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Slashdot Discussion2 In Beta 421

Discussion2 has been in beta for a few months now on Slashdot. Initially available only to subscribers, it now should be available to anyone willing to login and click the checkbox at the head of every discussion. It is far from complete: IE doesn't work (patches welcome, but since only a quarter of you use it, it's not a huge priority) and performance is lacking (you want a fast computer for larger discussions) but it's already an improvement for most users. Read on for some notes on what we have planned.

The primary reason for discussion2 was to get beyond the pain in the ass that is navigating large discussion threads on Slashdot. You know the problem: once threads get deep, you have to click repeatedly, waiting for tabs to load. Or even when you encounter a long comment, you have to wait to get the full comment text.

Cool Things D2 Does Now

  1. Allows you to change your threshold, open and close threads, and expand long comments in place, without ever loading a new page.
  2. Allows you to moderate a comment without clicking a save-button that loses your place in a thread.
  3. A new, more intuitive user interface that more clearly displays the nature of comment thresholds.
  4. Vastly Improved threaded view that allows you to see more of the discussion in less space, without clutter.

Some items on the TODO list (more or less in order of priority)

  1. Make it Progressive - Right now D2 simply gets all the comments in a discussion. This sucks. We need to write a task to retrieve only appropriate comments. So if you are at Score:4 threshold, we don't bother retrieving the full text of all comments at Score:-1. And even better, if someone moderates or posts a comment, we need to update the page you are reading to reflect those changes. Again, the goal here is that once you load a page, you don't need to close it until you are done with the discussion. This actually has MANY subtle problems, like how do you notify a user when a thread 10 pages up has been replied to.
  2. Make it Fast Actually I think solving #1 will mostly solve #2 at the same time. Since right now we get the full discussion, we are getting WAY to much data. We need to get say 50 comments at a time, not all 1000. This will give your browser time to catch up and make the whole thing "Feel" faster. Right now, on my machine a 200-300 comment page is very usable, but to much larger and it starts slowing down. This is all machine dependent. I'm sure there are good javascript tricks that would help improve performance.
  3. In-Place Posting You should be able to post a comment without reloading a page. Right now you can just open a tab, but then you are looking at a stale discussion. This isn't that hard either- especially once we finish #1. Just need to open the reply page in a div, and when you save, make sure that the new comment is properly retrieved and inserted into the thread. But there's some subtle stuff here like how to handle previews. We need to change some of our error handling- the current system uses previews as an opportunity to warn readers about things that are "Wrong" about their comment. We need to figure out how to do that without launching new pages. It's not hard, but it'll take some time.
  4. Compatibility ok so Opera's broken Javascript implementation won't work unless they fix their browser, but we'd like to make at least IE work for the trivial percentage of Slashdot readers forced to use IE by their corporate overloads. But since 2/3rds of you use Firefox, fixing IE is just not at the top of my priority list... I'd rather make it work better for the majority. And as every web developer knows, cross browser platform compatibility can be a real bitch. But before we are out of beta, it probably would be nice to get IE functional, if only for other websites using our source code that actually have IE as the dominant population.
  5. Smooth out the UI there are a lot of parts to this problem. Right now the threshold change is buttons but it should actually be draggable, I'd like the widget to toggle from the top to the side, but need to build a horizontal version of the widget. The expansion/contraction of comments and threads have weird functionality that could be improved- for example there is a difference between expanding a comment and expanding a thread. And there's new concepts like expanding a child vs expanding an entire thread vs expanding "Siblings" vs expanding hidden children vs visible children. These are very interesting user interface questions that we'll start working out soon.
  6. Rethink What Old Functionality By this I primarily mean discussion filters and ordering. By default D2 uses a thread ordered, chronological display. The old system had many other sort modes, but I'm not how sure how effective these are once threaded. So I may simply leave the old system in place for users who want to see a flat discussion ignorant of threads ordered by date or score. Since this is only a tiny percentage of users, I figure it can wait.


A lot of the stuff you see in D2 is just javascript you can easily play with yourself. We haven't mangled it or anything so you js haxx0rz are welcome to submit patches for interesting ideas. We don't have a backend for progressive rendering, but there are a LOT of features that we want to implement that wouldn't even require you to touch the perl. Of course if you're willing to hack perl, it's all up on the website not that anyone ever actually bothers to contribute anything more than ideas and complaints, but it sure never hurts to ask!

Already around 13,000 of you are using Discussion2. We're a ways off from flipping a switch to make it the default for everyone, but it's already substantially better for users with fast computers and Firefox. Hopefully in a few more weeks it will be good enough for everyone. Thanks for the help along the way. We hope you like the new system... I sure do. And mad props to Nate & Pudge for their work on this...

