Friday, February 8, 2013

Civilized Discourse Construction Kit

Jeff Atwood:

Our amazingly talented team has been working on Discourse for almost a year now, and although like any open source software it’s never entirely done, we believe it is already a generation ahead of any other forum software we’ve used.

I greatly admire what WordPress did for the web; to say that we want to be the WordPress of forums is not a stretch at all. We’re also serious about this eventually being a viable open-source business, in the mold of WordPress.

Unlike Atwood’s previous project, Stack Overflow, Discourse is built using Ruby on Rails, Ember.js, and PostgreSQL.

Update (2013-02-11): Robin Ward explains more about the choice of Ember.js.

Update (2014-04-27): The Omni Group is using Discourse for their new forums, and I find it maddening. It seems to load posts only when you scroll down, and unload them when they scroll out of view. So as I scroll I am constantly seeing content load, even minutes after viewing the thread. And since the posts that are out of view are unloaded, the browser’s in-page find feature doesn’t work. It’s also annoying how the URL in the browser’s location bar changes as I scroll, and even without scrolling after I go to a supposed permalink.

Update (2014-05-21): Omni is switching all their forums to Discourse. The previous forum software was some of the best I’d seen. I find the new forums almost unusable. Searching within a page doesn’t work. Neither does saving as a Web archive or PDF. I can’t even use Select All and the Copy command to copy the text to the clipboard. The URL in the local bar changes as I scroll around, and even when I click on a permalink. The scroll thumb is no longer accurate. It feels like my Web browser is broken, but the same problems occur in current versions of Safari, Chrome, and Firefox. Yes, Discourse looks slick, but I wouldn’t choose it over any of the ancient PHP-based forum packages it was meant to replace. It’s shocking considering how good of a Web citizen Stack Overflow is.

2 Comments RSS · Twitter

Not really about his software, but I'd read his post, and was struck by this:

"Forums are the dark matter of the web, the B-movies of the Internet. But they matter. To this day I regularly get excellent search results on forum pages for stuff I'm interested in. Rarely a day goes by that I don't end up on some forum, somewhere, looking for some obscure bit of information. And more often than not, I find it there."

Very true, and not remarked upon widely.

[…] loved the idea of Discourse, but I remain unimpressed with it so far. In my view, the current design is user-hostile, to the point where I avoid forums […]

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