New features coming to forum software "XenForo" soon

overscan (PaulMM)

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The makers of the forum software Xenforo have announced a new version of the software will be released as beta soon. Judging from past releases, it will probably about 3 months from there to a final release.

Some of the major new features announced so far are:

Search Forums

These are a new way to group topics posted anywhere into virtual forums based on search criteria. This has some interesting implications in allowing one topic to be in multiple sections.

PWA (Progressive Web App)

Allows the site to be added to Android home screen like an app or as an app on your computer's desktop.

New Thread types

New types of thread can be posted : articles, questions, suggestions. These can be posted in general forums with mixed content or you can create specific forums for just articles, questions or suggestions which will enable different ways of viewing the topics based on their type.

Article threads have the first post displayed larger, with bigger limits on word count and image attachments, and are used for substantial, article-like posts. The article remains at the top of each page of the topic as you click though pages. The topic posts become more like comments on the original post. This has some potential.

Question threads are like Quora or StackExchange - you can post a question, people can propose answers, and the thread starter (or an admin) can choose a post as the best answer and mark it as the solution - and it will be placed next to the question as the official answer.

Suggestion threads are for making suggestions which can receive votes from users. Typical usage might be user's requesting new features for a program and then other users upvoting their favorites so developers can prioritise. Probably not obviously useful for this forum,

Editor and Attachment improvements
Some real improvements to the post editor and the handling of attachments, better post previews, and more.

User Profile Banners
Users will be able to upload a profile image of their choice which will make your profile page look nicer.

Users Write Posts Before Registering
This is a way to entice people into joining the forum. Guests can create a post without registering, but when they try to post it, they will be guided into registering. Having already invested time in creating the post should help push them into registering.

There are also a large number of behind the scenes changes which will be really awesome, like much improved mail support which should help with deliverability of forum emails, but these are probably of little interest to users :)

As soon as the beta is available I'll be upgrading a test copy of the forum and seeing what use (if any) can be made of these new features. I'll be inviting certain members to help me test. When there's something to show, I'll post some screenshots here for discussion.
 

Antonio

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That sounds great. I hope to see easier moderating tools too
 

dan_inbox

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Will this new version at long last correct the current bug with displaying a topic 's page, setting the display pointer to first unread,
... *then* unfurling the urls and twits, which result in the screen showing some post way in the past instead of the first unread?
It is pretty darn annoying, and such a simple oversight to correct...
 
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Apophenia

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On the Editor and Attachment improvements, would that allow posters to prevent urls from turning into inserted 'Media'? (Thus far, mainly an issue with attempted Flickr url links.) Or is this already an available option that I am ignorant of?
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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Why would you not want to see the Flickr image? It still has the original URL: if you click on the image it takes to the link.
 

Archibald

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Would it be possible to upload larger files ? I've just tried to upload some Pdf about Stratolaunch-look-alike forerunners in the 90's - and most of them ran straight into the upload limit. :(

(then again, as a space nerd, maybe I have the wrong references: NASAspaceflight.com upload file capability is giganormous).
 

Apophenia

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Why would you not want to see the Flickr image? It still has the original URL: if you click on the image it takes to the link.

The insertion of the actual image into designation lists, for example, is visually disruptive.

Not a big deal though. I usually remember to edit Flickr links out of my postings.
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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Would it be possible to upload larger files ? I've just tried to upload some Pdf about Stratolaunch-look-alike forerunners in the 90's - and most of them ran straight into the upload limit. :(

(then again, as a space nerd, maybe I have the wrong references: NASAspaceflight.com upload file capability is giganormous).
I certainly could do, but server space isn't infinite, and at some point it would increase hosting host.
 

Archibald

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No problem. There ain't such thing as a free launch, as we rocket boys use to say.
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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Good news, the first release candidate of Xenforo 2.2 is available for download. I will do an upgrade on a test copy of the forum so I can get up to speed on the new features. I will probably switch the forum over to dark mode by default, as that's increasingly the way the web is going.

Additional features include GIPHY support, which I am definitely in two minds about turning on - do we really want piles of animated reactions in topics?

Once I am happy, moderators and other key members will be given access for testing and feedback.

Then once the final release comes out, I'll schedule an upgrade window. I'm going to take the opportunity to upgrade the server OS as well and also check my hosting arrangement is still the best option.

If any budding artists want to submit ideas for a new header image, let me know.
 

Arjen

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I'm rather pleased with the current header image.
 

Nick

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Something I noticed today was a Plus symbol in my Chrome address bar. When I look at it I am invited to 'Install app?', whichever that is.
Can anyone explain what this is and does?
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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Search for PWA (Progressive Web App) - it allows you to add a website as an icon on the home screen of your phone like it was an application. On Windows 10, it will give a shortcut you can treat exactly like an application - pin it somewhere, etc.

All it really is a quick way to get to a site. I can see value for something like Xero, not sure how many people will want Secret Projects Forum as an app though.
 
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