Right-Side Lists, Improve?

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If the right-side lists remain, can you make them show the last 50 posts instead of only the last 7?

Better, remove them (freeing up valuable screen width to see posts better) and add two new entries to the "Recent Posts" dropdown: "All Forums" and "All Blogs". The date-sorted lists there contain very useful info, who posted, when, what forum, etc. Probably the 50 most recent posts would be sufficient.

Removing the left-side "ID" column was a good idea, and posts are MUCH more readable now.

Thanks, Gary

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reikiman's picture
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Re: Right-Side Lists, Improve?

I did this finally.. had to ponder for awhile what the goal is and that's to improve usability, navigation, etc. Also I visited with a potential client company a couple weeks ago, showed them the site, and they were using an 800x600 screen and the sidebars intruded over the content area. Very very very bad.

I see in the traffic statistics that 800x600 is 2.26% of the visitors which seems like a small number but they're getting an unusable situation.

Wider posts help and do give more room. On the other hand on a big screen the wide posts don't help because there's a truism that it's hard to read wide text. That's why newspapers are printed with multiple narrow columns.

Navigability -- A side effect of removing the sidebars for forum posts is to limit navigation choices. As it stands now your navigation choice starts by scrolling back to the top of the screen, then either clicking on a "Recent XYZZY" or clicking on the breadcrumb trail to go back into the forum list. If the sidebar were there the navigation choice also includes recent forum posts.

I am thinking about a redesign of the Recent XYZZY pages

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Re: Right-Side Lists, Improve?

You can't please all the people all the time, right?

I cast my vote for restoring the active forum topics right side menus - I use that menu the most. I scan down it and if I don't see anything of interest to me I often just leave the site. If I see a couple of items then I'll use it as the primary means for getting to those posts.

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Re: Right-Side Lists, Improve?

The 'Recent XYZZY' pages don't seem to list the 'x new posts' message that you get from the main forum pages. If you are going to tweak those pages, I'd really like to see which threads I'm up-to-date on and which have unread content, and be able to click and go directly to the newest unread post.

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Re: Right-Side Lists, Improve?

MikeB wrote:

The 'Recent XYZZY' pages don't seem to list the 'x new posts' message that you get from the main forum pages. If you are going to tweak those pages, I'd really like to see which threads I'm up-to-date on and which have unread content, and be able to click and go directly to the newest unread post.

Mike, that feature already exists in the Recent XYZZY pages. That is, for each of them it shows which are 'NEW' or 'UPDATED' and in the number of comments column it marks how many new comments there are, and if you click on the word 'NEW' it takes you directly to the newest unread comment.

Unless I'm missing something it already does what you're asking for.

Of course you have to be logged in for this to work so that the site knows who you are.

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Re: Right-Side Lists, Improve?

jdh2550_1 wrote:

You can't please all the people all the time, right?

I cast my vote for restoring the active forum topics right side menus - I use that menu the most. I scan down it and if I don't see anything of interest to me I often just leave the site. If I see a couple of items then I'll use it as the primary means for getting to those posts.

Yeah, I know.. The issue here seems to be small screens versus larger ones. Garygid has a Wii he sometimes uses to browse the Internet and it has a small screen (small number of pixels) and of course there's more portable devices like iPhones or Palm Pre or whatnot where the screen also has few pixels. The layout isn't working too well on smaller screens. Mebbe I could tweak the layout so it works better on small screens.

Another way is to make the sidebars optional .. one way is to by default show them and let individual people selectively turn them off in their My Account edit page. The other way is to by default not show them, and let individuals turn them on in their My Account edit page. The third way is to leave them on all the time.

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Re: Right-Side Lists, Improve?

Optional is good. You can decide which is the better default by looking at your browser stats (I think you said it was 2.8% who had a 800x600 screen or smaller?).

If you wanted to get fancy you could
(a) detect the screen size and default accordingly
(b) not quite as fancy would be to have different landing pages - one for small and one for large and set the defaults depending on which page they land on and then forward them on to the regular site...

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Remember: " 'lectric for local. diesel for distance" - JTH, Amp Bros || "No Gas. No Worries." - JDH, CuMoCo || "Make Volts Not War" - anon.

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Re: Right-Side Lists, Improve?

I'm logged in, but not seeing any indication at all of new content on the 'Recent XYZZY' pages. I see 'new' indicators on specific forum pages, but not the Recent pages. Is there some sort of flag to turn this on for some users and not others?