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Slashdot Discussion2 In Beta

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  • hopefully... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by joshetc ( 955226 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @01:18PM (#16106085)
    ...We get IE functionality soon. Its pretty hypocritical not to considering the majority of slashdot users are against people developing IE only sites. Its also quite a stretch for me to get FF on my work computer. I'm sure the case is the same with many slashdotters.
    • Define hypocrisy (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Mateo_LeFou ( 859634 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @01:21PM (#16106134) Homepage
      It's not "hypocritical" to shoot for standards-compliant markup, and neglect quirky pieces of software that ignore the standards.
      • by TheSpoom ( 715771 ) * <slashdot.uberm00@net> on Thursday September 14, 2006 @01:31PM (#16106285) Homepage Journal
        No, but it also isn't a great idea to cut out such a huge chunk of your audience. It's just not nice, and in Slashdot's case, they could be losing a lot of potential subscribers if D2 becomes standard without working in IE.

        BTW, anyone know if IE7 fixes these problems? I've lost track of when Vista's coming out (as I really don't care that much) but if IE7 has a better Javascript stack and most people get it at launch, this might be a moot point.
        • by interiot ( 50685 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @01:38PM (#16106364) Homepage

          End-users who choose to stick with a non-standards-compliant browser cause extra work for web developers. This is less than optimal, because it causes fewer features to be developed slower.

          The problem is that end-users are the only ones in a position to change this. However, end-users usually have no idea that they're causing a lot of extra work to be done. One good solution to fix this is to develop for standards-compliant browsers first, and fix other issues later (which makes more sense purely from a development standpoint as well).

          • Re:Define hypocrisy (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Bonker ( 243350 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @03:29PM (#16107655)
            The 'Corporate Overlord IE Mandate' is not to be underrated.

            I work in an office that settled on IE a long time ago... before Firefox and before free Opera. This was back when IE simply was the best browser because Netscape had stagnated, Mozilla wasn't even in beta, and Microsoft's anti-competitive tactics worked.

            The workstation images still have IE as the only browser by default, and the majority of the office doesn't have the privalege of installing their own software due to all the stupid things users can get up to.

            Anyone who really wants it gets Firefox, including non-tech users who mention to one of the admins that they'd like it. Most of the office, however, is far too busy with work to worry about which browser they have installed. IE works and is sufficiently secured by our NT admins to be useable and safe for the majority of our users, including geeks and the tech-saavy.

            These are not stupid or uneducated people. They use Firefox at home. If they hit Slashdot from work, they're likely to be doing it via IE.
            • These are not stupid or uneducated people. They use Firefox at home. If they hit Slashdot from work, they're likely to be doing it via IE.

              Come on people, it's a browser. We computer people tend to lose a great deal by getting stuck on minor issues like what browser people use. There are many very intelligent people who use internet explorer. It's a fact. And they are't even exceptions. The truth is, 90% of functionality is the same. The difference doesn't justify what we make of it.

              I'm not hitting on your c
        • by Kingrames ( 858416 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @01:44PM (#16106447)
          It is most certainly not a bad idea to get people to install firefox.

          If you have trouble running it on your computer, install a post-1998 operating system. Upgrade to a 486. splurge for that extra 256MB of RAM. Get your cat out of the computer tower. Do whatever it takes, but get with the program.
        • by revery ( 456516 ) <charlesNO@SPAMcac2.net> on Thursday September 14, 2006 @01:54PM (#16106592) Homepage
          they could be losing a lot of potential subscribers

          oh, and by the way, "losing" means "causing or suffering loss" and "loosing" means... oh... wait... what the....
          [revery tries to wrap his mind around the concept of a Slashdot poster using the word losing correctly...]

          Uhm... carry on then...

          This is a joke. I am joking. You have been joked with.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Dilly Bar ( 23168 )
          Tried on IE7 RC1 and it doesn't seem to work.
        • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @02:08PM (#16106767)

          Take a few deep breaths out a brown paper bag. They are not shutting out IE users. They are developing first for their main audience while a perfectly capable system is in place for the IE users. No one said that they were going to make their site FireFox only.

          Even if they were, so what? Welcome to my life as a Mac user :) It's the price you pay for using a non-mainstream platform...

          In any case, take heart in that it doesn't seem to work in my Seamonkey browser, either. I get this weird annoying floater which tells me how many comments are there, but no way that I can work out to increase or decrease my viewing threshold.

      • Re:Define hypocrisy (Score:4, Informative)

        by Richard Steiner ( 1585 ) <rsteiner@visi.com> on Thursday September 14, 2006 @01:35PM (#16106333) Homepage Journal
        It certainly is hypocritical, especially if those standards are so new (or so poorly implemented in mainstream browsers such as IE) that a large percentage of folks can't use the new version.

