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User stories & feature development

LincLinc Vanilla's Bard (and Director of Development)Detroit Vanilla Staff
edited September 2014 in Development

One thing we avoid at Vanilla is doing "wishlist" features. That's where someone says "wouldn't it be great if I could do X" and that gets rolled into core or even becomes yet another addon without some critical thinking applied. That's the road to bloated software that's hard to use because it doesn't have an opinion. Great software means making informed decisions in the design process, and to do that, we need some concrete goals.

We've been talking about user stories as a vehicle for making sure we are fulfilling actual needs, not wishes. So when we starting thinking about adding a feature, a good starting place is collecting some user stories so we know what we're trying to accomplish and not designing in a vacuum.

To get involved in a our larger issues, feature discussions, and even our pull requests, thinking about the user stories we are trying to fulfill (and adding your own) is a great way to participate usefully in the feedback process.

Comments

  • LincLinc Vanilla's Bard (and Director of Development) Detroit Vanilla Staff

    User stories are an extremely valuable way that a forum owner or community manager can contribute to the development process without being a developer. Collecting actual stories from existing communities is the best way of showing something isn't just a wish.

  • vrijvlindervrijvlinder Papillon-Sauvage MVP

    Could you provide a starter story to see how it is done ? Sounds interesting

  • LincLinc Vanilla's Bard (and Director of Development) Detroit Vanilla Staff

    The link for "user stories" above has some good ones: http://www.mountaingoatsoftware.com/agile/user-stories

  • vrijvlindervrijvlinder Papillon-Sauvage MVP

    Oh , sorry I can hardly see the links when they are text ... could be a good idea to add this to this forum css file

    .Message a{
    text-decoration:underline;
    }
    

    My User Story could include the above issues with the forum , any forum ? I mean these kinds of things hamper the user experience in my opinion under any circ.

    peregrine
  • phreakphreak VanillaAPP - Your white label app for Vanillaforums MVP
    edited September 2014

    @Linc: Mmh, i do not really get it it. Not your post and also the description of the website does not explain to me what it is about (maybe i do not understand it from a cultural view?). Do you mean that non-developers should explain their community needs more descriptive so developers understand why they want that functionality in Vanilla? Or is this a new style of writing we should adapt to in this forums?!

    For example: "My users write lazy discussion titles, so i need a plugin that reformates titles when the discussion is postet. The first letter should always be Uppercase to make the forum look more accessible."

    or

    "Vanilla helped me to grow a fan base for my skateboard designs, this is why i concentrate on community marketing."

    I 2nd better links and better line breaks for the desktop version of the forum here. :wink:

  • What I've seen a few times in my forum is users answering to old comments, when their last unread comment is not on the last page. They seem to ignore the pager,assume they got directed to the last page, see the comment form and write an answer. I tried making the pagination more obvious, but the only thing that helped was injecting CSS to hide the CommentForm when Page < TotalPages.

    Don't know if that counts a a user story, but I think you will hear more admin stories than user stories on this forum.

    My themes: pure | minusbaseline - My plugins: CSSedit | HTMLedit | InfiniteScroll | BirthdayModule | [all] - PM me about customizations

  • LincLinc Vanilla's Bard (and Director of Development) Detroit Vanilla Staff

    @phreak said:
    Do you mean that non-developers should explain their community needs more descriptive so developers understand why they want that functionality in Vanilla?

    Developers and non-developers both should use them. See @hgtonight's comment here for a great example: http://vanillaforums.org/discussion/comment/216257/#Comment_216257

    @phreak said:
    For example: "My users write lazy discussion titles, so i need a plugin that reformates titles when the discussion is postet. The first letter should always be Uppercase to make the forum look more accessible."

    Close. Maybe: "As a forum administrator, I need a way of enforcing some basic style conventions in discussion titles so that the value of the content in them is clearly communicated to members and guests, increasing my traffic".

