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Under review

Can we get an integrated alternative for Google Maps since it's no longer free?

ShorthornAdam 4 months ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Aidian 2 hours ago 16

College newspaper here -- we resumed publication after summer break and noticed that all of the maps on articles were not working (grayed out with a "for development use only" message).  It looks like Google Maps has gone to a paid usage model: https://cloud.google.com/maps-platform/user-guide/

I had to go through a bunch of rigmarole of setting up a Cloud platform app, enabling a tons of APIs and putting in a credit card since usage is no longer completely free. It was annoying because we don't do any cloud computing and don't need any of the datacenter-type features.  They do provide $200 of free credits every month, but there is no easy way that I could tell to stop it from charging you $20 or $200 or $2000 or $20000 if the site gets DDOS'd or has a huge traffic spike, or to set a $199.99 max usage and then have it disable itself.

Would you all please start investigating the feasibility of having integrated maps that use a free/open alternative, like maybe OpenStreetMap?  

I would like to remove my credit card from Google and not have to think about it.



We've been talking to a few people about this. Obviously it is not something we can control or could have controlled, but we are very sorry for the inconvenience.

As for alternatives, we did look into a few and there were some pretty significant disadvantages to the free alternatives, in addition to the extensive time it would take to re-develop the tons of map-related features we have presently.

That being said, this is a very valid concern. Do you (or anyone else reading this, for that matter) have any numbers you can share about what the impact is currently? Are you getting charges now? Do you have any usage data?

We were looking at possibly new ways we could reduce the API calls as well... so depending on usage, and where the usage was coming from, maybe there are things we can do to reduce usage. Any information you could share would help!

I will revisit with my team about the free alternatives as well, in case things have changed.

(Side note: I will also see if there is an API that will give you usage... maybe we could actually turn it off at a certain point. That's an interesting idea as well.)



Improvements to Blox commenting system

Michael Becker 2 years ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Pritchard 2 days ago 2

I would be very interested to hear from other users about improvements they'd like to see to Blox-native commenting. Here are my suggestions so far.

(And to head off the inevitable: I am not switching to Disqus or FB just to get features. This is about improving the Blox system.)

  • The ability to moderate comments from the article page, rather than having to go into the Blox back-end.
  • "Trusted" commenters or some other sort of ranking system. Trusted commenters would be able to post links without review and their comments would be filtered nearer to the top of a comment list with a "Best Comments" sort order.
  • A "Best Comments" sort order, which would be decided by the upvote/downvote system.
  • See above: An upvote/downvote system for comments.
  • Ability to have clickable links
  • See above: Ability to hold comments for moderation if they contain links
  • Ability for users to edit their own posts.
  • Ability for users to upload images.
  • Ability for newsrooms to specify a period after which comments on an article close automatically.
  • Ability to show comments already posted AFTER commenting has been disabled, rather than having them all disappear.
  • Pipe dream: Real time comments.
  • Others?

What is the url for a specific asset in our Blox (Flex) CMS?

Ashley 2 years ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Brad Boner 3 days ago 4

Hello, I'm new to TownNews and Blox so forgive the simple question, but how can I get/find a direct url to an individual asset thats hosted in our Blox (Flex) CMS? For example, if I batch import a bunch of pdfs and then search for them in the CMS, I'd like to be able to add a text link to one of them in another CMS for those viewers but I am unclear what the url is for that specific asset. Thanks for your help!


Hi there!

I think the easiest way is to go to the asset, then click on "live view" (under the "preview") button. It will open the live page and you can get the URL from there.

As soon as the asset is saved and publishable, you can get the URL from the live view link. Even before it shows up on the front page or on other pages. So, this is actually a good way to get a URL in order to send it to an email or other places quickly, because it is immediately available.

However, this is how you would link to the PDF page. We would highly caution against linking directly to any binary element, whether it is a photo or a PDF or a video, because sometimes those storage URLs change and will cause broken links. It is pretty rare, but the URL of the files themselves (not the asset URL, but the binary file) may change.

Under review

We are attempting to use the new promo designer block. When a reader abandons his/her unfinished AdOwl order, I would like to offer the reader a button to call us. Tech support says it isn't possible. Can that be right? Ideas?

We are attempting to use the new promo designer block. When a reader abandons his/her unfinished AdOwl order, I would like to offer the reader a button to call us. With an active click-to-call button. Tech support says it isn't possible. Can that be right? Ideas?


I'd like to sort Classified ads placed via AdOwl by category for a given date range.

pgibson 6 days ago 0

I'd like to sort Classified ads placed via AdOwl by category for a given date range. 

To do this. I need to be able to export a search result which includes both an AdOwl identifier and category information. I'm not finding a way to do this.

Category is not a filter setting for AdOwl Orders or Transactions searches.

I can export AdOwl Transactions, but the export does not include category information.

I do not appear to have the capability to export search results for AdOwl Orders.

AdOwl ads contain a unique External ID. but this does not appear to be searchable/indexed content in a Classifieds search: also. I am unable to export the results of a Classified search.

We would use this feature several times per year, perhaps monthly.  

This feature would be used by two people (Classifieds Manager, CEO), which constitutes 50% of our users.