I think it used to work, but stopped a month or so ago.

To be clear, we're talking about the drop-down menu on the top of the page, 'Recent posts'->'Latest in < topic >', right?

On the topic of small screens, I do drop by occasionally with a iPhone or netbook, both of which are going to have smaller screens than a standard browser. It would be nice to have a 'compact' mode or something for small screens, and a 'full' mode for big screens. Even better, it'd be nice to auto-detect which one you want, since the same user may visit with both types of browser.

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Re: Right-Side Lists, Improve?

Another thought about the right-side lists:

It'd be nice to customize which forums and sub-forums would show up. For example, I might be interested in Large Scooters but not Bicycles, and Product Announcements but not Dealer Deals. So being able to build a custom list of topics and see just the recent activity in those topics would be nice.

You could also make this a custom version of the Recent XYZZY page (as long as we also resolve the 'new' indication issue too)

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Re: Right-Side Lists, Improve?

MikeB wrote:

Another thought about the right-side lists:

It'd be nice to customize which forums and sub-forums would show up. For example, I might be interested in Large Scooters but not Bicycles, and Product Announcements but not Dealer Deals. So being able to build a custom list of topics and see just the recent activity in those topics would be nice.

You could also make this a custom version of the Recent XYZZY page (as long as we also resolve the 'new' indication issue too)

Groan, okay the "Latest in XYZZY" pages don't show any 'new' indicators while the main Recent Posts page does. I missed that feature somehow.

I believe it will be possible to set up a customized page like you're suggesting. The thing which creates these Recent pages can take arguments, but I'm not sure if the argument will be very user friendly.

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Re: Right-Side Lists, Improve?

jdh2550_1 wrote:

Optional is good. You can decide which is the better default by looking at your browser stats (I think you said it was 2.8% who had a 800x600 screen or smaller?).

That was the ones with 800x600 .. the other smaller sizes are other rows on the chart so if 640xx480 is 1% then the percentage with either 800x600 or 640x480 would be 3.8% and then there's the iPhone etc users. It's going to be in the 5-10% range and I want to annoy the fewest people possible.

jdh2550_1 wrote:

If you wanted to get fancy you could
(a) detect the screen size and default accordingly
(b) not quite as fancy would be to have different landing pages - one for small and one for large and set the defaults depending on which page they land on and then forward them on to the regular site...

Unfortunately there isn't right now a way with the site to have it react to browser capabilities. It can be done and will simply require some research.

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Re: Right-Side Lists, Improve?

Just a thought...perhaps a "drop down" menu of post titles, appears when the cursor is over the [Active Forum Topics] and the [Recent Blog Posts] buttons?

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Re: Right-Side Lists, Improve?

I fixed all the Recent XYZZY pages to be as I'd intended all along. A dynamic dropdown might be a good idea as you suggested.

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Re: Right-Side Lists, Improve?

The Right-side lists are mostly gone. They still appear some places, like the User page that one gets after Login (and they still cover up the all but the "S" on the right-most(?) tab there.

The lists can be programmed to right-adjust against the right edge of the screen, covering up anything else that happens to be near the right edge, or they could be programmed to extend to the right of the rightmost "other" information. That way, they would never cover anything.

However, Great work, their elimination is Big usability improvement on the small screens! Thanks.

I also used the Active Forums right-side List a lot, and would like to see an "Latest in All Forums" entry appear at the top of the "Recent Posts" dropdown menu.

Also, you could probably remove all the rather redundant "Latest in" prefixes.

Thanks again, it makes the forum much more readable, at least on the Wii and my mini-laptops ("netbooks").

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Re: Right-Side Lists, Improve?

I like the active forum list as it encourages me to read parts of the site that I would not bother with - this improves my knowledge of ev's outside my "chosen" field

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Re: Right-Side Lists, Improve?

Gary, this thread makes it obvious some found the sidebars useful and it seems you found the sidebars useful too. So, it's not a dislike of the sidebars but whether they work on small screens?

I'm looking into how to make it respond to browser capabilities. Hopefully there's a way to detect a small screen and make the behavior a bit different. I think if the sidebars were to be small and then on mousing over to expand them, that would balance the usefulness of the sidebars with the needs of small screens.

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Re: Right-Side Lists, Improve?

The links are useful, no question, and if they never covered up anything, they would be fine.
Also, they do not need to be "always there", but "the same" (actually Much Better) info (links) could be easily and quickly available as the first entry (Latest in All Forums) on the "Recent Posts" dropdown list.

