Slice and Dice: bringing NodeBB back to Basics


  • GNU/Linux Admin

    Without hesitation, I'd say that NodeBB has evolved heavily over the past 7 years.

    The initial drive those first years was feature parity – bring features to NodeBB that other forums have, and that users expect. After all, how could we sell ourselves as a forum if we didn't have, say... user accounts... or password changing utilities?

    The benefit are plain to see – it's easy to see what works, and years (if not decades) of user testing has surfaced certain UX patterns that have stood the test of time. For example, the category/subcategory hierarchy, or the use of tags to link disparate items together under a common label, etc.

    Click here to see the full blog post



  • What I learned from this post:

    1. The bubbles at the bottom were supposed to be a task bar and plugins could integrate into it. Never seen anything other than composer and chat do that, so I didn't even consider that being a possibility...
    2. There was some "settings v3".

    That is to say, while I went into it thinking "I wonder if they will cut out something useful", but it turns out that it really is just cleaning up some rarely used or hard to maintain, even if kinda cool at least conceptually, functionality. So I have high hopes for lack of feature creep in 2.0 🙂


  • GNU/Linux Admin

    @oplik0 The taskbar doesn't much look like a taskbar in Persona, but in Vanilla, it is a little more "start bar"-like 😄

    We definitely didn't want to cut anything useful, unless we had a really good reason to do so... but yes, in short, that is a fairly succinct tl;dr for my blog post 😆



  • Thanks for sharing these insights and making nodeBB. It's a fantastic platform I use on a daily basis to exchange with our big community of users and volunteers. I understand the need to simplify things particularly when some feature you mention such as the chat modals end up being with so many troubles.

    The sounds are really useful particularly when multitasking which is often the case when chatting with someone. I'll miss them deeply.
    Any chance they can stay just for the chats incoming messages?
    If you would integrate with the system notifications, then we as users could simply enable sounds for push notifications on your system, couldn't we? 😀

    Taskbar is also something I'm using on daily basis. I'll miss it greatly. Any chance you keep it just when replying a topic and quickly need to hide it to go through the threads on a small screen? 😇

    From our side: feel free to remove best topics on profile page, it wasn't well received in our community.
    Same with suggested topics module, even though it's a great idea the content would show very old topics which is more harmful than helpful.


  • GNU/Linux Admin

    @greenmoon Appreciate the feedback! I should mention that the impetus for us cutting these features isn't to say that they're useless, or that we're giving up on them, but only that their usefulness in core was overestimated when initially added.

    For users like yourself and your community, you may continue to find benefit in these features like the taskbar and sounds... there's no reason they cannot still exist as a plugin.

    I'll consider moving sounds over to a plugin so they can continue to work 😄

    Re: taskbar – I still personally do see benefit in minimizing the composer (especially on mobile), in cases where I wish to read the thread some more. We'll likely come up with some sort of alternative UI for this. It might end up looking much like the taskbar, but it wouldn't be a separate subsystem, but somthing bespoke to the composer itself.

    The taskbar as an experiment as an extensible module wasn't worth it in hindsight, that is all 😬



  • @julian thanks a mil for your reply and these great input. 😊



  • I think if cutting these features allows for a refocus onto embedding GIFs without it being so difficult, improving the settings feature to allow for more authorization customization, and making the upvote feature easier, etc. then yes it's a great idea. Nodebb is a very modern forum but the chat and other features definitely feels like scope-creep.



  • Hmmm..... A few thoughts:

    • I never enable sounds and know few who do. Maybe ignorant of the feature? I personally don't want the interruptions when I am in the zone working on something else.

    • Multiple Composers: I will miss these as I find myself using them useful. Or will I? Hope you stick to your plan for replacement functionality.

    • Modal Chat: Surprisingly, I find myself using this from time to time as well, particularly when wearing admin/mod hat. But still not all that frequently. Nice feature that I will occasionally miss. I understand the need for maintainable software, so no worries.

    • Animated GIFS? WTF? Who/Why... This is the new millennia, after all, and has been for a couple decades now. Oh, ads? I wonder about APNG as a more modern replacement. I am not too graphics savvy. Whatever, I find such distracting unless used judicially, which is rare, and tweak my browser not to display them.

    • Please gimme native asciidoc support. I find Markdown gets in my way for anything beyond the trivial, whereas Asciidoc is just as easy but sports a lot more power if/when you need it. Why limit hobble your site authors/contributors?

    Well, there ya' go. My $0.02. I think you have gained some wisdom on this journey as the feature parity tick list moves to the back seat. Do what YOU do best and screw the rest. Observe, learn, maybe even borrow a bit? Yeah. But do not be bullied into some kind of meaningless competition that matters to few in the real.

    "Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Peace ✌


  • GNU/Linux Admin

    @gotwf for what it's worth, if you don't like Markdown you aren't tied to Markdown... You could always swap in an ASCIIdoc parser 😉



  • @julian Indubitably. Sure be nice to have it native in core though. 👍


  • GNU/Linux Admin

    NodeBB doesn't actually ship with any parsers in core. We bundle Markdown and it's enabled on all installs, but my original point was anyone can make an ASCIIdoc parser and replace Markdown, that's all 🙂



  • @julian Alrighty then. You know I am systems person, brain dead on the dev side and too old to learn any new tricks... 😜

    I've not even looked under the hood of NodeBB cuz it does what I need real well right out of the box, sans my Asciidoc quibble.

    But mainly, I hope you found my Ralph Waldo Emerson quote inspiring and apropos. Rock on, NodeBB! 🎸



  • I should clarify that by "core" I actually meant core supported modules/functionalities packaged and supported as part of the base release. Poor choice of wording on my part. I am happy a camper. This would be icing on the cake for me.


  • GNU/Linux Admin

    @gotwf It looks like AsciiDoc is something closer to a superset of Markdown, which can be more powerful in the right hands.

    I will put plainly that the reason why Markdown was chosen was due to its simplicity and ease of use. I considered it an adequate balance between that and its potential to be an expressive markup language.

    I will admit there are shortcomings, especially if you want to do some more esoteric formatting things like text alignment, colours, and so on, but that would be where AsciiDoc would shine, I think 😄

    Definitely worth supporting as the Markdown plugin itself is actually quite straightforward.



  • @julian Thanks for the consideration Julian. I elaborated in the Ascii Native thread but here's a couple links:

    Thanks again for being open minded enough to at least investigate this. I dont' write very complex documents. I have used both. For all but the most basic of usage, Markdown gets in my way. Asciidoc gets out of my way. Trial both for a week and weigh in w/your assessment. I am unable think of any one I know who as actually used both and prefers markdown.

    But hey, to reiterate, this would be icing on the cake for me. 🍰



  • Alright. Okay. I know what I said before. But there is one other thing. Drum roll, please.... 🥁

    The visitor and use graph on the Admin landing page is useful to me. Some nice presets that cover most everything I'd be interested in. But I do find myself oft times pining for an hourly X-Axis spanning more days, e.g. 72 hour axis scaled in one hour increments.

    Damn. This is a slimline the cruft and tech debt announcement and I've now added two feature requests. Mea culpa!

    Thanks and keep up the great work!


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