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CmdrTaco's Journal: Keybindings in Discussion2 21

Journal by CmdrTaco
Since this is not yet documented, I figured I would mention this here now... we are experimenting with some very rudimentary keystroke navigation in the discussion2 system. We support both FPS style WASD keybindings, as well as the standard vi layout of HJKL. Down/Up will cycle you through next/previous comment chronologically... left/right will cycle you through next/previous in thread order. Holding SHIFT down while you press the navigation key will collapse the previous comment. And when you get to the end, pressing down or right will attempt to retrieve more comments if you want them.

What this means is that you can now use D2 to simulate most of the most popular viewing modes of the original discussion system. By dragging both the abbreviate & display sliders right next to each other you effectively remove abbreviated comments which simulates nested mode. By toggling comment retrieval order to 'Oldest First' and using up down, you can effectivel read the discussion from oldest to newest. And of course the default settings gives you the best comments first, providing a nice default view of discussions for most anonymous users (who rarely participate and we want to really show only the best comments).

You can also disable D2 in the comment prefs (the word 'prefs' in the floating dialog box) if you are logged in. Right now we're testing D2 for a large percentage of anonymous readers. As soon as we finish IE7 support we'll roll out D2 for the rest of the ACs.

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Keybindings in Discussion2

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  • So far I'm liking all the d2 changes very much. However, when I click on prefs in the left "HUD" that controls the slider et all, I only see "date/score" in the "Comment Retrieval Order" pulldown here on Slashdot. You mention 'Oldest First' being there. Maybe you were referring to /my/comments preferences page? But having it be there and not in the D2 prefs pop-up would seem silly. Maybe it's in the code and it's just not live yet. Dunno, haven't had much free time to delve into latest code lately.
    • by CmdrTaco (1) * Works for Slashdot
      Yeah the wording on those boxes was supposed to be changed for this code refresh but apparently that didn't make the cut... the retrieval order is either 'highest score first' or 'oldest comment first'.
  • by jomas1 (696853) on Friday November 09, 2007 @11:03AM (#21295381) Homepage
    Vi navigation is cool but j seems to select the previous comment and k selects the next comment. Shouldn't this be reversed?
    • by CmdrTaco (1) * Works for Slashdot
      I musta brain farted. We'll get it switched around soon. The functionality on left/right is sketchy too, but we're just waiting for people to try it out a bit... we've never tried any of this and have no idea what makes the most sense... also note that when you retrieve new comments, the old ones gray out a little to indicate that they are more stale...
      • by jomas1 (696853)
        Don't know if you've seen what google has put together for keyboard based navigation http://www.google.com/experimental/ [google.com]

        I think slashdot could benefit from some of the functionality they've worked in. I'd love to navigate to an article or comment using j or k and expand it by hitting enter.
  • They're quite annoying for those of us who tend to randomly tap their keyboards while reading an article... :(
  • Keybindings are a very good idea!

    What about making all these keys configurable, especially for those who do not use US keyboards? That would be the extra icing on the cake...

    • by CmdrTaco (1) * Works for Slashdot
      Quite frankly with all of my design changes in the last few years, I've aimed to *remove* the more under utilized configuration options on Slashdot. For a few years we added every feature we thought would be interesting, and after a decade we've learned that the vast majority of you don't use any of these options. So while I can see that customizable keybindings would be neat, only a few hundred out of a few hundred thousand of you would ever change the defaults, so its not worth the engineering time and
  • Is this getting only X comments at a time thing permanent? If so is there any way to get all comments in one go? If I read an article I'll either want to read only a couple of comments or all of them at once rather than having to keep clicking on more comments...
    • by CmdrTaco (1) * Works for Slashdot
      Logged in users can up the default number in the preferences, and subscribers have an 'All' button. I'm evaluating the effectiveness of this decision- I know it's annoying to some people, but under the old system you had to click page 2... page 3... page 4... etc to read the whole discussion, and this is no different. The problem is that for slower computers and larger discussions, parsing that much XML and downloading that much data is a real performance hit... many seconds of beachballing... My curren
      • by spiralx (97066)
        Up until a couple of days ago it was loading every comment whenever I went to an article under the new system, so it was definitely possible.
        • by spiralx (97066)
          The new code hoses the CPU while it's downloading as well, Firefox is taking 99.99% and is totally unresponsive. I know a lot of that is due to it's crappy Javascript threading, but it's now taking as long to download 50 comments as it was to download 500 and locking the browser at the same time.
          • by CmdrTaco (1) * Works for Slashdot
            I'd question your 50=500 comment, but I definitely agree that performance is lacking. Thats part of why the size is small... on a slower computer, 200-300 comments is unusable (note that on my laptop, performance is quite comfortable even on several hundred comments). Parsing that much XML and running that much javascript isn't cheap. Our current "Solution" isn't ideal, but it'll work while we finish off other more pressing bugs. Time permitting we'll go back. Else maybe someone else will look at our
            • by spiralx (97066)
              Doesn't the Prototype library (which it looks like you're using for AJAX) use JSON by default rather than XML? But either way I agree there's no easy solution to Firefox's crappy JS implementation :(

              Last time I looked at Slashcode it was version 1.something... is it any less scary nowadays? :)

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