Welcome to the TownNews customer community! Connect with other TownNews customers and with us to suggest features, share best practices and ask questions.

Though TownNews representatives often participate in discussions, this is not a customer service site. For immediate help, call 800-293-9576 or submit a support request via our online ticketing system.


Alt text for images and ads

ShorthornAdam 3 months ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Jesus Sanchez 3 months ago 9

We got a question from a potential advertiser who works with visually impaired individuals asking if the ad she purchased would readable with a screen reader.  I didn't see a way to include alt text in the settings in the ad rotator for a regular image ad so I figured I'd better put in a feature request.  I could probably do it by creating an HTML ad and putting a simple img src + alt in there, but that is kind of clunky; a simple field would be great.

All new and existing software and workflows are being examined for 508/504 compliance so we will need this functionality.


Correct... images for content blocks are automatically "alt"ed.

Ads have an alt text that just says, "Advertisement" or something along those lines. We would have to create a new field for the alt text for BLOX Ad Manager assets, so that would require a bit of additional development. I would recommend looking at Google Ad Manager instead, which does have an alt text feature for image ads.

Any block type that is specifically image-related, such as Utility: Image or Utility: Site Logo (as Ian noted), has an alt text field for that image.

Under review

Are we giving too much information in our notifications?

Bob Rose 3 months ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Christine Masters (Director of Product Management) 3 months ago 1

When we do alerts through the notifier on the NOW apps, we find that frequently there is not enough space in the headline, and the full summary frequently gives enough information that there is little incentive to click through.

What if ... instead, we eliminated the summary field in the alerts and allowed the headlines to wrap? That way users would see the full headline and we wouldn't have to rewrite them for the alerts.


How long does it takes for ads to start displaying

Jesus Sanchez 3 months ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Christine Masters (Director of Product Management) 3 months ago 4

Hello. How long does it typically takes for a banner served through the Blox Marketplace to start appearing once it is set up? I have ads set to display today and found it can take quite a while -- a few hours in the case of a newsletter ad. Anyone to minimize the time it takes to get an up and running?


Make sure you're caching your browser after making changes like that, or else it will definitely take hours to show up.

Easiest way is to add "/?1234" at the end of the URL. So a slash, a question mark and then any random numbers or letters.


Potential feature request: Adding more social options to Notifier

Thomas Martinez 3 months ago in BLOX Total CMS 0

We would like to have more social options on Notifier, such as Instagram and Snapchat. Our Young Professional groups says they use these two more than Twitter and Facebook to find their news and/or things to do.

Would this be useful for everybody?


Alternate 'alert' email address for SMS-like notifications via email reach

CadillacNews IT 3 months ago in BLOX CMS 0

It would be nice to have an alternate email for some users, selectable by the user, for adding to email notifications/subscriptions in the email reach system.


  • User: Az.
  • Email address: AlexZander@example.org
  • Alternate email address: 1234567890@txt.provider.net

Regular email-reach advertising, notifications, lists, etc to the normal email address. Alert-campaign to alternate email.

Email reach Campaigns:

  •   Weather Alert : to alternate email
  •   Headlines-Daily: to normal email

We would have to define a custom email address field for the user/subscriber accounts or have an alternate email address added to the general user information block.

This gets around some of the costs of SMS (yes, a revenue stream for Townnews) for the smaller companies that cannot afford, or justify the costs of the current pricing scheme for the full-featured SMS alert system from Townnews.

We currently use a system similar to this, independent of Townnews, to send out local school closings as they are announced.  In February, based on the new SMS options for Townnews, we would have spent over $5,400 for these texts alone.  15 schools, over 1000 subscribers, closing for 18 days, notified the morning of, or evening before.  Then we have Weather alerts.  Over 1000 subscribers for the weather alerts as well, 2-3 times a day for a month, which would run us (averaged) over $1,700 for that month alone.  That is not counting the one time setup fee, or using the shortcode option.  So far in March, we have had quite a bit less in the way of these alerts.  We estimate in April the alerts will be done 1 or 2 for the entire month.  That is not counting the other 'less critical' alters we have available, such as school sports, local breaking news, etc.  For us, the new SMS system is not cost effective.  