        What ever happened to serving the lowest common denominator?? There's a REASON why many sites eschew CSS and other trendy UI-centric crap and focus instead on maximizing the ability to deliver information.

        Slashdot is going the way of KDE and Gnome, with too much concentration on flashy UI elements and not enough concentration on service a diverse user base.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Mateo_LeFou ( 859634 )
          CSS is "trendy UI-centric crap"? Whatever. CSS is the solution to 80% of the presentation-layer headaches I've ever experienced
        • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Thursday September 14, 2006 @02:00PM (#16106676) Homepage

          It certainly is hypocritical, especially if those standards are so new (or so poorly implemented in mainstream browsers such as IE) that a large percentage of folks can't use the new version.

          Funny, I'm a bit dyslexic and read that as "poorly implemented mainstream browsers such as IE".

          Anyway, some of the problems may be use of new-ish standards, but IE also just renders things incorrectly. I sometimes do a small amount of web design-- just HTML and CSS-- and IE there's a lot of CSS that's been around for years that IE just doesn't render properly. Personally, it always made sense to me to write HTML/CSS more or less according to W3C standards and fix up the browser bugs after the fact, when I basically have the thing working. This means it's more likely to work on Gecko and WebKit/KHTML browsers while you're developing, because they adhere closely to the standards.

          Add to that the fact that IE users are in the minority on this site, and you can see why IE would be lower priority. Also, IE is a bit of a moving target, since IE7 will (supposedly) render things very differently from either the correct way or the IE6 way of rendering things.

          I'm not advocating that /. ceases supporting IE, but it does make sense, given all this, that IE bugfixes would come later. Also, I'll admit that I can understand why lots of developers want to drop IE support altogether. With as much of a headache as it is, there have been times when, during an angry session of trying to get IE to render properly, I've been tempted to say, "Screw it! If any IE users complain, we'll tell them to get a real browser!" I've always changed the site to account for the IE bugs, at least well enough that the site worked OK, but it still annoys me whenever it comes up.

        • by wootest ( 694923 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @02:47PM (#16107213)
          Serving up well marked-up content in combination in finely-crafted CSS and inobtrusive JavaScript enables serving to the lowest common denominator (say: mobile phones, Lynx) *and* enhancing the experience of those who aren't the lowest common denominators (say: reasonably modern browsers). This is hugely successful. It's very obvious to me that this is the way it's supposed to be. This services a diverse user base in the best way possible: useful extra functions for those that are able to use them, frugal, content-centered versions for the rest.

          That well-engineered solutions also offer easy ways to fade in and out content is an effect (pun not intended), not a noteworthy goal in itself. There is a culture among "wanna-be-Web 2.0" sites to do this, and when the functionality is there, it doesn't bug me. Discussion2 in particular offers virtually no effects whatsoever, just a very useful function of reading comments nearly instantaneously with less strain on the server and client. It works exactly how I imagined it would work, and my two complaints is that its JavaScript semantics are somewhat muddled and that CmdrTaco is even for a second *considering* launching it without pitch-perfect IE support.

          IE may be ass to code for - trust me, I know. I would rather have 90% of the world use Firefox, Safari or Opera than IE. But IE's JavaScript backend support (excluding debugging facilities) is still fairly good. What's more, not supporting IE because "they only make up a quarter of our visitors" while we were having problems getting Firefox up to the around 10% (+/-4%) worldwide that it has today is nothing less than offensive, a slap in the face of all us who do this for a living and base our "support every browser" argument on the fact that it's the way it should be, not that "our side is better and should be winning". Yes, it's hard work. Suck it up. Make it work. There's no excuse.
      • Re:Define hypocrisy (Score:5, Informative)

        by Rich0 ( 548339 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @01:39PM (#16106389) Homepage
        I agree with you on that point - you should code to the standard and making it look right is the browser's problem.

        However, I do want to comment that the threshold box tends to load outside of the window on konqueror - which is ACID2 compliant in the version I am using. If I hit the top link to reload just the comments it works fine.

        So this isn't an IE-only issue...
      • by TrappedByMyself ( 861094 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @02:05PM (#16106738)
        It's not "hypocritical" to shoot for standards-compliant markup, and neglect quirky pieces of software that ignore the standards.

        Yeah, but NONE of the major browsers are fully CSS2 compliant. So, yes, while IE is the worst of the bunch, dropping IE does not mean that you are writing the range of fully standards-compliant markup. In the end, you're still limited to only using the stuff which happenes to be supported by the browsers you are targeting.

