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IP.Board 3.2.0: View New Content and Topic Marking

Of all the features we receive feedback on, view new content receives the most. To many this is their primary browsing page and it's vital that it works accurately. We've had database level topic tracking for many years. It was introduced in 2.0 and has gone through many refinements for efficiency and accuracy.

We rewrote the system in IP.Board 3.0.0 as a global framework that all applications can use via a small extensions file. This provided great flexibility and a centralized storage area for the marking data. However, there were some technical limitations which made 'View New Content' a little unreliable in certain situations due to the partial reliance on cookie data to provide a full picture of what is unread.

Another common complaint is that partially read topics 'vanish' from the view new content list as they are marked read even when some pages are left unread which leads to confusion about which topics have been fully read.

As always, we listen very carefully to feedback from our customers and this feature kept coming up time and time again so I'm very pleased to say that we've tackled these issues head on in IP.Board 3.2!

Improved View New Content Tracking
We have rewritten large sections of the view new content tracking and parsing to make it much more accurate. We now fetch the data in a large chunk and then post process it against the topic marking table to ensure complete accuracy. This means that you won't have 'read' topics showing up in your view new content list again.

Sphinx Usage
We have added a setting to enable Sphinx users to use plain SQL View New Content to avoid the 15 minute 'delay' in the results due to the delta indexes being cycled. The SQL view new content is incredibly efficient so you can still use Sphinx for the general search areas but give your members instant view new content results.

Improved Topic Marking
Purely based on the feedback we've received from our customers, we've implemented a change so that a topic with many pages isn't marked as read until the last page has been loaded. This means you can partially read a topic and come back to it later. We've made it even easier to locate your last read position with a handy link on the topic page.

Improved View New Content Overview
Another common source of confusion was our two areas "View New Content" and "View Active Content". Most people were confused by the difference and ended up loading the wrong view to locate their unread content. We have now merged these views into one single "View New Content" page. This will instantly resolve that confusion and make it much simpler to fetch the data you are looking for.

The view new content page remembers your last selection preferences and stores them in the database so next time you load the view new content page, it'll automatically use those preferences. There's no need to go into your User CP to set them anymore!

Filter by "Followed" items only
In a future blog entry, we'll discuss the change from "Watched Topics/Forums" to "Follow" but for the purpose of this entry, assume that they are synonymous.
In IP.Board 3.2.0 you can now elect to filter the view new content result set by items you follow. This will search forums and topics you are following (in other words, 'watching') and present topics inside forums that are new or topics that you're following that have new posts. This makes the view new content area much more useful as it is delivering just the content that you want to read.

Please remember that the screenshots are taken from my development board and I've made little effort to 'style' the new additions as we're planning an interface update to some of these areas.


This shows the view new content page showing all unread content from items that I follow. I am following the forum "A Test Forum 2" and the topic "Test counters" but I am not following the forum "Sub Forum".


This shows the 'view first unread post' link available on partially read topics. Clicking it takes you to the first post that you haven't read based on marking data stored in the database.

We really hope that you enjoy these new features and improvements and please keep posting your feedback, we really do listen.

Feel free to comment on this blog entry below or, if you have feedback unrelated to this blog entry, start a new topic in our feedback forum. Be sure to check the What's New in IP.Board 3.2 topic for a running list of announced changes!

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Excellent.

Great that you've listened to feedback and a change than I'm sure the majority of my members will welcome with open arms (and hopefully a few beers :thumbsup: ).

TBH they've never really liked it since we moved away from vB so this will hopefully go a good way to helping them navigate in a way that make more "sense" to them (and me for that matter ... lol).

Just one thing - whilst you're messing with VNC - could you add a UCP setting to exclude selected forums from VNC / Search please? There are a couple of forums we have that most people don't like or want to see in their results, so being able to exclude them would a great "bonus" feature .... :thumbsup:

Also, would it be possible (for me rather than the 3.2 build itself) to make clicking on an unread topic link automatically take you to the first unread page/post (as opposed to having to display and click the orange icon)? I assume this could be done with a styling change to the templates?

Cheers,
Shaun :D

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Sounds great - thank you.

My only comment on the screenshots is please could you consider duplicating the dropdown for showing other options at the top as well.

With several items showing people will probably not scroll all the way down to the bottom to change the options only to have to scroll all the way up again.

Appreciate this is an early development screenshot, but still worth a mention.

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Sounds awesome Matt! As you mentioned, the VNC page is heavily relied upon and really needed some TLC.

