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AtariAge

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I've just moved my forum from 3.4.8 to 4.4.4.  I'll refrain about griping with regards to the new layout of the Messenger (which I loathe), but it would be REALLY NICE if I could actually search for conversations by participant.  I have nearly 30,000 PMs in my inbox (forum has been online nearly 20 years), and I absolutely need the ability to easily find older conversations.  I know this was briefly a feature in some version of 4.x, but was removed.  I'd like to know how I can add this back.  I don't care if it's slow, just that it works. 

Emails from the 3.4.x forum with links into messenger don't work, which was one way I would use to quickly jump into a conversation.  Now I literally have no easy way to find these conversations, and it's going to drive me crazy and waste a huge amount of my time.

Thank you. 

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Posted (edited)

have already risen this topic, seems not in plans for IPB development to maintain messages system....

 

Edited by Sergey_SV

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Yeah, after using the new PM system for two days, it is absolutely terrible compared to the 3.4.x messenger.  I wish a third-party would just completely rewrite the front-end and make it similar to how it was before, or at least address most of the shortcomings of the 4.x messenger.  It's by far the worst aspect of 4.x.  The PM system is very heavily used on my forum, and I'm already getting many complaints about it. 

 ..Al

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I tried to stay as long as possible on 4.3.6 where seach by member was still possible, but then support denied to solve other bugs, unless I am not on the latest version 4.4.4, and I have to upgrade. Have alot of complains from users too about PM search, and kinda difficult to explain them why the PM was sacrificed in favor of further development. 

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31 minutes ago, AtariAge said:

...or at least address most of the shortcomings of the 4.x messenger.  It's by far the worst aspect of 4.x....

Besides searching for conversations by participant, what other shortcomings are you referring to?

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2 minutes ago, bfarber said:

Besides searching for conversations by participant, what other shortcomings are you referring to?

- search is limited to 1 year time, and not possible to extend in ACP

- not possible to manage (move to folder or delete) conversations from the search results

- search in current folder/all folders

- if the 2nd participant (or all participants) have left the conversation, you still able to send the relpy in to it, without notification that the opponent left it )

 

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Posted (edited)
14 minutes ago, bfarber said:

Besides searching for conversations by participant, what other shortcomings are you referring to?

Since you've asked (warning, there is a bit of snark, I wrote this last night after using the new Messenger for a while and getting frustrated):

Can only see a very small number of conversations.  Looking for something but don't know some unique term to search for?  Have fun scrolling forever to try and find the conversation.  Previously you could see 25 conversations (I think) at once, with the titles easily fitting on one line. Much easier to scan.  You could also jump around to specific pages, which I found very helpful as I could get back to a particular time period relatively quickly that way.

Continuing on the above, why are there not more filter options?  For instance, it sure would be nice to filter by a date range.  Or maybe jump ahead to, say, page 20 so you can save some time scrolling if you know what you're looking for is a bit older.  

Searching only seems to go back one year, which makes it nearly useless on my forum.  I have just about 20 years of messages in my inbox, and most members of my forum have been on it for well over a year.  Looks like I will have to modify the code directly to fix this.  Why isn't this a setting in the ACP?

Searching would be much more useful if it jumped to the first page that contains the search term(s) you're looking for.  But, no, it just shows a list of conversations with the search term, and you're on your own to actually find the individual comments with the term(s) you're looking for.  This is fun when a conversation is tens of pages long.  Nor are the search terms highlighted like they are when you search the forum.  

You want to see the first unread message in a conversation easily?  NO!  We'll bring yo to the first page, and then you can go ahead and click to the last page and then scroll down to try and find the new message(s).  And if it's not on the last page?  No problem, just keep going backwards through the pages until you find what you're looking for.  There's even an anchor tag for each message.  And there's a blue dot next to the title, which when viewing forums, brings you to the first unread post!  Why the heck would you put that there but not make it work the same way???!

You want to easily go to the last post?  Haha!  See above, NO!  There's a timestamp shown for the last message in a conversation, but it isn't linked to anything.  All you can seemingly do is open the conversation and then navigate to where you want to go.  This is another step backwards.

