We skipped May’s update as we were hard at work with various improvements and upgrades. We’re back today with recap of what’s been accomplished over the past two months as well as what’s on the docket for the next several weeks. It’s a big update, so pull up a chair and let’s dig in!
We’ve made big improvements over the past 2 months to both the product as well as our ability to support users using it. We’re seeing growth in adoption and are therefore working to put more resources at your fingertips while also making incremental improvements in the underlying system.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get you squared away.
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.
Video: Creating a mega menu
The page builder in Greenleaf ONE continues to evolve and has, for the past few releases, allowed users to create a mega menu. In fact, users can essentially create a complex menu or individual dropdown using the builder’s core functionality. Wait, what? Basically, users can insert rows, elements, dyanmic content… essentially anything that can be done in the page builder, as drop downs to any menu item or link element on the site.
In reality, it sounds a lot more complex than it actually is. In any case, we’ve added video instruction on this functionality to the video library. Log in and check it out.
Video: Using the repeater field
Advanced Custom Fields ships with a few very powerful fields, one of which is called the “repeater” field. This is, in our view, a bit of misnomer in that the repeater ‘field’ is more of a container of sub-fields that you specify, all of which can be repeated as many times as you want. This video is intended to help you get a handle on this field as well as introduce examples of how it could be used.
Like all custom fields, the repeater field is “map-able” into the page builder, so it supports dynamic content. This is particularly useful as it allows you to leverage the template functionality (i.e., build one layout that applies to many pages/posts) but gives your the freedom to have a varying amount of content based on how many times you use the ‘repeater’ field on each page or post.
A good example of this, which is described in a tutorial in the video library, is using the repeater field to create sections on a blog post. Imagine that each section has a 1) headline, 2) body text and 3) an image. With the repeater field, you could have one blog post that has 3 of these sections and a second blog post that has 10 of these sections.
In this example, both blog posts would benefit from the same template (i.e., you don’t need to design them both individually, saving you time), but would display a different number of sections based on the content in the repeater fields.
The ACF repeater field can feel complex, however it’s actually quite intuitive. Still, you need to walk through it a few times to understand how it works and consider how it could be used. It’s a powerful way to organize and display data, and, combined with the page builder’s template functionality, can greatly aid in keeping your design and maintenance costs down to a minimum.
Video: Using the header and footer in the page builder
The default page builder now ships with the capability of using the builder everywhere on the site, including in the menu (to achieve a mega menu look) and in widgets. Because widgets can go anywhere, that means that the builder can now be placed anywhere on the site. It gets confusing, we know. We created a short tutorial available in the video library in order to demonstrate how to use the default “header” and “footer” positions, i.e. not using a widget for the customizations.
This method is best for sites that have fairly simple layouts in the header and footer and, above all else, that don’t require dynamic changes, particularly in site style.
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!
For clients where we manage your analytics, we’ve upgraded you to Google Analytics 4 and have streamlined script insertion by using Google Tag Manager. Our objective here is both to consolidate analytics based plugins for performance reasons as well as migrate you to the next version of Google Analytics. For clients that didn’t have any analytics running, we’ve gone ahead and set this up for you as well.
If you were already using Universal Google Analytics, don’t worry, we’re continuing to run it and Google Analytics 4 (GA4) in parallel. If you would like more information or what to do more with your analytics, please contact us at email@example.com.
Speaking of WordPress extensions, we’ve completed a process of evaluating the current plugins we support as well as new ones we plan to add. Greenleaf ONE is not a static product and requires periodic review in order for it to stay high performing and optimal for nonprofits.
We are actively replacing plugins or removing unsupported plugins altogether in order to consolidate all systems to a standard implementation of Greenleaf ONE. If this makes you at all anxious, don’t worry. Most users will immediately notice a cleaner interface and general performance and stability improvements. Likewise, we are highly focused on replacing critical functionality with better plugins.
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.
We have several improvements that have been tested and are actively being rolled out, such as consolidating user permissioning, a streamlined admin menu and new filtering capability native to the page builder. Other improvements we are actively testing and planning for deployment, such as an improved media manager and replacing WordFence. Here’s what you can expect in the coming weeks:
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.
Improved media manager
For organizations with lots of media or with high media management needs, the WordPress media manager is, how shall we say, a bit of a mess. Fortunately, there are several plugins that allow for greater management and control over media files within WordPress.
We’re rolling out one such media manager that allows you to organize and manage your media files in a much more logical manner. What’s more, this media manager doesn’t just mask the underlying structure in WordPress, it allows you to completely change the structure via its “physical folders” feature. A word of caution though, enabling this feature on sites that already have a lot of images runs the risk breaking image paths. For new sites, this feature makes more sense and not only enables you to organize you media files into a more logical structure, it allows you to present a cleaner, more optimized URL for search engines.
Again, we’ll be putting together a video on using the media manager shortly.
Rework the WordPress admin menus
Let’s face it, the WordPress admin menus leave more than a little to be desired. They are a bit unorganized and can easily get cluttered as new post types and plugins are added. To address this, we’re adopting a new system to clean up the WordPress admin menus and make them more intuitive for users. Naturally, the menu items will respond to the user permissioning and will hide or be exposed based on each user’s role thereby keeping the user interface cleaner and more tailored to each user.
This will be rolling out in the coming weeks and should clean up things a bit.