I would also like to second Shaun's suggestion, it would be great if there was a section in the UCP to allow users to block certain forums from the view new content results. It would help make the VNC page even more customized for each individual user, by allowing them to only see the new content they're interested in.

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One thing that annoys me is when navigating to view new content from messenger the tab defaults to members so you have to switch to forums. Does anyone really care about the other tabs? View new content will never be as good as the old view new posts set up until these other annoying tabs are out the way. Simple is the best way.

But the small changes you've made are promising and I'm assuming I can switch off that follow bar on top of the topic title.

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Finally! Tracking what's new has been Achilles heel of IPB for some time, and v3 didn't help much in that area...
And also it would be nice if there is possibility to have some permanent link to "Show new posts" that you can bookmark (right now you could link to index.php?app=core&module=search&do=new_posts&search_filter_app[forums]=1 but after that sometimes you have to click on 'new content' anyhow because topics aren't marked as read... Also - a bookmarkable link to 'favourites' topics would be nice.

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Regarding "Improved Topic Marking", are there any plans to visually indicate unread posts now that the system [presumably] supports this level of granularity? Another forum system I use does this, showing part of the post row in a topic as blue if the post is new, and gray if it's already been viewed.

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good improvement however - you really need to have a DATE driven pagination so you can STEP BACK thru the days / weeks.

When you choose a larger RANGE 2 weeks / last 6 months from your pop up all it does is make a larger result set. That you have to page thru again.

I have been very vocal and have made numerous posts on this topic.

Plus this fails to allow users to filter like SHOW ME ONLY UNREAD THREADS or differentiate between posts & replies or both. A TRUE STREAM of content.

Please vist my proposal for some inspiration.
http://community.invisionpower.com/topic/328592-content-stream-proposal-for-next-version/page__view__findpost__p__2060447

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Very happy to see these improvements. This is getting much closer to how I feel the board should function and it will make life easier on our users, thus keeping them on our sites for longer. I hope when you use the dropdown to view new content from your followed topics, that admins can create a link on their site that when users click that, it autoloads the view new content page with the followed topics already loaded.

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  • Management

As mentioned the interface is going to be changed. We will cover that in a later entry. Those asking to exclude forums, you can elect to show items you follow only so this will remove topics from forums you don't follow. Worth noting you can follow a forum without having to receive notifications.

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[quote name='Matt' timestamp='1299104339']
Those asking to exclude forums, you can elect to show items you follow only so this will remove topics from forums you don't follow. Worth noting you can follow a forum without having to receive notifications.

What if a board has, say, 50 forums and a user wants to exclude only one of them? They'd need to follow 49. I'd have thought the majority of people would only want to exclude one or two forums, so a "mute this forum" may be useful?

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what's the benefit of having options such as: new items in the last 6 months or year? Who's gonna use them? who's gonna go like: oh well you know what? I fancy finding out new items in the last year?

what's the benefit for me as a user to have a drop down menu with options of choosing what have been posted in the last week or month or 6 months or a year?

why would I care about that? and why would you spend your time developing a feature that, AFAIK, no one asked for rather than the other obvious search options that every other forum software in the world has it such as viewing new posts in my topic and other view contents suggestions that we keep talking about all the time?

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Personally, I would like to see the end of the TABS for search and just have it search the section of the site you're in; if you're in the forums, just return results from the forums. Similarly if you're looking at blogs and someone searches, just search the blogs and blog comments. Gallery from comments / names etc. You get the idea ... :thumbsup:

We could maybe go down the route of a "Global" search with a column to indicate where in the site the result has come from, but since I don't understand the technicalities of how the search mechanism works I don't know if this would be time/processor/programming expensive?

It's good to see things moving forward in 3.2 though, and that some of the customer feedback it being turned into positive change and improvements.

Cheers,
Shaun :D

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Following isn't really a solution for forum exclusion as Neil pointed out. You'd need to follow every forum you wanted to see new content from (which could be quite a task when there are lots of forums), and if new forums were added in the future you'd have to remember to follow them as well.

Much easier to just pick forums that you don't want to see in the results.

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FIrst, great to see improvements being made in this area, thanks for the preview!

I want to echo the sentiment shared by others about being able to exclude certain forums from "View New Content". I have a mod on my current forum that allows users to exclude forums from "View New Content" and many of my users take advantage of it. I hope you'll consider adding this ability in.

Thanks,

..Al

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  • Management

"Personally, I would like to see the end of the TABS for search and just have it search the section of the site you're in; if you're in the forums, just return results from the forums"

You will like the new interface.

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