What New Software Features Do You Want For IPVM?

We are actively developing new software features for IPVM. In the last few months, we've added our own course management system, forum, comments, tests, surveys, etc.

Each week, we aim to roll out a handful of new improvements - like the personal/company URL link we just announced and the tagging / sections for discussions that you can see on the main discussion page, like so:

What else should we add? Big or small?

For instance, Matt Ion just emailed me about having emails for new comments link directly to that comment, rather than the top of that discussion. We can easily do this by adding anchors to the links in emails.

Some other things we have in queue: improved search that covers Member Only reports and discussions; integrating GoToWebinar's API to make it simpler to attend IPVMU classes and IPVM webinars; like/dislike and IPVM editor's choices for comments, adding polls to discussions, etc.

Let us know what you want?

John, How about the ability to private message other members of the site? Mike

No, because that will turn into a spamming the user/integrator feature. If someone is really impressed with a person's comments, they can check the commenter's link and reach out to them.

We queued up a new minor upgrade. The use of undisclosed comments is going well. We had a case though where a member who posted undisclosed, posted a follow up but forgot to check the undisclosed option. We are now going to check if the member has earlier posted undisclosed in a thread. If so, we will default the undisclosed comment option to true, to minimize any risk of later revealing their identitiy.

I really like all the recent improvements to IPVM. I would like to see a glossary for all the abbreviations used that may not be familiar to all subscibers.

Tim has a good point- maybe an automatic hyperlink for certain keys terms that link somewhere that explains the word in more detail.

I may not be getting email updates on threads I've commented on, though. Do you have to explcitly "Subscribe" to a thread to get emailed subsequent posts on a thread?

Can we assign ourselves avatars so I use that animated GIF of Homer choking Bart? ........ I'm just kidding on that.

Some suggestions:

Ability to "like" comments.

Ability to tag users (eg: enter a personal/private note, like "Shill for company XYZ", "Casino CCTV Guy"). I find this handy for keeping track of semi-frequent contributors that you can't always remember "who is that dude(tte)".

Ability to tag/save a comment for later retrieval. EG: the USB capture suggestion in the other thread about the defunct DVR. Good tip, I'd like to keep that one handy.

"Casino CCTV Guy"


Great suggestions, thanks!

Glossary: We can do that. Luis's idea of automatic hyperlinking would be very useful. We can set it up so the first time that any glossary term appears in a post, it automatically links to the glossary entry. This way, we (IPVM authors) don't need to think about it, it just gets added programmatically.

Likes: This is already on the committed roadmap. Additionally, we are adding an IPVM 'Editor's Choice' to further help highlight the most informative comments.

Tag Users: I need to think about this one. To start, we are going to advocate the "linking to member's website" feature to help make ti clear who is who.

Tagging Content: That's very interesting. Beyond simply tagging content, we might as well let people tag posts or specific sections with post. A bookmarking type feature. Place all the bookmarked content in a section, let people print it out, maybe even annotate it. Sounds like a winner!

Ability to generate reports that includes user comments is a must! User comments have so much wealth that reports should automatically include them.

Gautham, good feedback! We can do that easily for all new reports now that we have our own internal commenting system and have the contents in our database.

We'll get this implemented in the next few weeks. Thanks!

I like the "bookmark" idea, but in the short term, once the "Like" feature is in place, that could be used as a "bookmark" as well - just need the ability to list all your Liked posts.

This is probably a crazy idea, but what about a separate section of Amazon style user reviews for surveillance products? Allow people to post video reviews and commentary, disclosing if they are an end user or integrator. I like the scientific and anecdotal reviews you provide, but what about long term end users? Or maybe just a "long term review" section like they do woth Car & Driver or Consumer Reports? Something in conjuction with a undisclosed confirmed end user providing monthly reports?

Whenever I read a marketing piece about some 3million dollar job going to manufacturer X that I had nothing but trouble with, I think "I'd love to know how that job looks a year from now"

Matt, tracking and listing what comments one likes is a piece of cake as that relation is stored in our database by definition of the like. We could easily show/report it inside the member's section.

Sean, do you want to start a riot? :) We talked about this a few months ago and had a heated discussion.

