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Any Way to Change How Subforums Display on the Homepage?

Discussion in 'XenForo Pre-Sales Questions' started by imno007, May 30, 2013.

  1. imno007

    imno007 Active Member

    Just wondering if there's an option (one I didn't spot in the demo!) that will allow subforums to display the more "traditional" way, with their titles spelled out beneath their parent forums, or if the current drop-down node is the only way to do it? I've got a LOT of subforums, many more than probably 99% of other forums out there, and I'm a little worried that users will get aggravated having to bring up the current menu and and scroll their mouse pointer down a list of dozens of subforums looking for the right one to click each time they want to access that part of the forum. Not that it would be terribly difficult, I suppose, but people can be very opposed to change and this one has me concerned. I've spent a lot of time comparing Xenforo to IPB, for which I already own a license, and it hadn't occurred to me till now that something like this, unfortunately, might be a deciding factor in my choosing which one to go with. ;(

  2. Morgain

    Morgain Well-Known Member

    Two things might help.
    there's a good addon ToggleMe which makes any category or forum collapsible. That can make your forumlist a lot more manageable. If your main Cats and forum descriptions are done well that can be a compact solution.
    You can set the default view for first visit and after that user can choose and have their selection remembered.

    So for example you might set the Welcome section as Expanded on first visit (default ToggleMe)
    Then if I visit and open one that interests me it'll still be open when i return.

    Second there's a good template hack will show your subforums as a neat list, even double columns.
    Here's one of mine.

    Only problem is that this shows beautifully on the main forum homepage. \but if I click open that category I get an awfully long list of subs still. I'm waiting for someone to help on that.
    If you want to check this out search on subforums. I dont think it's in the RM
  3. imno007

    imno007 Active Member

    Thanks, Morgain, I appreciate you taking the time to make that detailed response. Unfortunately, I'm not sure that either of those solutions is ideal. The hack you used looks very good, but as you pointed out it has its drawbacks, and I imagine it would have to be reapplied every time you updated the software/skins. And the addon seems to be more for categories than forums/subforums. I don't know, I'll have to check it out again when I have time, but looking at the several images posted I didn't see what I was looking for in it. Too bad there's no live demo.

    Apparently most people are fine with this approach of listing the subforums, otherwise so many people wouldn't be using the software, but it seems very strange to me that the Xenforo folk would force it on people, giving them no other option. Feels like a decision predicated on the premise that sometimes you have to force people to adopt a better way of doing things, and eventually they'll learn to accept it, but unfortunately a lot of people aren't going to agree with their idea of "better." In my case, again, I'm just not sure it would be best, having as many subforums as I do. As much as I hate to say it, and I know I'll probably get some flak for it, the only possible way I'd be able to determine how much of problem - or not - Xenforo would be for me in this regard would be to install a nulled copy and test it out. Maybe it wouldn't be as bad as I'm suspecting.

    Thanks again!
  4. Shelley

    Shelley Well-Known Member

    CyberAPs subforum modification should do the trick for you and with 1.2 looming and the core having a tms I would imagine you wouldn't have to make any edits. If by chance you did the edits you make literally take a minute at most as the majority of code goes into EXTRA.CSS which is never overwritten during upgrades.

    It's probably worth shooting CyberAp a pm and asking but I'm sure the subforum manager can be use via the upcoming core TMS making it even easier on edits.
    Morgain likes this.
  5. imno007

    imno007 Active Member

    Thanks much, Shelley. I'm still a little "peeved" that Xenforo would force people to turn to outside solutions like this, for features that I absolutely believe are most basic and should be part of the core, but this looks like it would be very easy to implement and more what I was looking for than the other addon. I'll definitely be considering it. Thank you again.
  6. Morgain

    Morgain Well-Known Member

    The problem is that very soon after XF started it was subject to an attack by another company to try and put it out of business. As we all know aggression can be sorted but it takes a LOT of time an energy - in this case along drawn out court case. All fine now but in a way XF development is only about 1 year old.

    Secondly there is a strong policy against bloat. The default policy is to leave things to addons, not add to the core.
    Our addon community is tightly integrated with the core community, hosted right here, with knowledgeable mods about both. Addon support is historically good. So using an addon is not the same level of risk as elsewhere. XF is deliberately designed to work with a large variety of addons for max choice.
    Tracy Perry and ForestForTrees like this.
  7. Morgain

    Morgain Well-Known Member

    Thanks Shelley that's exactly what I used to get thelayout I picture above and imno, it applies to forums or categories.
  8. Morgain

    Morgain Well-Known Member

    There is one maybe two template edits the rest is EXTRA.css not affected by updates (thank you shelley for your usuall skilled work on this).

