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.


Feature request - infinite story scroll

doug nelson 1 year ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Christine Masters (Director of Product Management) 3 months ago 6

I would like to request an infinite scroll feature. When you get to the bottom of one story the next story published in chronological order shows up on the same webpage. This goes on for ever. 

Under review

Apple News Format

Kevin M. Cox 3 years ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Robert Armstrong 3 months ago 8

Apple is finally opening up ANF to everyone. We've been pushing an RSS feed to Apple News for a while now, but publishing in ANF will over a more robust experience to readers.

Information on integrating the format here: Use a CMS with News Publisher

Any thoughts on getting BLOX to push out in ANF? There are already WordPress and Drupal plugins available.

Under review

Users bypassing paywall with timing trick

Kevin M. Cox 3 months ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Patrick O'Lone (Director of Software Development) 3 months ago 12

It seems an enterprising non-subscriber has found a little glitch to access articles behind the paywall and his instructions are now making the rounds on social media.

Here are the instructions:

"I'm not too sure if I should be posting this. However, as someone who does PC/IT work and repair, I figure I could let some of y'all in on a way to read most of, if not all the article's without paying. (On Android using Chrome) Basically, I go to the article I want to read that is not free. Then I select "Request Desktop Site" in the browser settings. (the three dots on the top right)  Once that loads, (it puts a minor delay on the article loading) all of the article is displayed in its entirety for just a moment or two. A few seconds later the pop up to sign up for a subscription block's it all out. Now it's that small delay, prior to the subscription pop up, that we are after. In that delay, I do a screen shot of the article. (You might have to refresh the page and try again if you weren't quick enough the first time) After I successfully capture it, I then just read it via my picture gallery. If it's longer than my initial screen grab, 

I try a second time and scroll really quick to encompass the remainder of the article with another screen shot. If it's too long for those methods, I do a complete screen record. (video recording of your entire screen) then I go back through the recording and look frame by frame. Hope this helps some of y'all. You're welcome."

We've tested it out and have been able to confirm it works. While it isn't easy enough that I think we'll start losing subscribers over it, it also isn't that complicated to pull off.

I'm actually seeing it pretty consistently even on desktop browsers right now. It seems that the delay before the paywall message appears is much longer than it used to be. It looks like Town News might need to adjust the timing of how things are rendered so the full article isn't displayed until after the user has been evaluated as having an active subscription.

Have any of y'all come across readers doing this or something like it to bypass the paywall?


Batch edit utility - change more than 25 at a time

Sara Hardison 4 years ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Christine Masters (Director of Product Management) 3 months ago 19
We have a lot of section tags with hundreds of assets assigned that we are moving around and do change from time to time. The batch edit tool is great, but the limit to only changing 25 at a time makes it quite difficult when we are dealing with the number of assets we are. Would be great to have option to change number of assets you want to change at a time, so 25, 50, 100..etc.

There are several different requests in here:

  1. A "mass" batch edit. We are working on this currently... it should be available in Q2 of this year. It allows you to create a search and then apply batch edit to that entire search results, even if it affects thousands of assets. There will be an extra confirmation process where you must type in the number of assets so that you are sure that you know how many assets you are affecting. The task on large amounts of assets happens as a background task (so it can take as long as it needs) and then sends you an email when you're done. So, for Nick's needs, this would definitely work).
  2. The ability to see more assets on a search results page in the BLOX admin. The solution for this will likely come as part of our new backend UI, which will likely end up being some kind of infinity scroll.

Lastly, there is the request for a batch edit function to change headlines and captions. To be honest, we are worried about allowing content to be changed in a batch editing process. Firstly, it's considered bad SEO to have similar titles on multiple pages in your site. Secondly, having all headlines (such as on a vertical gallery) is kind of annoying and repetitive to the reader.

On the other hand, I of course realize that if you don't add a title, we'll use the filename instead. And typing 200 unique, accurate titles is a very time-consuming task to say the least! Also, the only thing worse than a vertical gallery with repeated identical headlines is a vertical gallery with filenames as headlines instead! And, we currently provide no mechanism for them to be hidden as an option.

However, maybe we can fix some of those underlying problems instead. Basically, we're thinking that batch editing headlines and captions is a symptom of a bigger problem rather than a problem in and of itself.

