Since the previous build used on this site (what I labeled 4.6 Beta 2 on CodePlex), not too much has changed for end users. The majority of the changes I made were in the backend of the module (caching, bug fixes, removing legacy table columns and tables, etc.). Having this installed on here, in combination with the 5.0 version of the module being in the release tracker, means the module could be a part of the next core release. A few key changes since 4.6 Beta 2:
- New Feature: Auto Trust Users based on approved Post Count.
- Telerik control integration in some areas (not all yet).
- Private Messaging Removed (we didn’t use it on dotnetnuke.com)
- Removal of Member List (we didn’t use it on dotnetnuke.com)
- Better SEO options, now using meta keywords (includes tagging support) and meta description.
As I mentioned before, not too many things changed on this site with the latest upgrade. However, I wanted to take a few moments to point out a few of them which did.
Notification management for users has been simplified. First, simple grids are used instead of duplication of the forum UI. This reduced the size of the page and I feel it also made it more ‘useable’ (considering people don’t really ‘read’ threads from here, this section is just meant for notification management). Next, the ‘unsubscribe’ process was changed so that users simply click a red x icon (delete button) and they are removed from the forum/thread subscription and they will not receive further notifications (for the thread of forum they removed). Plus, this immediately removes the row from the grid providing instant notification that they are ‘unsubscribed’. In previous versions, users had to select a checkbox and then click delete (this old way meant at least 2 clicks, vs. 1 for new way).
The second big change: in older versions users could subscribe to a forum, thread or a post within a thread (max one post per thread). In reality, when subscribing to a post within a thread you were subscribing to the thread itself but you could only manage this on a post per post basis (ie. edit the posts you previously selected ‘notify’ for). Now, users can manage all their notifications from a single view within “My Settings”. This change means users do not need to ever edit a post to ‘unsubscribe’ from a thread. It also means that on the backend there is one less place to check when sending out notifications (thus reducing the chances of missing someone, 1 less table to check).
When browsing posts in a thread, users can now apply tags to a thread as well as view previously associated tags. This is located in the bottom left hand section of the module, below the bottom breadcrumb of the forum. One thing worth noting up front, this is only available in forums which can be viewed by all user who can view the page (which in this case is anyone, logged in or not). There are several technical reasons why this is not available in private forums but I will spare you those boring details.
Applying a tag can be done in one of two ways. If you are creating a new thread, you can use the core “Terms Selector” control which lets you select from a list of previous used tags on the site as your post your new thread (shown in the first screenshot below). Those who have edited a page in DotNetNuke core 5.4 or greater, this control should look familiar. The other way to apply a tag is to click the “Add” button in the tag section and type in a new tag (and click save). This uses another core control which you may also be familiar with, as it is the same one used in the skin object for taxonomy. This ‘tag control’ is shown in the second screenshot below.
Clicking on a tag will take users to a view where all items across the site associated with the click tag are displayed (shown below). Other areas on this site will behave similar in the future (when a tag is clicked), it’s just a matter of tagging being exposed in other modules in the future.
It seems like it has taken forever, but I think search is finally headed in the right direction for the module. I expect it will need tweaks in future revisions and can use some more options for an advanced search but it is much more useable now than it has been in the past. Previously, it seemed no matter what I searched for in this module I got an error on this site. This was due to an SQL timeout in the background. After this recent update, I haven’t been able to reproduce this problem after several attempts. I also removed the user lookup control for a number of reasons (the main one being usability of it was horrible).
While the list of changes/enhancements was not huge, the primary focus since 4.6 beta 2 has been on bug fixing as well as utilizing core features/controls available as of DNN 5.4.1 (the minimum core version required for the module).