        So while IE is the worst, the others are still dirty. Just not so much.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LMacG ( 118321 )

      Any site that is developed solely for IE, with that justified because "only 10% use something else" would be loudly decried here.

      So because of the stupid policies of the the place where I work, I'm not important. Thanks Taco. Don't go into marketing.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Your are right, in that "only 10% use something else" is not a good excuse for developing for just one browser. That is because that reason is unimportant to the issue.

        Thing is, this site is designed for FireFox, and Konqueror, and Opera, and Mozilla, and Netscape, and a lot of other little browsers that have like 5 users each.

        You see, while in the first case, the page is developed for just one browser to the exclusion of all the others, in this case the page is being developed toward a standard which

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      You've missed the point. If the world's most popular site, Slashdot, stops supporting something, then users will be forced to migrate to new software. That's how it works, right?
    • Re:hopefully... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kardnal ( 471745 ) <grotius@gma i l . com> on Thursday September 14, 2006 @01:23PM (#16106154)
      It'd be hypocrital if they said they *weren't* going to provide IE functionality, period. They're not doing that. They're getting the kinks worked out with FF first, and will get around to IE later.

      I completely agree with you though if they said they were never going to develop it for IE.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Its pretty hypocritical not to considering the majority of slashdot users are against people developing IE only sites.
      Since IE was the first example in the "Its far from complete", it seems quite clear that the standard for Discussion2 being "complete" includes IE functionality.
    • They aren't developing a FireFox only site, they just haven't gotten the little quirks in IE fixed yet. It's not like they're posting a message saying that Slashdot won't work in IE, and refusing to load the page.

      On a side note, I've been using this for about a month, it is leaps and bounds above the old system. Good work!
    • If it was hard for me to install software on my work computer, it would be time to look for a different job.
    • by jd ( 1658 )
      ...I personally would just stick with the standards. However, the display is not great on Firefox, Opera or Konqueror, with the control widget window sometimes covering a full screen or more. It's sporadic. I haven't seen too many other display bugs, that's the main one, but it's one I'd really like fixed. as it almost has to be a code bug, not a browser bug.

      There are a myriad of other features I would like. The ability to sort was a key feature for me in the classic display, and this new display could have

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by pudge ( 3605 ) *
      We are shooting for IE7 compatibility, but come on ... IE7 is still in beta. It's a moving target. You can't expect our timeline to be significantly ahead of Microsoft's. :-)

      Also, as other posters have said, it's one thing to criticize sites for using proprietary IE-only functionality. We're using no such proprietary functionality, only stuff that Microsoft says will be included in IE7 anyway.
  • by Beuno ( 740018 ) <argentina@@@gmail...com> on Thursday September 14, 2006 @01:18PM (#16106086) Homepage
    IE doesn't work (patches welcome, but since only a quarter of you use it, it's not a huge priority)

    As a follower of firefox since day 1, reading that in a place as big as slashdot really made a tear drop.
    • by NekoXP ( 67564 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @01:23PM (#16106160) Homepage
      As user 740018, 25% of users is 185000 people.

      How many visitors on Slashdot per day? I wanna see these statistics. If they only had 8 users, a quarter of them would be insignificant. If they really have millions of hits per day from hundreds of thousands of users, then 25% is enough to start a riot.

      However, it's Slashdot, so I guess such a riot would never happen, it's still crazy to say "only a quarter of our users will be broken" :)
      • by just_another_sean ( 919159 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @02:07PM (#16106761) Journal
        He said (paraphrased) "a quarter of our users are broken". Not "will be".

        The part you forgot to pick up on was, we're working on it, patches welcome... IMHO not being able to support 1/4 of your users in
        a beta testing situation isn't that bad. The point being that if 75% of your users have the potential to give you feedback then you
        are going to get a lot of feedback.

        And one last point, if IE7 finally gets with the program and complies with standards then maybe it's a good idea to take a wait and
        see approach toward supporting IE6.

        Personally I for one welcome our new Firefox pushing overlords! :-)

        • by SpryGuy ( 206254 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @03:16PM (#16107528)
          I personally don't think any time should be wasted trying to make things work in IE6.

          I do however think close attention should be paid to IE7 on two fronts, because very shortly, IE7 is going to be the dominant browser in use:

          1) Make a solid effort to make this site work in IE7

          2) Report as soon as possible all the problems in IE7 that make supporting this site in IE7 (as opposed to FireFox, Opera, and others) difficult to Microsoft so they can prioritize those fixes for IE7 GA, or at the very least, in a 7.0.1 patch or update in the near future.