  • LincLinc Vanilla's Bard (and Director of Development) Detroit Vanilla Staff
    edited September 2014

    @Bleistivt said:
    What I've seen a few times in my forum is users answering to old comments, when their last unread comment is not on the last page. They seem to ignore the pager,assume they got directed to the last page, see the comment form and write an answer. I tried making the pagination more obvious, but the only thing that helped was injecting CSS to hide the CommentForm when Page < TotalPages.

    Don't know if that counts a a user story...

    "As a forum administrator, I need to make it clearer when users are not on the last page of a discussion, so they don't drop non-sequiturs into the comments because they didn't read the entire discussion."

    We identify the problem first, rather than prescribing the solution immediately.

    @Bleistivt said:
    I think you will hear more admin stories than user stories on this forum.

    We're all forum users, too. :)

  • peregrineperegrine MVP
    edited September 2014

    @vrijvlinder said:
    Oh , sorry I can hardly see the links when they are text ... could be a good idea to add this to this forum css file

    .Message a{
    text-decoration:underline;
    }
    

    My User Story could include the above issues with the forum , any forum ? I mean these kinds of things hamper the user experience in my opinion under any circ.

    so if we were going to translate vrijvlinder's suggestion from something that is easily understood to something easily understood, but using correct user story syntax.

    so would this be a user story?

    As a developer, I would like to be able to more clearly see links within comment and discussion body, having just a different color to a link doesn't seem to be obvious that the word or phrase actually has an underlying linkage, and is easy to by pass especially when there is no mention of a link

    As a user, I would like to be able to more clearly see links within comment and discussion body.
    having just a different color to a link doesn't seem to be obvious that the word or phrase actually has an underlying linkage, and is easy to by pass especially when there is no mention of a link

    As a forum administrator, I would like to be able to more clearly see links within comment and discussion body.having just a different color to a link doesn't seem to be obvious that the word or phrase actually has an underlying linkage, and is easy to by pass especially when there is no mention of a link

    with regards to vanilla forums.

    p.s. as a developer, this would not be a problem on my own forum since I can adjust my theme.

    I may not provide the completed solution you might desire, but I do try to provide honest suggestions to help you solve your issue.

  • LincLinc Vanilla's Bard (and Director of Development) Detroit Vanilla Staff
    edited September 2014

    You'd just do "As a user" since that covers everyone. ;) Triplicating a story doesn't accomplish anything. Also, brevity:

    As a user, I want to be able to more clearly see links embedded in post text so that I know they are clickable and don't miss context.

    peregrine
  • hgtonighthgtonight ∞ · New Moderator
    edited September 2014

    User stories is a term used in agile software development. All users (admins, developers, end-users, etc.) have different goals. User stories aim to capture that so the developers of a specific software can translate that into functionality that will actually be used.

    From the linked article:

    User stories are part of an agile approach that helps shift the focus from writing about requirements to talking about them. All agile user stories include a written sentence or two and, more importantly, a series of conversations about the desired functionality.

    They prompt discussion.

    EDIT - Crossposted.

    As a user, I often start writing a reply to a discussion and come back to it after some time. Once I post, I notice someone else has already replied, making my contribution obsolete.

    Search first

    Check out the Documentation! We are always looking for new content and pull requests.

    Click on insightful, awesome, and funny reactions to thank community volunteers for their valuable posts.

    LincAdrian
  • AdrianAdrian Wandering Spirit Montreal Vanilla Staff

    I'll give it a go:

    When discussions get past one page, it would be nice to see the original discussion pinned at the top. I know sometimes, when I come back to discussion or it gets quite long, rather than flipping back to the first page, it would be nice to still see the OP at the top of the page so my comment stays on message. I appreciate this in many forums I frequent, especially when some threads can be over 50 pages...

