February witnessed another security release, albeit one with less potential risk. As such, we’ve been slowly rolling it out and will continue to do so throughout the month of March. In conjunction, we’ve spent a lot of time cleaning up legacy systems and continuing our push toward a standard Greenleaf ONE system for both new and existing clients.
In addition to several ongoing initiatives such as building out a video library and implementing advanced user permissioning, we’ve undertaken several new projects that are intended to improve performance as well as add new features. For example, we’re actively reviewing adoption of a 3rd party email platform to better service bulk email and bounce processing. Likewise, we’re undertaking some work to develop advanced filtering capability in the page builder.
Cool improvements aside, we’ve also identified several performance related issues that are resulting from specific plugins, most notably Caldera Forms. We’re working aggressively to manage these as well as establish a plan with users to migrate off of these systems and on to more performant systems.
We have a lot in progress at the moment, and I expect we’re going to see big updates throughout March. As always, if you have any questions or feedback, we’re an email away!
On to this month’s update!
We’ve made lots of small improvements that go largely unnoticed and undocumented, however our focus in February was on a few design related improvements, laying the groundwork for developments in March and on adopting the latest security release.
Improved section transitions via builder plugin
We’ve added a native builder plugin that enables advanced configuration of section transitions, including overlaying SVG files. This will significantly improve design capabilities for sites in that it will allow for sections to transtion in ways that match each organizations brand, allowing for greater design customization and flexiblity.
Enhanced frontend accessibility options now available
Out of the box, the default page builder provides an elegant solution that can easily meet modern accessibility standards. That said, it’s easy to implement designs that, while nice, are less friendly for individuals with disabilities. To help with this, we’ve installed a plugin (that is disabled by default, so you’ll need to enable it if you want to use it) called “DJ Accessibility” that provides frontend accessibility controls. In fact, you can see it in action on this site right now. Look to the bottom right of your screen and click the blue circle icon.
The plugin is WCAG and ADA compliance approved, placing powerful tools at the fingertips of visitors to your site. We recommend enabling accessibility controls on the frontend of your website such that it is more accommodating to all individuals.
Our list of what we’re working on seems to grow like a hydra… we complete one item, and 2 more pop up! But that’s exciting for everyone as we’ve got some really cool features and improvements in the works. Our priorities for the next few weeks include:
Advanced Content Filters
Currently in the page builder, users can filter dynamic content only at a fairly basic level. While this works for most, we want to extend the filtering of content to include custom fields. This means that users can display dynamic content in such a way that it could be easily filtered based on custom structured data. This functionality currently supports default WordPress posts and will be rolling out in June. We’re actively developing support for custom post types as well and will upgrade once this functionality is tested. Advanced Content Filters is a first step to extending the filter support for remote sources as well, such as to data stored in CiviCRM.
Improved user permission controls
We’re consolidating user permissions to one plugin and are implementing a more defined hierarchy of permissions. Many current users of Greenleaf ONE will experience no real impact whereas others may find that some restrictions have been placed on their role.
This is not at all to be heavy-handed, but rather out of an abundance of caution for security reasons as well as to continue to consolidate plugins and users’ ability to run “upgrades”. Greenleaf ONE is built not only to be a wholly integrated system for nonprofits, but it’s also intended to be stable and performant (naturally!). In order to achieve this, we have to ensure consistency in upgrades as well as control the addition and management of extensions.
The improvements in user permissions will also include new resources for users, be they administrative or public users, such as members, donors, etc. These are designed to improve the overall user experience and to put the right resources at each user’s fingertips.
We’ve rolled out a first version of the Greenleaf ONE dashboard. Essentially, this will streamline the interface to include key user actions and will serve as a jumping off point for users to access key functions within the CMS and CRM.
For now, the ONE Board includes a change log of Greenleaf ONE updates as well as a feed of resources that may be useful to users, including tutorials, trainings and general information.
We’re already working on improvements for version 2 of the Greenleaf ONE Board and have plans to make it even more useful for users. Stay tuned!
Custom element and layout library
We’ve integrated the ONE Library into the element library of the page builder. This is a remote library that allows us to upload custom layouts, elements, etc. that are then accessible by all Greenleaf ONE users. The ONE Library allows us to provide additional functionality that will be accessible directly in the builder and at your fingertips.
If you’re looking for a particular design or element configuration, shoot us an email and we’ll be glad to take a look. Everything that we deploy to the library is available to all users, so if you have a common use case, then we’re happy to work something up and share it.
Security release upgrade to CiviCRM 5.58.1
February witnessed another security release for CiviCRM, which we’re actively testing and rolling out. Like all releases, there are new features and improvements introduced as well as the ocassional change. We like to sort through these in advance, particularly on legacy installations that have more complex plugins and requirements. This combined with the fact that the security issues reported a very edge case is allowing us to deploy the release over more time.
Adoption of an external mail service provider
Email deliverability, both for mass email as well as transactional emails, is absolutely vital to the operation of your CRM and your organization. While the current systems we use are solid, we are actively adopting an external provider that focuses exclusively on email systems. More than anything, this is to proactively ensure that emails are delivered consistently and without interruption. At present, there is no planned cost increase as a result. Any upgrade to such a service reflects our commitment to bringing together the best systems for your organization.
