Making posting easier for power users

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Making posting easier for power users

Postby TerryE » Tue Jan 15, 2008 11:36 am

I have been discussing with Drew the whole issue of how we make posting a more efficient activity. What I ultimately want to do is a combination of a tutorial (or addition to Survival Guide), possibly some server side optimisations, and potentially some client side add-in so that we can make activity of posting as efficient as possible. This topic is just a strawman to discuss some of the issues with the community and get feedback to develop my only thinking.

What I want to do is to focus on the power posters, firstly because I'm biased as I fall in that category, and secondly the learning curve of using any efficiency aids in this area probably don't make it worthwhile to expose this to infrequent visitors. A lot of this is as much about identifying any annoyances associated with the user interaction during posting and overcoming them, as much as anything else.

An example here from me was the (perceived) lack of shortcut keys to accelerate editing. Personally when I have both my hands on the keyboard typing I hate having to switch one hand to the mouse and therefore prefer to use keyboard shortcuts (e.g. Ctl-B for bold, etc.). So let's look at the shortcuts that phbBB provides on the posting form (thanks to the web developer toolkit)
  • u — User Control Panel
  • l — Logout
  • b — Bold
  • i — Italic
  • q — Quote
  • c — Code
  • l — List
  • t — ListBullet
  • p — Image. Why this one is p is beyond me. Surely this would be far more usefully to Preview?
  • k — Save
  • (none) — Preview
  • s — Submit
  • h — Board Index
  • z — Go to page footer
  • t — Go to page top. This is ignored on this page since it is a duplicate of ListBullet.
Most of these are sensible with the exceptions of the control key for the image tag, which would be better g for graphic, leaving p for Preview. To be entirely honest I had never bothered finding out what the shortcut enabling sequence for Firefox was. Well it is Alt for MSIE and Alt+Shift for Firefox, so that Alt+Shift+S will submit your current text. (I personally feel that Firefox got it wrong here, in that if you do use keyboard shortcuts, then you are far more likely to use them in your forms than for Firefox navigation, so I would have swapped around the priority using Alt for document shortcuts and Alt+Shift for Firefox navigation shortcuts)
 Edit: See Firefox 2, Access-key and close tabs configuration to see how to do this. 


Another big pain in the arse is having to type stock phrases over and over again "Please read the Survival Guide for the forum. This give basic guidance on how to look for answers, and how to frame you questions to help us to help you. ", etc. which thanks to Hagar's suggestion, the Firefox Clippings extension addresses.

I think that my last big bitch is a farce that you need to go through to type a fully qualified URL into BBcode. For internal board references having smart tags [Topic=n] and [Post=n] would help but given that the clipboard supports rich text, it would be really nice to have some form of smart clipboard paste which had a minimum understands links, bold and italic emphasis and automatically converts these into account the BBcode compliant text through a shortcut key V say. (BTW, the quickest way that I have found to pick up the fully qualified link of a topic/post in format is to hit the Private Mail (PM) button which throws you into the mail posting form and the URL is the first line of the post text ; you can copy this, then hit the back-arrow key to go back to the post.)

So where is this going? My first thoughts were that I would need to write a Firefox extension to implement some of this. Having now looked at this, if we sort our a couple of the shortcut keys, and work out how to do some smart pasting — then document this in an easy to read format for posters, we will have made a good step forward in usability.

Comments?
 Edit: Fixed title poser power, though the former might be more appropriate. 
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Re: Making posting easier for poser users

Postby huw » Tue Jan 15, 2008 12:04 pm

TerryE wrote:...
  • ...
  • i — Italic
  • ...
  • p — Image. Why this one is p is beyond me. Surely this would be far more usefully to Preview?
  • ...
  • (none) — Preview
  • ...
Most of these are sensible with the exceptions of the control key for the image tag, which would be better g for graphic, leaving p for Preview.
...

p for picture probably, I expect because i for image was already used for italic. But g for graphic & p for preview makes sense.
I'll stand back though, becasuse I don't use keyboard shortcuts on web pages - I've swapped browsers & operating systems, not to mention the forums I use, too many times to learn any (in fact, they don't work correctly for me on this setup - XPSP2+IE6 - Alt+B applies bold tags, but after the selected text, not around it).
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Re: Making posting easier for poser users

Postby TerryE » Tue Jan 15, 2008 12:50 pm

Shame on you for using MSIE ;-)
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Re: Making posting easier for power users

