New Makeover for the Forums

New Forum Software

CodeGuru has upgraded the discussion forums again. This time, we upgraded our underlying software to the most recent version.

This change is a major upgrade from the software vendor. For those of you that have heard me refer to "the new version that is coming" for the last two years, this may seem like it is about time. The software was actually well over a year later from the vendor than they had originally planned. Was it worth the wait? You'll have to let me know.

Some of the New Stuff

There are a number of new features in the new forum software. For the most part, we have tried to keep the look and feel close to what it was prior to this upgrade. We have plans to create a new style set for the forum that you'll optionally be able to use. The new style will be more in line with the main site and will incorporate the main sites menus and such. For now, however, it is worth pointing out a number of the new features.

The one feature that I took the most grief about losing when we converted to vBulletin a few years ago was the loss of personal ratings. While we can't go back and get the old ratings, we can now start fresh with new ratings on individuals. These ratings are called reputations. Your reputation can have positive and negative changes. Better yet, you can add to others' reputations. If someone gives you a great answer, you can now give them a positive reputation point(s) as a thanks. If someone blasts a thread with an off-topic post or with negative comments, you can give them a negative reputation. With time, these reputations will help the stars rise and the people who only provide noise to become visible. Is it possible to cheat the system? Yes, but as it was in the old days, the forum moderators and I are aware of many of the ways to cheat the system and will take appropriate actions.

Reputations are indicated by a small graphic. The more positive your reputation, the more visible the graphic will become. This will be displayed by all your posts and in your profile.

To add to someone's reputation, you will click a small scale graphic on the upper, right area of the post. It looks like a scale or balance. This will result in a pop-up window as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: The Reputations window.

In this window, you can either give a positive point (approve) or negative (disapprove). You should also add a comment on why you approve or disapprove. If this is your post, you'll be able to see the reputation points you have by clicking on the scale:

Reputations come with rules. You only get a certain number of points each day, so use them only for the best postings and responses. Right now, this is 6 times per day that points can be given.

There is reputation POWER. Power is the number of points you give each time. This starts at 1 point, but increases based on a number of criteria such as posts, tenure, and your own reputation. When you give negative points, they are at half of your power level.

Here are some other rules and settings for reputations(which are subject to change):

  • You must give reputations to 15 different people before you can come back to the same person again. No giving just one person all your points!
  • For every 1000 posts at CodeGuru (that are counted—so not including chitchat), you get an extra point of reputation POWER.
  • For every year you have been with CodeGuru, you get an extra point of repuation POWER.
  • For every 1000 points of reputation you receive, you get an extra point of repuation POWER.
  • While you can use reputation points today, your reputations will not be applied until the following conditions are met:
    • You must have posted at least 25 counted messages to CodeGuru.
    • There was a rule that you must have 5 points of reputation yourself before your points will count (you start with 5).

(Above was last updated 7/15/04)

Changing Views

One of the other most requested new features is the ability to change to a thread view when looking at messages. This upgrade goes one better. You can keep the current, linear mode, or you can switch to a threaded view. There is also a hybrid mode that gives the best of both. Thread view is simply a list of the subject lines with the ability to see specific responses to specific posts, versus linear mode, which simply shows the posts in the order they were posted in a thread.

Drop-Down Menus

If you change your view mode, you will notice a number of little items such as the drop-down menus. Welcome to the twenty-first century! There are a number of these nice little additions that help make the site a little friendlier.

Control Panel and User Options

Your user Control Panel has changed a bit as well. If you go to the User CP, you will see a nicer menu down the side of the page that lists each of the options you can change. Some of these options link to other parts of the site where you can change values. Others are linked directly into the forums.

Once change that you will want to notice is that there are now both Avatars and Profile Pictures. Avatars will continue to be used with your forum postings if you choose to use them. Profile Pictures can be seen when you view your profile. Profile Pictures are also what will be displayed with any articles you post to CodeGuru. This means you can put a picture of yourself into the profile picture and still have a fun Avatar for the forums!

Formatting Messages

Some of the changes may not seem major, but if you use the features, you may think they are the biggest. Specifically, when entering messages. You now can highlight text and select a formatting command. In most cases, such as bolding, italicizing, and coloring, the tags will now be put around the highlighted text. This was not possible in the old version. Rather, it would pass all formatting to the end of a message. Not anymore! It is much, much easier to go crazy with formatting now!

You'll also see that code is presented in scrolling text boxes. No more trying to scroll the page to the right for those people that post code lines that are 200+ characters long! This also should eliminate the issue with code getting converted to smilies!

Last Words... ...for Now

There are lots of other changes as well. Some are small, such as the ability to preview your signature when you are adding it. Small, but nice! When you click on a person's name, you get a pop-up menu allowing you to send them a private message, to see all of their posts, and other options.

These are just some of the changes you will find in these new forums. Drop into the feedback forum and let us know your thoughts and opinions!

Brad!
webmaster@CodeGuru.com



About the Author

Bradley L. Jones

bjones@jupitermedia.com

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