! That are JavaScript frameworks and you don't need to know anything about them in order to use the new Hotspots. Those frameworks help us bring structure to our JavaScript and this improves the final product. You'll be able to style a lot of elements of the UI that you weren't previously able to do without hacking the core. Also since the Joomla project is slowly phasing out Mootools as the JavaScript framework of choice, we are also doing that and moving to jQuery. With the JS frameworks out of our way let's get back to the UI.

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The best Hotspots release ever!

The hardest part when developing software is being aware of the real world. Way too often we live in a bubble that clouds our judgement. Looking at the incomming support tickets we tend to think that our software is full of bugs. Looking at the reviews we start to think that it is the best thing in the world. The truth is actually somewhere in the middle. Lately I realised again that Hotspots is a great piece of software. And as with any software - there are things that work great and there are things that need to be improved.

Due to unpredicted circumstances I wasn't able to finish Hotspots 4 as planned for the begining of March. So, to spare you some waiting I decided to finish off what I already had and to release 3.6. I think that this is one of our finest releases so far.

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Create a plugin to override Hotspots marker fields

Joomla! has a lot of "hidden" features that few people know about. Starting with Joomla 1.6 ( I think) we were able to define custom fields using plugins. This feature is relatively easy to use, if you know your way with PHP. Most probably this is one of the reasons why very few people actually know that they can define custom fields, override any field or delete any field in a component that follows the Joomla conventions. For those of you that want to find how to add custom fields to the default com_content (Article Manager) then look at this tutorial over here.

In this blog post we'll work with Hotspots. You can download the Core version over here. Starting with Hotspots 3, we use the JForm class and that in terms allows you to override or add new fields to the Hotspot submission form.

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CMandrill 3.0 released

I'm happy to announce that Cmandrill 3.0 is now available for download.

Version 3 introduces a major change to the way we handle the Mandrill templates. In previous versions you had to specify the component, view and task that send the template. This was working most of the time, but it was not working when templates were sent out of plugins (because the view and component could be different each time). In this version CMandrill no longer relies on those, but it actually looks for the class & function name that send the mail. This way we can be pretty sure that the correct template will be selected all the time. If you are updating from version 2, you'll need to modify your templates! Check our docs for more info.

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CMC 1.4 - Subscribing users to your MailChimp lists just got way easier!

CMC 1.4 - Subscribing users to your MailChimp lists just got way easier!

If you don't already use MailChimp for your newsletter campaigns - you should! (It's no secret that we love MailChimp here on compojoom.com & we use it ourselves!). With the release of version 1.4 of CMC (our MailChimp integration for Joomla) we've added some pretty cool features.

In previous versions users were only able to subscribe to your newsletter using the module. Which is perfectly ok, but what happens when you have a lot of people registering on your site, but they never bother to fill out your newsletter form? Well, now with CMC 1.4 you'll be able to ask your users to subscribe to your newsletter during the registration on your site! We've created 3 plugins - one for the default Joomla registration, one for Community Builder and one for Jomsocial! Enabling those is pretty easy! All plugins have the same options (which actually are the same as the ones you are using in the module)

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Hotspots 3.5 released

After the feature full 3.4 release last month, it was time to top that by releasing Hotspots 3.5 . This version should excite a lot of you who were waiting for "latest hotspots" module and the ability to disable certain categories for frontend marker submission. In addition to this we've added the long awaited AlphaUserPoints integration. If you have a community website you'll be happy to know that the name of the user who submitted a location can now be linked to his Jomsocial or Community Builder profile.

A lot of people also wanted to set the map center depending on the user's location. This is now also possible and you can see it in action on our demo page. The user centering is a complex beast. We first match the IP of the user and try to find out his position(which is not always correct) and we set the map to center there. After that if you decide to turn on HTML5 geolocation the user will be asked for his location. If he decides to share it, then we will - re-center the map to that location. You can learn more about that in our documentation.

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