One part that I think we can and should do is 'long term end user' reviews. Just like you, I see these wacky marketing case studies and wonder, "Jeez, imagine we did a follow up or investigation into how it really works, what would we find?" As we expand over the next few months, that's one thing I'd like us to do.

I do want to start a riot (evidence: my Twitter feed =P) ; but its not my party getting crashed, and once I actually read what I had written, the real idea I wanted to get at was the case study or long term follow up.

If we end up adding 'likes':

I am a member of forums who tally the total number of 'likes' a user recieves over a week, and then makes a point to identify that user as especially helpful. I'm not sure that being voted 'most liked commenter' at IPVM is resume' material, but it certainly is nice to be recognized for your good contributions.

Reddit much??

Also that reminded me, maybe i just havent seen it yet, but is there a share discussion link on Twitter/Facebook etc for discussion threads like there is for normal report articles?

Sean, we could easily add a social media share link. I just checked our analytics for that tool. There were 167 total shares in the last month, which is fairly low considering we get 80,000 visits plus per month. Interestingly, 84% of those shares were via good old email!

Being atop a leaderboard for an online communities has become especially important tool to advance one's career. It's far more impressive to be top ranked on an expert domain site then to self list credentials. For instance, having a top reputation on StackExchange opens up all sorts of great opportunities. Certainly, as we add in likes and IPVM editor's choices, we will use these to help promote top commenters here.

Indeed, Brian, as you, that's how we recruit. We look for the most active, intelligent commenters to join our team.

> We look for the most active, intelligent commenters to join our team.

Do you pay relocation to Hawaii?

Brian, do you want to lead up our Detroit office? :)

I'd gladly pay to have people come to Hawaii but it doesn't seem many people want or can move full time so far away.

I would like to see the option of sorting the results of any searches by either latest to earliest (dates) , earliest to latest (dates) and or by level of relevance to the original query.

Joel, yes, we are improving/switching our site search engine and when we do we will enable sorting of results, autocompletion and more.

Availability in Android/Apple Store? So its easy for us to get Sync.

Zulfikhar, I am not sure what to do about an app. I have two big questions/concerns:

- How many people will use an IPVM app vs a mobile optimized website?

- How much time and effort will it take to develop for Android and iOS? We currently develop in Ruby and JS, building native apps require different frameworks, languages, etc. Given the concern about how many people would use it, is it worth the time or should we focus on other features?

Any feedback would be appreciated.

John, I am actually not sure on how many people use this. But I always Sync IPVM Discussion when I was using Linkedin - IPVM group. Just a thought.

Zulfikhar, I am not sure what to do about an app. I have two big questions/concerns:

- How many people will use an IPVM app vs a mobile optimized website?

- How much time and effort will it take to develop for Android and iOS? We currently develop in Ruby and JS, building native apps require different frameworks, languages, etc. Given the concern about how many people would use it, is it worth the time or should we focus on other features?

John, I would love to see an ios/android app. To be honest if it is only for the discussions then Tapatalk integration is more than enough but if you develop an app that also includes access to the articles then I think it will be amazing and very useful. I guess you have to look at your analytics and see how many people use mobile devices to view IPVM but this number is not totally concluding because if you allow an easy way for the mobile devices to access IPVM then that number might increase exponentially.

I just queued up a new feature for discussion summaries.

We frequently have very long, in depth discussions with lots of good points made throughout. This feature will let us write a summary of the top ones and stick it at the top of the discussion so members can quickly scan that summary for the key takeaways/links/products, etc.

Following up on Sean's point of sharing, since email seems to be most popular, we might as well build in a direct feature where you can simply type in a friend's email and automatically send him a link and the first X numbers of paragraphs. Since we already know your name and email, all you would need to do is enter in the receipt's email and press send.

You guys have already come up with great ideas... I personally like the direction you're taking IPVM in making it and the content more accessible and truly a great resource. I would just like to say thanks and can I get a trip to Hawaii? I've never been. :D

Had a thought about the "Like" feature: how about something like Quora uses, where posts have both upvote and downvote buttons, as well as a "Thanks" feature?

From a reply explaining the difference:

In general, voting for an answer means "People should look at this answer." Thanks is a show of appreciation but doesn't make any statement about how good the answer is.

