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Note: This content here is outdated, see TWikiDotNetForumAppAddOn and DiscussionForumAddOn for latest info

We have to start somewhere wink

I've tried using this and it has problems. I've tried contacting the original author and get no response, so I suppose I'll have to work on it myself and report back here.

Eventually I hope to put together a package that can be installed.

One fo my first tasks is to translate the German into English.

-- AntonAylward - 02 May 2003

I think translating from German to English would be a terrific idea.

My suggestion is to add a 'number of replies' field off to the side of the comments line on the Overview page (like Slashdot does). I would imagine that could be done with a regex search, but unfortunately I'm not up on that stuff.

The only real problem I had with the installation was how to set up the categories and icons. The author explained to me how to do it though, and it worked like a charm. Here's how you do it....
- - -
* Set KATEGORIETEAM = <img src="http://static.kdenews.org/dot.kde.org/TopicImages/community.gif" border="0" ALIGN="RIGHT" HSPACE="20" VSPACE="10" ALT="Team" TITLE="Team">

This will link to the defined picture for the categorie. You can change your categories in the DiscussionForumCreate Topic and define some other pictures for it.
- - -
I loaded four of the icons directly on to my site so that I wouldn't have to link to the kdenews.org site to get them.

-- SteveDowell - 02 May 2003

Ok, first the DiscussionForum is made with pure Wiki-Syntax and there isn't really something to "install" except you have to define some images for the variables.

Further more, this one is more a prove of concept thing and not ready for prime time yet -> see Problems on DiscussionForum .

To do things like counting comments, you have to do a real plugin. Altough you don't need editing anything by hand, there shouldn't be any HTML stuff like MartinCleaver already mentioned.

I really would like to see the DiscussionForum becoming a more polished application. Don't have enough time by my own, but I be here to assist.

-- AndreUlrich - 03 May 2003

English Package

First, all praise and thanks to Andre for dreaming this up. Simply seeing Shashdot and Blogs isn't enough, its figuring out how to map them into Twiki, and Andre has done it without needing to write oodles of code wink

I've done a translation and modification. The translation is to English and is trivial.

The modification is more subtle. It goes like this.

I've modified the Create form to have a lot of options, a set that I think is suitable for a general purpose disscusion forum like Slashdot, but more generalized - fewer specific vedor and vendor products. I've then modified the Template so that instead of refering to the single image in the "Set XXX" that Andre mentions, it refers to the appropriate image in %PUBURL%/DiscussionForum.

This puts it part of the way to being an 'add-on'. One can't really call it a skin or a plug-in, but it does add new functionality.

I'm uploading the changes files as ZIP files. Please note that they are NOT appropriate for installation, there is NO directory indormation. Unpack these into a temporary direcroty.

Outstanding Problem

The outstanding problem with this package is that it uses the same method that other template-driven forms based implementations do but has a side effect. It calls "bin/edit" with a parameter list that implements the form - Subject, Text and Category. For some reason, after pressing the 'send' button (should that be 'submit'?) the user then gets dropped into the regular editor -- or at least that what happens to me when I use SeeSkin. If you see something different with other skins please let me know.

However this may be a real implementation problem. Could others comment on this please.

-- AntonAylward - 02 May 2003

This sounds like a useful enhancement. This should be packaged as a AddOnPackage, could be named DiscussionForumAddOn. I change the classification from PluginBrainstorming to AddOnBrainstorming since this is not a Plugin.

Some suggestions for the implementation:

(1) Forms: Use a TWiki Form to store the meta data like "Title", "Submitted", "Author", "Category". This simplifies the reporting. The initial article is about the only thing that remains in the topic text.

(2) Images: You do not need to define WebPreferences variable if you do this:

  • Create a DiscussionForumImages topic and attach the category images to this topic.
  • Name the images consistently, e.g. Brainstroming.gif for the "Brainstroming" category
  • In the formatted search do this:
    <img src="%PUBURLPATH%/%WEB%/DiscussionForumImages/$formfield(Category).gif" border="0" align="right" hspace="20" vspace="10" alt="$formfield(Category)" title="$formfield(Category)" />

(3) Hide the messy details of the discussion topics in a DiscussionForumHeader topic and INCLUDE that topic in each discussion topic. Again, use the $formfield(Category) to get the correct image; use $formfield(Title) to get the title etc. Use %INLUDINGTOPIC% if you need to know the name of the discussion topic.

