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Alternating colors in forum view RRS feed

  • Question

  • In the primary forum view, the threads are colored alternately light grey and white. But white is the same color as the page background, which creates a "asymmetry" between the odd and even posts. This is particularly noticeable when a thread is previewed: the odd threads are delineated by a grey border, while the even ones have no such border, and just become part of the page.

    A very light blue for the even threads perhaps?



    David Wilkinson | Visual C++ MVP
    Friday, June 20, 2008 6:16 PM

All replies

  • We're playing around with removing the alternating grey/white in the thread lists and tweaking the look of the preview, i'll try to post some mock up's to get some feedback. 
    Sam Jarawan Social Platform Forums - Senior Development Lead
    Saturday, June 21, 2008 5:44 AM
  • Great to hear you guys are doing that.

    My suggestion is perhaps to have a less-contrasting alternating color, to make it more subtle.
    Saturday, June 21, 2008 10:32 AM
  • scorpion:

    Subtle, yes. Subtle is good.

    The current color scheme is not subtle (in general I mean, not the alternating thing). I much preferred the more muted general appearance of the old forums.



    David Wilkinson | Visual C++ MVP
    Saturday, June 21, 2008 12:26 PM
  • Here's a screen shot of some experimentation. Standard disclaimers apply :)


    Rob J, Forums Dev
    Saturday, June 21, 2008 1:40 PM
  • Ah, I think that's already on its way to looking a lot better. A lot easier on the eyes, IMO.
    Sunday, June 22, 2008 1:12 AM
  • This screen shot looks a lot better. It is much better with dark blue text as the old forums. However, it lacks a separator between the various posts like the just noticeable lines in the old forums like the VB forum.

    I think that the biggest mistake about the colors in the new forums is much too much contrast - agressive blue on dark gray background. The separation between the various posts should just be noticeable - not more.


    Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.
    Sunday, June 22, 2008 7:40 AM
  • Rob:

    Thanks for the screen shot.

    I think I like it better, but tend to agree with Carsten that there should be some kind of separator between the posts. And I still really prefer the more muted look of the old forums.


    David Wilkinson | Visual C++ MVP
    Sunday, June 22, 2008 11:43 AM
  • Carsten/David
    When you ask for a separator line between posts, do you mean between the threads?

    Rob's image shows a bunch of threads then a single thread opened in preview mode where you can see the individual "posts" of that thread.  I'm suspecting you mean threads, since the posts do have a line breaking each one, is that correct?


    Sam Jarawan Social Platform Forums - Senior Development Lead
    Monday, June 23, 2008 3:47 PM
  • Hi Sam:

    Yes, I meant between the threads. Sorry.


    David Wilkinson | Visual C++ MVP
    Monday, June 23, 2008 4:43 PM
  • What do you think of the look of the thread preview?
    It use to have a full border box around it.


    Sam Jarawan Social Platform Forums - Senior Development Lead
    Monday, June 23, 2008 5:22 PM
  • Sam:

    Well I might prefer a border. In fact I was happy with the "odd" entries in the current display. It was the "even" entries with no border that did not seem right to me.

    David Wilkinson | Visual C++ MVP
    Monday, June 23, 2008 5:53 PM
  • davewilk said:

    Rob:

    Thanks for the screen shot.

    I think I like it better, but tend to agree with Carsten that there should be some kind of separator between the posts. And I still really prefer the more muted look of the old forums.



    I'll chime in and agree that having some sort of separator between the threads (like the alternating colors, but more muted) is much preferable than no difference, as the screen shot showed.
    Monday, June 23, 2008 11:24 PM
  • Just trying to get some insight here, Is the desire for a separator an attempt to be able to track the Replies and Views? The screenshot above is taking cues from Live Search, Google, Digg that display lists of items and for the most part use whitespace and ui elements to differentiate.

    I'll try to post an updated shot tomorrow, I softened the blue on the anchors and tightened up the spacing between the icons on the left. I also toyed with a mousover bgcolor for a thread.