Webinar | Get more from your email campaigns

Cherry Wolf (Marketing specialist) 1 week ago in BLOX CMS • updated 1 week ago 0

Join us on December 13th @ 10:30 AM CST

Get more from your email campaigns

Email newsletters remain a vital tool to drive user engagement and subscriptions. At our December customer webinar, Phil Pracht, product manager, and Christine Masters, director of product management, will offer tips you can use to spark great results from your email marketing efforts.

Topics will include:

  • An overview of today’s email market
  • Best practices for acquiring new subscribers
  • Specialty newsletter ideas and revenue generators
  • BLOX Email Reach updates and insider’s tricks
  • . . . and much more!

Ready to get started? Join us on December 13th at 10:30 AM CST.

Sign up now!

Want to take in the webinar on your own time? Register now and we’ll send you a link to the webinar recording once it’s ready.


Breadcrumbs above articles

Kevin M. Cox 2 weeks ago in BLOX CMS • updated 1 week ago 8

Is it possible to have the "breadcrumbs" that are at the top of section pages by default continue to be displayed above articles? This would allow easy back-tracking into the section.

I thought I could do it with Utility Regions but it won't allow me to place the standard "Section | Utility: Page heading | Dynamic" block there.

Is anyone else doing something similar?


Make child/parent asset position default to END of article, not in a new column

Lake Looker 2 weeks ago in BLOX CMS 0

It's so frustrating how a parent or child asset becomes an automatic sidebar in our layout. So you can lay out an article beautifully. But if, a year later, you add that original article as a child asset to a new article, then it ruins the layout on the original article -- putting this "sidebar space" on the left column with one article in it, and shifting the layout of the whole article to the right. So then every time I add an old article as a child asset to a new article, I have to go back to the old article and fix the layout, so that its new "parent" is inserted at the end, rather than default being moved to the left side and ruining the layout.


Facebook Instant Articles

Paul MacNeill 3 years ago • updated by Advogado Criminal 2 weeks ago 5

Following up on Rob Weir's question, but with a Facebook focus. A Wordpress plug in was just announced making it easy for all publishers to access instant articles. Does TownNews have a plan to quickly match this?


Yes! We have already built the integration in fact. We haven't yet announced it because we'd like to have a customer go live with it to make sure it works properly and there are no issues. If anyone has a Facebook account that is approved for this, let me know, since it is still technically in beta on the Facebook side. =)




Fixing the size of type on the NOW App

Nic Stevens 2 weeks ago in BLOX CMS • updated 2 weeks ago 4
I didn't know if this was in the works or not but we've been getting a lot of comments on the size of the font on the NOW app. Do we know if we'll be able to choose a different font size in the near future?
Yes, we are working on font size! Currently slated for the next version, due out early next year.

I am trying to create assets that I can use as master files, but then can't find them when I search.

Elleda 2 weeks ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Christine Masters (Director of Product Management) 2 weeks ago 1
I create various assets to be used as master files to be copied and used over and over again. No matter what I do, I can't find the asset after I've created it except for the first few times. After that, I can' find it. I've tried text searches, slug searches, you name it. 
We actually have this as a feature request on our road map, so I hope that we can provide built-in functionality for this at some point.

That being said, to address the issue of helping to be able to find an article that you need to reference over and over, you could:

- Add a special keyword tag to it, such as #master, and create a saved search for that keyword. Then, keep referencing that saved search (you can even make it your default starting search).

- Put the start time far into the future, and then sort your assets by start time. This will put the "master" files at the very beginning.

That being said, none of these options are totally ideal unless there is a built-in feature for this, which is why it is on our list. =)

Let me know if this helps!
Under review

Blox Commenting system

Thomas Martinez 3 weeks ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Kevin M. Cox 3 weeks ago 5

I know this has been asked in a similar post a couple of years ago, but ....

We just switched to Blox commenting from Facebook. A lot of commenters immediately complained they didn't have the ability to edit their own comments. Most other major commenting platforms have the ability for users to edit their own comments.

Do you all think this would a useful change for TownNews to make?




NOW App Select a home page

Nic Stevens 3 weeks ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Kevin M. Cox 3 weeks ago 1

In the new BLOX NOW app, we'd like to be able to select a landing page when you open the app. This way people can select if they want local news, business, homepage or what when the app opens. We had this in our old app and I think people really liked it.

Under review

Custom "Read More" Text for Block Template "Email card: Summary horizontal"

Robert Dundon 3 years ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Troy Sporcic 3 weeks ago 3

I came across the block template "Email card: Summary horizontal" (among

a few other Core email block templates) that don't support custom "Read

More" text.

I needed this feature for moving an obits newsletter from Zen to Flex, the text for the custom block template on Zen was " View Obituary / Sign Guestbook," which is more sensitive and empathetic than "Read More" I would imagine there are other use cases for this as well.

However, I did notice that the Core block template uses the macro email_assetLead in the Core Flex Email component.

Blocks using that macro can use "read_more_text" as a custom property to

support custom text.

I made a custom copy of the Core block template "Email card: Summary

horizontal" for now, but of course it'd be nice to have this in Core.