    On template edits XF shows you exactly which templates are edited. On update they are not trashed. They get held in a pending folder so you can decide what to do.
    Me I keep a copy of all my changed templates.
    Also I comment the specific changes, far as poss with a personal tag in the comment. Makes them easy to search on, locate and check.
    I never delete, only ever comment out.
    Plus I keep a site log, listing changes. most recent at top.
    Plus a glossary of useful snips.
  9. imno007

    imno007 Active Member

    Well, damn, Morgain, now you made me question it usefulness again. If that's what you used for your layout, then I expect I'm going to end up with the same problem you have, too many subforums displaying when clicking on a category. But of course the only way I'm going to know exactly how that will look on my own board is to install my own copy of Xenforo - and I'm not paying $140 to test it out, so that leaves the other option....

    I know all about the lawsuit. I was looking at Xenforo as an option more than a year ago, and it was after finding out the suit was over and that development had started again that I decided it might be a good time to jump on board the Xenforo bandwagon. And I hear what you say about bloat. While that's a good general guideline for them to use, buyers should NOT have to depend on third-party developers for basic, core features, because you can never tell when they'll stop developing, they're not very reliable (generally speaking). And I believe this should be one of those basic, core features. Of course this is only my opinion, and others will have a different opinion, but I've used at least a dozen different forum platforms over the last decade or so, and to date this is the first and only one I've encountered that forces you to display your subforums this way, giving you no other option. But heh, I've tried a few that didn't support subforums at all, so it could always be worse. And don't get me wrong, I think the way Xenforo subforums display now by default is actually quite attractive, even eloquent. I have no complaints about how it looks. My concern is..well, I've said it all above. And I realize that having all those subforums permanently on display could impact performance: the way they're implemented now is probably one of the reasons Xentoro comes off as faster than IPB and others, but I'm okay with a little performance loss if that's what it takes, just give me the option. ;)

    Thanks again.
  10. Morgain

    Morgain Well-Known Member

    First the main objection to addons and hacks, that they are unreliable, is far less of a problem here. I found IPB littered with dead addons, and VB not much better.
    Here the addon devs are mostly - say 80% reliable about ustaining support and updating.
    Of the 20% that collapse often because of overwork! at least some addons get taken over by someone else.
    So approx 15% failure rate.

    Making addons a central part of the community with support right here, with lots of community mutual aid, and addons/ hacks/ tutorials stored in the orderly Resource manager, really does make a difference. For example all the XF moderators make their own addons and share them. A powerfully positive emphasis on addons.
    Some are currently being taken over by XF 1.2 I get the impression which ones get taken over is very methodically worked out.
    I think the depth and number of your subforums makes you unusual. Unusual needs dont get adopted by the XF core. But as said the addon infrastructure here is far superior to elsewhere.

    I know it's a problem that opening a node gives the full long dreary list. Believe me I dont like it. That one I showed you is a vital staff forum.
    But the coding is not that different to apply it to the category_view or forum_view template. I'm jst not that clever to do it myself.
    Shelley might fix this, she's really good at this kind of stuff.
    I'll go back and see if I can get help again.

    By the way thanks for the dialogue. It makes no diff to me if you go XF or not - you'll decide the best for you. But I like good discussion on admin issues.
  11. imno007

    imno007 Active Member

    Heh, Morgaine, I enjoy the dialogue too. And I hear you about IPB, believe me, I don't really want to go with it over Xentoro. The main reason has nothing to do with feature-set or performance, but because of my user base, who are mainly older and like things simple. I'm currently using SMF for my forum and have been for most of the time I've been running it, since 2005. I switched briefly to IPB a couple years back and got a lot of grumbling for it. Actually, it was about half and half, some people were adjusting to it fine. But in the end it was my fellow admin who was a big deciding factor, she was doing a lot of the work and I switched back to SMF largely to keep her happy. But also IPB was missing some basic administrative features that I had gotten used to with SMF and wasn't thrilled with doing without, such as being able to mass move topics at once. But now my other admin is gone and I'm doing most of the work, so I can be a little more selfish now, and IPB has matured some, and 4.0 is on the horizon and looking very tempting. But still, after doing a lot of comparison between the two, Xentoro and IPB, I think most of my forum will be happier with the former's ease of use, and so that's what the main deciding factor was for me. At least that was the case until I stumbled on this issue. This is one of those big things that could absolutely make the users experience NOT as simple as what they're used to, so... Well, no sense belaboring the point, I'm sure you get it.