      • by Buran ( 150348 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @02:19PM (#16106898)
        it's still crazy to say "only a quarter of our users will be broken"

        Happens all the time to those of us who use Firefox, and it apparently isn't crazy to those coders to say it with a straight face, but it's crazy if IE users get left out in the cold.

        Ahahah. Not you in particular but there's a lot of hypocrisy in this here comment page.
    • by stuuf ( 587464 )
      As a follower of firefox since day 1

      I think I have you beat. Back when I switched from Netscape 4.78 to Mozilla 1.0, Firefox was still called Phoenix. So that would have been Firefox day negative 400 something.

  • by nomel ( 244635 ) <turd.inorbit@com> on Thursday September 14, 2006 @01:21PM (#16106132) Homepage Journal
    ok, the little control box either needs to be movable, or on the right hand side where it'll be less likely to cover text. It makes a big part of the screen useless as it is now.
  • by hublan ( 197388 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @01:23PM (#16106152) Homepage
    Please for the love of <insert deity here>, apply the moderation to a comment as soon as the moderation value has selected from the drop down box. I constantly forget to press the "Moderate" button which is hidden somewhere down the bottom, and therefore comments that I wanted to moderate don't.

    Apart from that, it's a vast improvement. Especially being able to selectively browse comments that are below the threshold value, without loosing track of the conversation.

    • D'oh. Looks like they've added it already. Certainly wasn't there last time I had mod points.
    • by Incongruity ( 70416 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @01:39PM (#16106384)
      OTOH, I've been using discussion2 for a while now and I find it more annoying to mod with discussion2 because of that instant moderation "feature" -- in short, if you accidently click out of the pulldown box, too bad, your moderation is set in stone. Moreover, I like to take a second look at my moderations before I submit them just to be sure I'm modding more or less well... i.e. I'll read more comments to see if something I initially thought was insightful actually seems wrong the more I and other people mull it over and respond (I'm imperfect, I misjudge, yadda yadda). -tcp
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Pharmboy ( 216950 )
        I never got around to moderating with D2, because I kinda found it more irritating than useful, so disabled it after about an hour. This was a while back, and not sure what they have added since then. (I have never subscribed, but I have been able to test it for months now...i dunno)

        But I agree that moderation is something that should be done thoughtfully, and being able to give someone literally instant Karma, is going to lead to a lot more Unfair Metamoderation.
  • by Quaoar ( 614366 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @01:23PM (#16106156)
    I'm lowly member with a normal account, and I've been able to view the new comment system for like 2 months. Just a minor clarification...
  • subscribers only? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Mini-Geek ( 915324 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @01:23PM (#16106162) Homepage
    Discussion2 has been in beta for a few months now on Slashdot Initially available only to subscribers, it now should be available to anyone willing to login and click the checkbox at the head of every discussion.
    I've had it since July 13th and I'm not a subscriber. Is the above statement incorrect or was I just accidentally offered it?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Ralph Yarro ( 704772 )

      Discussion2 has been in beta for a few months now on Slashdot Initially available only to subscribers, it now should be available to anyone willing to login and click the checkbox at the head of every discussion.

      I've had it since July 13th and I'm not a subscriber. Is the above statement incorrect or was I just accidentally offered it?

      The statement is accurate. You're just having trouble getting your mind around the concept that "a few months" streteches back EVEN FURTHER than July 13th.

      Initially subscribe

  • by jandrese ( 485 ) <kensama@vt.edu> on Thursday September 14, 2006 @01:24PM (#16106179) Homepage Journal
    Normally when I read Slashdot, I read the comments page in nested mode from the top to the bottom. With the new system I have to constantly click to open up the threads which got old real quick. Given that you're loading the whole page anyway, it seems pointless to force me to click expand most of the comment sections.

    What I'd really like is an option to have them all expanded by default, but allow me to close the comment blocks on discussions that are obviously going nowhere.
    • by jx100 ( 453615 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @01:31PM (#16106277)
      Just use the threshold menu on the left to move the threshold down. You'll still keep the capability to close comment threads.
      • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @01:57PM (#16106634)
        > Just use the threshold menu on the left to move the threshold down. You'll still keep the capability to close comment threads.

        It took me 5 minutes and 20-30 mouse clicks to figure out two things:

        1) You must have images turned on. The "up arrow" and "down arrow" things are represented in non-image mode by a bunch of asterisks, and there's nothing to indicate that they're live.

        2) You must have javashit turned on. OK, I wasn't that surprised by the need for Javascript since this is supposedly the new AJAX hawtness, but I was surprised that it failed so ungracefully.

        3) There's a lag (because we're dealing with Javascript) between the mouse click and the re-rendering of the page and the threshold box/menu.

