The Next Three Months…

Ah, a new year and, with it, a few new things coming down the pipe from us. In the next three months, here are a few of our big releases:

1. OpenSocial Network Applications. When you choose an OpenSocial Network Application from the directory on your network, you’ll have a new feature with a click. The only difference is that an OpenSocial Network Application may come from us or external developers distributing their applications to hundreds of thousands of networks across millions of profiles.

When you choose an OpenSocial Network Application, it will be seamlessly added to your network’s Main page, have their own tab, display multiple pages for the feature itself as well as offer a module on your members’ profile pages. They will be a quick and easy way to add or modify features on your social network on Ning and we’re incredibly excited for them.

**Update: This release is now scheduled for mid August. As we get closer to the release, we’ll preview Ning Apps here on the Ning Blog. Thanks for your patience!**

2. New Network Discovery & Management on Ning.com. The requests for better discovery of newly popular and relevant social networks across the Ning Platform have been heard. We started with improved search on Ning.com as the first step last week.

From here, we’re revamping Ning.com to provide links to recommended networks – based on momentum and relevancy to the topics you care about – as well as provide a super simple,easy way to keep up with the increasing number of social networks you all are joining across the Ning Platform.

3. Head-to-Toe Revamp of Media Features, Starting with Chat. Lastly, we are tackling redesigns of our most popular features, starting with chat. The chat love is coming this month with a newer, faster, more scalable chat feature and a brand new design.

From there, we’re revamping the music, video and photo slideshow players, keeping the same great watermarking but updating the players with a brand new design and a few extra features.

The final step is a new music and podcast feature directly in your network for the first time. We’ll also be launching entirely updated video and photo features. And, yes, we’ll finally offer video channels.

4. A New Network Activity Feed. We’re upgrading your social network’s latest activity feed with a few extra activities, a slightly new design and entirely new back-end. As we have designs to show off, we’ll post them here and in Ning Preview.

Beyond these large ticket items, we have a whole set of smaller things that we’ll be continually updating on your social network on Ning throughout the coming weeks and months. As we get closer to a few of the upcoming releases, we’ll have more screenshots and details to share. Thanks!

Update: I should have originally included Fine Grain Moderation in here as one of the smaller projects. Better, more granular moderation controls over your network will be launched in a private beta in late January and open to the world in early February.

About the Author:

Gina Bianchini – who has written posts on Ning's Official Blog on Social Networking Sites.


  • B Teegarden

    I really would like to see you keep the right column where I run ads, intact in the main chat page. Also, I have had several requests for audio notifications for chat posts and especially private chat requests.

  • Jon Dale

    Fix RSS Feeds from Ning User Blogs.

    I wanted to run this one up the flag pole again as its a pretty serious issue.

    The RSS feeds from the Ning User Blogs are not formatted correctly. The entire post is contained with in the “Summary” tags in the feed. The causes the feed to display incorrectly, especially if using the feed on the a Ning Main page.

    The correct way to format the feed is a short excerpt within the tags and the whole post in the tags.

    To see an example of the problem this causes scroll down to the bottom of http://www.SimpleChurch.com and look at the blog of Tony Dale feed. You’ll see that rather than a brief excerpt you see the entire post.

    I was told last year that this was going to be addressed soon. I just wanted to draw attention to it again.

    Thanks,
    Jon

  • tuks

    Thank You , greeting the new year with exciting new features,wow.
    Man I can’t thank you guys enough for allowing me to create a social network for my group.
    I just want to say thank you, Have a happy New year and God Bless to guys.

  • Jeff Rothe

    Phew! Lots of different feedback on granular changes to how Ning works and should function globally…

    I am really glad you posted this generalized timeline. It’s hard to know without some sort of rev trac what is actually going on, and we all love the system, and want specific things from it in the future.

    Because it gets tiresome to submit a contact msg daily through the help site about suggested features, I thought I might include this here since everyone has used this as a sounding block.

    Will it be possible in the future to have photo upload be specific to a members profile vs. the site as a whole? Like a checkbox to say, ‘visually include in main repository’? or keep only on my profile but still ‘viewed by anyone’? I know you can choose to display to anyone, or just to friends…but that outrules browsing of profiles….where the photos really might not need to be in the main area because they are irrelevant to the topic of the website?