    And in fairness to IPB, one can argue that the whole question of which software, IPB or Xenforo, has the most dependable addon community is a bit of a moot point when you consider that IPB has a lot more core features - so you don't NEED as many addons. And I hear a lot about how much faster Xenforo is, but I'm not convinced of how much more better it would perform if you tagged on all the addons you'd need to give it even just two-third's of IPB's core features. Even the way Xentoro displays subforums likely gives it a performance edge, as I noted above, but that too comes at a cost for some of us. I'd rather have the option of taking the performance hit in trade for the convenience.

    And finally, yes, I might be in a minority when it comes to the number of subforums I have, but guess what? SMF, a free platform, was displaying them just the way I wanted and performing just fine - and it was doing that eight years ago. The main reason I want to switch from SMF is simply because, even with the best of themes, it just looks and feels old to me now and I want a change. Hell, we all need a bit of change now and then, right? But I tell you, so far as features and ease of use go, I continue to be surprised by how the paid solutions fail to stack up against it in some ways.
  12. Morgain

    Morgain Well-Known Member

    Glad you like the chat .. I found IPB horrific on the admin and design side but then I dont do standard.
    Ive seen discussions on speed and they say XF doesnt slow down for anything. Not my prob I do micro forums ;)
    Most of my users are older on my favourite install and they like XF.

    In the end I think it comes to what feels sweet for you.

    I just directly contacted the dev on that hack to see if he'll add it to the other templates. If I feel brave I might have ago.
  13. imno007

    imno007 Active Member

    Yeah, I wasn't thrilled about the IPB admin either, to be honest, it was a bit all over the place. But there's been a lot of improvements in that area since I last used it (3.0), which is another reason I was thinking of giving it another go. You can bookmark pages of the admin now, those features you use most, even have them appear on the homepage when you log in and click to go directly there, and you can move all the admin menus around, drag and drop, prioritize them however you want. So they've definitely been listening to feedback and making improvements, I'll give them that.

    Good luck with the addon - or to yourself, if you do decide to take it on. Hopefully someone will eventually take care of us. ;)
  14. imno007

    imno007 Active Member

    Just saw this is planned for the next update, so I'm a happy camper:

  15. Morgain

    Morgain Well-Known Member

    Yes but I checked with Mike (XF) and he just replied on that thread saying it was only going to display on the main forum list. I think that's what he meant anyway.
    But it should be only a small bit of css in EXTRA.css to mimic it on the category page.
  16. imno007

    imno007 Active Member

    Stop trying to bring me down! ;)

    Well, this is what he said:

    If I'm reading that right, it sounds to me like we'll have the option to have the subforums display in lieu of the drop-down menu, regardless of what category you're looking at. I hope that's what he meant! Even though I know said "Homepage" in the subject line, I really need this option everywhere, not just the main/homepage. I'll keep my fingers crossed.
    Morgain likes this.
  17. Morgain

    Morgain Well-Known Member

    Me too. My pessimism was because I asked clearly if it would display the same on a Cat page and he didnt say it would. YOU go ask him to be specific I don't like to ask again.

    It might work anywhere. I hope so. If not it's not a big addon, just css. Which I'm lousy at but I have good friends. Plus I think people will discover this flaw because 1.2 will make subforums more attractive to use so if 1.2 doesnt cover it, this'll get attention.
  18. Brogan

    Brogan XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    It's just the index (home) page as that's the only place the dropdown appears.
    Morgain likes this.
  19. imno007

    imno007 Active Member

    If I have a subforum on the homepage that itself has multiple subforums, then when I click that subforum from the homepage aren't I going to see its own subforums (second-tier child boards) displayed with the same drop-down menu? And at that point I will no longer be on the homepage. Ideally, what I'm wanting is to see my subforums by title rather than drop-down menu, regardless of how deeply nested they are or from what parent board I'm viewing them from. That's what we're talking about here - although I admit my unfamiliarity with the jargon particular to Xenforo might be confusing. ;)
  20. Shelley

    Shelley Well-Known Member

    Is this heading in the right direction in what your wanting to achieve for the level 2 listings for subforums? I doubt it is but thought i'd ask and show a preview (haven't finished with it yet).




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