        4) There's an annoying thing about the threshold box, in that if all I want to do is crank it to "80 full / 0 abbreviated / 0 hidden" (I have zero interest ever seeing an abbreviated comment. This isn't Digg - It's OK to say something that takes more than one line to express.), I've gotta reposition the mouse after every click on the threshold box.

        How about we find a middle ground: Website uses D2, but fails gracefully: If Javascript is disabled, it reverts back to D1.

        (Yeah, I disable Javascript wherever possible. Google Maps and online shopping/banking are probably the only exceptions I make to this rule. I'm also occasionally on bandwidth-restricted connections, and have developed a habit of browsing as lean as possible. If a website's contents are mostly text, it should be just as usable with its images, javascript, and even colors/fonts overridden. I still prefer a good serif font over the "new" default, too :)

  • Make sure the old discussion is an option... it doesn't have to be default, but I'd like to be able to still use the old way, if I want.
  • by nuzak ( 959558 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @01:25PM (#16106192) Journal
    So I have to ask ... why is slashdot rolling its own Ajax library? Why not use Dojo or Mochikit or hell, even Prototype? Those do work on every major browser. You already have help from third parties, they wrote the library for you. All you have to do is accept it.

    Man, I sound like a born-again or something...

    • by Ayanami Rei ( 621112 ) * <rayanami@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Thursday September 14, 2006 @01:34PM (#16106315) Journal
      Because it's not the client side that's the problem.
      It's the server side.

      Ajax isn't some magic spice you can just download and sprinkle into your web code to somehow make it suddenly non-stateless. You need to rethink your whole comment/posting model and then design the interface and interaction between server and browser based on that.

      Dojo and Mochikit are little more than pretty widgets to look at (with some liberal use of xmlhttprequest, which doesn't mean jack unless your backend is already structured to use it).

      So yeah. Typical slashdot response.
  • by coolGuyZak ( 844482 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @01:25PM (#16106195)

    I've been using Discussion2 for about 2 weeks now, and I, for one, offer my congradulations. As noted above, it has a few kinks, but overall, it is a vast improvement over the previous layout. I find myself reading much deeper into comments, and the "HUD" makes it easy to see how much time I waste here on /. ;)

    Few annoyances I must note, however:

    • There is a discrepancy in the UI. To expand a post, you click the title. However, clicking the title doesn't hide the contents, it collapses the entire thread
    • When a post is <blockquote>'ed, you see the blockquote portion of the post in the preview. Since most blockquotes are of the previous post, I don't see any new information. This likewise goes for posters who italicise their quotes
    • A personal nitpick (likely CSS related): you can't use bold or italics inside of a blockquote

    Overall, though, it's a vast improvement over the past system. Keep up the good work!

    • Another nitpick: the HUD appears every time you close the window. I have since grown to like it, but is there an option to close it permanently?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Inda ( 580031 )
      A personal nitpick (likely CSS related): you can't use bold or italics inside of a blockquote

      Sure you can. Well, bold you can.

      Using Firefox here if you care.

      Please sort the Javascript out fully before implementing this. I like browsing the web on my old, old, old PC. Not all of us feel the need to upgrade our machines into gaming rigs. It plays DVDs, Xvid, MP3s, etc etc - it should be able to handle a bit of nicely coded JS.

  • Opera (Score:5, Informative)

    by UpnAtom ( 551727 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @01:25PM (#16106201) Homepage
    I'm not sure what is supposed to happen, but there's no way to adjust threshold and the floating window is just annoying.

    I'm using the lastest weekly, 8573.

    Opera are pretty good at fixing bugs promptly if you let them know. Use the form if you don't have other contacts:
    https://bugs.opera.com/wizard/ [opera.com]

    • Re:Opera (Score:4, Informative)

      by stevesliva ( 648202 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @01:50PM (#16106530) Journal
      I'm not sure what is supposed to happen, but there's no way to adjust threshold and the floating window is just annoying.
      Ironically, the floating window adjusts the threshold. No, it's not readily apparent that it does so, because it doesn't say "threshold" on it, but, there it is.
    • by dema ( 103780 )
      ...the floating window is just annoying.

      Amen. It covers up a portion of the comments and is just generally annoying to have dragging along. Why is this even necessary?
  • by OzPeter ( 195038 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @01:25PM (#16106204)
    Why is the size of the "Read more .. " presented in bytes?

    To me this is a meaningless measurement that conveys no real information. Are we talking single or multi-byte characters? Does that include line terminators? Does it include HTML formating?