Revamping the Messsenger would have been a great opportunity to include the ability to search within the selected conversation.  It sure would be spiffy if I could search inside a conversation, just like you can search within a forum thread. I have conversations that span many pages and sometimes I'm looking for a specific message.  

No ability to search for conversation participants.  I understand this was in a previous release of 4.x, but was removed for performance reasons.  If I can search forums for authors, why the heck can't I search inside the Messenger system for the same??  This makes no logical sense at all.  Create the indexes you need to if they don't already exist.  I am dumbfounded by this.  But, hey, I can sort the conversations by the number of replies!  I'm sure that's a feature I'll use every day!

The list of conversation participants is a mess.  If you have many participants in a conversation, they seem to be in some random order (not alphabetical), and the width of each participant is different, making it a slopfest when there's more than one horizontal row of participants.  The column view from 3.4.x was much better and easier to scan.  Plus this pushes down the conversation view, which is really what I want to see, not a block of participants at the top of each page.

Reactions.  It would be quite nice if people could react to personal messages in the same way you can react to just about everything else in the Invision Suite.

That's all I have, and I've only been using this for 48 hours so far.  This is the suite's Achilles Heel as far as I'm concerned.

 ..Al

Edited by AtariAge

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I do have a few comments...

  • It's worth pointing out that the majority of our clients do not have 20 years of (undeleted) messenger conversations and conversations with dozens of users and dozens of pages. You use the messenger quite heavily compared to the average client.
  • Some features will not likely be feasible or introduced in messenger - for instance, reactions are kind of a measure of social relevance on a community, and so it doesn't make sense to support them within a walled off area like the messenger. Two users could literally just send each other PMs back and forth and "like" those messages to build up their reputation scores, with no oversight or even a way to see what they did that was being repped.
  • Some behavior is modeled (lightly) against other similar online systems, like Facebook's messenger (where you don't have pagination but rather infinite scrolling, and as I recall they don't even really support any level of filtering or searching.

 

But setting those comments aside, I do see some ideas there that are actionable and will raise them internally for further consideration.

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5 minutes ago, bfarber said:

Some behavior is modeled (lightly) against other similar online systems, like Facebook's messenger (where you don't have pagination but rather infinite scrolling,

but I think there is the totally different principle in Facebook and etc.: 1 user - 1 conversation. In forum we could have 1000 conversations with 1 user, so without pagination the only workaround is to swithch to mobile view, where pagination exist.

Quote

and as I recall they don't even really support any level of filtering or searching.

Not corect, Facebook offers the serch within the conversation

and Telegram offers the search in all chats with direct link to the post

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Posted (edited)

Thanks for the response Brandon.  To respond to your comments,

I do agree that we likely use the Messenger more extensively than many (most?) communities.  But any large communities that have been around for years likely have a pretty large stockpile of PMs.  Especially communities where there's a strong userbase that has been with the forum for a long time.  I know there are many private, multi-member conversations on the forum that have been ongoing years.  The conversation feature when it was introduced to Invision was a great innovation for forums at the time.

I would support a walled-off use of reactions inside conversations, in that they would not count towards reputation.  I can tell you there are many times I've wanted to "Like" someone's comment in a conversation.  I have long-running conversations with over 20 people in them, and this would definitely get used.  I do see there's a third-party plugin to do this, but I feel it would be a nice addition to the suite.  I won't cry if it doesn't happen, as functionally it's not really that important.

I have seen posts from people at Invision that the new messenger was modeled after other email clients (both web-based and not).  I'm not a big fan of Facebook's Messenger app and consider it a pile of hot garbage--it's very difficult to scroll back to try and find older content in a conversation.  You can search, at least, and it will pull up snippets of your conversation that surround the terms you're looking for, so at least that is useful.  But Messenger would not be my go-to reference for modeling another app after.  🙂 

The primary email client I use is Mail.app on several Macs, but I'll also sometimes use Gmail (more rarely, since I pull in my Gmail accounts through the Mac Mail app as well).  Both of these use a similar model -- a list of your mailboxes/folders on the left, and a list of messages on the right.  Click on a message, and it either replaces the list of emails (Gmail) or displays the message below the list of emails (Apple Mail).  The first behavior is how the Messenger used to work, and that was damn fine by me.  It offered the most screen real estate to both the list of conversations and viewing an individual conversation.  I could also see all my mailbox folders without them being hidden as they are now, so that's another retrograde.

