We’ve all been there before. A friend or colleague has set you up and now your staring across at this stranger and wondering what to say.

Who are you? Where are you from? What do you do?

After some casual small talk, the date is nearly over and you ponder asking for a phone number or email address, and then the uncomfortable silence as you both wonder who is picking up the bill.

If you are like many online businesses, this is the very reaction your new users experience when visiting your site and enquiring about your company, products or services.

As in life, this type of blind date is tricky to navigate and can easily end in disaster.

Joomlapolis celebrates 400,000 membersIf you haven’t already noticed, its should be pretty clear that Anything Digital is growing rapidly. This is happening in large part due to our close network of extension developers and solutions providers that we interact with regularly and meet often at Joomla Days and other industry events.

Today we are excited to celebrate with our colleagues at Joomlapolis.com as they break the 400,000 member mark. Many of our readers will be familiar with Community Builder, the flagship extension at Joomlapolis that helps you build communities with Joomla.

Last week we released sh404SEF® 2.2 containing a major advance in the type of URL re-writing plugins supported. Not surprisingly, this generated a lot of excitement in the community.

But increased extension support is not the only exciting feature contained in the last release. If you look carefully, we’ve added two new features that really improve usability in your day-to-day management of your URLs.

sh404SEF® remains at the forefront of URL managers for Joomla and it’s popularity stems in large part from the gorgeous URLs that can be created. In addition to SEO benefits, many sh404SEF® users simply love how a site is pulled together with a consistent set of URLs across the many extensions used on a typical Joomla web site.

Thus, we actively recruit our developer colleagues to ensure compatibility between their extensions and sh404SEF®. Recent examples of this collaboration include JoomlaWorks (K2), redCOMPONENT (RedShop), YooTheme (ZOO), Alphaplug(AlphaContent) and of course JVitals (Agora Forum).

Due to popular demand, I am happy to announce that our Christmas promotion with JoomlArt has been extended until the end of the year.

That’s right, for another week you can get access to over 100 premium Joomla templates for free!


Christmas gifts for everyone!

Its been a big year for Anything Digital, full of feature-rich extension releases, new product offerings, new moderators on the forum and new staff. In addition, I retired from my professional career in academia to pursue my Joomla-related interests full-time.

As with most things around here, none of this would have been possible without, YOU, our loyal customers.

To show you our appreciation for placing your trust (and hard-earned dollars) in us, we have arranged a very, very special Christmas offer. With any purchase from Anything Digital, you will receive a 100% free, template club subscription.

During the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, we were informed of a long-standing and serious security issue affecting all versions of sh404SEF® for both Joomla 1.0 and Joomla 1.5.

This blind SQL injection and reflective cross-site scripting vulnerability evaded our scanners and had to be sniffed out by our colleague and Joomla security expert Jeff Channel (web site | Twitter).

Once we were informed of the situation, our development and testing teams shook off the lethargy of the holiday celebrations and sprang into action. In just 48 hours, the team produced a comprehensive set of patches and upgrades that were tested thoroughly and released this morning.

Since this vulnerability affects existing versions of sh404SEF®, all users are strongly urged to upgrade without delay.

As an open source project, Joomla draws its strength from the millions of users around the world who - for various reasons - put the code through its paces and look for security weaknesses. The cycle of finding and patching these vulnerabilities produces a very secure application.

In addition to the security measures in Joomla, sh404SEF® offers a number of security enhancements such as blocking suspicious requests/URLs and flooding attacks, providing white/black listing of IP addresses and User Agents and rejecting spambots using Project Honey Pot.

In addition, in August we quietly rolled out a hardening of the Joomla offline mode (as described recently by Nicholas Dionysopoulos ) in sh404SEF® version 2.1.0.

Today we release another stable build of sh404SEF® (v. 2.1.5) that protects users from a cross-site scripting vulnerability in Joomla that was announced yesterday (October 7, 2010). Prior versions of sh404SEF® are also vulnerable to this type of attack depending on your configuration.

We are pleased to announce the immediate availability of sh404SEF® v2.1 featuring an integration of Joomla and Google Analytics (see screenshot below). This release marks a giant step for sh404SEF® as we expand our services to include web site metrics to help your search engine optimization campaigns.

As you know, sh404SEF® has always been about improving your search engine rankings through on-site SEO. We've already done a lot in that field, and constant refinement is needed as search engines are really a "moving target", with ever changing requirements.

In addition to keeping pace with changes to search engine ranking algorithms, there is a host of details about your web site and its visitors that can be used to improve your rankings. For example, the ‘bounce rate’ of your web site (see below) is an important metric for search engines rankings.

Similarly, knowing the top referrers to your site is a very important piece of information so that you can understand the source of traffic and maintain traffic levels, another measure of your web sites importance and search engine ranking.

Yannick Gaultier (left) and Victor Drover (right) in Germany, May 2010.

In a few weeks, sh404SEF® will mark the first anniversary of the move to our new home here at Anything Digital. I can hardly believe its already been a year!

Not surprisingly, the time just flew past as we have been busy beavers with many releases, upgrades and new features rolling out the door every 4-6 weeks.

This post is the last in a 4-part series.

In the first three posts of this series we discussed pageId (automated tiny URL creation), mobile device detection and template switching and the re-designed sh404SEF® interface.

Now we will focus on the improvements to the specific managers for URLs, 404 Requests and Meta data. This is a critical part of sh404SEF® v2 as these managers are used daily: they are the most common way that people use sh404SEF® once their site is up-and-running.

This post is the third in a 4-part series.

In the first two blog posts of this series, we talked about the new features in sh404SEF® v2 that 'just work' such as pageId (automated tiny URL creation), mobile device detection and template switching.

Now we switch gears and talk about the changes to the user interface that make configuration and activation of sh404SEF® a lot easier and more intuitive.

This post is the second in a 4-part series.

Last week we talked about the new pageId feature in sh404SEF® that generates tiny URLs for your Joomla web site. This is a really convenient feature as the pagId is generated automatically without the need to cut-and-paste URLs into a separate web site.

sh404SEF® v2 has additional features that ‘just work’ similar pageId. For example, when using a mobile device like an iPhone or Droid, sh404SEF® can seamlessly switch to a different template.

Why is this important? Mobile device usage on the web has grown exponentially and is only becoming more popular. Optimizing your web site for mobile devices (i.e. a simpler template with less module positions and a suitable layout for reading on a mobile device) AND traditional/desktop web browsers will provide the best possible experience for your users.

This post is the first in a 4-part series

We’ve had a great response in the last week since we ‘soft-launched’ sh404SEF® v2, the next generation SEF URL manager for Joomla.

We just released version 2.0.1 with some stability fixes, so we thought it was a perfect time to start diving into the exciting new features.

One of the most exciting additions to the sh404SEF® v2 are the short URLs we call ‘pageId’. Most of you are familiar with URL shortening services such as bit.ly and tinyurl.com. pageId is a URL shortner for your own site.


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