    IMHO the number of words is a more beneficial stat. Or is the use of the number of bytes meant to be a throw-back to a "cutesy" geek secret club of "I know so I am 1334!!"
    • The number of bytes is easier to calculate and is a measure of the amount of information you will be displaying. If anything the number of lines would be a better indicator but that would be more complicated to work out again.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Night Goat ( 18437 )
      Words are less useful to me. Regardless of how they calculate the bytes, I can assume that the definition of a byte stays the same. At least, it better! If they measured in words, I would not be able to tell if there were a bunch of "the"s or "antediluvian"s. I can get a better idea if it's worth clicking Read More over my 28.8Kbps modem connection.
  • PITA (Score:4, Interesting)

    by killmenow ( 184444 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @01:27PM (#16106219)
    I was using the new comments beta system until yesterday. I turned it off because it sucks ass. I see the potential, but it's annoying as shit right now. I know, that's not a very constructive criticism...but, damn. Speed is an issue, the stupid floating "full, hidden, blah blah blah" shit on the left pane, and whatnot.

    Maybe after they work out some of the speed issues and the like, it'll be great. But for now, it can't touch "-1, Nested, Highest Scores First" comment browsing.
  • The floating comments box on the left should have position: absolute before you scroll down to the comments and it gets position: fixed. Right now it always has to be continuously updated in position before you scroll down to the comments, which is slow.
  • by jfengel ( 409917 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @01:28PM (#16106243) Homepage Journal
    The moderation-in-place has come in particularly handy. Many times I'd moderate something, then wait until I'd read down the rest of the page to hit "save", but forget to hit it.

    The flip side of that is that I don't get to say, "Hey, here was a better way of saying the same thing." The mod point's gone. It's common for me to think, "This was a correct and useful answer, but impolite" and prefer to wait until I found a more polite way of phrasing the same information. If I don't find one, though, the correct answer is sometimes worth modding up if the question is important.

    The box for setting viewing levels was kind of hard to get used to, but I think I finally understand it. "Down" doesn't mean "less of this"; it means "expand to take up some of the territory covered by the other box." If they change its behavior, I'd have to learn it all over again, and it makes sense once you've figured out what all of the arrows mean.

    All in all I've been using D2 and sticking with it.
  • by Bitsy Boffin ( 110334 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @01:32PM (#16106291) Homepage
    First, I'd like to know what exactly is wrong with Opera's Javascript implementation that D2 can't be made to work with it - especially Opera 9, I think somebody just couldn't be bothered.

    Second, I tried D2 a while ago (I'm not a subscriber though, I guess some non-subscribers got the opportunity too), and I didn't like it much. Slow, slow, slow and did I mention slow.

  • by Cederic ( 9623 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @01:33PM (#16106305) Journal

    I've been using D2 for a few weeks now, and although it's occasionally doing things that surprise me, I've grown to like it a lot.

    I used to have to open hidden thread responses in a separate tab; now I can just display them inline. That change alone is worth any pain with the new system.

    I noticed inline moderation yesterday too. That surprised me, and I'm not certain I like it - I used to go through an entire discussion and moderate, then check whether I'd tried to moderate more or less posts than I had mod points. If I'd gone over-budget I could then prioritise the use of the mod points. The inline moderation means that once I've selected a moderation, it's used. It's also less forgiving of accidental selection in the drop-down.

    The other issue I've noticed is that for very large discussions (700+ posts) Firefox can report that processing the Javascript has taken too long. I get offered the choice of cancelling processing the script, or continuing. Once I'd realised what was causing this and just started hitting 'continue' it hasn't prevented the site working properly, just irritated me. But the performance modifications will probably resolve that.

    Inline replies sound good - I'll welcome that.

    Overall, given the choice, even with the existing implementation and its occasional flaws, I like it, and I'd prefer to keep it to the old discussion format.

  • by lpangelrob ( 714473 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @01:37PM (#16106362)

    It takes a little more thought than I'd like to put in to see how the thresholds are defined. 4 Full (score 5) / 51 Abbreviated (score 2) / 27 hidden (score -1) would be appreciated.

    Being able to disable the abbreviated option altogether would be nice, actually. Then I could navigate threads at my leisure.

    Also, a flexible threshold system would be good, but now we're going into divining magic. For example, if I click on a thread, I'm obviously interested in it; hide -1 scored comments, show comments scoring 0 or more.

  • I'll still use the site when the new version is available in IE. Ironically, because of personal preference (i.e. choice). I've tried the latest version's of FF, and Opera and I still think websites look best in IE. I don't knock those who like those browsers, but the way I see it, a standard does not need an independant group. That may sound lame to some, but I've invested a lot of time and money in building my MS developer skillset. In addition, seeing as my family, nor my friends, have ever had a ma
  • zerg (Score:5, Funny)

    by Lord Omlette ( 124579 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @01:47PM (#16106494) Homepage
    Given the # of people who are only allowed to use IE when they're at work, if /. stops working w/ IE, productivity should skyrocket.
  • I read fast. I show all comments. When I enabled the new discussion system I had to tweak my preferences some to enable it to do what I had before.