Apple's Mail app can also be configured similar to how the 4.x Invision Messenger works, where the list of messages is shown on a pane on the left and the message on the right.  I don't like this view (it's usually three columns,  with the mailboxes/folders on the left, then the list of messages, then the selected message on the right) as it's harder to parse all the emails (the title is usually truncated) and the message view is narrower as well.  HOWEVER, and this is a huge and important difference, is that I can see MANY MORE messages on a modern email client that displays your list of email in a (relatively narrow) column, versus the six (six!) or so I can see in the Invision Messenger.  This works okay with a non-web-based UI since I can QUICKLY scroll through ALL the messages with a mouse.  There's no concept of "pages" where the data needs to be loaded one page at a time, which just isn't viable when you have many hundreds (or thousands) of pages of conversations.  That, combined with the weak search functionality, means I am going to be constantly fighting with Messenger to find anything but brand new conversations.  The 3.x Messenger had worse search capabilities (except it wasn't limited to just one year's worth of results), but the decent layout helped compensate for that.  Was still a pain sometimes to find old messages, but at least the search results were MUCH easier to sift through.

I think the old layout worked pretty well and is still a scheme used by modern email clients.

 ..Al

Edited by AtariAge
typos

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On 6/18/2019 at 4:03 PM, Matt said:

Just so you know we are discussing all this internally.

Matt, off topic, but how did you put the blue box around your post to highlight it and make it stand out in the thread?

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14 minutes ago, tonyv said:

Matt, off topic, but how did you put the blue box around your post to highlight it and make it stand out in the thread?

Group permission > Highlight replies.  

 

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On 6/19/2019 at 4:09 PM, DawPi said:

Done:

screen_1.thumb.png.c89ecf868989d4f61aaced484d3aa0d3.png

Can you also add an option to prune old messages? So we can clean the database?

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Posted (edited)
7 minutes ago, David.. said:

Can you also add an option to prune old messages? So we can clean the database?

I'd be wary of doing so without warning members in advance.

  ..Al

Edited by AtariAge

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4 hours ago, AtariAge said:

My users would murder me if I ever did that!  Good to know it exists, though.  🙂

 ..Al

Most 2 Year old conversations are useless. And the backups have started increasing by a lot.

4 hours ago, DawPi said:

 

Unavailable for purchase. Could we integrate it into PM Viewer?

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4 hours ago, AtariAge said:

My users would murder me if I ever did that!  Good to know it exists, though.  🙂

 ..Al

Not just you. Any post goes missing, some people on my forum  - scream for censorship! If I delete anything, that's it. They will haunt us till eternity! haha

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56 minutes ago, David.. said:

Most 2 Year old conversations are useless. And the backups have started increasing by a lot.

Depends on the forum I guess.  Many of my members have conversations that are years old and are still active.  There are many private conversations with 10+ people where game development projects are being discussed, for instance.  I have thousands of conversations in my inbox spanning nearly 20 years now.  I still need to look at some quite old conversations from time to time, so being able to easily find them (as well as specific messages within a large conversation) is important.

Yes, it does add to the size of the database, but that's dwarfed by the size of the forum posts (over four million posts).

 ..Al

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1 minute ago, AtariAge said:

Depends on the forum I guess.  Many of my members have conversations that are years old and are still active.  There are many private conversations with 10+ people where game development projects are being discussed, for instance.  I have thousands of conversations in my inbox spanning nearly 20 years now.  I still need to look at some quite old conversations from time to time, so being able to easily find them (as well as specific messages within a large conversation) is important.

Yes, it does add to the size of the database, but that's dwarfed by the size of the forum posts (over four million posts).

 ..Al

It seems like Clubs or private topics would be good choices for such conversations going forward. 

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