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VANILLA-BASED BETA SITE LAUNCHED (reviews/comments welcome)

TomTesterTomTester New
edited April 2009 in Vanilla 1.0 Help
I talk lurk a lot on these forums, and talk once in a while, but to put my 'money' where my mouth is, my long-awaited vanilla-based site is now live (in beta). Feel free to check it out, but when you sign up, please add "vanilla friend" in the reason for signing up, so I can filter you out at a later stage. I am too busy to comment much on the site, but you can try anyhow (use whisper here). Some implementation notes below. Implementation notes: - custom theme, based on vanbook (thanks so much dkodr) but with major revisions (this took a loooong time, gave up on perfection, no need to tell me something is off by a pixel) - integrated elements from formspring (contact form, join, etc.) and google maps (latter live, driven from a google spreadsheet) - running a long list of add-ons (see below) and still get decent performance - favorite add-ons: page manager, tagthis (visible only to admins), nuggets, and my modded make-it-simple formatter - thanks thanks thanks for all the effort spent on add-ons (mark, spode, wallphone, spode, jim, squirel, subjunk, myschizobuddy, sirnot, lieven, miquel, grahack, dinoboff and spode (yes twice!) Tricks, gimmicks and features I'm particularly proud of/happy with - spacing in tabs trick - home button in tabs trick - move new discussion button (CSS, but looks good IMHO, more logical to me) - sticky discussions marked on page with red line (CSS) - integration google map and forum selection, this was supposed to be my cities page, but canceled it due to UI limitations of google maps on some platforms (simple, pagemanager) - comments indicator in category overview (CSS) - page manager pages: cities, photos, and footer pages Issues: - failed at seamless integration of site registration and forum registration (working on it) - need better tagging to support more advanced features incl. a calendar (working on it) - need to add category-level tags (spode?) - need more refined posting controls (not working on it, categoryroles failed me miserably) - need to link feeds to feedburner (currently feedthis hammers the server due to search) - need to refine all user communication (notifi et al) - need to show POST DATE of discussion - need to verify auto-close/expire (does add-on even work?) - need to fix annoying page manager 'feature' of looping only over active tabs, not all pages CORRECTION: this is a nuggets problem, not page manager - need to make site markdown compatible (no HTML to avoid exposure to the latest hacks) - I will update this page in the future with more issues as they arise. Hosting: - site hosted @ MOSSO in the cloud. Rackspace quality. Real support. Let me state one more time that MEDIATEMPLE SUCKS *ASS (don't ask) So with a little trepidation, but also with a lot of pride, here she goes: **EDITED** WHISPER ME FOR THE SITE ADDRESS, BETA TESTING IS OVER If you make test posts, please make them in the SOUTH AMERICA - OTHER CITIES section. I will remove them daily. Final request please please *please* do not link to the site on your blog etc. at least not until it's out of beta (scheduled for may15th) -- My add-ons Applicant Discovery 1.2 Mark O'Sullivan Auto Selection of Category 0.1 Roman "S" Vasiliev None BlogThis 1.14 Andrew Miller (Spode) Bookmark Stickies 1.0 WallPhone Category Hider 2.0 WallPhone Category Jumper 1.0 Mark O'Sullivan Chronological 2.1 WallPhone Comment Links 1.3.2 WallPhone David/Hide Stickies 1.0.1 Jim Wurster Downtime 1.1.0 squirrel Duplicate Email Check 1.0 WallPhone Expire 1.0.2 squirrel FeedThis 1.03 Andrew Miller (Spode) * MODDED TO MAKE IT XHTML FRIENDLY Flickrizer 0.3 Mark O'Sullivan * MODDED Guest Post 1.5 Andrew Miller (Spode) Guest Welcome Message 3.0 Mark O'Sullivan IP History 1.0.1 Mark O'Sullivan Make It Simple Text Formatter 1.12 Gambit * MODDED, see forums, auto-links images, videos, etc. in a nicer way New Applicants 1.3 Mark O'Sullivan Notifi 2.0.3 Klaus Burton [email protected] * MODDED Nuggets 1.1.6 MySchizoBuddy * Used for various page elements. Page Manager 2.5.3 SirNotAppearingOnThisForum * Used for various tabs and pages (but... after a bad experience of losing content, all page content now INCLUDES vs HTML in field) Panel Lists 1.2 Mark O'Sullivan Participated Threads 1.3.1 SirNot Password Reset 0.3 Lieven Tan Set List 1.1.0 squirrel Show Participants 0.5 miquel SimpleCache 0.0.2 Christophe Gragnic (Grahack) * Not in active use, will use if site gets slower. Smile 0.6 Alexander Weiher * MODDED, icon set, icon count, code TagThis 1.08 Andrew Miller (Spode) None * MODDED TagThisNLB 1.07 Tom Tester based on TagThis by Andrew Miller (Spode) None * Not in use, in development, extra features (one-click fixed tag addition, date, and more) Tag Discussions for per User, Discussion and Site Tag Clouds TimeKeeper 0.0.1 Christophe Gragnic (Grahack) TweakThis 1.01 Andrew Miller (Spode) * Very useful, Spode knows his details User Filters 1.0.2 Aaron Olson reCAPTCHA 1.10.2 squirrel, inspired by Dinoboff's CAPTCHA


