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Release 0.7 -- the beginning of Conversations
jducoeur wrote in querki_project
Time for another big important release. It's not complete yet, but I think that Conversations are now usable enough to let people come in and start using them.

(It is one of those startling moments, a reminder of how things can come together. Tuesday morning, I was kind of depressed because I had been working on Conversations for weeks, had written an *enormous* amount of code, and hadn't yet posted a single comment. But yesterday, it all fell into place as the UI came together, and voila -- the key bits are all now working, apparently fairly well.)

"Conversations" are Querki's comment system, and are now enabled on all Things, including Spaces. I hope you'll find it intuitive enough that I don't need to explain it much, but a few details are worth noting:

First: I call it Conversations, not just "comments", for a reason. Some of you have heard me carry on about this for many years, but I find both Facebook-style flat commenting and LiveJournal-style infinite nesting to be unsatisfying techniques for productive discussion -- they're both too extreme, IMO. Querki's approach is modeled on that of CommYou: you can have any number of distinct Conversations on any given thing. Each Conversation is itself flat, but you will be able to break out a side-thread from any comment. The result is tree-structured, but less bushy than in LJ -- I expect most Conversations to be mostly flat. (The closest analogue currently out there is Google Docs' comment system.)

Second: the contents of a comment are QText. You can't use QL inside of comments for the time being -- I believe we'll add that eventually, but it's lowish-priority and (as noted in the previous post here) there are security issues that have to be resolved first. But you can use all of QText freely, so I believe that it should be generally intuitive.

Third: Comment security is currently just based on your permissions for the Thing itself. If you have Edit permission, you can comment; if not, not. If you have Read permission, you can read the comments; if not, not. This is clearly insufficient (we have a use case in process that clearly requires the ability to comment on Things you can't edit), so expect this to change in the near future.

Fourth: Conversations currently show on the Thing's page itself. This will change somewhat.

Fifth: this is brand-new code, including a whole new DB table for each Space. Expect bugs, and please tell me about them as you find them.

Conversations are now usable, but like I said, far from finished. Upcoming enhancements include:

-- We'll be adding distinct Who Can Comment and Who Can Read Comments permissions.

-- Nested threads will be added. (They're already in the data structures, but not yet in the UI, which is the hard part.) When you hover over a comment, you'll see a "Reply" button that will let you reply to that specific comment and start a new thread, instead of continuing the current one.

-- Conversations will move into a separate tab. Assuming I can get things to work the way I envision, it'll be a split-window affair, where you see the Thing itself in the top half, and the comments in the bottom half.

-- Notifications, so that you can receive alerts when comments are posted on Things you care about.

-- The ability to Delete specific comments.

-- The ability for the Space Owner to Archive entire Conversations, which will mark them as no longer relevant but still accessible.

Down the road there will be lots more enhancements, including:

-- The ability to perma-link to a specific comment.

-- QL in comments.

-- Moderation, so that folks who are not Members can submit comments. (And white-listing so that non-Members can be marked as legal commenters.)

-- The ability to tie a Conversation directly into specific content on the page.

-- Etc: see this page for the current list of planned User Stories. (And feel free to start Conversations there to discuss that list of Stories.)

I hope y'all find Conversations useful. Personally, I think it's one of the most important and interesting features of Querki, and one of the key reasons why I often call it "the first social database" -- I believe that being able to discuss any Thing right on its own page is going to be quite neat...


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