JFBConnect v6.2 Preview: Points, Providers, Performance and Widgets

In early July, JFBConnect v6.1 was released, which added Instagram, Github and VK authentication and profile integration for Joomla, along with the new social streams and other features. Just 3 short months later, there's another release right around the corner.

JFBConnect v6.2 is scheduled for release in late September, and we wanted to give you a preview of what to expect. We've been working on hard on some highly requested features, new providers, new widgets and performance improvements. There's something here for everyone, so lets get started!

UPDATE: JFBConnect v6.2 was released in early October, 2014.

Point Rewards

One request we hear most often is that administrators want to reward their Joomla users for engaging with social networks. If you're using Alpha User Points, JomSocial or EasySocial, you'll now be able to award points to users for doing any of the following activities on your site:

  • Authenticating and linking their account to any social networks
  • Leaving a Facebook Comment
  • Facebook Like your content
  • Google Plus your content
  • LinkedIn Share your content
  • Tweet your content
  • Sending Facebook Requests

All of the actions above are great ways for users to be promoting your site, so it makes sense to want to reward them for their efforts, and soon, you'll be able to.

Of course, for the actions that can be undone (Un-Like, deleting a comment), there can be point reductions for the user as well to prevent gaming the system.

More Social Network Providers

Coming to the stable of authentication providers will be Meetup, Amazon and Windows Live. As with each of the other providers we support for Joomla social network authentication, the new ones have advantages, but not all sites will want to implement all of them.

Meetup

Meetup is the largest event organizing site on the web. If your site, in any way, interacts with Meetup or even relates to events in general, you'll want this integration. Your users likely already have an account, and importing their profile into Joomla will make registering for your events even easier.

Along with authentication and profile import will be 6 new Meetup widgets for listing information about your group, a specific event, comments and more. 

Amazon

It's possible you didn't even know that Amazon supported single-sign on. We didn't, until a few months ago. Well, they do, and soon, you can let users sign on to your site with their Amazon account. 

Amazon provides multiple widgets for showing their products on your Joomla site. If you conduct sales on your site, Amazon may not seem like a great addition. However, Amazon has an amazing affiliate program where you can earn up to 10% on referrals, and their widgets make it simple to generate some income.

Windows Live

Starting with Windows 8, Microsoft has pushed almost all computer users to have a Windows Live account whether they want it or not. With Windows Live, users from Hotmail, Outlook.com, MSN and multiple other Microsoft destinations can easily authenticate on your site.

Going Forward

This year has seen a crazy fast introduction of new social networks to JFBConnect. One year ago, we supported 2: Google+ and Facebook. With 6.2, we'll support 10! Going forward, we expect the amount of additions to slow down drastically while we focus on other features.

On the docket for upcoming releases is definitely Yahoo and a few other regional providers, though. Of course, if you have suggestions for what we should add (and we know you do), please let us know!

New Widgets

In addition to the widgets with Amazon and Meetup, mentioned above, there will be need 'Embedded' widgets from Twitter and Instagram. With these, you can easily embed a Tweet or Instagram image or video directly in your Joomla content or anywhere on your page. It's fully interactive, allowing you to grow your followers by promoting a special Tweet or image.

With JFBConnect v6.2, you'll have access to over 50 social widgets from 10 social networks!

New Find Us Module

Want to let users quickly access your social feeds? Use the new Find Us module and setup the links to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and RSS feeds that you'd like users to visit. There are also flexible options for a 'floating' bar on the sides or top/bottom of your page, or in a standard module position.

Find Us social module for Joomla

Performance

JFBConnect v6.2 will have multiple improvements to speed up page creation and loading time for your users.

First, we've implemented a new parsing scheme for our Easy Tags which should improve performance on very large pages. For these large content pages, with 500k+ of HTML, we're seeing, on average, a 10x speedup of our parsing. That boils down to 100-400ms, depending on server and other factors, but it should be a big jump for the few users that have run into some slow-down issues.

Other improvements include asynchronous loading of the Twitter Javascript library, optimized loading of our CSS assets, additional caching in various places and other tweaks.

New Profile Plugins

Integration with 3rd party extensions is what we'll be focusing on over the next few releases, with of course other new features added as well. New profile plugins supported in this release are:

  • Alpha User Points - Easily import profile information and award points to your AUP users
  • HikaShop - Import social network profile information into one of the most widely used shopping carts for Joomla

What Do You Think?

There's over 40 mid to large level changes in this release, and dozens of minor improvements or fixes. But surely, we're missing something you've always wanted. That's why we want to hear from you.

What do you think about the above features? What should be in JFBConnect v6.3 and beyond? Let us know in the comments below.

Alex Andreae

Alex co-founded SourceCoast Web Development in 2008. Based in sunny Florida, SourceCoast develops extensions for integrating your Joomla powered website with popular social networks. He has spoken at more than a dozen Joomla User Groups and Joomla Days, including the Joomla World Conference in both 2012 and 2013. Topics have included social networking for Joomla, running a business around Joomla extensions, and Joomla development.


Find Alex around the web:


Social Stream
Refer and Earn

Like our extensions? You're not alone! That's why they're used on tens of thousands of websites. Now you can earn 20% of any sale you refer to SourceCoast.com.

We provide excellent documentation, well laid out sales pages and great support. All you need to do is spread the word and we'll take care of the rest.

Learn About Our Affiliate Program