Some examples of where sending thanks might make sense but voting for an answer doesn't:

  • If someone gives a factual answer to a question, and you aren't sure if that answer is correct.
  • If a question is subjective and you disagree with the answer the person gave and so you don't want to vote for the answer but you appreciate the effort he/she put into writing it.

Concretely, upvoting an answer makes a public statement that you think people should read it, increases the number displayed next to the answer, and can move the answer up in the order that answers are displayed on a question. It also makes it more likely that others--especially those that follow you--will see the question on their homepage feeds. Sending thanks is currently an action that is strictly private and doesn't impact distribution or ranking of the answer.

How about some basic information about that poster that appears by their names or as a signature at the bottom or top of every post, so people don't worry about having to disclaimer themselves all the time.

So anywone working for "IP Manufacturer A" would have "Sales rep for IP Manufacturer A" for example appear as a sig above or below the post everytime. It may be a bit lenghty for the manufacturer reps listing their line card, but I think it would be a good idea and it might even be to their benefit.

Maggie, we have to do an IPVM Meetup in Hawaii one day!

Matt, we can look more about how we implement likes. Step 1 is to just put in the basic up and down and then we can see where it goes from there. I am a little confused about having a 'like' and 'thank' feature as they feel fairly redundant.

Luis, we have a new feature that allows linking one's name to one's personal or company URL. This will help clarify who is who. For now, we are making this optional. Please try it out.

John, the difference, at least in the Quora implementation, is explained in my post (from an answer on Quora to pretty much the same question). In brief, the upvote/downvote help to "rank" an answer based on its usefulness, accuracy, or general relevance. In theory, one would only upvote one or two answers; upvoting all of them would be meaningless.

Downvoting helps to push down partictularly non-useful or pointless replies, and I think once they hit a -1 balance (more downvotes than upvotes) the answer is hidden unless you choose to view it.

They added the "Thank" later as more of a, "Hey, good effort, but it's not the best answer here" rating. Quora doesn't actually display how many "Thanks" an answer has, except to the poster - kind of a private pat on the back.

Anyway, don't know how these concepts would work here, but it's something to think about.

This is how the new email feature will look/work:

It will likely be placed right above and/or below the post. All a member then needs to do is enter the person's email and hit the send button. That should make it super easy and quick to share.

We'll check the email address and if the email is for another member (or yourself), we'll email the whole post. If it's a non-member, we will email the first few paragraphs. Let me know if you have any questions or feedback.

Okay, here's a couple things:

1. Seems to me a little while ago, clicking the "insert photo" button gave a popup to enter a link... now it only allows me to upload a photo. 99% of the time if I'm inserting a photo, it's already on a web link (often to my own server or Dropbox). It's a hassle to have to download it first just so I can upload it to this site. Can we not have the option for BOTH behaviours?

2. Something to resize this text entry box would be great - it's so short now; insert a couple large photos that are wider than the box, and it becomes really easy to get lost in composing a post. Chrome normally puts a grab handle on the bottom-right of almost every type of entry field to resize it, but for some reason, not with this one.

3. Oddly, Chrome's spellchecking doesn't seem to work in this entry box either. Not that I worry about spelling much. but the little red squiglies are good to show me somewhere I've suffered from fumble-fingers. Don't know if this is something that's "fixable" on the forum software you're using (some sort of proprietary text-entry system?), but I figured I'd mention it.

On #2, the button all the way to the right on the editor will fullscreen the text box. It's not quite as ideal as being able to resize it to whatever you want, but at least it's bigger.

On #3, it's a Chrome thing. Oddly enough, on my Macbook, Chrome does highlight typos, but not in Windows.

One other thing that would be good is an "active topics" or "new posts" feature. Also an "ignore topic" feature.

Basically, there are some conversations I want to participate in. It's helpful to see when there are new replies to those and to have them sorted to the top. Similarly, there are some topics I look in on and decide "I could care less about this". I do not need or want any kind of visual indicator that there has been activity in those threads.

How do I make it so I get an email for every new topic created?

(BTW, thanks alot, Matt. I was 5 minutes trying to figure out why I couldn't type in the "Post reply to" box.)

Luis: ever take a screenshot of someone's desktop, set it as their wallpaper, and then hide all their desktop icons?

