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

ShorthornAdam 5 months ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Kevin M. Cox 1 day ago 20

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.



Hi guys!

As I said previously, we are investigating the ability to provide a new mapping option, and have been investigating different providers.

Right now we are very heavily leaning toward HERE, and have chosen to start development on that. I don't want to say it is a final choice because things may be discovered or could change as we build... but as Aidian said, the free 250k transactions appears to be the most generous.

You'll have to get an API key from HERE, but a credit card is not required. 

We will also begin to look at ways to store geo-data since this service allows that, and then for future map renders we don't need to geo-code each time. Our editorial application, for example, allows you to store your geo-data.

Anyway, as I said, we are still doing dev on this - but let me know if anyone has any thoughts or input. Thanks!


Online Merchandise Store

Charlie Clark 3 days ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Kevin M. Cox 2 days ago 1

Hello everyone,

We are wanting to set up an online store, selling merchandise such as t-shirts etc for a host of promotional items we run. Currently, we have a https://PRINTful.com account set up this, but it looks like there is no easy way to integrate the API with Blox CMS? 

Does anyone have any other platform they may be using or work around without building out another site with a Shopify account or WordPress? Screen Shot 2019-01-16 at 3.22.29 PM.png


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

Elleda 2 months ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Kevin M. Cox 2 days ago 2
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!

Hi Alfonso!

To start: it might be better to put this question into our ticketing system where our support staff can help. They will often have quicker response than posting here for these sorts of questions. Or, call our Customer Support line (we offer 24/7 emergency help!) and one of our support staff can help you.

Incidentally, I'm actually serving as that after-hours support right now, so I will try to help. =)

Firstly, if you're trying to get the weather alert into the Breaking News (NOTICIAS DE ÚLTIMA HORA) block at the top of the page, that block is populated by the "breaking" flag, not the "weather alert" flag.

There are lots of ways to fix this:

  • You can just flag the article as "breaking" instead, and it should show up.
  • You can change the block to also include stories based on the "weather alert" flag.
  • You could use the "pin" feature to add the story to the block even though it didn't meet the block's requirements.

Will all that being said, I believe there is a weather alert on your breaking news block already, so perhaps you've already figured this out. =)

If you need more help, let me know. Thanks!


Feature Request: bring back adding _preroll ad to specific sections

Kim Mason BGDN 3 days ago in BLOX CMS 0

We are really pushing video on our site. We've had an advertiser for years that pays for a preroll ad on just our athlete of the week videos & advertising has been working on selling them the same thing in our news section. Unfortunately, sometime last year the ability to set sections for a _preroll ad was taken away (it worked still in June) and they must be run of site now. So it turns out that what advertising has been trying to sell to this customer the customer will instead get for free (plus video in all other sections).  Since they were exclusive to the AOTW videos, they now, for the same price, have exclusivity for all our video inventory, eliminating future monetization potential on something that we are currently focusing on.  Please restore functionality to this ad.  It should function as any other ad - ie all the settings in the ad asset should actually do something.


Idea's for banner ads...

Mike Stickler 4 years ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Ian McPhee 5 days ago 1
Three idea's for banner ads I would love to see in order by personal preference...

Link an ad display to user logon or lack thereof... My site content sits behind a paywall and one of the biggest complaints I get is "Hey you posted a link to this article on facebook but the article sits behind a paywall!!!" I know I can bypass the paywall in the article's custom properties but I'd like a way to monetize that. For example if a non-subscriber opens an article then display the ad in the popover position. However never display the popover ads when a subscriber is logged in. (So there would be 3 states "logged in subscriber," "logged in non-subscriber," "not logged in" --- by default an ad would display under all three circumstances... by deselecting one or more options on the ad setup this would be controllable. 

Link Ads together... I would love the ability to link 2 or more separate ads together (related) so that when 1 displays they both do... For example a skyscraper, leaderboard, and background ad (page takeover)

Smarter exclusions ... say I have 2 skyscrapper ads and I'd like them to randomly switch between 2 ad positions... If I put both ads in both positions then it randomly selects which ad will run in each position ... Because the same ad can't run twice on a page sometimes I see both ads some times I will see one ad... I'd like the system to be smart enough to say "Hey this ad is already running elsewhere on the page I'm going to automatically select the other ad for this position."
Under review

Community Calendar & Marketplace Businesses venue submission on mobile is less than desireable

Keri Franzoni 1 week ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Phil Pracht (Product Manager) 1 week ago 3

You've made an update recently so this is better, but it's not there yet.

When using a mobile device to submit an event with the Marketplace Businesses module active the user experience to
"Find a location" lands on a screen that does not function well. If you are lucky the venue will display so you can choose it, but the box is not tall enough on an IOS iPhone 8. When you type in the search area, again it might display part of one venue from the search. The user is limited to the choice displayed and no way to navigate the remaining venues in the system or search. 


Nailed yet RE scrolling. I've issued a ticket to resolve this. We'll try to have a fix out soon! 

Under review

Create a 5-star review application for restaurants and businesses to attach to article assets

Steven Mazzacane 5 years ago in BLOX CMS • updated 2 weeks ago 6

Poorly performing articles

Jason Schaefer 5 years ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Ian McPhee 2 weeks ago 1
I know this request may sound strange.I would like a new report added to the editorial analytics. This would be reports that pull in the opposite of the “Most Popular” article. It would show our least popular (based on pageviews) articles/assets. Currently I am manually tracking this information for our editors/general manager using Google analytics.

We use the information to be able to judge how our audience will react to a similar story in the future or in the extreme case we know not to write another story about that subject if it doesn’t get may views.

Some of our reporters/editors have already used this information to turn down a few stories because the last article we ran about that subject barely even had 20 pageviews but an article that we thought was a fluff piece (two paragraphs from AP) was viewed thousands of times.

I have read article of larger metropolitan papers that do a similar analytics.
It would also be nice if we had a view stats option directly on the article/assets. Similar to what is on the classifieds to quickly view their analytics.Attached is an example:

Under review

Integrate Facebook events with BLOX Calendar events

Christine Masters (Director of Product Management) 5 years ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Ian McPhee 2 weeks ago 5

Allow the Calendar in BLOX to associate an event with a Facebook event. Then, you can use the FB API to pull photos to the BLOX page!


Quick cropping tool for 4:3 and 16:9 for FLEX

Nick 3 years ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Ojass Narawane 2 weeks ago 18

With FLEX's reliance on 4:3 and 16:9 cropping it would seem that many photos will end up cropping off the subject in order to adhere to the ratio. And most sites surely have some blocks that pull an asset in 16:9 and others that pull the same asset in 4:3. I propose a quick-crop tool that allows users to select crops for both ratios without the user having to work out the math or upload a previously cropped photo.

I'm thinking something like the image below that would allow users to select the ratio in a dropdown box and blocks would pull the appropriate ratio.

Would anyone else with FLEX use that?


Breadcrumbs above articles

Kevin M. Cox 2 months ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Patsy J. Moore 3 weeks 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?


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

Ashley 2 years ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Patsy J. Moore 3 weeks ago 5

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.


Improvements to Blox commenting system

Michael Becker 2 years ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Patsy J. Moore 3 weeks ago 1

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?

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

Lake Looker 2 months 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.