The version Beta 2 of WoltLab Suite is already on the horizon, and while we round up the finishing touches, it is time to present yet another component of the upcoming release. This is the second thread in the series of five threads on the biggest changes, please feel free to read the first part if you’ve missed it: Contact Form, Improved Style Editor and More.
The visibility of forum sections and their content is controlled using user- and group-permissions, restricting access to a selected groups of users, such as staff-only forums. Naturally, this means that an authorized user may also read threads created by other users in these forums, because permissions only recognize individual forums, not threads.
Private forums are a new feature that can be enabled per forum, where threads are visible to the thread starter only. Users are not only unable to access threads created by others, but also won’t even see these threads in order to prevent the leakage of sensitive data, such as the thread subject.
(The icon of the private forum in the screenshot above has been altered, please see the section on custom forum icons to learn more.)
This feature enables you to create encapsulated spaces in your forum that offer the same feature as regular threads or conversations, and therefore qualify for sections that have a higher demand for privacy, for example an account help desk.
Notifications, new post counters and the last reply column work as expected, and will only include threads that are visible to the user. Private forums are always inaccessible for guests and search engines, they’re also removed from all forum listings for visitors.
Changes to threads and posts are added to a log that is accessible to moderators and administrators, providing information on changes to the thread subject or who has approved a post. However, this information is limited to staff members and remained unavailable to regular users, leading to confusion on what appears to be sudden changes.
WoltLab Suite 3.1 introduces a new option to expose this log data in a user-friendly way, embedded into the chronological order of the posts. Not only does it create a better level of transparency, it can also help to explain changes in the flow of the thread, such as adjustments to the labels that lead the discussion in a whole new direction.
Each modification entry can be hidden from the public by clicking on the close icon in the top right corner of each item. Removing an entry from view does not affect its visibility in the thread modification log.
Utilizing our versatile notification system, users may opt-in to receive notifications for moderator actions on both their posts and threads, effectively keeping them in the loop when something happens that might need their attention or is otherwise of interest to them.
This is an optional feature that can be turned off at any time. Additionally, a less verbose mode is available that will hide the moderator’s name, displaying only what was changed. The full list of moderator actions in the thread log is unaffected by these settings, they only control how much is visible to regular users.
Custom Forum Icons
Icons provide visual aid to the viewer and guide them through your site with ease, making their stay more pleasant by reducing the time they need to navigate to the content they want to see. In a default setup, the forums show the same icon for every forum, with the exception to different icons based on their state, such as being closed or containing new posts.
(The icon for external links is not displayed in the screenshot above.)
You can now customize the displayed icon for each forum individually, changing the icon used to represent each state, and optionally applying a color of your choice. The screenshot above shows the configuration options for regular forums only, external links use a dedicated icon that can also be customized.
Icons will use the default color as defined by the style, but you can override the value for each icon by ticking the checkbox to use a custom color. This allows you to toggle the color off and on again without losing your selected color value.
The icon edit button brings up another dialog that offers you the full list of all available icons in the FontAwesome icon-font, including a text input that filters the list as you type.
Improved Thread Filter
The thread list offered the ability to both sort and filter thread based on different criteria, but the UI has always been split (and somewhat duplicated) for historic reasons. We’ve tried out a couple of different approaches, before finally setting on a solution that provides a consistent interface for desktop and mobile users alike.
The screenshot shows a thread list that is currently filtered for threads with the label “In Progress” that are read and that are not older than 30 days.
Clicking on the sort field will toggle a drop-down that offers a list of fields valid for sorting, the sort order is controlled via the sort icon to the left of it. Clicking it will toggle between “Ascending” and “Descending”.
The filter options that were previously located at the top of the right sidebar are now moved into a dialog window that opens via the “Filter” button. The sort fields and the available filters can be extended through plugins.