(4) There is a rendering problem with the rounded edges on Netscape. This here fixes it:
<td valign=\"top\" align=\"left\" width=\"13\"><img align=\"top\" src=\"%PUBURLPATH%/%WEB%/DiscussionForum/edge.gif\" width=\"13\" /></td>

(5) Better to use XHTML markup.

(6) The image hangs over the HR tag if the initial article is short. Use this:
<br clear="all" /><hr noshade="on" size="5" />

(7) The archive page could be enhanced to accept a category URL parameter which can be used to show all articles of just one category.

(8) Direct save: Submitting an article drops you into edit mode, this is spec. A "direct save" feature would be helpful (I wished for that feature when I created the TWikiInstallations app). This could be done in two ways:

  • TWiki could be enhanced: The edit script would understand a new directsave=on parameter which would redirect immediately to preview, then to save.
  • Add-on: Create an add-on script that creates a topic for you based on parameters.

-- PeterThoeny - 03 May 2003

Thanks you Peter.

Some of these are beyond me at the momeent but I appreciate the guidance.

  1. This may conflict with the CommentPlugin. It might be possible to make a 'regular' (i.e. non commentplugin) version this way, but I'll have to experiment
  2. Run-time binding rather than install-time binding, with end user configurability. Again I'll have to experiment.
  3. I don't understand this.
  4. Where does that go?
  5. wink I'll work on it wink
  6. Thank you
  7. Thank you
  8. What does the 'bin/save" script do? Obviously you can't simply replace 'edit' with 'save' in the Create topic, but perhaps some parameters are required.

I'll work on some of this, but not soon. Other commitments frown

-- AntonAylward - 04 May 2003

(1) Use TWikiForms: I have not tested this, but looking at the code of CommentPlugin's savecomment script it should preserve the meta data.

(3) Use a DiscussionForumHeader topic to hide messy details: Set by step:

  1. DiscussionForumTemplate looks like this:
    %INCLUDE{"DiscussionForumHeader"}% <!-- do not remove this -->

    <br clear="all"><hr noshade size="5"></hr>
    ---+ Comments

    %COMMENT{mode="before" id="first" button="send"}%

  2. DiscussionForumHeader has the header part of the old DiscussionForumTemplate with these modifications:
    • No HTML comments needed as markers for keywords
    • The whole table of the header is produced by a FormattedSearch that finds exactly one topic, the including topic.
    • The %URLPARAM{"title"}% etc variables are replaced by a $formfield(title)
    • Here is an example on this topic that pulls out the TopicClassification:
      • Type this: %SEARCH{"^%INCLUDINGTOPIC%$" scope="topic" regex="on" limit="1" format="Classification is $formfield(TopicClassification)" nosearch="on" nototal="on" }%
      • Get this: Classification is AddOnBrainstorming

(4) Netscape rendering problem: This is for DiscussionForumOverview. I fixed it in that topic.

(8) Direct save feature: Better to follow up in Codev.

-- PeterThoeny - 04 May 2003

Don't want to be rude but I like to express some thoughts about the things going on here recently.

<annoying mode on>

I don't want to be praised or something. It makes me happy if someone actually finds the thing useful and a little bit acknowledgement is more than enough - that's how open source works!

An example how open source definitely doesn't work is going on here.

It's a little bit annoying to see people grabbing your code and describe themself as author without contributing any useful changes. (see DiscussionForumAddOn) In this way the virtual compensation the author gets in form of acknowledgement lowers and it's no longer appealing to contribute something.

Besides that the topic is spelled wrong, it would be nice if the author gets contacted before some sort of these site build up. By the way, contacting a person and getting no response within 3 days is quite normal. Most of the developers do this open source stuff in their spare time and provide no 24h support!

The Forum itself is no magic. It's rather an idea build upon cool stuff like the CommentPlugin and TWiki in general. My intention is to give some code back to the community. There are a lot of nice ideas how the Wiki-Concept can be applied and I will contribute even more of them in future. But the behaviour of certain people makes me sometimes really shaking me head.

</annoying mode off>

Now to the constructive part:

ALERT! Some remarks about the changes made in the "package":

  • DiscussionForumArchive: Convertet to bullet list
    • This actually was a bullet list by using the appropriate Wiki-Syntax. The new one involves more HTML which is even worse!
  • DiscussionForumCreate: Lst of categories enhanced
    • The list of categories was consciously held short and only intended to give an example. A forum should be configured for the specific purpose it serves. Therefore IMHO it makes no sense to put up a "generic" list of categories.
    • Further more some categories didn't get a value, which is needed as a parameter. Besides that they aren't upper case, so they can't be used as variables and the whole thing may not work at all.

