October 13, 2006

Reading a Long Thread in a Browser (and Looking for Beta Testers)

As mentioned in my previous post, there is a long message in non-technical, which provides an interesting test case for my newsgroup front-end on the web...

The question is simple: how do you read a long post from a newsgroup using a browser. Sticking with popular choices and/or my own solutions, I see that:

  • You can use Google Groups, you get 110+ pages of messages, quite hard to follow. The side tree in a frame is usable, but I don't like it a lot. Google Groups is great for searching, I don't like it for browsing.
  • You can use my old site, delphi.newswhat.com (you might not want to do this, though). You get a single huge page with the entire thread. Great for storing it. Takes a lot of time, my server will really suffer! There are alternative links on the site to get the thread with only the messages of the last day expanded, but this is far from great.
  • You can use my new site, dev.newswhat.com. Here you get the thread and can open individual messages in place, using AJAX. I think it needs some helpers (an open all mesasges link, an open all today messages link, and the like).

Now, I think my approach is quite nice. You might remember I already blogged about this, but development was stuck. Now I've fixed some of the underlying technology (so I have almost all the building blocks I need) and plan devoting some time to the site in the coming weeks, trying to finish it. I'm open to suggestions (feel free to post them here in the blog), and also looking for about ten beta testers willing to spend some of their time on the site (with an actual account I can provide them) and help me with their feedback. No compensation, sorry. To apply, send me email on gmail, at the marco.cantu account. First come, first served...



Reading a Long Thread in a Browser (and Looking for Beta Testers) 

Marco, my two cents about dev.newswhat.com
1) The senders font is a bit too large
2) It is a bit difficult to unterstand what thread a 
message belongs to - maybe a classic tree display 
would help
3) Instead of opening message inplace, maybe a 
classic tree/display pair would help, or messages 
get lost in a very long page
Comment by Kent Morwath on October 14, 16:48

Reading a Long Thread in a Browser (and Looking for Beta Testers) 

Marco, I think your way has some major points but when
you start to read a whole thread, the more messages
you open the more you hide the tree structure of the

Maybe a "close all messages" button could be useful,
still better open only a given number of messages at
one time... maybe.

The only other problem is that you are following a
thread day after day, you would like to see only the
messages posted after your last visit, or at least a
"order by date" feature.

Anyway, great works! Keeping ahead from google is not
a trivial task! ;)
Comment by Uberto on October 16, 12:25

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