    Make sense?

  • Mark Snyder

    The number 1 most recommended change I have seen on Ning is that people want to be able to post events without requiring a photo – and it STILL hasn’t been addressed. I’m shocked.

  • Joe

    Excellent. Count me in.

  • Robert Wilson

    The new changes sound exciting…but a feature i was looking for and couldn’t find is a whose logged in updater….something similiar to a messenger layout…it show’s whose signed in…why doesn’t the main page have a updater that show’s whose logged in instead of having to go to each members profile to see if they are logged in…
    Hmmmmm…….
    Thanx Fam
    Wilson

  • Jennifer Jones

    Looking forward to the changes. I’m a college student for web design development and ning makes it so much easier to set up a quick awesome site and allows friends to join. I wanted to reply to another comment posted above.

    You can set page privacy by the page if you go into the page manager on the manage page (site admin only). Click on the page you want to make private and then there’s a drop list that says everyone, you can make it public, members only or admin only.

    Just a couple things, how about extending the theme ops to the groups, and having the user’s photo as a mini avatar in the forum?

  • DivaShop

    Awesome Updates, I’m soo excited!

  • Lyndon Evans

    A better way of finding nets is welcome news. Perhaps, what do they call it, a tag cloud would be a good idea for you folks to design.

    In any case anything that makes it easier for folks to find common interests and social groups.

  • Deborah Ribeiro de Almeida

    I am very happy with my new network Sport Marketing (Sports Management and Marketing – http://www.http://sportmarketing.ning.com), I

  • Roland Taylor

    …….okay.

    WOWEE!
    CHANNELS!!!
    PODCASTS!!!

    ——

    On the opensocial apps, I applied, but never got a reply. How do I get to develop my own apps on the platform? (I’ve been asked to do it too, and I’d like to try it out while I’m studying this year…)

  • kopper

    I wanted to agree wholeheartedly with Jon Dale’s request for fixing RSS Feeds from Ning User Blogs, but in particular add that Ning needs to make these feeds carry media attachments. If I link to an MP3 or video file in my blog post, I want that delivered via RSS along with the text for my post. This should be a simple fix… please do it!

    Thanks,
    kopper
    GaragePunk Hideout

  • Clark Pearson

    I have a request that would greatly improve the usability flow of members contacting each other. The problem that this addresses is that new members have no idea how to send messages to each other. There is no obvious link because they are not friends with those members.

    I suggest that you add the “Send a message” link to EVERY members profile page even if they are not your friend. Members would then click on that very intuitive link, and if they were not friends with that member, would be told they have to be friends to send private messages with a link to friend that member.

    This would clear up most problems we have with newbies. :-)

    Thanks!
    Clark

  • Justin Towson

    Still looks like user-language selection is not in the foreseeable future…

  • walid

    Can we have an idea of what’s coming in the chat? I am considering moving to webchatter but it still doesn’t seem to work well … the idea of making certain members chat moderator is definitely a must to make it self managed and defend against members with bad intents

  • B. Woods Design Professional Managed Websites

    I have membership in a few networks here on Ning and one thing I would like to see is the ability to customize comment settings for My Page – for example, be able to:

    - Turn off images
    - disable rich text/HTML in comments

    Sometimes people post crazy images or links and I would prefer that my commenters see that I don’t allow them, which would perhaps inspire them to write something meaningful instead of slapping up glitter graphics or crazy text.

    Is this something that could be in the works? I couldn’t find another place to ask this, seeing as you have no forum or user feedback place to do so.

    Thanks!

  • Harry Clark

    We are excited by finding Ning.

    Email Notification:
    On our old site the content of New Posts were included in the Email Notifications. This is a feature on many forums too (eg Simple Machines). It is convenient (especially on busy days) and a Really Fast way to see what needs to be dealt with.

    Not having this feature nearly torpedoed our decision to choose Ning (and may still do). Please could you consider it when you next update your Raod Map.