I think it is a waste of your time to try to adapt to different browsers and screen resolutions and window sizes, just to achieve inferior results.

The "Recent" All-Foruns list is superior because it will list many "recent" (days), not just the 7 most recent (sometimes only minutes). Also the "Recent" lists show who posted last, and when - both are very helpful.

Finally, adding an All-Forums list is probably almost trivial to do (it is just like the others, just with a different "filter"), so please add that list even if you keep the right-side lists. Once you add the All-Forums list, the right-side will get used much less.

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Re: Right-Side Lists, Improve?

Hm, Recent Posts already shows "All Forums". The only difference might be that Recent Posts shows more than forum posts, it shows the most recent of "everything". Everything includes handbook pages, blog posts, event listings, video entries in video gallery, etc.

Some of the people on this thread say they use the sidebar to navigate, not the Recent (a.k.a. Latest) pages. Okay, you're right that the sidebar doesn't show many entries and sometimes only shows the last couple minutes of conversation. But since the "customer is always right" that they're using the sidebar to navigate is "right" for them.

For example using the Recent pages means an extra page view before viewing the next posting. Some time ago I had the sidebars set so the links would navigate to the 'new' in a given thread, and it was WAY MORE convenient to use the sidebars to navigate. But it's not practical to stuff everything in the Recent pages into the sidebars.

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Re: Right-Side Lists, Improve?

I do not see any "All Forums".
What is it called exactly?

My first entry is "Latest in Bicycles".

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Re: Right-Side Lists, Improve?

You requested 'Latest in All Forums' and I am asking just how would that be different from 'Recent posts'. Recent Posts already shows all activity in all forums but as I said it shows other activity as well (handbooks, events, etc). I could create an 'All Forums' by cloning one of the 'Latest in' views and changing the list of forums it shows and if I'm understanding you right it would differ from 'Recent Posts' by only showing forum posts. Is that what you really want or is 'Recent Posts' as it stands sufficient?

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Re: Right-Side Lists, Improve?

The "User" page just got wider, and right-side lists narrower.
I can see Filr Browser and Twitter tabs now (when I scroll right), and most of the Subscription tab.

However, the right-side lists are still "stuck" over other content. They appear to be right-adjusted to the right end of the top "V" banner.

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Re: Right-Side Lists, Improve?

I changed the sidebar width from 190 pixels to 130 and am looking for 'min-width' settings in the layout.

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Re: Right-Side Lists, Improve?

OH, I did NOT realize that "Recent Posts" itself is a clickable link.

The list there is exactly what I wanted.

Perhaps many others just think those "menu boxes" just activate the associated dripdown list. Perhaps the down-arrowhead helped mislead me, or I was just dense. Sure, it was obvious to you because you made them.

Thanks

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Re: Right-Side Lists, Improve?

That's an understandable mistake. Usually the header item in a menu isn't clickable.

I've been experimenting a bit and am using an absurdly narrow screen right now which is kinda usable.

The tabs on user pages now flow so that you can see all the tabs. However they flow over multiple rows which seems usable to me but others may disagree.

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Re: Right-Side Lists, Improve?

Uh.. bugs on the Recent pages...

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Re: Right-Side Lists, Improve?

The multi-row tabs works. Now they can all be seen, and clicked.

Good solution for the many tabs, and they are no longer covered by the right-side stuff. Presumably they will automatically "flow" to adapt to various size screens.

Good Work!

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Re: Right-Side Lists, Improve?

Yeah, looks like they will flow .. tried approx 300 pixels wide (absurdly small) and it was still usable. And seem to have they layout on Recent pages fixed now, still have to implement the change on the other Recent pages.

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Re: Right-Side Lists, Improve?

The "My Recent Posts" tab on the "Recent Posts" page has an array_key_exists error.

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Re: Right-Side Lists, Improve?

Yup, I remember seeing that before and then never following through with fixing it. IIRC it's a known bug that's been filed with the correct team on the Drupal site.

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Re: Right-Side Lists, Improve?

I am now on a 1024 wide screen and using IE 7 and on the user page, where the tabs were multi-row for awhile (good). Now they are single-row again, and the rightmost tab(s) are covered up by the Active Forun Topics again (bad).

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Re: Right-Side Lists, Improve?

The right-side lists are (still) covering up the right-side information of the Recent Posts list.

Is there no way to get rid of this VERY annoying overlay?

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XM-5000Li, wired for cell voltage measuring and logging.

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