    Sharing is caring

  • LincLinc Vanilla's Bard (and Director of Development) Detroit Vanilla Staff

    @hgtonight said:
    As a user, I often start writing a reply to a discussion and come back to it after some time. Once I post, I notice someone else has already replied, making my contribution obsolete.

    As a staff developer, I sometimes find that community members write better answers than I do, making me wish I'd thought of it. :blush:

  • LincLinc Vanilla's Bard (and Director of Development) Detroit Vanilla Staff
  • peregrineperegrine MVP
    edited September 2014

    @Adrian said:
    I'll give it a go:

    When discussions get past one page, it would be nice to see the original discussion pinned at the top. I know sometimes, when I come back to discussion or it gets quite long, rather than flipping back to the first page, it would be nice to still see the OP at the top of the page so my comment stays on message. I appreciate this in many forums I frequent, especially when some threads can be over 50 pages...

    next

    @hgtonight said: They prompt discussion.

    to further discuss Adrian's user story I am prompted to add this:

    As a user, I use this plugin to solve the problem -

    There is a plugin for this: http://vanillaforums.org/addon/displaydiscussioncontent-plugin

    brevity and concision added

    I may not provide the completed solution you might desire, but I do try to provide honest suggestions to help you solve your issue.

  • peregrineperegrine MVP
    edited September 2014

    the brief story.

    As a forum administrator, I would like to able to allow advanced notification preferences only to a specific category.

    But it needs more explanation.

    e.g. only display Talk category as an option to users for advanced notifications instead of all categories.
    to limit the number of emails to all users just for one category, but not allow them to select all of the categories.

    I may not provide the completed solution you might desire, but I do try to provide honest suggestions to help you solve your issue.

  • LincLinc Vanilla's Bard (and Director of Development) Detroit Vanilla Staff
    edited September 2014

    As a forum administrator, I would like to able to allow advanced notification preferences only to a specific category.

    You're missing the third part of the story: As X, I want to Y, so that Z.

    In other words, you've given perspective and the goal, but you're missing the "why", which I think is particularly important for this use case, because it's probably going to be different than the intended "why" for the overall feature. :)

  • x00x00 MVP
    edited September 2014

    When discussions get past one page, it would be nice to see the original discussion pinned at the top. I know sometimes, when I come back to discussion or it gets quite long, rather than flipping back to the first page, it would be nice to still see the OP at the top of the page so my comment stays on message. I appreciate this in many forums I frequent, especially when some threads can be over 50 pages...

    I have done similar for client as well as comment box at the top

    This has got me thinking, maybe:

    As a developer I have found that views can still contain a lot of logic, which makes making template changes a little bit fraught, and also I have found clients have struggled with this too even leaving leaving out essential logic, this is due to lack of separation of concerns.

    I wonder if an in-between step, would be easier, separating views and templates, so you have controller logic, view/helper logic and templating. As developer in other framework I have found template block syntax, intuitive and easy to override.

    As a developer and observer, I have found that themer often don't realise how important certain attribute values as for client scripting, becuase they are not easily identifiable as a convention, and they aren't always consistent.

    grep is your friend.

  • peregrineperegrine MVP
    edited September 2014

    @linc said: You're missing the third part of the story: As X, I want to Y, so that Z.

    in reference to this :wink:

    I thought that this was Z

    "to limit the number of emails to all users just for one category, but not allow them to select all of the categories."

    meaning to provide a Single Category that can be used to inform all users (who have selected only the said category in notifications) of new comments and discussions,

    e.g. an Announcements (or whatever name) category that all users can post to that would go out to all users who select that notification preference, but not open all categories to the advanced notification feature so as not to swamp the mail queue, which would not be scalable.

    I may not provide the completed solution you might desire, but I do try to provide honest suggestions to help you solve your issue.

