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Stephen Jones

Read vs. unread posts, we are going the opposite way

Joel says, "we'll try to turn on another new feature that makes FogBugz keep track of which posts you've already seen (as long as you're logged on) and show them in a different color... this is a feature we used to rely on the browser to do."

We're implementing something similar except we're using the unique URL trick to keep track of read posts vs. unread posts on the client side. 

Unless you need to actually DO something with read and unread posts server side, I found that appending the number of replies to make the URL unique (thus showing up as different color if there are unread replies) was an elegant, clever way to mark the difference.  It's non-portable, but also practically error-free.
ejustice Send private email
Friday, May 04, 2007
 
 
Wouldn't work on Joel's board, where replies randomly disappear and reappear. :)
JW
Friday, May 04, 2007
 
 
>>> I found that appending the number of replies to make the URL unique (thus showing up as different color if there are unread replies) was an elegant, clever way to mark the difference. <<<

This sounds exactly like what JoS has been doing since the beginning.  This will show which threads have new posts since you last read it, but once you select the thread it doesn't show which posts are read and which are new.
EMF
Friday, May 04, 2007
 
 
"This sounds exactly like what JoS has been doing since the beginning. "

Yep, that was my point.  I thought the system was elegant in its simplicity and don't see a need to change it.  They're moving to storing read and unread server side, according to his latest post.
ejustice Send private email
Friday, May 04, 2007
 
 
May so that it's the same no matter which browser you see it from (it's a consequence of signing in).
Christopher Wells Send private email
Friday, May 04, 2007
 
 
Browser based read vs. unread is fine if you always use the same computer to visit JOS. 

Some of us actually look things over on our own time rather than just when we should be working.  Server based coloring when logged in with a username/password would be better for me--but then I would need to actually create an account here.
XYZZY
Friday, May 04, 2007
 
 
The existing system of changing the URL based on number of comments is anything but "elegant" to me. "Hack" comes to mind, creating a confusing jumble of duplicate search results in google.
onanon
Friday, May 04, 2007
 
 
By "elegant", do you mean lazy?
SomeBody Send private email
Friday, May 04, 2007
 
 
I guess it is lazy, but it's also not reinventing the wheel - unless you need it to be portable (our system doesn't, but it would be nice for JoS), or you would like to know what has been read by whom and at what time for your own purposes.
ejustice Send private email
Friday, May 04, 2007
 
 
Tracking who has read what on the server side is unpossible.  JoS has the best system that can be implemented in a distributed, scalable fashion: they let everyone's browser keep track of it. Web browsers will change the color of the links you've already visited from blue to purple. So all they have to do is subtly change the URL for each topic to include the number of replies available; that way when there are additional replies the post will appear in the "unread" color again.

Anything more elaborate than this would be harder to build and would needlessly complicate the UI.



If this sounds familiar, it should: http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/BuildingCommunitieswithSo.html
Drew K
Friday, May 04, 2007
 
 
Most forums let let you see what are read or not read. But that requires a login.

JoS deliberately did not have a login, as it was felt that the process of logging in would discourage people from posting. So the browser side was the only way to do it.

Once you have a voluntary login system, then you can keep the info as to what was read or not, and a lot more, and that won't change when you change machine, as happens now.
Stephen Jones Send private email
Friday, May 04, 2007
 
 
I'm curious to see what the upgrade will look like.  I think the current system is broken, unless your goal is to read every single post to every single thread.  To quote myself ( http://discuss.joelonsoftware.com/default.asp?joel.3.468720.34 ):
The feature of causing the link to revert to unread is actually counter-productive since it makes it *harder* to pick out the threads I've read before (and am likely to want to follow) - they look just like the threads that I ignored the first time I saw them.
bmm6o Send private email
Friday, May 04, 2007
 
 
> they look just like the threads that I ignored the first time I saw them

A way to solve this would be to have two interfaces to the messagebase: HTTP and NNTP.

The HTTP interface would be as present, but having an optional (additional, parallel) NNTP interface would let people use the smarts of their newsreader (to implement local, user-specific features such as 'ignore thread' and 'watch thread' and so on).

Perhaps (I don't know) newsreader-like functionality is already available: if you access this forum via RSS, these features might be in your RSS-reader.
Christopher Wells Send private email
Friday, May 04, 2007
 
 

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