A while back I announced a project that
I had been working on called xTalk. It is an XPages Discussion Forum application
similar to the many forums you may find on community websites. The initial
version of the code and basically the core functionality was written in
about three to four days but since then I have been polishing it up, putting
in additional features and generally getting it ready for release when
IBM Lotus Domino 8.5.1 is also released, but I just wanted to give everybody
an update on how things are looking in the app.
The first important aspect of xTalk
is that there is no Notes Client interface. It is designed to be 100% xPages
driven. It has been announced that xPages in the Notes Client will be coming
in 8.5.1 and this is the reason I wanted to do everything in xPages. When
you are logged in as the application owner you will see lots of extra buttons
appear in different places. For example on the homepage you will see the
options for configuring the application and for creating new forums categories.
Clicking the configure button allows
the application owner to set all the options that they want to enable/disable.
When you do create new forum categories
and/or forum areas you can set the security for the area which will allow
you to create hidden forums that are only visible to certain people or
groups. To do this I have a nice name picker component and I’m making use
of Reader Fields to provide the security. The name picker still needs a
little css work but as you can see it consists of two lists and a ‘move’
button. Select the name on the left, click the button and it moves to the
list on the right. You can also double click names in the list, kinda like
the name picker in the notes client.
If you have been setup as the ‘Category
Owner’ you will have full rights to all the forums in that category, even
if you are not set as the owner of the forum area. These top down rights
will ensure that you can manage the forums areas under your control but
no other ones. As the Category Owner you can also Create, Edit and Delete
forum areas in your category. Another nice feature I have added is the
ability to re-order the forums as they appear in the category using the
up and down arrows you can see in the following screenshot. As mentioned
each forum area may have it’s own set of security controls and readers.
This will allow you to create hidden forum areas within a category. The
‘lock’ icon you see will also allow a owner to lock down the forum area
so no new topics or replies can be made.
Inside a forum area the forum area owner
or the category owner has the ability to lock individual posts or even
make posts into ‘sticky threads’ that will always appear at the top of
the list of topics in that forum area. Again everything is done within
the xPages interface.
One more feature I’ll be adding before
xTalk is released will be to allow the forum area owner define a list of
people who are allowed create new topics and who is allowed reply to topics.
This would be useful if you have a forum area for announcements where you
want to control who can make the announcements and if people can reply
to the announcements or not.
Another feature I have just finished
adding to xTalk is the ability to use BBCode to format your replies. This
special code is normally found in many other discussion forums and is considered
by some as a better option then allowing HTML to be entered directly as
you can somewhat control what is allowed.
The above screen shot also hints at
another feature that is just about finished and that is the ability to
quote replies. In flat forums like xTalk this is an important feature.
The forum area owner will also have
the ability to remove and edit individual posts within a topic for
moderation purposes. Authors will have the ability to edit their own posts
for a certain amount of time before they become permanently locked down.
I hope this little update has whetted
your appetite for what xTalk will be able to do for you when it is finally
released. I think I have all the basics covered and everything should be
completed in time for the 8.5.1 launch. The code will be released as an
Apache Public License V2 product and if openNTF keep moving in the right
direction it may even show up there as a project.