  • phreakphreak VanillaAPP - Your white label app for Vanillaforums MVP

    @linc: Thanx for explaining. I'd better not participate in this user stories. Naaag! ;)

  • peregrineperegrine MVP
    edited September 2014

    @phreak said:
    linc: Thanx for explaining. I'd better not participate in this user stories. Naaag! ;)

    why, you can get yourself a storytime badge, if you get the grammar and syntax exactly right, plus you will be able air your suggestions,

    I may not provide the completed solution you might desire, but I do try to provide honest suggestions to help you solve your issue.

  • JasonBarnabeJasonBarnabe Cynical Salamander ✭✭

    As an administrator of a forum that's part of a larger site, I would like to be able to integrate the forum more into my site so that users have a seamless experience. This would include design aspects (including the site-wide header on the forum page), user login (jsConnect is good but far from seamless), having discussions and reviews tied to non-Vanilla objects (I have a custom add-on for this), e-mail notifications, and other things.

    As an administrator of a forum that's part of a larger multilingual site, I would like to be able to serve up Vanilla pages in a user's chosen language so that they'll be able to read the forum UI. I'm aware of the Multilingual add-on, but I would rather have the language chosen by a request parameter, as this is how the rest of the site works.

  • JasonBarnabeJasonBarnabe Cynical Salamander ✭✭

    No. It doesn't sound like what I'm looking for. I want to use Vanilla's provided translations, but activated by parameter (e.g. /forum/?locale=fr).

  • @JasonBarnabe said:
    No. It doesn't sound like what I'm looking for. I want to use Vanilla's provided translations, but activated by parameter (e.g. /forum/?locale=fr).

    You could adapt the Multilingual plugin to you use case, it effectively is already except it is profile link to set the cookie rather than a request parameter.

    Seamless is only ever an illusion, and when you are melding frameworks, it is bespoke job. It is a bespoke job even with two different case using the same two frameworks.

    i have dealt with countless cases, with client wanting the same look, the an solution vary different based on the considerations.

    grep is your friend.

  • businessdadbusinessdad Stealth contributor MVP

    Let's give it a shot

    As a developer, I would like to see new versions of Vanilla/Garden keeping backward compatibility, so that I don't have to re-test all the plugins and applications every time.

    As a developer, I would like to have a testing framework that allows to easily mock objects (wtihout having to mock each one manually), so that I can reduce the amount of manual testing. Even better if said framework also allowed integration testing.

  • peregrineperegrine MVP
    edited September 2014

    I think I have the x, y and z of things.

    As a casual statistician, I could see the existence of an add-ons trending feature that shows a panel of the top ten (or so) plugins downloaded (most number of downloads) for a particular month, so that I might be alerted to a popular plugin that I may not have noticed before.

    I may not provide the completed solution you might desire, but I do try to provide honest suggestions to help you solve your issue.

  • peregrineperegrine MVP
    edited November 2014

    A disappearing act happens on this forum. When user accepts an answer that has a zip attachment, the zip is not visible as an attachment anymore in the accepted answer - nullifying the use of an attachment.

    Part X - problem.

    • post a zip in a comment

    • user accepts answer.

    • zip is gone from accepted answer.

    Part Y -

    I want to see my attachment stick with the comment that was accepted and still be visible as it was, prior to answer being accepted.

    Part Z

    so that I don't have to repost. and if user accepts answer the zip attachment disappears again. which takes me back to A

    Part Omega:

    Ideally, I would like to see accepted answers stick in place without rising to the top, since it takes answers out of context, and going to the last comment via latest in url does not take you to the latest comment, makes you miss the accepted answer, and losing context of discussion, which have have deviated from the original question in title.

    That's my story.

    this has happened to my several times, and my rationale for my a fix is needed is in issue.

    proof as of today:
    http://vanillaforums.org/discussion/comment/218786/#Comment_218786

    github issue:

    https://github.com/vanilla/vanilla/issues/2252

    even if there are other ways to get around this, I perceive this as a bug.

    I may not provide the completed solution you might desire, but I do try to provide honest suggestions to help you solve your issue.

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