Postby huw » Tue Jan 15, 2008 1:26 pm

No choice, locked down corporate desktop. They do use StarOffice.
I use Firefox at home.
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Re: Making posting easier for power users

Postby floris v » Tue Jan 15, 2008 2:11 pm

Good points, but hey, mind your language. :shock: Not that i mind it, but I didn't expect such frivolity here. 8-)

On topic: Cool, I didn't know you can turn on italics and stuff like that. But surely shift + alt + l only gives list, not logout? For the moment, I'm not interested in finding how to log out with a shortcut. :mrgreen: I never log out. Too much trouble.
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Re: Making posting easier for power users

Postby TerryE » Tue Jan 15, 2008 2:53 pm

I use Firefox and I've already modified my config to swap the use of Alt and Alt+Shift so that I can highlight etc. and then when I an done, I can do an ALT+S to post this — and all done without using the mouse :-)
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Re: Making posting easier for power users

Postby acknak » Tue Jan 15, 2008 5:13 pm

I guess I'm the odd "poser" who doesn't like to customize or tweak things. I'd like to say I have a good reason, but I think it's at least 50% laziness. Over the years, I've lost my taste for putting time into it because it tends to be fragile: I have to use a different systems that don't have the tweaks, or I lose them in an upgrade and have to re-configure it. Different applications use different shortcuts for the same function; etc, etc, etc. I come to feel that I'm spending hours making tweaks that save seconds.

Anyway, I certainly have no problem with it, I'm just not that personally interested in it.

For clippings, I just made myself an HTML table with the stock content, and a shortcut to it. It would be more convenient to just pick it from a menu, but I don't have to deal with an extension (which doesn't work in my browser anyway). My page will work in any browser :-P
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Re: Making posting easier for power users

Postby DrewJensen » Tue Jan 15, 2008 5:17 pm

I'm even lazier - I have started to use the BookMark feature in my User Control Panel for this - but then it only works for topics on this forum.
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Re: Making posting easier for power users

Postby TerryE » Tue Jan 15, 2008 8:50 pm

Well I think that you lot are a bunch of luddites (wasn't it a pain typing that) though Alt-i, Alt+b and Alt+u are a lot easier.

I can make the change that Bhikkhu Pesala suggested re the u and s keys as well as changing the keyboard shortcuts as long as none of the Volunteers objects.

Drew, I don't think that many people are aware of Bookmarks. I've not worked out how to use them in that once you've bookmarked a topic, how is it special and how do you access/use bookmarks other than getting a list to delete through the UCP.

And now I'll end with an Alt+S
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Re: Making posting easier for power users

Postby DrewJensen » Tue Jan 15, 2008 9:01 pm

I use bookmarks, I suppose, about the same way Acknak uses his html page.

When I want to past in a URL for a topic to reference I just open a nother tab in the browser, open my UCP and bookmark list - right click a topic copy / past url..

Now, it would be really cool to maybe have a shoutout box with JS to do that with in the editor page...maybe anyway, and just read your bookmarks from the DB, highlight it and paste in the bbcode formated URL...

There is actually a lot of ways to go with this and I would not dismiss your key stroke shortcuts at all - but think of this as an adjunct.
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Re: Making posting easier for power users

Postby acknak » Tue Jan 15, 2008 11:35 pm

Absolutely. I had no intention of implying "this isn't worth doing" or even that I would never use it. Just giving an alternate POV.

I can make the change that Bhikkhu Pesala suggested re the u and s keys as well as changing the keyboard shortcuts as long as none of the Volunteers objects.

The strike feature is really nice--I've often wanted it for making edits while keeping some clear record of the change.

And I agree with the suggestion to move it over with the other character attributes, but I will say that I have trouble seeing it s s s s.

Maybe it's just my browser and fonts? Here's what I get:
strikethru.png
strikethru.png (1.36 KiB) Viewed 5251 times


I don't know if there's any way to make it more clear. Maybe the tooltip will be sufficient.
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Re: Making posting easier for power users

Postby DrewJensen » Wed Jan 16, 2008 12:44 am

acknak wrote:Absolutely. I had no intention of implying "this isn't worth doing" or even that I would never use it. Just giving an alternate POV.

I can make the change that Bhikkhu Pesala suggested re the u and s keys as well as changing the keyboard shortcuts as long as none of the Volunteers objects.