  • I'm not a subscriber, but I got offered it when it first came out. I went through the tutorial and started using it. Within less than five minutes, I went into my Preferences and turned the damned thing off, never to try it again. I hated it.

    Among other things, its way of giving you a "teaster" of a comment was worse than useless. Giving you five or ten words of a reply doesn't tell you anything worth knowing when the comment starts out with a quote from the Parent. Most of its other "gosh-wow, shiny!

  • by Fweeky ( 41046 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @02:07PM (#16106759) Homepage
    Ok, so you're using a global variable called comments; a "hash" indexed by comment ID. Except it's just an object to JS, and you're telling it to create numeric elements in it... these elements are not just array indexes, they're also method names, and numeric method names.. well, they're a Bad Idea.

    With 2 search and replace operations, I have the basics of Discussion2 working in Opera 9.01 on a locally saved page:

    First, instead of doing comments = { [cid]: ... } do comments = { 'c[cid]': ... }. Now instead of comments.1234567, you're asking for comments.c1234567. Now in comments.js, replace comments[cid] with comments['c'+cid]. Now changing the threshold works just fine.
    • by pudge ( 3605 ) * <slashdotNO@SPAMpudge.net> on Thursday September 14, 2006 @04:51PM (#16108522) Homepage Journal
      There is nothing wrong with the code. "Bad Idea" implies that we are using the the object literal in a way that could possibly be misinterpreted by a standards-compliant browser. That's not true.

      And yes, I already knew about the possibility of the fix you suggested, but we already have performance issues, and I am not going to add potentially thousands of concatenations per click to work around a bug in Opera, when Opera could just fix the stupid bug.
    • by pudge ( 3605 ) * <slashdotNO@SPAMpudge.net> on Thursday September 14, 2006 @05:03PM (#16108668) Homepage Journal
      Oh, and here's the documentation [mozilla.org]. There's nothing in there about restricting the use of numbers.

      The real problem, BTW, is that Opera cannot handle *certain* numbers. Specifically, IIRC, it cannot handle 2^23 ... 2^24-1. Which happens to be where our cids fall.

      Totally not kidding. Check this out:
      var y = { 8388607: 1, 8388608: 3, 16777215: 5, 16777216: 7 };
      document.write("8388607:"+ y[8388607] + "<br>");
      document.write("8388608:"+ y[8388608] + "<br>");
      y[8388608] = 4;
      document.write("8388608:"+ y[8388608] + "<br>");
      document.write("16777215:"+ y[16777215] + "<br>");
      y[16777215] = 6;
      document.write("16777215:"+ y[16777215] + "<br>");
      document.write("16777216:"+ y[16777216] + "<br>");
      In Opera 9.01 build 3489 for Mac OS X, this produces:
      16777215: undefined
      In Opera 8.54 build 2200 for Mac OS X, this doesn't work at all, because 2^24 makes it crap out completely. If I remove 16777216: 7, then it produces:
      16777215: undefined
      Of course, in Safari and Firefox etc., it does as expected:
      16777 215:6
  • by Shimmer ( 3036 ) <brianberns@gmail.com> on Thursday September 14, 2006 @02:09PM (#16106780) Homepage Journal
    What does "D2" do that the Slashdotter extension doesn't do? I'm perfectly happy with that.
  • New/old flag (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Glenn R-P ( 83561 ) <randeg@alum.rpi.edu> on Thursday September 14, 2006 @03:10PM (#16107466) Journal
    I'd like to see a new/old flag, where "new" is any comments that have been added since my last visit to the article. Also a way to set the threshold to expand only the new comments.
  • by tf23 ( 27474 ) <tf23&lottadot,com> on Thursday September 14, 2006 @03:28PM (#16107640) Homepage Journal
    not that anyone ever actually bothers to contribute anything more than ideas and complaints

    Perhaps if we heard from Taco about where the project's headed, what's needed, what's wanted. Explicitly point out how people can help (be blatently obvious here). Give people who are willing to develop more of a heads-up about what's around the bend. Maybe a monthly "this is the state of things". There's an entire slashcode-development listserv that is so very desperately underused.

    Maybe if Taco started perusing, and posting to that list, it would garner more of the positive support we'd all like to see for the project.

    And I mean information related to slashcode, not slashdot. Yes, they are obviously related, but they are not one in the same.

    Anyway, that's my suggestion....

To do two things at once is to do neither. -- Publilius Syrus