[drupal-devel] [wanted] forum module improvements

Kristjan Jansen kristjan.jansen at gmail.com
Wed Aug 17 13:19:33 UTC 2005

I have created a custom forum module what builds on forum storage but
offers totally new user experience. It runs on http://trip.ee/forum
Note it is work in progress and I am not happy with neither UI nor
functionality at this point.

Notable features:

- title + snippet form the the teaser: People are not good writing
titles, especially descriptive titles, but sometimes they create
perfectly sensible 1st sentence of their post.
Teaser snippet takes advantage of that. (taking this concept further
-- perhaps do not intially require title field, but extract it from
the post if not present and allow to finetune it on
posting preview). But...you mileage may vary on these smart extraction
methods, it really
depends of the forum audience.

- Forum posts can belong to multiple vocabularies. In trip.ee I use
"sihkohad" (destinations), "rubriigid" (categories) and "reisistiilid"
(travel styles). I can not imagine how to fit my  postings all into
one fixed category what standard forum.module offers (actually there
IS a way to do it, offering a single freetagging category for forum
posts - now that would be really interesting to try out)

- Simplified date. Postings only have time value and are grouped by
day (groups named "Today's posts", "Yesterday's  posts" and then "15.
Aug 2005" and downwards). This has scaling issues -- if there is to
few  posts per day, group headers clutter the view, if there are too
many, headers have to continue to other page. A decent rate is shown
here: http://trip.ee/forum?page=80 but my forum is growing too popular
and UI starts to break lately.
I am currently investigating relative time formats (1 week/month/year
ago) and will add them soon (possibly replacing current date
information or keeping it secondary)

- Clicking on term name (2nd column in forum) takes you to a
"filtered" forum view where only the postings containing the term are.
To reduce clutter, the active term name is grayed out. Example:

- hijacking the taxonomy pages. As you can see from the previous links
I use standard taxonomy URLs, but I am overloading the default node
view with forum view. This allows to preserve concistency when
navigating the forum.
Compare http://drupal.org/forum/8 and http://drupal.org/taxonomy/term/8

- Multiple breadcrumbs: http://trip.ee/node/12604 Again, helping
navigating the forums and not letting user to be lost

There are more, smaller improvements:

- forum title validation. UPCASE, !!!, ??? are grabbed and messaged to
submitter. Also there is a blacklist with "hello", "please help", "who
knows" and rest of the 1000 common forum titles. If blacklisted title
is present, it is kindly asked to provide a more descriptive title.

- comment title is optional but it is not shown by default (form_group
magic). It is done by because of the different needs of different user
groups - newbies do not want to fill comment titles and have
"duh"-moment while leaving comments, pro users are used to create

There is probably more stuff I have forgotten or just exists in my head

Now, what about the code? Well...I can not show it to public :-0 
It is rough, full of quick hacks, custom solutions and unoptimized so
it is not a pretty sight (I deliberately chose to go to "extreme
newbie programming path" vs my previous
extreme-polish-but-neverending-work approach) -- just to get the

To improve forums I'm happy to work with someone good on programming
side and I can feed him with ideas/mockups as needed.


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