Well, it wasn't quite 5 minutes, more like 5 seconds.

In a related story, when I was a systems person at a newspaper company, we sent a screen shot of an error message to a software vendor once. He wrote back saying the error immediately pop'd up on his screen and he couldn't clear it. Come to find out he thought he was looking at his own desktop when it was really the picture of the screen shot we sent him. I know, a little off topic, but I think worth it.

RE: Size of textarea and resizing of it. Fixed and fixed.

Now, the text box defaults to a height of 200 pixels, where before it was 110 pixels. More importantly, if your post goes longer than that, the textarea automatically resizes (i.e., grows to keep all text/images fully displayed). I think this should work nicely. Thanks for bringing it up.

RE: spellcheck and image upload.

This is an issue with the WYSWIG editor we use (currently TinyMCE). We are considering moving to CKEditor for a variety of reasons, including image upload. For now, it seems that less technical users benefit from uploading straight to desktop. While I personally prefer, uploading from a link, we can't do both right now. To upload from a link, switch to html view and then put it into an <img href="" /> tag. It's a known problem and one I want to fix.

Thanks for the tweaks, John!

Too bad you can't support BBcode... that would make image links a lot easier to do manually.

Something to consider on linking images versuses uploading, sometimes the site you link to drops the image, changes the URL, changes the image, or denies linking; then you have a post referancing images that no longer exist. Uploading images, the pictures should always be available in the forum system.

There is that. I know of one forum that when an external image is linked, the forum software automatically downloads it, then changes the link to its own internal version, for exactly that reason.

Like I say, for me at least, most of the images I'll post are already online (several I already have bookmarked because I use them repeatedly), and it just becomes an extra two or three steps to go to it, download it, then re-upload it here.

Re BK's suggestions of active, new and ignored topics. Those are good ideas.

For the first two, we can just display relevant icons on the main forum page. For example, if posted in the last day, put a 'new' icon, if more than 5 comments in the last day, put a flame icon for active.

The ignored topics one is particularly interesting. That's a little more work but there's a lot of value in that. We can do it like LinkedIn allows hiding updates. When one hovers over a topic, a hide link appears, click it and the topic is removed and not shown in the future.

I think that will help the forums scale, allowing people to customize what they want to see / track. Thanks!

How about categories on the discussion home page, currently there are only two pages of discussion topics but as this grows it will get more and more congested. Have four of five ctaegories like CCTV Cameras, VMS, Access Control etc then when a new topic is posted it has to be within one of these defined categories so you click into a category then only see topice relevant to that, can see that this would require some management to ensure people are posting to the correct category but could be usefull as the site grows.

Phil, we already have sections and a dropdown to switch between them. We use tags to do this which makes it more flexible to list discussions in multiple 'sections'/categories. Just select which section you want and it will filter to only those. See image:

To clarify I get that the sections drop down already sort of does this but Im thinking more of the sections being all you see with maybe a number of posts/comments since last visit then you click to enter that section

RE: Luis's request for an email for all new discussions. I've queued that up. Also, we'll add a separate option to get emails for all new articles. This will default to false/no emails but in the edit profile page, we'll add two checkboxes that allows you to 'subscribe'/'unsubscribe' for those emails. This will be a nice feature for those of you are active or just want to see what's new right away.

Phil's idea reminded me of something from another home-grown forum platform that was nice... The ability to "subscribe" to sub-forums. So, if I'm not interested in "Video Analytics" I can opt to not see any of the threads/topics posted there in my default views.

How about a 'Flag Objectionable Post' box for all members? If they see a post that's spammy, promotional, or offensive they can raise it for moderation. As things scale and grow larger, it could be helpful.

I second this (for whatever that is worth), for your own sanity, maybe not even so much for SPAM, but just generally offensive/unprofessional comments...

We had that button on LinkedIn but I never found it to be of any use. We're vigilant about knocking down spam regardless so I am not sure it would help much. I am not opposed to it but we already have a queue of 50 upgrades/changes that add new features to the site that I want to work through first.

I'd like to see a set of standardized scenes for every camera tested. These would need to be tightly controlled so any two cameras tested six months apart are given a fair comparison (meaning that outdoor scenes will need to be simulated). Of particular importance would be standardized shots for Low Light and WDR. This should be complimented by a side by side comparison tool that lets us quickly see how multiple different cameras handle these standardized shots.