I uploaded a Fillable PDF, when I download it, it appears to have lost all my fields?

Jeff Sebestyen 3 months ago in BLOX CMS • updated 3 months ago 3

Hi Jeff... You have "optimize PDF files" enabled in your editorial -> application settings -> asset settings -> Optimize new PDF files. Optimizing PDF files removes a lot of information in order to make them smaller and flatter.

If you turn this off, even temporarily, in order to upload your file, it should fix the issue.

I tested it, and when the "Optimize PDF" setting turned off, the PDF keeps the fillable information, and when a user downloads that form, it will allow them to fill it out.


You can then turn back on this setting if you want other PDF files to be optimized.

Under review

Reporting For Declined or Invalid Credit Card Subscriptions

Mike Reichard 3 months ago • updated by Rich Griffin | Product Manager (Product Manager) 3 months ago 1

Hi Folks,

The problem that we are having, is that we must sift through many expired accounts to find accounts who have had their credit cards either decline of become invalid due to expiration dates. Right now, we must go through all the expired accounts, of which most are simply a renewal, to find these.  But this is eating up a lot of time each day and is one of the tasks that my entire staff loathe.  

We need to be able to try to contact these folks from our end to be able to keep their subscription from just expiring or to get them restarted.  If we had a report that would generate any of these customers, we could contact them up to three days in advance of expire when their first renewal payment is attempted and comes through as Declined or Invalid.  This information is already getting listed in the account’s history, so it would seem that it could be something that could be reported. 




Hi Mike,

We do have a transaction report that can be sorted by recurring transactions which does include the expiration dates. Please call our Customer services representatives at 800-293-9576. and they will be able to help you out.


Webinar | Introducing BLOX Now, a better mobile app for local media

Cherry Wolf (Marketing specialist) 1 year ago in BLOX CMS • updated by leaf spa 3 months ago 3

Webinar recording now available.

Taking cues from social media, the BLOX Now mobile app eschews conventional news app design in favor of a single, continuously-scrolling stream of community news and events that keeps users engaged. At our June customer webinar, Susan Bell, BLOX Now senior product manager, and Christine Masters, director of product management, introduced the BLOX Now mobile app.

Topics included:

  • Increasing user engagement with a hybrid news and information app.

  • Feature highlights, including: in-stream video playback, push notifications, and convenient fly-out menus.

  • Monetizing your app with Google DFP integration.

  • Managing your app, website, and mobile site in one easy workflow.

  • . . . and much more.

Are you ready to get started . . . now? Webinar recording now available.

Under review

Timing element for block

Dave Von 3 months ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Kevin M. Cox 3 months ago 5

Has there been any thought given to having a time element for how long a block appears on a site?

For example, we have a block on our homepage (as I'm sure everyone does) that displays any stories with the "Breaking" flag attached. However, if we have such a story that we want to draw attention to as breaking news, we only want it to be considered "breaking" for a short period of time, maybe a few hours.

What would be really helpful is if we could have the "breaking news" block appear for a designated period of time instead of having to go back into BLOX or TCMS and removing the "Breaking" flag from the article asset to get the block to go away. It would just take away a little bit of the manual intervention that is currently necessary.




There are several different ways to do this:

- Tell your breaking news block to only show items that are less than 2 hours old. So whenever a article is two hours away from its start time, it will be removed from the block automatically. This is great when you are OK with all breaking news being promoted for the same period of time. If there is an edge case that needs to be online for longer, use can use a pinned asset with a schedule.

- Add an archived date to your breaking news article, and then create a rule on your breaking news block that doesn't show items that are archived. This is helpful when you want to have custom "expiration" times on a per-article basis.

- Use a pinned asset that has a scheduled time to unpin. You can use this in combination with the above two solutions.

