Spring Has Sprung! Check Out Vanilla’s New Community Updates

4 minute read

April 9, 2021

Spring Has Sprung! Check Out Vanilla’s New Community Updates


Vanilla Labs

We’re really excited to launch a new initiative called Vanilla Labs. In the coming weeks you will notice a Vanilla Labs tab in your Dashboard. This is where to go if you want to test out the latest and greatest features in a ‘beta’ state before they are officially released. 


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Zapier Integration

Have you ever wanted to connect your community to one of your most commonly used software tools such as Slack but don’t have a developer on hand to do this for you? This is a super common problem and one that we’ve tackled with the help of Zapier. 

In case you missed it, Vanilla recently launched our Zapier App, and over the past few months we’ve built out Zapier templates with apps like Slack and Hubspot so you can easily get up and running and connect these Zaps into your community. If you’re looking for integration inspiration, you’ll soon see a Zapier page in your Dashboard settings that has some pre-built templates for you to try out!

If you want to share your Zaps or run ideas by other Community Managers, head over to our Success Community.



In our last feature round-up, we talked a lot about the improvements we’ve made to Theming and the introduction of Widgets (components such as categories, leaderboards, discussion lists, tags, events, etc. that are configurable and can be moved around your community pages). In the past few months we’ve levelled up the documentation around theming and added a few more widgets that will help you easily customize your theme without adding any custom code. Here are the new widgets: 

  • User Spotlight: This widget allows you to highlight certain users, for example, you can introduce your community team! Or, if you have a rank/reward engagement strategy, you can showcase power users, influencers, or winners of community contests.
  • RSS Feed: Bring your content marketing strategy into your community.  The new RSS feed widget allows you to spotlight the latest articles from your company blog, a news source, or virtually anything with an RSS feed that is relevant to your community.
  • Quick Links Manager: Customize which links you want to highlight as the most important in your community, or use your community as a hub and link out to external pages that are relevant to your members. 

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Search is the backbone of any self-service tool. If your community members can’t find what they’re looking for, even if it’s there – what’s the point?! That’s why Vanilla has worked on a major overhaul to the search service – we’ve updated it to the more modern Elasticsearch framework. This has allowed us to jam pack Search with a ton of new features. In addition to a fancy new user interface, you’ll also see the following enhancements to make finding discussions, articles, and people so much easier. 

  • More content is surfacing in search results including:
    • Places: Groups, Categories, & Knowledge Bases show up in search in addition to the content within these places 
    • Member Search: A dedicated space for members to find one another and search on member-specific filters 
    • Hub/Node: For enterprise users with a hub/node structure, public content is searchable
  • New features improve the overall user experience of search, including:
    • Real-time search indexing: New articles, discussions or other content is instantly searchable. There is no lag time required for your site to index the new content and appear in the search results
    • Search Term Highlighting: The words you search for will be highlighted within the text of the results 
    • Exact text matching: Get more accurate search results by using wildcards such as “” quotes for exact text matching and + or – for and/not 
    • Search Sorting: Sort your results by Top content or Hot content to see the latest and greatest results in the community
    • Advanced Filtering: Filter the results by date posted, author and more


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Integrations: APIs

Core to Vanilla’s philosophy is that everything you can do in the UI you should be able to do via our API. We’ve added new endpoints that have been in high demand. 

  • Manage pockets (get, edit, add delete) 
  • Manage tags (add, edit, get) 
  • User profile custom fields (get, edit) 
  • Filter by discussion status


Those are our latest highlights! Want to learn more about the Spring 2021 updates? Or see a sneak peek of Summer 2021? Here are a few more ways you can engage with the latest release:

  1. Watch the Spring 2021 Product Update webinar for an overview of what’s been released and what’s coming in Summer 2021
  2. Go more in depth on every feature by reading the Release Notes
  3. Drop a comment in the Product Update Discussion telling us what you’re most excited about in Spring 2021 / Summer 2021! 


Do you have ideas on how to improve Vanilla? Comment below in the Success Community, or vote on existing ideas that you like. All ideas submitted are reviewed and will receive feedback from the Product Team.


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Victoria Burt

Written by Victoria Burt

Victoria is the Product Marketing Manager at Vanilla Forums. Having held roles in Product Marketing and Product Management at tech companies over the last 10 years, Victoria lives and breathes bringing SaaS products & features to market

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