    Rob J, Forums Dev
    Tuesday, June 24, 2008 5:00 AM
  • The alternating color in the list view is too dark.
    Tuesday, June 24, 2008 7:05 AM
  • I think that a thread separation simply makes it more easy for the brain to separate the various threads, and when it does, it just feels more pleasant for the eyes.

    I have never liked the alternating "pedestrian crossing" way of doing thread separation, but it is of course easier just to change the background color than to draw a line or some graphics ;-)

    The expanded thread in the screen dump looks very nice indeed. The colors are dimmed down to a very pleasant level. However, this very nice look does not fit with the way threads are shown. I know that it is a de facto standard that blue, underlined text is something you can click on, but it is not very beautiful and therefore not used on most websites. If you really want to make something nice, skip this "standard". A forum doesn't need it because it is quite obvious where to click if you want to reply. Just separate the author of the thread and the subject, that is, the two clicking possibilities.

    Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.
    Tuesday, June 24, 2008 7:19 AM
  • Here's the latest screenshot. Key changes: softened the blue on links, mouseover causes light grey background of thread and bolding of associated stats, "created by/on" moved under title and indented, decreased whitespace of icons on left.

    Img is clickable for better viewing.


    Rob J, Forums Dev
    Tuesday, June 24, 2008 10:56 PM
  • I think that looks a lot better.

    (The source-code font is too small though. And those zebra stripes are a bit annoying when looking at many lines of code.)
    • Edited by scorpion007 Wednesday, June 25, 2008 1:26 AM note
    Wednesday, June 25, 2008 1:22 AM
  • I also like it better, but I still feel that you have four different graphical looks in the same forum.

    1) The thread overview with the blue colors.

    2) The expanded thread with black text and a different color palette in the lines and the headline.

    3) The way the various posts look when you reply, that is, surrounded with a black line with rounded corners, which I think is very good.

    4) The reply box with the dark gray color scheme.

    It is like HTML. The language is build on <> brackets, but when they added CSS, a completely different syntax with {} brackets was introduced, which I feel do not belong to HTML.

    A good graphical design is based on an common idea, which apply to all pages.


    Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.
    Wednesday, June 25, 2008 3:53 PM
  • Check out the new live changes, what do you think?
    Sam Jarawan Social Platform Forums - Senior Development Lead
    Monday, June 30, 2008 8:28 PM
  • I think it looks a lot better.

    The only minor thing is that the on-hover background color change is a tad laggy, but it's not too big a deal. I much prefer the look now over the previous.

    Good job
    Tuesday, July 1, 2008 1:10 AM
  • Hmm.. after some use, I'd say that the mouse-over background color change isn't necessary, and is a bit distracting.
    Tuesday, July 1, 2008 5:49 AM
  • scorpion007 said:

    Hmm.. after some use, I'd say that the mouse-over background color change isn't necessary, and is a bit distracting.



    Well the mouse over color change helps in seeing the views and replies numbers at right.

    Though it would be nicer if the highlight color didn't blink when the page loads. The page loads repeatedly maybe once in a 15 seconds and the highlight color blinks then.
    • Edited by Silvercode Tuesday, July 1, 2008 9:26 AM Added antiblink
    Tuesday, July 1, 2008 9:17 AM
  • The flickering of the gray background while scrolling a page in FireFox is awful.  And a bit dangerous I reckon for people that are prone to epileptic seizures.
    Hans Passant.
    Tuesday, July 1, 2008 1:42 PM
  • Sorry, but I don't like the new layout.

    The blue is too light, there is still no visible division between threads like the old forum, but worst of all - the attempt to make it interactive is so slow that it just gets extremely irritating. The mouseover function may take up to 2-3 seconds before the right thread is highlighted and even after it is, the hand cursor keeps flickering for a few seconds. Either such functions shall have an immediate response or they are just extremely irritating. Why not use CSS to do it?

    Inefficient programming methods have killed Vista and created a demand for downgrade to XP. I fell the same demand for downgrade to the old forum although the new one has some excellent enhancements like the possibility to see the entier thread you are replying to.

