Evaluating HB for Azimuth Forum

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tanzer 36 posts

Hi we are currently experimenting with HB, and considering switching over to it. I’m going to use this thread for any feedback, questions or feature requests from the group.

HB provides the essential functionality that we need, which includes Itex and Markdown. So does our current forum software, which is an installation of Vanilla that has been customized by Andrew Stacey to generate MathML and do other good things. We’re happy with the current software, but Andrew is moving on, and we are setting up a new server independently of the nLab. I won’t be able to support this modification of an old version of Vanilla. So we’re motivated to change to a supported package, and Andrew pointed us to the Heterotic Beast.

So the challenge will be to see if I can get the Azimuth group to accept the new package, which is fundamentally similar to what they have now, yet will inevitably differ in form from what they are quite comfortable with now.

I will be posting “feature requests” here that come from that perspective. Please take them with a grain of salt, and don’t do any work on our behalf that you wouldn’t want for yourself – especially because the group might not reach the consensus to make the change. In any case, these feature requests might give you something useful to think about.

tanzer 36 posts

Feature Request: ability to preview a post before submitting it.

tanzer 36 posts

Our current software supports a categorization scheme for posts. When you submit a post, you choose a category for it. The category shows in the summary line for the post. The categories can be used to filter the list of posts. I believe that Andrew uses this, for example, to view just the posts in the category Technical. Also, the visibility of posts can be controlled at the category level. For instance, the category Strategy can be made readable only to members.

To what extent are such mechanisms supported in HB? We could have separate forums, e.g., one for Technical, but is there a more fine-grained way to classify the posts?

tanzer 36 posts

edited 9 years ago

Also, I’m not evaluating now how important these features are. Once I have a clear picture of what HB can do now, and what it potentially could do without a lot of extra effort, then I’m hoping to adjust our Vanilla-based expectations to the HB.

Regarding categories, for example, we’re very used to it, and take it for granted, but I’m not convinced that it’s a really important feature. For example, although it’s nice to think that I can filter the posts by category, I have never actually done this in practice.

The other uses of categories I mentioned are still valid, though I could probably make a case for workarounds (a separate forum called Technical) or doing without them.

Previewing is just a nice-to-have.

Moreover, we can assess later, now I’m just trying to learn how it works and throw out ideas as they come up.


By the way, I meant to change the title of this thread from “Evaluating HB for Azimuth Forum” to “Discussion of HB for Azimuth Forum,” but when I clicked on the Edit link, it takes me right to the Login screen. However, this bug is not present in the instance of HB that we now have running.

distler 123 posts

Heterotic Beast supports the following hierarchy

Sites ⊃ Forums ⊃ Topics ⊃ Posts

Different Sites have different URLs (virtual hosts, in Apache parlance), and different user-lists. For instance, the LHC Forum is another Site, running under the same Heterotic Beast instance as this one.

The thing closest to Vanilla’s “categories” is Heterotic Beast’s “Forums”. I’m not sure we need both. But we can discuss it.