Page Builder Upgrade: Version 4.0
The latest version of the page builder ships with several very nice performance enhancements, the big one being that you can now set a “parent” source for dynamic content at the section and row level. This means that, for example, if you establish a parent source for your dynamic content within a section, ALL rows and ALL elements within that section will be able to automatically inherit the source. This is really significant from a performance standpoint as 1) it reduce your design legwork and 2) it reduces the number of queries the site has to run.
To make it even more awesome, the latest upgrade also allows these rows and sections to repeat automatically based on the number of items within the source. This means that you can create a complex layout within a section and it will automatically replicate based on the amount of content in the source. Really, this is huge. This allows you to create virtually unlimited layouts and have them automatically build based on your content.
In addition, the update improves upon the already awesome sublayout element, adds new content sources and improves accessibility by present ARIA labels throughout. These updates can all seem very technical, however there is a fantastic introductory blog post that we encourage you to review here.
Finally, the upgrade to Yootheme Pro 4.0 coincides with an update to the Essentials Plugin, to version 2.0. This upgrade is mostly performance related, improving upon the ability to quickly access custom sources and data as well as in refining many of the settings associated with various elements, such as graphs, social icons, etc.
We’ll definitely be putting together a video on this, so stay tuned. We’re actively testing the upgrade across various development sites now.
Upgrading to PHP 8
We’ve taken a conservative approach to upgrading sites to PHP 8 or higher. Many sites are currently running PHP 7.4 which, while stable and performant, is no longer receiving security upgrades. Because PHP 8 introduces breaking changes, we are testing each upgrade individually to ensure there are no issues whatsoever. This is a rather lengthy process, however we believe it’s the best approach.
If you see any alerts related to your version of PHP, you may disregard them. We are actively working through the upgrades, which by and large should be transparent to your users.
Support for mapping SearchKit saved searches
Ok, that title sounds a little obscure. Even still, this is one improvement in the works that you should definitely pay attention to. Essentially, this improvement will create unique “tables” for each SearchKit saved search. Why is that important? Because, we can easily map the data from these tables via the Page Builder. This is powerful because 1) saved searches in SearchKit are “smart”, meaning that they update based on the established search parameters and 2) because you can build very complex searches using related data.
This combination allows you to easily display complex data that dynamically updates. Perhaps an example is in order. Suppose you use CiviCRM’s peer to peer fundraising capabilities and you want to display a table listing of these each displaying the contribution page author, the number of contributors and the total contributed. In this scenario, not only do you have related data, you have on the fly calculations.
Because this information would all be readily available in a single table, it will be super easy to grab it and display it across any type of elements be it a table, grid, chart… literally, any element you want. And because you can apply access controls, you can easily display this to authenticated users. Using the same example, imagine that you only want to display this to your board of directors and to staff. Easy peasy!
We’re very excited about this feature, so much so that we’re helping fund the CiviCRM Core Team to bring it online. Stay tuned for this one!
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.
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.
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.
Upgrade to WordPress 6.2
A fairly major upgrade to WordPress is out and we’re currently rolling updates to select installations. While WordPress has historically been very focused on backward compatibility, we tend to adopt new major releases slowly and only after thorough testing.
Again, in this instance, we’ve been conservative in upgrading to WordPress 6.2 but now feel like it’s stable enough. Most of the improvements are performance related or focused on its own block editor, Gutenberg, which we don’t actively support. Don’t expect to notice anything too dramatic on the WordPress side of things.
Recurring Contribution Improvements
We will now be providing the Recurring Contributions extension as part of our standard ONE implementation. This extension provides enhanced functionality for recurring contributions, most notably providing standard tokens that make communicating with donors about their contribution subscription possible. There are also options for making the recurring option required on contribution pages, and some others functionality as well. For a full description of the extension’s capabilities, please go here.
We’ll be adding this extension to existing systems over the next month. It is not available in the standard CiviCRM extension interface, so if you are interested in having it loaded on your system sooner, please let us know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
WordFence is a great plugin, but unfortuntely it’s one of those that’s getting tough to support. For many, it’s overkill and can conflict with other important systems, like your CRM. Because we proactively monitor security threats using a remote service as well, we’re finding that we can likely move to a more focused solution that performs better overall. In fact, we’re actively testing a change from WordFence to Akeeba’s AdminTools.
For Greenleaf ONE users, you won’t notice any difference as we tend to limit access to these types of security related plugins.
Last but not least, we have a short list of planned improvements. Expect this list to grow in the coming weeks as we wrap up what’s in progress and add new items to our product roadmap.
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.
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.
Video: WooCommerce & Page Builder
We love the way the page builder allows you to easily map in content to all of the various elements. What makes it really shine is the abilty to pull in data from a variety of sources, not just the default WordPress pages, posts, etc.
The Page Builder natively supports WooCommerce and its products, making it super easy to build a fully functional site that is native to your site’s style. This will be the first of a series of videos to help you get up to speed on setting up and working with WooCommerce.
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.
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.
That’s a wrap!
Long update, that’s for sticking it out this far. We’ve made lots of good improvements with many more in progress and planned. As a reminder, if you’re a Greenleaf ONE client but have not yet registered, you need to do so in order to access the Greenleaf client portal.
Stay tuned for more updates coming soon. And, as always, if you have questions, comments or general feedback, please email us at email@example.com.