As you may recall from the Site and Tech Updates post for May, one of the items that was “in the works” was a software update for the Portal’s community forums. At that time, things were still in the earliest stages, with some basic cleanup and the like having just begun. Well, since that post, work on the update has continued – and John has now informed me that we are “maybe a week out or so” from seeing it released. In the meantime, here is a sneak peek at what’s ahead.
Visually, the update’s theme takes the first step toward John’s eventual goal of unifying the overall look and feel of Obsidian Portal’s three main sections (the site, forums and blog). Below you can see the forums as they currently appear on the staging area of the server. Obviously, you should keep in mind that since the update isn’t finalized, things may or may not look differently at release.
To the right of the username (in this case OPSupport), you can see a series of icons. From left to right, the icons are as follows: Notifications, Inbox, Bookmarks and Account Options. When clicked, they will display secondary areas for the link in question. For example, I currently have no notifications set up on the staging area, so clicking on the bell looks like so for me:
Underneath the username, a second row of icons appears as well. Comparing screen captures, you can see that OPSupport’s second row is a few icons longer than mine, so I assume those are for admin purposes (and thus I can’t/won’t cover them). For me, the typical user, the icons are (again from left to right): Search, Discussions, Conversations, Profile and Sign Out.
Inbox/Conversations: This sort of serves the function of the optional “whisper comments to” part of the currently existing forum software. It now acts more akin to a private messaging system complete with inbox.
Notifications: In the Preferences area underneath the Account Options icon, you can (by way of check boxes) select the various notifications you wish to see. You can also select whether you would like these notifications sent by Email or by Popup.
Bookmarks: To handle bookmarks, a system similar to what some web browsers use is in place. You simply click on a star icon to fill it in and add it to your list of bookmarks, or click on a filled star to “empty” it and thus remove the bookmark. The star icon appears beside each thread on the listing pages, and at the top of each thread’s individual page.
Editor: The software update comes complete with a new editor, as seen below. With buttons for formatting text, adding links, embedding images and more, you won’t have to struggle with the old textile markup to get your thread looking the way you want it.
Unfortunately, the preview has to come to an end before it gets too long, but don’t worry, the actual release isn’t far off now. If you have additional questions, you can post them here, on the forums, or send me a private message and I’ll give you the best answer I can. As I said, the material you see here isn’t fully finalized yet, so things may change between now and the actual release (things could change visually, organizationally, or functionally).
On the plus side, I’ll be able to add updated forum software to the completed tasks portion of my next Site and Tech Updates post, which is in the initial stages. I don’t have a time frame on release just yet, but I’ll keep people posted as it gets closer. For now, take care, give this post another look and fire off any questions you have.