The strike feature is really nice--I've often wanted it for making edits while keeping some clear record of the change.

And I agree with the suggestion to move it over with the other character attributes, but I will say that I have trouble seeing it s s s s.

Maybe it's just my browser and fonts? Here's what I get:
strikethru.png


I don't know if there's any way to make it more clear. Maybe the tooltip will be sufficient.


OK call me slow...I'm lost where did that ping image come into play here...Do you simply mean trying to strike through a single character? If that is it then I think we are stuck, that is the browser rendering a simple html tag....but I figure I must be missing something.

As for relocating the button to be on the left hand side ....jeees - give a guy an inch they want a foot...LOL..

That is not so easily done as the placement of added bbCodes is hard coded into the theme templates - which is not to say it can't be done, just that I would have to not use the built in bbCode editor and rather embed the function into the phpBB files directly...so if no one minds let's leave that be a the moment and I promise I won't forget...and if I do, someone will be kind enough to jog my memory I am sure. :P
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Re: Making posting easier for power users

Postby acknak » Wed Jan 16, 2008 1:20 am

Right, that's all it is. It's just very hard (for me at least) to see the strike-through with a single letter. I just thought maybe I'm the only one who can't see it, so I provided a picture.

If it's expedient to leave it on the right, then I suggest to leave it as strike, or strike.

Wait a sec, how about this: s. Uggh, phpBB strips the spaces. I just though adding a strikethrough space on each side would help.

The only other thing I really miss at this point is some way to indent text, since leading space is removed. Certainly not a big deal.

I thought there was a possibility for allowing HTML in posts at some point--is that still under consideration?
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Re: Making posting easier for power users

Postby huw » Wed Jan 16, 2008 11:30 am

I suggested strike appear on the button exactly like that (rather than just s) because that is consistent with the B, i, & u buttons, which have their bbcode tag on the button, with its effect applied to itself. The bbcode tag for strikethrough is strike, not just s.

The tooltip would be
Code: Select all   Expand viewCollapse view
Strikethrough text: [strike]text[/strike]


I like where the strike button has now been moved to, by the way.
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Re: Making posting easier for power users

Postby TerryE » Wed Jan 16, 2008 1:00 pm

acknak wrote:The only other thing I really miss at this point is some way to indent text, since leading space is removed. Certainly not a big deal.

For you my man:
    All things are possible
      and even double indent
You obviously missed my OOoForum post on an intro to BBcode tips and tricks. Just quote me to see how its done.
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Re: Making posting easier for power users

Postby acknak » Wed Jan 16, 2008 3:53 pm

TerryE wrote:... You obviously missed my OOoForum post on an intro to BBcode tips and tricks.


Indeed I did: thanks for the reminder.

So [​list]
    without a marker
      gives you just the
      indent?
      ...

Nice trick!

I'd prefer to just have my leading spaces, or a tab, but it'll do.

Many thanks!
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Re: Making posting easier for power users

Postby TerryE » Sun Jan 27, 2008 4:57 pm

I have now updated the Access keys so that G is for Img or Graphic and P is for Preview. I'll also update the BBcode Help to explain this
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Re: Making posting easier for power users

Postby DrewJensen » Sun Jan 27, 2008 5:48 pm

TerryE wrote:I have now updated the Access keys so that G is for Img or Graphic and P is for Preview. I'll also update the BBcode Help to explain this


Sorry can you tell again how this is supposed to work, because I get nothing with any combination of CTL-G CTL-P, ALT G, ALT P, CTRL ALT G, CRTL ALT P.

How am I to use these access keys then?
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Re: Making posting easier for power users

Postby TerryE » Sun Jan 27, 2008 7:56 pm

The Access Accelerator key is invoked by using the ALT key in MSIE. In Firefox, ALT is used for menu acceleration, by default so SHIFT-ALT is used for Content acceleration. However, you can easily swap these: if you go to about:config and set the filter to ui.key then you can swap the values for ui.key.chromeAccess and ui.key.contentAccess, that is to 5 and 4 respectively. Now ALT-B generates the Bold action and SHIFT-ALT-B the Bookmarks Menu. However note that ALT still sets focus to the Menu, so ALT then B also drops the Bookmarks menu.
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Re: Making posting easier for power users

Postby DrewJensen » Sun Jan 27, 2008 8:13 pm

thanks
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