    Thanks for Ning
    Harry

  • Hotridesmag.com

    Sounds good, But I am still waiting for more important things in my opinion, Such as, The ability to add the yellow box to any side of the network, and as many as you like for more advertising options without much effort. Drag and drop like the other features would be nice. Also, a “Top Friends” would be REALLY helpful for encouraging more exploration of that social network, And make the member feel like their page is more “personal” and meaningful. Peoples “Friends” are just as an important form of expression as their name, photos, videos, comments, etc. This will also help the Page views each network gets and the potential for the network creator, or Ning, ( Who ever is in control of the ads on that pativular network) To create more revenue since the network will have more page views per day. This is the most requested feature of my members by far !
    Another great one would be able to force the members to upload a default picture. This will also create more page views ( and create more revenue) for Ning and network creators. Who wants to click a profile with a default network icon of shadow guy ??
    This will make the networks look MUCh more professional. There are hardly any default pictures on Myspace, The ones that are are usualy spam. These days, Everyone has a digital camera or a picture of them self, or something they can upload.
    These 3 suggestions would REALLY help ALL Newtorks become much better and will really help the success of all networks and ning itself.

    Thanks, Lee

  • Rick Bradford

    I’m always happy to see new improvements but personally I would put the FORUMS ahead of chat. In terms of functionality Ning’s forums are way behind the standard (SMF, phpBB, etc.).

    A few things I’d love to see:
    • Better forum navigation at the top (and bottom) of each forum page.
    • Ability to create subcategories so that the main Forums page can be minimized in length and better organized.
    • “New Post” indicators next to categories and the posts themselves. (I’m one of those people who prefers to browse the forums for new posts rather than viewing all new posts in the same place.)
    • “Upload Files / Attach Files” automatically display image files — at least as thumbnails.
    • More admin power to edit forum posts. I can add tags to a member’s post but I can’t edit it or move it to another category? Hopefully this will be covered with the upcoming Fine Grain Moderation.

    Even if Ning could work out a way to securely integrate (with Ning login) external board software (SMF would be my preference) that’d be pretty great.

    Thanks for listening!

  • Video Master

    Evan,
    Thanks for your response! If anyone is interested in having videos manually added to their Ning network – please check out my Ning network dedicated to adding videos to any Ning network:
    http://addvideos.ning.com
    All my contact information is on the aforementioned Ning network.

    Thanks again Evan!
    Nate

  • Nuno Machado Lopes

    Great work guys but multilingual would be great!

    Cheers
    Nuno

  • Thinker

    We would like the ability to allow new members not yet approved to edit their faulty profile, before they are approved, so no one has to go to the heart wrenching issue of banning and unbanning afterwards.

  • Gina Bianchini

    We’re reading all of these fantastic comments and really appreciate your feedback. Alot of these things are the stuff I mentioned as the small projects we’ll be tackling in the next three months and beyond, so thank you!

  • Scott Fox

    Hi Gina,
    Ning really needs to integrate a payment platform so that we can charge for membership subscriptions.
    It needs recurring billing that you could just integrate with Paypal.
    This is a growth area and you currently have little to no serious competition.
    It would also be a major revenue source for your company because you could take a % of subscriptions sold.
    I’d be happy to bring my business here but can’t until you make that available.

  • Zack Coffman

    Hey Guys,
    Fantastic site, glad we found you. A couple things we really need are:

    1. Beefed up Forum features, like stickies, ratings, number of views (not just # of posts), able to move a post from one category to another. Mostly like any mainstream forum out there.

    2. Video chat. :)

    Cheers,
    Zack
    http://www.choppertownnation.com

  • Aubrey Williams

    You’ve got to add a flexible payment platform, as others in this thread have also mentioned. The community that adds a payment platform first wins!

  • kgrucci

    The features sound great, Gina. Once of the features I’m really interested in so that I can generate more activity from my members is the Points, Ranks, and Rewards functionality that came with Scripts4Ning. Please let me know when this will be available as part of the Ning platform. I’m really, really hoping it will be available in the next 3-4 months.

  • Robb Montgomery

    All great but may I suggest a couple things first?

    1) That you allow us to set the simple uploader as the default. The Java one loads slow and turns users off with all the certificate confirmations.

    2) That you give us a master RSS feed for all group activity or other way to show current activity on the home page.

    3) Provide a migration path for WordPress bloggers to move their blogs into their NIng profile.

    Those three things I would think could benefit many people and grow the network even more.