  • PS I did remove the panel link to vanilla, but look closely, it's at the bottom of every page. Removed partially to avoid auto-detection by robohacking tools looking for strings.
  • MarkMark Vanilla Staff
    It looks awesome!

    You can remove that panel line entirely if you want. There's nothing in the gpl that says it has to stay.

    Nice work!
  • TomTesterTomTester New
    edited June 2009
    Thanks (blush), but most of all, thank YOU for this great piece of software. In the past couple of weeks I finally got to understand/appreciate the structure and inner workings a little (I'm a PHP noob, but less so today than 2 years ago) Vanilla 1.1.5 is a child to be proud of! BTW, I know (removal is OK) but have no problem leaving it there at all, explaining it before someone jumps down my throat ;-) It's a common complaint on these forums. A note on garden: hope that you'll add a mechanism to assign dates/times to a post, including dates in the future (think: timed posts, event calendar functionality etc.) Once more issue to add to my list of issues to resolve: I want to sort results by last comment posted in a topic search. Strangely enough OLD posts show up before NEWER posts in search results. This surprised me. *** If you have a little tip about that it would be appreciated.
  • What html hacks are you talking about? doesn't the html formatter strip out anything potentially dangerous?
    here's the markdown formatter if that's what you were looking for.
  • Very nice!
  • @fys There are long discussions on this board and elsewhere about the safety of allowing HTML (it's not as simple as just stripping SCRIPT tags, due to the 10-odd different ways you can write things, incl. combos of entities, text etc.) Perhaps I'm feeling more safe than I should using text-mode only right now but I like the clean look of all posts (lack of formatting makes people write shorter posts) plus it seemed the easiest safe thing to do. With the modded make-it-simple auto-linking add-on I can support the most useful part of HTML, ie linking, including images, including video, etc. The *only* thing missing, IMHO, is the simple stuff (bold, italics, center, bullets, and three different font sizes plus two colors) which is where markdown would come in (thanks for the link, had seen it already, but as I read somewhere, the add-on I modded does not properly work in the text formatting 'chain', but I have yet to try it) @Sub: thanks. I'm getting many positive comments about the look & operation. The only negative comments I get (from users) is the cumbersome application process. I dislike it too. The approval part is killing me, because I cannot approve people from my blackberry, so there's always a delay until I get to a PC. -> missing: an add-on or hack that would give me a list of applicants in an RSS feed, to open in Viigo on my blackberry, and approve/deny with one simple click (e.g. at a 'secret' URL, no login required on the BB)
  • Looking good! I feel naughtier and naughtier everyday that I haven't been developing features for my add-ons (and the other add-ons I want to do), but I've just been busy with 101^10 things! Spode
  • Very nice — kudos!
  • One note from a usability perspective, and one that I think applies to a lot of Vanilla sites (mine included) is that the default design of an active discussion page doesn't encourage users to add their comment. For example at the end of the comments in this discussion (e.g. and assuming I am new to the site,I have to remember that there is a 'sign in' link in the top right corner. At no point is there any indication at the end of the discussion that its possible to add a comment. In other words Vanilla forums could generate a lot more (inter)activity if there was a call-to-action type message at the bottom of each discussion along the lines of 'Sign in or Register to join this discussion (only takes a minute)' This is a general comment, and nice site btw! JoC
  • TomTesterTomTester New
    edited April 2009
    @johoney, thanks

    I agree that a call to action is welcome. I have installed the plugin that displays the "welcome guest" message at the top, which is pretty difficult to miss IMHO:
    Welcome Guest!
    Want to take part in these discussions? If you have an account, sign in now.
    If you don't have an account, apply for one now.
    I've been thinking of including the AddCommentBox add-on ( ), and slightly modding it to include a link to the sign-up forms.

    Notice my guests find the sign-up procedure on Vanilla rather confusing. Wish I could simplify, auto-approve, and delete people after the fact instead. Tips to that effect (especially auto-approve) welcome.
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