    Besides, it is still very irritating that you cannot just add the forum to the trusted sites and then set the internet safety to high in IE. Every time you wants to visit the forum, you have to reduce the internet safety. I have reported this problem previously, but still nothing has been done. Why not skip this useless "Browse by tag" box and use the space for a list of sites you have to add to the trusted ones to make it work?

    Read my signature!




    Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.
    Tuesday, July 1, 2008 5:39 PM
  • To consolidate feedback around it, I've posted a new screenshot to this thread. I've made updates based on feedback from various threads/posts. Hover over will now only bold the stats, no background change. Also Added a light horizontal line between threads. Along with some other rearrangement and consolidation to make room for some of the new stuff. Let us know what you think.
    Rob J, Forums Dev
    Wednesday, July 2, 2008 12:39 AM
  • I don't get the indenting.  Was that intentional?  How can those other posts not be replies?  Watch out for threads running 5 pages long.
    Hans Passant.
    Wednesday, July 2, 2008 1:20 AM
  • Yep, I'm not sure about the indenting thing either.

    Though the rest of it I like very much.
    Wednesday, July 2, 2008 1:30 AM
  • If you mean what's there on thread listings now (instead of what was there before the weekend), I absolutely despise it. It is very difficult to read posts now. :-(

    I think a couple others are with me on this

    Take a chance. Prepare to be surprised.
    Wednesday, July 2, 2008 2:01 AM
  • Lastest changes are improvements. Keep up the good evolution...
    You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.
    Wednesday, July 2, 2008 2:43 AM
  • Thanks, Rob, I think that looks better. (no background change and line between the threads).

    To those who don't like the indenting: Do you mean that showing threading is not important, or that it is implemented badly (or wrongly)? For me, lack of threading is the major high-level feature missing in the forums compared to NNTP (I don't care so much about offline).

    To those who do not like the light blue: I'm not sure I do either but it is much better than the original bright blue, IMHO. Maybe something in between?


    David Wilkinson | Visual C++ MVP
    Wednesday, July 2, 2008 2:53 AM
  • I guess I just prefer conventional "flat" listings. It makes things simpler to read for me. I'm not a fan of a threaded view with each reply indented...

    The other problem with 'threaded' systems is when you want to reply to more than 1 person. The idea behind the system is that you reply to only 1 person at a time, which breaks when you want to address 2 or more people. Who's post should you reply to? The flat system doesn't deal with this. You just lay your post out however you like, without worrying about a hierarchy.
    • Edited by scorpion007 Wednesday, July 2, 2008 3:01 AM ....
    Wednesday, July 2, 2008 2:59 AM
  • scorpion:

    Well, this "reply to multiple people" issue does not seem a big problem in NNTP. When necessary, I just address each poster by name.

    But normally, I am just replying to one person (and if I want to reply to two or more people, I reply to them separately).


    David Wilkinson | Visual C++ MVP
    Wednesday, July 2, 2008 3:47 AM
  • Indenting was absolutely intentional for that screenshot as it was showing "Threaded View". That said, clicking the button labeled Threaded View would toggle to Flat/List View so you'll have a choice as to which one you prefer. (And yes, we actually will cookie that preference :))

    For threaded view, we'll stop trying to indent any further after a depth 5 which seemed like a reasonable compromise.

    I can post a flat/list view version tomorrow if anyone would like to see that? There are only minor differences between the two.
    Rob J, Forums Dev
    Wednesday, July 2, 2008 3:55 AM
  • Ah, robjoh, as long as the original list view is staying, I'm happy with any optional features you add.

    Sure, feel free to post any screenshots, I won't mind looking at them :)
    Wednesday, July 2, 2008 4:28 AM
  • scorpion007 said:

    Ah, robjoh, as long as the original list view is staying, I'm happy with any optional features you add.

    Sure, feel free to post any screenshots, I won't mind looking at them :)


    Oh ya it's staying, but the hierarchical view is very important as well.  We have sets of users who have said they won't user our forums until we have it.  So Rob's been working on prototyping that in our preview view only for now.  By default you'll have the flat list so you shouldn't worry at all.  We've modelled it after digg, so go check out their comments on digg links and try them out.   We'll have this live sometime next week to play with it here.
    Sam Jarawan Social Platform Forums - Senior Development Lead
    Wednesday, July 2, 2008 7:33 AM
  • robjoh

    The new suggestion you showed in the other thread http://forums.msdn.microsoft.com/en-US/suggest/thread/5ac48ebf-e191-43c7-8b69-117dff5a59d3 is much better and I presume that you now make the highlight by means of CSS (like the old forum) so that you get an immediate response instead of that awful flickering.