This recommendation is born out of frustration of trying to use IPVM reviews to compare a camera featured in the WDR review to one in a low light reviews. As the posts were on obviously different topics, few of the same tests were used (especially for outdoor scenes).

I'd say the shots in the storage unit (with the eye chart and spot light) are approaching the kind of standardized shot I'm talking about, but comparing two cameras still takes some window manipulation.

Given the length of this thread, I would like to now officially request pagination be added every 30 comments or so :)

James, to set up 'tightly controlled' scenes so that tests 'six months apart' can be compared is too complex and costly for what we can do now. It's a worthwhile goal for the future. In the interim, as Ethan gets his scenes down in PA, we can at least use common scenes (though I would still not recommend comparing across tests as that would demand ensuring absolute identical conditions).

Brian, I changed the pagination to 30. We could alternatively look at user defined pagination length (i.e., a drop down for 10, 30, 60, 100) or endless pagination to let people start with a small number and then scroll down for more.

Seeing as I tried to reply on the Flir test news article I noticed I can't use my IPVM login to comment ?

Rogier, sorry about that. That post was created more than a month ago before we switched to the new commenting system. All posts created after Feb 1st use the new IPVM commenting system. Everything before that uses Disqus. Again, sorry. I can't change that but this won't happen for newly created posts.

Ahhhhh. That explains it why I could comment on others! Can't wait to see those FC-series tests.

The share via email feature is now live. When you are signed in, right below the title of any post or discussion, you will now see this format:

Just enter in an email and it will send a message to that person with either an excerpt (to non members) or a full copy to members. You can even email yourself.

Try it out and let us know what you think.

Wouldn't mind seeing some tweaks to the image uploading system:

  • ability to upload multiple photos at once (especially if embedding linked images isn't going to happen)
  • script that will resize photos for display (since the text width is constrained and too-wide photos create a very inconvenient scrollbar)
  • to go along with above, maybe a "lightbox" script that will expand an image in a new window when clicked

I have such a script set up on my forum and it works really well: posted images can be any size, but they'll be displayed shrunken to the width of the textbox, then expand out to fit the screen when clicked.

Also, a couple bits when posting links:

  • a fully-qualified URL should auto-parse and automatically create a link
  • the Target field in the Insert/Edit Link dialog should default to "Open link in new window"

May have been mentioned, but I can't figure out how to search the discussion sectio, which I would be helpful

Matt, as mentioned earlier, we are considering changing the WYSIWIG engine which would then faciliate changing the image uploader. As for the auto linking of existing links, I'd rather not have links displayed like that. We support a button to add links to text which looks better and takes up less space.

Thomas, adding search for discussion is a high priority. Now that we have so many discussions, we definitely need a way to do so. Expect it in the next month. We'll also be improving the entire site search at the same time.

I for one would really like to see a better mobile experience. The current experience isn't all that terrible, but it could definitely be better. For browsing articles I'm not sure what a native app would add. For discussions, the benefits of something like Tapatalk integration are more apparent. I'm wondering if Tapatalk would allow for the "incognito" posts.

I just today e-mailed myself an article I read while on the phone so I would remember to jump into the discussion when I got back to my desk.

How about a "star" or "favorite" feature for articles? Maybe "mark as read", "read later", etc?

Maybe an Oauth login feature? It adds convenience (one less password to remember), and may cut down on login sharing (people will be less willing to share their gmail/facebook passwords).

James, on the mobile side, I want to improve the mobile html experience before ISC West because we see a big spike in mobile use during that time period.

Nice to see that you are using the email feature!

We are looking at favorite/bookmarking feature for both articles and discussions.

As for Oauth, I am not sure what to do. We can do it fairly easily but unless we require everyone to login via gmail/facebook/linkedin etc, it won't do anything to reduce sharing.

I don't think you would see much pushback limiting it to just those three. Obviously, the truly devious will just create fake accounts with one service or the other to share amongst multiple people. It would serve more to keep honest people honest. Anyways, I was looking at that as a secondary perk, not the primary goal.