In my opinion the code visible to users shouldn't messed up with unnecessary "character x added by Mr. X" stuff.

Summarize: Instead of using the package, simply copy the sites provided in Sandbox.DiscussionForum which is more likely to be up to date - and in addition works properly.

Thanks Peter for your useful suggestions. They are so detailed and source-code like that you can nearly cut 'n paste it in some page. I especially like the DiscussionForumImages idea.

Until the brainstorming is going on, the best is to keep the example in the Sandbox-Web up to date. In this way everyone can contribute and see how it is evolving. When I have some time I'll implement your suggestion in the example.

-- AndreUlrich - 05 May 2003

Please don't be so touchy. Part of the OpenSource is the idea of experimenting with variations. There are many here, some as patches, some as work-to-date, some, like MegaTwiki, as divergent branches. Part of the reason I submitted the attachements in the way I did was so that they could be used a components to let other try out more and more variations.

And yes, I did contact you, and you took so long to reply that I'd already experimented with a couple of variations and discussed them with Steve. I've also tried correcting my typos but the access permission prevent it. If it really upset you that my brian works faster than my fingers, why didn't you try renaming the topic? (I've asked Peter to do that.) Why don't you edit the content?

As for 'discussion" -- I thought that's the point of the "-Dev". I've tried renaming this to have a suffix "Dev" but once again have permissions problems.

If we can't discuss and try out variations in design ideas then this isn't "open".

My motivations in managing a site may well be different from yours. Peter's DiscussionForumImages idea is great if the site manager want's to allow subject categories to be created dynamically by the end users, in an open situation such as Slashdot; my approach is great if the site is more tightly managed (as it is with one of my clients) where the set of subjects - perhaps relating to aspects of a project, are to be determined and fixed.

THIS, not an "it's my ball, if I don't like the way you play I'll take it elsewhere" attitude, is what Open Source is about, even if some things such as XFree86 do have a proprietary attitude towards branches. Here at TWiki.org ther is plenty of evidence that branches and experimentation are not only tollerated but are actively encouraged.

You've come up with a good basic idea, Andre. That some people think it should be brought out of the sandbox; that it should have features added; that it should be presneted to a wider, English-speaking audience; that it should be made more visible and other inputs solicited, should not upset you.

As to your criticism of my use of the

   <option value="Technology">Technology</option>

That's perfectly permissible, as would be the use of the <optgroup> tag for grouping the categories. The parameter is not needed, and it does work. Peter's code, which dynamically generates a list where the values are NOT alll upper case also works. I may not be a HTML guru but I can read the manual and try things out.

I continue to experiment. I may even go and buy anothr CD of clip-art.

I'm still looking for a solution to the "drop into regualr edit" problem that doesn't require changes to the code-base. That's a show-stopper.

-- AntonAylward - 05 May 2003

Andre, I didn't realize that my name was listed on that other page as one of the plugin authors. I've removed it. Maybe I'm an "idea contributer", but certainly not an 'author'. smile

I'm a total newbie to TWiki and all this perl script stuff. All I did was make a suggestion for a count of the comments, but unfortunately I don't have the first clue of how to implement that. I'm delighted with the terrific working concept that Andre came up with to implement the DiscussionForum, but I'm also glad to see Anton attempting to take it up a notch. My impression is that Anton was not acually attempting to take credit for the DiscussionForum concept itself... but just for the add-on changes that he made.

As a by-stander rooting for the team, I hope that further development of the DiscussionForum can move forward. It's a super-cool idea.

-- SteveDowell - 05 May 2003

The "drop into edit" Problem

There are two points I'd like to explore under this label. Right now I see it as a show-stoper for 'production' use of this facility.

In each case, do remember that the "overview - Sandbox.DiscussionForumOverview - has a list ("Archiv") on the right. Clicking one of those items brings up the individual tpic, just like any regular topic, except for the embedded %COMMENT%.

In each case, also consider that the DiscussionForum could be in a Web with other topics rather than in a web of its own.

The first point concerns Peter's idea of using a Twiki Web Form and putting the title, category, author and submission dat in the META fields. Go through the stuff on seeting up Forms and evetually you get to a side-effect. You can alter the form.

If you bring up the individual item using the "Archiv" list as I described above, you get a regular topic screen rather than the list. It still as the "comment" stuff embedded.