    Robb Montgomery
    visualeditors.com

  • Boojoo

    we all want a better forum and comment boxes with proper text features, right now it is so difficult to ad an image and link or color a text, basic text options like FJK editor needed as comment boxes are very useless when it comes to reply or create complex texts..

    also administrators should have the option to edit forum posts like move it to another category , flag it or edit inside.. you can only delete it and its useless.

    These options should make it better community as communication would be easier and we can monitor members better and serve better if we have some options like that.

    Mujka
    http://www.mygrafico.ning.com

  • Evan

    Hi Mujka!

    I just wanted to note that administrators can already move forum posts from one category to another. Check out the instructions here:

    http://help.ning.com?faq=2749

    As for an improved Rich Text Editor, I’ve added your vote to the request, and we hope to get to that feature down the road!

    Cheers,
    Evan

  • dblock

    Hi Gina! I just want to let you know that so far, I love Ning. My members are very happy as well!

    I am excited about the new features coming in the next week. I’ve been desiring to fine grain my assistant moderators abilities. Also really looking forward to the Chat! This is great…

    I have been perplexed by one thing, though. When will we have a better WYSIWYG editor (smilies and cool extra features) for our posts? I’m getting quite a few requests for this!

    Thanks,
    Debi
    http://www.recoveryjunkies.com

  • http://blog-o.ning.com/author/evan Evan Goldin

    Hi Dblock!

    Thanks for the feedback. We don’t have plans to replace the current Rich Text Editor with a full WYSIWYG editor just yet, but that’s something we’d like to get to down the road. I’ve added your vote to the request :-)

    Cheers,
    Evan

  • Chris

    This is great news. I hope that the different moderation level will going to hide the members email address to the other moderators.

  • Raciel Gonçalves Junior

    Excellent improvements. Congratulations from Itajaí, Santa Catarina – Brazil.

  • Alan

    Great work Ning Team! Ning rocks!

    BTW, I’d really like to have that Member Delete feature for the NC. I’ve read quite a few discussions on the banning/unbanning members as some sort of patch-up solution. I just want to simply delete unwanted members from my network since I made an error in approving their sign-up application when my network was only a few days old. I don’t want to ban them, and later on un-ban them nor do I want to keep tabs of these unwanted members.

    Also regarding the invite feature, I want to be able to see during membership approval stage which existing member invited them by email from within my Ning network. Couple of columns in the Membership Pending Approval screen like name and email address of the person who sent the Ning invite to the applicant would be great in filtering out unwanted applicants.

    Thanks again for Ning! I’ve only known it for less than a month and now I’m addicted and an ardent fan.

  • http://blog-o.ning.com/author/evan Evan Goldin

    Hi Alan!

    That’s wonderful feedback. We have done some initial planning on enhanced member banning/deletion options, but the project isn’t slated for a release just yet. I’ve added your vote to the request, however.

    And that’s a great point about seeing who invited pending members. We’d love to add a way to do that — so I’ve filed that as an improvement request. Hopefully we’ll get to that down the road!

    Cheers,
    Evan

  • nzchick

    Loving the revamped media features!
    Just one quick suggestion though.. the new music player, I know it’s designed to match the network theme but how about having it adjust to member’s profile page themes?
    I have some users who have customized their profiles and the music player really doesn’t match.. perhaps it could be made transparent or something?

  • Willie

    Hi, Ning is great! I would like to second the request for the Rich Text Editor. Ideally, I would love to see TinyMCE as other major CMS feature it like Joomla and Drupal, but at least, have the one now present at Notes propagated to the remaining textareas such as Blogs, Forums, comments. We can have this as an option (plain text, minimal editor, rich text editor, etc).
    Guil.

  • Hamo Geek Girl

    So… do we have video channels now? Or did I miss something?

  • http://blog-o.ning.com Laura Oppenheimer

    Hi Hamo Geek Girl,

    You didn’t miss anything :) This was something we were planning on releasing in January of 2009 when Gina wrote this post. While we haven’t released video channels yet, it’s still something on our radar and ongoing list of features we’d like to add. If you want to see what we’ve been up to since the beginning of this year, check our the New Releases category on the Ning Blog.

    Thanks!