What about something like this:

- A collection asset has the option of not showing photos and captions, even if they exist.

- In places where we have to show some kind of title (such as search results) maybe we show the parent's title instead?


- A way for the photo itself to know whether or not it has a unique headline, and if it does, display it. If not, display the parent (unless on a collection page). I would have to think more on how it can know it is a unique title... 

    Under review

    TotalCMS Social Broadcast limitations

    Kevin M. Cox 4 months ago in BLOX Total CMS • updated by Brad Boner 3 months ago 6

    I'm posting here as part of a formal feature request and also to see how the rest of y'all are working around this limitation.

    What we've found is that social media broadcasts from TotalCMS are more often then not failing to actually happen. Support pinpointed that this failure will occur anytime an article gets edited (by a line editor or page designer) in between the time an asset gets a Site Tag and passes the Start Date/Time. For us this is a large portion of content.

    Here is the note from support:

    "The failure of the articles broadcasted from the TotalCMS system results from broadcasting an article that has a start date/time in the future that has additional revisions made to the asset in-between the time it was broadcast and the time it goes live. If the revisions are made after the start time has passed then the broadcast of the asset will be successful.

    "To avoid this issue I would not broadcast the asset if the asset will need to be revised before it goes live or be sure to re-broadcast the asset after additional revisions are made before it goes live."

    And my response:

    "This is behavior that definitely needs to be corrected to support a real-world newspaper publishing workflow.

    "We expect reporters to compose the social broadcasts because as the authors they are most closely associated with the content.

    "However all articles still need to be edited before publication.

    "With the details you've given us it means that we would have to ask the page designers to go back and set the social broadcast information after they have finished designing the pages at the end of the night which just isn't realistic.

    "I'm sure we could make some minor changes to our workflow as well, but I feel like there might be some middle ground we need to work towards here.

    "If the behavior cannot be changed there definitely needs to some change in the TotalCMS GUI that alerts users to the fact that the broadcast was cancelled. Right now it still just shows the "Syndicated..." text exactly the same as if the broadcast was successful."

    In my feature request I'm asking that they either correct the problem of the broadcasts not happening or at a minimum update the GUI in that situation so reporters are aware the broadcast was cancelled due to a later edit.

    How are y'all working around this problem or are we the only ones dealing with it due to our workflow?


    Allow "Web headline" field to be blank when article asset presentation is Long-form

    Brad Boner 3 months ago in BLOX Total CMS 0

    We would like the ability for the "Web headline" field to be blank when an article asset is set to "Long-form" and ONLY IF the asset's "Hammer" field is populated. 

    The reason we would like this function is for display purposes. We like the way the Hammer looks with a Subhead, however we are forced to populate the Web Headline field. If we populate it with something like a dash or bullet, that is the headline that is displayed on the website.

    Ideally, if an asset's presentation mode is set to Long-form and the "Web headline" is left blank, the article asset would use the "Hammer" field as the web headline. This would open up our online display options as we wouldn't be forced to populate the Web Headline field.


    Increase number of assets per page in search results

    Brad Boner 3 months ago in BLOX Total CMS • updated 3 months ago 2

    Currently, when using the "Search text" or "Slug" fields in CMS or TCMS, the number of assets returned is only 25. Would like the option to increase that to unlimited, if possible, so we would have a scrolling list of search results on a single page.

    Under review

    Form submissions into Editorial app as article assets

    David Marsters 5 years ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Jesus Sanchez 3 months ago 7
    We use the forms platform for a lot of things, and in many cases, the submissions we get ultimately have to get put into the form of article assets into the Editorial application. It would be great if there were a way for this to happen automatically. An example would be a candidate questionnaire form for elections - ultimately the text is going to get used as an article asset, and right now we have to manually paste it in and format it.

    I recognize that not all forms are soliciting information that we would want in our Editorial assets, even if they came over with "Do Not Publish" checked, so perhaps this would be a setting on the form that you could tell it do export to Editorial on a case-by-case basis.

    Thanks very much.
    We do this for some things now - like Letters to the Editor can be submitted through the User Dashboard, and those will automatically become assets.

    But, for fielded data that becomes more difficult because we don't always know the format that the resulting asset should have.