    As a Dane, I have the chance to evaluate the forum in the morning when the Americans sleeps and the load is rather limited. The forum you have just uploaded (yesterday) is painfully slow compared the previous version. I guess it becomes completely useless when the load rises.

    Skip all this automatic updates of top answerers etc. and make something simple and efficient. It just steals your view, when you notice something to the right, which suddenly change (the top answerers).

    PS. Why have you stolen all the medals of nobugz :-) What has he done?

    Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.
    Wednesday, July 2, 2008 7:53 AM
  • Carsten:

    i don't find the new version particularly sluggish. In fact with a broadband connection, I find the forums generally quite snappy.

    I absolutely agree with you about the Top Answerers. I would like to replace the whole thing with some simple guidelines about using the forums (marking as answer, voting...). Nobody reads the FAQ. I think your sig says it all. The current forums are too full of features that were not thought out thoroughly, and that do not add anything to the basic actions of posting and replying  (and giving credit, if we must have that).

    If people are really interested in who the top answerers are, they can look at Browse Users. This page could be greatly enhanced to be able to display top answerers by forum, by category, by time period, etc.

    Nobugz must have done something very bad in order to lose all his medals :-).



    David Wilkinson | Visual C++ MVP
    Wednesday, July 2, 2008 12:12 PM
  • davewilk said:

    ...

    Nobugz must have done something very bad in order to lose all his medals :-).



    David Wilkinson | Visual C++ MVP



    You guys didn't hear what Nobugz did?  He gave us some bad feedback on our forums system, so be careful
    Just kidding of course.

    Actually we have a nasty little bug with our points system and he's not the only one affected, but we have a fix coming in our next release.  Currently we add/subtract points, but our fix will have us always recalculate your real points each time a change is made, thus no mistakes will occur due to bad coding in our middle tier.

    Carsten Kanstrup said:

    robjoh

    As a Dane, I have the chance to evaluate the forum in the morning when the Americans sleeps and the load is rather limited. The forum you have just uploaded (yesterday) is painfully slow compared the previous version. I guess it becomes completely useless when the load rises.
     
    Skip all this automatic updates of top answerers etc. and make something simple and efficient. It just steals your view, when you notice something to the right, which suddenly change (the top answerers).


    Carsten, our forums actually hits a good load while us American (and Canadians , Happy Belated Canada day to any Canadian's out there, which I am one of them) sleep, but that depends what time you're hitting it.

    I am surprised you're seeing such performance issues and I assure you perf  is our top priority and what we'll be focussing on next.  In fact after our next release you probably won't see many releases for the next couple of months except for high priority fixes and minor tweaks because we will be focussing on partitiioning our database for scale and working on further performance tweaks.  I hope you guys understand and would benefit from the performance gains.  We're going to migrating more and more forums over from the old system and want to ensure we can handle the new data and user load.

    thanks again!
    Sam Jarawan Social Platform Forums - Senior Development Lead
    Wednesday, July 2, 2008 4:15 PM
  • I am using a 4 Mbit ADSL connection, but the forum is still painfully slow compared to the one from last month.

    Maybe it is my old PC, which is not fast enough to handle the huge amount of script, but as I wrote: It is like Vista. The PC, which can run Vista fluid, is not invented yet, and you are about to do the same with this forum. What have you done since last month?

    EDIT

    I just discovered that the medals are now slowly blending in. Remove all that nonsense and give us a fast, efficient forum. The latest update is so painfully slow that it is no longer a pleasure to visit the forum.

    The old forum like the VB forum looked nice, but was rather slow and buggy.

    The new one looked bad, but was fast.

    The latest update looks bad, and is so slow that it is a pain to work with - much slower than the original forum (VB forum).


    Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.
    Wednesday, July 2, 2008 8:48 PM
  • Ok. I've posted the screenshot for Flat View to the other thread. Check it out, there's a bonus hint at another forthcoming feature if you look close enough ;)
    Rob J, Forums Dev
    Thursday, July 3, 2008 8:42 PM
  • Looks pretty clean.  It's narrow, I assume its just a side-effect of the screen-shot. 

    Just some nitpicks:
    - Are you waiting for the Threaded/Listview icons?
    - Does right-clicking Reply let me open the thread in a tab?
    - Not sure if wrapping the thread title is useful
    - Do you prompt on "Mark All Read"?
    - >> more commonly means "fast forward".  I expected to see 11..20

    One more plug for my favorite major improvement: allow me to see in an instant which threads have posts that I haven't seen yet without using the Unread filter.  The red/gray icons really worked for me at the old forum.  You now have the background color to play with, gray background = Read is a logical choice.  Unread + automatic refresh is a combination that trips me up over and over again.

    Thanks.



    Hans Passant.
    Thursday, July 3, 2008 9:39 PM
  • That revised list view looks very nice.
    Friday, July 4, 2008 12:16 AM
  • Looks great.

    Waiting to see the what the "List View" looks like.

    Hope the "Unread" filter means what it implies. And I'm sure that the "Mark all Read" will make folks hoppy.

    I'm happy to see the filter by 'Users' gone -it just didn't make much sense...
    You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.
    Friday, July 4, 2008 12:50 AM
  • Arnie
    What do you mean "Unread" filter means what it implies, it's the same filter we have now, we haven't changed anything?

    Users filter also isn't gone, it doesn't exist on the threads list page only the thread page, sorry.

    For the list view just hit the link Rob posted above to go to his latest screen shot it has the list view.
    Sam Jarawan Social Platform Forums - Senior Development Lead
    Friday, July 4, 2008 4:07 AM
  • Anyone notice our new updates that went live a few minutes ago to the threads list?
    We've also added "Mark All As Read" and Hierarchy view in preview!

    Sam Jarawan Social Platform Forums - Senior Development Lead
    Thursday, July 10, 2008 6:51 PM
  • It is getting better to look and and work with.

    took a few seconds to 'find' the Hierarchy view -though I didn't see any different visual effect. (But I'll keep testing...)

    Now if only something could magically happen about the 'speed'...


    You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.
    Thursday, July 10, 2008 6:58 PM
  • OK, now it looks much better. Must have needed time for replcation and server refresh.

    Now to get the Hierarchy view in the 'view thread' mode as well as 'preview' mode.
    You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.
    Thursday, July 10, 2008 7:07 PM
  • Aand I do like (VERY MUCH) that I can reply in 'Preview' mode -with the treaded view!
    You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.
    Thursday, July 10, 2008 7:08 PM
  • I feel that with all that searing criticism of the new forum format MSFT has been moving in the right direction and that direction is to move back to the old format. You've done a good job but still have a way to go:)
    AlexB
    Thursday, July 10, 2008 7:10 PM
  • I don't see "Mark all read" in My Threads.  That's where I need it (just once).

    Hans Passant.
    Thursday, July 10, 2008 7:27 PM
  • Hans:

    Yes, "Mark all Read" is missing after a Search also. This is like what happened to the Preview Reply button before (this is fixed now).


    David Wilkinson | Visual C++ MVP
    Thursday, July 10, 2008 9:24 PM
  • nobugz said:

    I don't see "Mark all read" in My Threads.  That's where I need it (just once).


    Hans Passant.



    This is currently only wired in when in the context of a forum.
    Sam Jarawan Social Platform Forums - Senior Development Lead
    Thursday, July 10, 2008 9:26 PM
  • A new catch-22: turn on Unread filter, open a thread preview, click List View.  Poof, thread gone.
    Hans Passant.
    Thursday, July 10, 2008 11:18 PM
  • Hrmm... oops. That is an interesting connudrum. I'm sure Rob'll be by to chime in on this one...
    Matt Fraser, STO Forums Software Developer
    Thursday, July 10, 2008 11:55 PM