- Create a new schedule which shows the breaking news block for a period of time. This is likely overly complicated since you'd have to go into the block editor to create a schedule. This is more likely to be useful for recurring events (like afternoon updates or Friday night prep sports) rather than breaking news. But, if there was a big specialized layout with multiple blocks for the breaking news initiative, a scheduled layout may be helpful.

With all that being said, we are looking into new ways to indicate "alerts" and things along those lines. For example, if you find a breaking news article from 2013, it will still say BREAKING next to it, or it may even say that in the headline. Those are things that are still in discussion.

Under review

Maps and Firebase - Billing accounts

Robert Armstrong 3 months ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Christine Masters (Director of Product Management) 3 months ago 2

Here's a funny thing that I just found out in regards to Firebase (Notifier) and Google Maps. Let me know if I'm doing something wrong...

Firebase Spark plan (free) requires no billing account to work.

Google Maps API (free) does require a billing account to work.

What happens to my Firebase project if I add or remove billing accounts for that project in the Google Cloud Console?

If a billing account is added to a project in the Google Cloud Console, the same project will automatically be upgraded to the Firebase Blaze plan if that project is currently on the Spark or Flame plan.
In contrast, if an existing active billing account is removed from a project in the Google Cloud Console, that project will be downgraded to the Firebase Spark plan.


Any ideas on how to get around this? Right now I had to remove our billing account, so while notifier works, our Maps are coming up blank. I don't want to have to make two separate accounts.


Feature Suggestion: Pageview tracking for individual articles

Dustin B. 4 months ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Robert Armstrong 3 months ago 2

Feature Suggestion: Maybe this exists already and I've just not been able to find it, but would it be possible to track analytics for each article asset, so we can see page views for each article, not just the most popular ones? Thank you!


Way to set default workflow for all users?

Robert Armstrong 3 months ago in BLOX CMS 0

I know you can set the default workflow on an individual basis, but is there a way (or is it planned if not) to have the option to set all users default workflow, or even set the default workflow upon user creation?

Under review

Does anyone use Flickr?

Christine Masters (Director of Product Management) 3 months ago in BLOX CMS • updated 3 months ago 3

I'm considering removing Flickr from the social accounts area on the User Profile page. It has changed a lot, been sold to SmugMug, getting rid of 1 TB of free storage, etc. We have very little use of it currently in user accounts.

Is it important to anyone - maybe photographers? - who would still want it?

Under review

Webinar | Introducing BLOX Notifier: A new way to manage social and push notifications

Cherry Wolf (Marketing specialist) 4 months ago in BLOX CMS • updated 3 months ago 7

Join us on March 14th @ 10:30 AM CDT

Introducing BLOX Notifier: A new way to manage social and push notifications

At our March customer webinar, Christine Masters, director of product management at TownNews, will introduce BLOX Notifier—an all-new BLOX CMS application that makes keeping users informed with Facebook, Twitter, BLOX Now App, email, and desktop notifications quicker and easier than ever.

Topics will include:

  • An overview of the new BLOX Notifier application
  • Using BLOX Notifier to create, schedule, and distribute messages and notifications
  • Streamlining your publishing workflow with automated trigger rulesets
  • . . . and much more!

Ready to get started? Join us on March 14th at 10:30 AM CDT.

Sign up today.

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.


Small feature request -- Ability to change close "X" on promo blocks to light or dark

Ben McCarty 3 months ago in BLOX CMS 0

We've had some issues with folks being unable to see the close button in the interstitial promo blocks. The problem is it's impossible to see on the block if it's black in front of an image, or if it's white against a default white background. It can be changed manually via css, but this would need to be changed anytime the layout of a promo block is changed. By adding the "light/dark" option to the close button text in the block options it would make it a quick adjustment that could be done via the admin panel. 

 1) What problem(s) does this idea solve? Why do you need this idea implemented? Provide as many problems or use cases as possible.
Makes it easier for users to see the button and not got frustrated by being unable to close promo interstitial. Would make it easy for administrators to correct small design oversights. . 

 2) How often would you use this feature?
All the time

3) How many people in your organization would use this feature?
Every site manager and web staff -- appx 12-20.