Here are just some of the things that are included with the new-and-improved Be Communities:
There is now more prominence and improvements to the site's search. The search field is located closer to “the action” on the home page as well on the pages within each community. During the site update, the entire database was indexed, providing better search results than before. Search scope (i.e. the current application/area/community or across the entire site) will also be more obvious. The results page is also significantly better: faceted navigation is included, providing the ability to narrow or expand based on application (e.g. forum, wiki, etc.), author, post date, tags (now integrated in the same search utility), etc. You can also sort by relevance (the default), most recent article/post, alphabetical order, or rating. Navigating from one "page" of results to another is also much easier. We will be using tags quite a bit more than previously for “Support Solutions” (aka wiki) articles. This will help "tie" solutions for products OR product areas together across the site.
Simpler User Interface
The user interface has been "lightened" up a bit, making it more obvious where to go and what to do across the site. The "flyout" submenu listing has been removed in favor of a simpler select-what-you-need approach, again emphasizing the use of search to get what you are looking for. Reordered tabs are labeled with the functionality they provide instead of what they are. Granted, we still have some work to do here, but you will see more and more improvements in this area.
Be Communities now implements Secure HTTP. This is not an indication that what existed previously was not secure, it is simply that we have added measures to incorporate more levels of security to conduct business with our users.
We have temporarily backed this out to do some more work and testing on it. We do plan to re-establish it early in 2014.
We are in the process of "merging" communities to minimize ambiguity and make it easier to get solutions to issues. We started this by creating one Programming community (linked from the Product Area section of the Product Communities landing page) where all external developer communities reside or are linked from. That provides a single location where developers can share information and experiences with published Bentley product APIs and SDKs. We will be doing more and more consolidation like this in 2014.
Localized User Interface
If your preferred language is German, you can change the Be Communities' user interface by going to your Settings on Be Communities (i.e. https://communities.bentley.com/user/settings.aspx) and then selecting German in the LANGUAGE option list. Although this only changes the user interface, we are looking at ways to localize the content in local languages. We will also be implementing other local languages for the user interface, starting with Simplified Chinese.
Product Landing Page
The Product landing page was redesigned to provide you with an easy way to choose the community that is most applicable to your question or issue. This makes it easy to select the community by one of the following:
Recalculation of Points
The number points each member has acquired by contributing on the site has been refactored. The intent is to identify those who provide quality input, with quantity being somewhat secondary in nature. The "point score" uses these factors:
Quality:These factors give points to community participants who are friended or followed as well as the authors of content that have received positive response from community participants, indicating that the content has been helpful in some way.
Participation:These factors give points to the person who takes a particular action, whether creating new content or providing feedback on existing content.
The number of points calculated determine one of (currently) five ranks:
The user rank will display with an avatar and rank name when the cursor hovers over the user name anywhere in the site, and will display available actions. Each of the badges used currently display the fact that there are five possible, helping to understand what the "next levels" are.
Reputation (Scoring) System
The points system rewards points for participation, but someone with a lot of points in the community does not equal a quality community member (a user could create 10 bad forum threads and get 50 points for it). We will be using the site's scoring system to manage or create scores that support measuring, calculating, and ranking content and community members.
More to Come (starting early in 2014):