You can now click on Edit (or Attach or roll-back the revisions). Why would you want to do so? Perhaps the original author is correcting a typo. (I find I have to do that a fair bit frown ) But the way Twiki works you can now alter the form's values as well. Heck, you can even change the form. See Sandbox/DiscussionForumArticle2003x05x05x06x04. I changed it to a project management form.

&bnsp;&bnsp* However, if the DiscussionForum is in its own web you can turn off the Edit button on the menu. &bnsp;&bnsp* However, if the DiscussionForum is in its own web you can make sure there is only the one form defined in WebPreferences.

The second point also relates to the use of Forms.

Generally the form is used to collect values and then drop the user into the editor. The FAQ facility is a good example of this. See TWiki.TWikiFAQ.

However there is one glaring exception to this, where you fill in the form and TWiki just drops the values into the Topic. Its the registration process.

Now the registration code is not a "create". It is specific to building the user's topic. While there is a 'template' for that topic, it is only the latter part. The registration process does not work like WebForms and it does not work like the original DiscussionForum code, where the values from the HTML form were put into the topic. _Maybe this is a hint that a "create" CGI script is needed and that the registration process should make use of it._

Why do I say that? Elegant design, certainly of software, involves recognising and factoring out commonalities. It leads to simple code and structures, is more understandable for users and programmers becuse "similar thngs behave in similar manner". See any number of sites and and books and lectures on good design.

One could argue that this - the way 'edit' works - is a design deficiency. So it is. Every step of the way, TWiki, like all software that is alive, has "design deficiencies" that are addressed in the next iteration.

Twiki itself can be thought of as an alternative design branch to Ward's original Wiki, fulfilling different needs. (See my comment above about different versions of DiscussionForum fulfilling different needs.)

The point is the question:
is there enough pressure to cause the design or implementation to be revised?

Let me ask that another way:
would breaking though this watershed offer new possibilities in the same way that converting from 'categories' to 'forms', introducing skins or any of the other evolutionary changes of Twiki in the past has done?

... And as for authorship, see Plugins/EmptyPlugin. Who was the author there?

-- AntonAylward - 05 May 2003

Re: "Who was the author there?"

Well, I just went and looked, it is " AndreaSterbini, PeterThoeny". I don't understand your point? Should I have looked back to see who the original author was? Are pages in this Web based upon a template which automatically inserts the author of a Plugin page as the author of the plugin?

Re: Using the DiscussionForum: I'm not sure how to add a comment to somebody else's thread. I did manage (IIUC) to start a new thread by typing a comment into the form on DiscussionForumCreate.

On many of the Discussion Forum pages I looked at there is: a horizontal rule, a level 1 Heading (H1) that says "Comments" and then the line %COMMENT{mode="before" id="first" button="send"}% � somehow I suspect that should appear as a button rather than a line of text, and, if it was a button, I'd click on it to add a comment.

If that's correct, I wonder why it's not working? For info: I'm using IE5.5 probably behind some massive firewalls at this point, earlier this morning I saw the same thing using Mozilla (from Mandrake 9.1) behind my NAT box.

-- RandyKramer - 06 May 2003

It doesn't work becuase the CommentPlugin isn't installed on TWiki.org.

Andre mentions this in his "Note:" towards the end.

-- AntonAylward - 06 May 2003

Ahha, I missed that � thanks!

-- RandyKramer - 06 May 2003

I'm having a problem when I try to create a new topic. When click "Create", I'm brought to the edit screen, but the URLPARAM items are not replace by what is in the URL. I just get the DiscussionForumTemplate word for word in the edit box. I'm using the gnu skin, but the same thing happens when I switch to the default skin.

Any ideas?

-- CraigGallek - 10 Sep 2003

This is probably caused by an old version of TWiki. See ExpandUrlParamForNewTopics for implementation date.

PeterThoeny: Can you please delete this topic? I have transfered the important content, and all further discussions should go on in DiscussionForumAddOn.

-- AndreUlrich - 11 Sep 2003

Topic attachments
I Attachment History Action Size Date Who Comment
Compressed Zip archivezip DiscussionForum.zip r1 manage 3.0 K 2003-05-03 - 16:10 AntonAylward Translated and revised topic pages and form
Compressed Zip archivezip DiscussionForumGraphics.zip r1 manage 112.9 K 2003-05-03 - 16:09 AntonAylward Set of images for "category" in revised template
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Topic revision: r21 - 2007-10-16 - PeterThoeny
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