The Uncanny Owl team has been hard at work adding some interesting new features to our popular Uncanny Groups plugin over the last few weeks. Given the scope of some of the changes, we want to walk users through and them outline how to use the new options.
Group-specific welcome emails
We’ve had feedback from some of our users that global emails to welcome users to groups just aren’t sufficient. Different groups may have different instructions and expectations, maybe an introduction by an instructor is warranted, perhaps it’s just different branding that’s important. Whatever the case, we have tried to address this gap by adding group-specific welcome emails.
Now, when you edit groups, you’ll see a new section that looks like this on the edit group page in the Group page tab:
It works just the way other welcome emails work on the Uncanny Groups > Settings page; the same tokens are also available. To use this new feature for specific groups:
- Check the Override “Add and invite (new user)” email checkbox. This tells our plugin to use this email template instead of the global one.
- Populate the Subject and Body areas with appropriate content.
Now, when new students are added to this group, they’ll receive the contents of this email rather than the global one.
If this section is not set up for any groups, we’ll just defer to the global email template.
Group Leaders can send emails based on current course status
This is a big change that will affect your Group Leaders if you have granted access to send emails to students.
As a quick refresher, on the Group Management page you can add the group_email_button=”show” to your [uo_groups] shortcode (or to the Gutenberg block) to expose a tool that Group Leaders can use to send emails to students. Up until Uncanny Groups 4.4, this email option let you target students by group progress (e.g. no group courses started, all group courses complete, group courses started but not complete) and send them emails. This was typically used to remind students that they needed to complete their assigned activities.
What it lacked was a way to target specific courses only, like maybe a Group Leader only wanted to send reminders if users hadn’t finished any of 3 specific courses. Or maybe a Group Leader wanted to send a congratulations message to anyone who completed a specific course early. To address these other scenarios, here’s how the email tool has been changed:
Note the new Group Courses section. With it, you can choose 1 course, several courses, or the “Any course” option. This allows much better targeting of email recipients, but it is certainly a change to what Group Leaders are used to.
There’s one other change here too: If there are multiple Group Leaders in a group, you can change the reply-to address. The Sender email always has to be the admin email address, since it should be linked to the site domain and will therefore improve email deliverability, but the reply-to address can be for the Group Leader of the sender’s choice.
Required first and last names
While first and last names were always required when Group Leaders added individual students to a group, the tool for bulk adding multiple students had those fields as optional. In today’s update, there’s a new attribute for the [uo_groups] shortcode (and an option for the associated block): first_last_name_required=”yes”. By adding that to the Uncanny Group Management page shortcode, the First and Last Name fields in the bulk add & invite users tool adds * next to the associated column headings (to indicate those fields are mandatory) and values must be in those fields to add the users to the group.
This change was suggested by Chris Hodgson at Discover Elearning to ensure that all users added to groups would have valid first and last names populated on the LearnDash certificates.
Tighter Uncanny Automator integration
If you’re not yet using Uncanny Automator, we have added a 1-click installer that installs and activates Automator with 1 click. Certainly Automator isn’t required, but given how much we keep adding to it for LearnDash groups, it has become an increasingly compelling option.
Here are just a few of the Groups-related improvements we have added to Automator in the last week:
- Run actions based on whether or not someone is a member of a group or its child groups (e.g. only send a certificate to a user that’s part of the Uncanny Owl group hierarchy, including users in the Dev Team group under the Uncanny Owl group parent)
- Remove a user from all LearnDash groups in a single action/recipe
- Remove the user as a leader of a group (perhaps a site sells Group Leader access to groups on a subscription basis, and when a subscription is cancelled or payment fails, there needs to be a way to remove Group Leaders from the group automatically)
If that first example doesn’t sound possible, it might be because we only added integration-specific conditions to Automator Pro in May. With that support, now you can choose to only run actions if users:
- Completed a specific LearnDash course
- Enrolled in a specific LearnDash course
- Are members of a LearnDash group
- Are not in a specific LearnDash group
- Are members of a group or its child groups
- Are not members of a group or its child groups
- Have not completed a specific LearnDash course
And the rest
It’s been some time since our last big update, so the Uncanny Groups 4.4 release has a lot of improvements behind the scenes, including:
- The “Group Product Swap” tool now supports Subscription product types as well as Group License products
- Easier filter options to hook in and override column headings in the Group Course report (we’ll try to put together a blog post explaining how easy it is to add extra columns, like a certificate expiry date)
- Improved WPML compatibility (including submission to WPML for certification)
- Improved PHP 8.1 compatibility
Full details are available in the changelog.