As for e-mailing myself articles, my intent of sharing that was to point out a potentially less than ideal workflow. It's certainly a workable way of doing it, but I wonder if you couldn't come up with something better that doesn't clutter my inbox. I think the favorites option might be the solution.

For discussions, I'm hesitant to begin a reply on my mobile phone. I often realize halfway through my post that I want to jump around to some other pages to check facts or find appropriate links to share. That is not easily done on a phone, so I often just wait until I'm at my desk. Automatically saving posts as drafts would be pretty cool, especially if it allowed me to start a reply on my phone and automagically switch to the desktop.

For discussions, I'm hesitant to begin a reply on my mobile phone. I often realize halfway through my post that I want to jump around to some other pages to check facts or find appropriate links to share. That is not easily done on a phone, so I often just wait until I'm at my desk. Automatically saving posts as drafts would be pretty cool, especially if it allowed me to start a reply on my phone and automagically switch to the desktop.

John, how about the ability to reply to a thread by replying to a notification email? I don't know about other mail clients, but Gmail already does exactly what James is suggesting - I can start writing an email on my desktop, then close it and walk away... then open the draft later on my phone, work on it some more... if I leave the Gmail app, it automatically saves the draft, and I can pick it up again on my laptop, or for that matter, any other device that lets me access Gmail. Best part is, there's no need to click a "Save" or "Save draft" button like you have to do in so many forums, in Outlook, etc. - Gmail keeps "running draft" that's always ready to go - even after a system crash, you can pick up exactly where you left off.

I already get email notifications of every new post to a subscribed thread - if I could simply reply to that email, that would solve much of the need for a mobile client.

We could do reply by phone, but it would take a little bit of work because we would first need to add functionality for our app to read incoming mail. It's not rocket science or anything, but it would just take more time. I've put it in the queue, but there's a bunch of other things in there. Equally importantly, related to this is a mobile theme/layout for discussions to make it easier to read and respond inside a mobile web client.

Here's one that's bugging me: proper formatting of indents/bullets! They indent nicely in editing, but all left-justify in the resulting submitted post. Worse, the system adds a line above the list, that's the same line used to separate posts. Lose the line, indent the list?

Fixed and fixed. Here's a list:

  • Notice no line above anymore
  • And bullets are properly indented.

Good call. Sorry about that. Also, fixed the same problem (the line) in posts as well. It was a CSS conflict between our site template and the styling of our content. Thanks!

Hey John, not to harp on the image embedding thing ;) but it looks like you're using a similar backend to Quora for posting... I was noticing that their image-upload dialog is very similar to yours, but with an extra option:

With this option, the system actually pulls the image from the web link, then saves it and links it locally. Since 99% of the images I post are from other sites, this would make things LOT simpler than having to download it from another site, then switch back to IPVM to upload it. I think that would also make it a lot easier for the less-forum-savvy types, who may find the above process confusing, let alone cumbersome.

On a side note, I find the first time I open the image dialog, it opens fine, but on subsequent uploads, it does this:

Might be just a Chrome thing, I don't know...

I was thinking, since we deal allot with laws and regulations, which differ from country to country, perhaps give users the option to state their country so that it shows a flag of their country when they post something ?

It also shows the diversity on the website.

Matt, I'd like the upload feature to have both options and it's on the list of things to do (though on a second tier).

Rogier, we now allow people to show a link to their own website (which you and many others already do). Through that you can typically see not only what company one works for but also what country. Beyond that, I don't plan to show flags specifically.

Instead of just 'subscribe' / 'unsubscribe' for discussions, how about adding to subscribe to daily/weekly digest?

Sometimes I would like to turn down the noise on a busy thread without cutting myself out of the discussion entirely.

James, the Sunday email is basically the weekly digest. We could consider, in the future, an opt-in daily digest.

I am talking about something different. Digest probably wasn't the right word. What I want is to be able to set (on a discussion by discussion basis), whether I recieve an e-mail immediately when somebody posts, or if all posts are grouped into a single daily e-mail (or a single weekly e-mail).

I am concerned about the complexity of the UI because that would mean 3 options: email for each new post, daily email for the thread or weekly email for the thread. I'll include it in a list of possible future features but we have a long existing list of more fundamental features to add.