    For some simple submissions though, this could be done in the User Dashboard.
    Under review

    Subscriptions - "Upselling" without expiring current service?

    Ian McPhee 3 months ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Rich Griffin | Product Manager (Product Manager) 3 months ago 2

    Hey ya'll,

    We recently launched our Subscriptions (we call it Membership) and there are five different price levels, including the free trial. Yesterday we got a call from someone who signed up for the lowest paid tier for one year, about a month ago. They now want to up their membership to the top level - something hopefully everyone will want to do at some point! Unfortunately, they ran into issues, already having an "active" subscription. My temporary solution was to manually expire their service on my end and then have them sign up for the new one, but this is obviously not ideal. 

    I almost posted this as a "Feature Request," but figured it has to already exist, I must just be missing something. 

    Any ideas?


    Purchasing a different package is indeed possible when you have an active service. A Customer service ticket was resolved on the issue. There was apparently some miscommunication with the subscriber.


    Subscription reporting improvements - cancelled subscriptions and new subscribers

    Jay Allred 1 year ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Ian McPhee 3 months ago 1

    Try as we might, we cannot find a report / reports that help us keep tabs on subscriptions that do not renew (a.k.a. lost customers). Here's what we suggest be either changed or added.

    1. Create a report that let's us track non-renewed subscriptions by customer name. For example, if Amy Jones' monthly or annual subscription is scheduled to renew, but does not - allow a way for us to get a list of those folks. We want to be able to contact them and find out why, win them back.

    2. Create a report that allows us to track first-time subscribers by name. Specifically, we are interested in the people that made the initial decision to purchase a membership. Currently, there appears to be no simple way to track this critical data.


    Show description for video assets when embedded in stories

    Brad Boner 3 months ago in BLOX Total CMS 0

    For video assets embedded into stories, we would like the video asset's "Description" field to appear under the video (similar to how photo captions appear) when the video is set to the "Video player" presentation mode.


    Webinar | Digital advertising 101: Optimizing your local and programmatic ad inventories

    Cherry Wolf (Marketing specialist) 4 months ago in BLOX CMS • updated 3 months ago 1

    Webinar recording now available.

    Digital advertising 101: Optimizing your local and programmatic ad inventories

    Navigating the ever-changing landscape of digital advertising can be a challenge. At our February customer webinar, Patty Bristol, Ad Ops program manager at TownNews, shared best practices to help you better optimize your overall digital advertising inventory. Using real-life examples and known challenges, Patty showed how using local and programmatic together can create the optimal digital advertising revenue stream.  

    Topics included:

    • An overview of digital advertising, including commonly used terms
    • Generating revenue from local and programmatic ad sales
    • Introducing eCPM—the key metric for revenue growth
    • Tips for packaging and pricing digital ad inventory
    • . . . and much more!

    Ready to get started? Watch it now.


    Google Analytics - Collection pageviews

    Andrew Link 4 months ago • updated by Kevin M. Cox 3 months ago 1

    I've noticed over the last four days, our collection pageviews aren't accumulating like they have in the past in Google Analytics. Now in the collections traffic, the pageviews are close to the unique pageviews number. They aren't inflated anymore.

    Has anyone else noticed this with their pageviews? Has Google Analytics stopped recognizing the different pages in collection assets?


    Set Broadcast time separate from Start Date/Time

    Brad Boner 2 years ago in BLOX Total CMS • updated by Kevin M. Cox 4 months ago 8

    First, thanks so much for adding the Broadcast feature to the TCMS. It's a very useful feature that will certainly get a lot of use.

    It would be awesome if we could set a custom time to Broadcast assets separate from the asset's start time. This would enable us to send content to our social media channels for optimum visibility. For example, much of our content goes live on our website at 4:30 a.m. but it would be better to delay the Broadcast to Facebook until about 7:30 or 8 a.m. when there are more people on Facebook.

    It would also be nice to have the ability to schedule multiple Broadcast times for different channels inside a single asset. For example, we would like to broadcast to Facebook once but may like to broadcast to Twitter three separate times, so it would be cool to have the ability to schedule a single FB broadcast and three Twitter broadcasts.

    Finally — and I don't know if it's possible — but it would also be nice if media such as photos that are attached to assets could be broadcast to Twitter along with the asset's link.