Greenleaf client portal
We’ve launched version 1 of the Greenleaf client portal where Greenleaf ONE users can access additional resources such as a video library, how-to guides, and instruction on using Greenleaf ONE. This portal is exclusive to Greenleaf clients and will increasingly become a vital resource for individuals wanting to really dig into the toolset and master its capabilities. Again, this is version 1 of the portal. We already have revisions and improvements underway and are adding new resources weekly.
To access the portal, you need to register at Greenleaf ONE using the address we have on file for you. If you have any issues in the process, please send a note to email@example.com and we’ll get you squared away.
Deprecating Caldera Forms
The lastest CiviCRM security release (5.58.1) is introducing new conflicts with Caldera Forms, resulting in both fatal errors and, more commonly, performance issues. Likewise, as of February 25th, Caldera Forms has been pulled down from the WordPress extensions directory. I think the writing is on the wall.
We’re working to replace Caldera Forms on current installations of Greenleaf ONE and are no longer shipping it on any new installations. If you use Caldera, we’ll be in touch with a plan to shift you off of it and on to better tools. This is just a heads up, not need to lose sleep over this transition.
We’re very confident that Greenleaf ONE provides a superior tools set for CiviCRM and WordPress users, particularly those that are new to the space or that are long time users of Drupal and are simply tired of dealing with Drupal 8 or 9… or wait, we’re up to 10 now, right?
Because of this, we’ve launched a referral program for current Greenleaf ONE users that provides up to 3 months free use of the Greenleaf ONE platform for successful new referrals. You can access and share your referral code via the Greenleaf ONE client portal.
This is potentially a big opportunity for Greenleaf ONE advocates to essentially leverage the system free while helping new organizations get up to speed on using a powerful toolset to improve their performance and achieve their missions.
Version 1 of the video library is live and accessible via the Greenleaf client portal. It ships with a few dozen video tutorials, and we’re adding more weekly. These tutorials are intended to be short, instructive videos that help dispell some of the complexities around both website and CRM management. At Greenleaf ONE, we’re committed to taking the complex and making it clear and simple for users to understand and ultimately to use.
We’re continuing to develop tutorials targeting key features and functionality within both WordPress and CiviCRM. Expect a few new videos each month as we continue to build out a comprehensive training library. Have something specific you would like us to cover? Send us an email.
The major initiatives that we have planned are listed below. In addition, we’re going to start including specific tasks such as a specific video or tutorial we’re planning to produce. That way you can see what is next. Likewise, if you have specific needs, feel free to email us and suggest an improvement or make a request.
Re-evaluating our recaptcha implementation
Consistent with our ongoing review of currently supported plugins, we’re planning to undertake a review of our recaptcha implementation across Greenleaf ONE sites. This is also driven by the fact that more and more Greenleaf ONE clients are developing sophisticated portals that leverage website authentication. Use of recaptcha is vital to controlling spam registrations along with other types of spam related activities.
Currently, recaptcha implementation is accomplished in a variety of different ways including via multiple plugins and recaptcha versions. We want to review both and consolidate on to a standard such that it provides better performance for clients and is more easily maintainable by us.
MX Audit & Testing
We’re planning an audit of all client MX settings to ensure that email settings are correct and optimized for deliverability. This audit is the result of recent changes in the enforcement of DMARC and DKIM standards that have caused some inconsistency in email deliverability.
Return of monthly webinars
Expect to see more live webinars coming online soon. These will be geared both to new users interested in getting an overview of specific functionalities as well as advanced users that want to take a deeper dive.
Historically focused on CiviCRM, this new webinar series is expanding to include all of Greenleaf ONE’s functionality and will provide an overview of various topics from using the page builder, custom post types, custom fields and much more.
Video: Using CPT UI to create custom post types
Custom post types are an often overlooked way to organize your content at a top-most level. That’s because to many the term “post type” or “content type” doesn’t necessary mean much. In essence, a “post type” is a grouping of articles or, as WordPress calls them, “Posts”, into its own little area that is separate from other posts and that has a menu icon on the left admin navigation menu.
Custom post types are supported in the default builder and can easily be mapped dynamically as well. Likewise, custom post types can be assigned custom fields that pertain only to that specific post type, allowing users to build out unique post types with unique, custom information. We’re planning a video on custom fields as well to show you how that works.
In the meantime, we’ve got our next video on the calendar and will get producing it very soon.
Video: Using advanced custom fields
We have several videos already produced and more in the queue. Once we have the Greenleaf Client Portal up and running, we’ll flip the switch on our long promised video library. In the meantime, we’re planning more videos, one of which is on the use of custom fields in WordPress. This is a big topic with lots of complexities and lots of potential. But, we’ve received some requests on this topic so we’re planning to produce an overview of how to get started using custom fields in WordPress and in conjunction with the page builder.
Back to it!
We’ve made a lot of progress, but there’s still a lot to do. March has a lot in the works already, so stay tuned for some big leaps forward in the product and at Greenleaf Advancement Partners.
As always, feedback (good or bad) is welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.