XF 2.2 Article thread and forum updates and improvements

article previews.jpg
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When we first announced support for article-type threads and forums, we noted that this was an initial foray and that revised styling was in the pipeline.

Today, we can show you some of those revisions and the options that come with them.

Revised article styling​

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Firstly, we have some updates for the main article thread page.

The author section at the bottom of the article has had some attention to visually separate it a little more from the article body, and in order to provide a bit more meat for search engines to bite into, the author's about text is rendered underneath their name too.

As articles can be very long, we also show the author's name in the attribution bar at the top of the article too, along with the number of comments that can be found below the article body.

Behind the scenes, we've also added schema.org metadata markup to help identify this content as an article and associated author, which will be more highly regarded as quality content by search engines than a standard forum thread.

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New listing layouts​

For 2.2.0 beta 1, article forums can list their contents either in standard thread listing format, or the new 'expanded' view.

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With 2.2.0 beta 2, these options have had a re-think.

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We have renamed the 'Full' option, which shows a standard thread listing to Standard. (We have also renamed any other instances where a thread listing is shown from full to standard, you'll find this mostly in widget options)

Expanded view​

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The existing Expanded option has been revised, and now pulls a modified version of the full article first-post template that removes the footer controls and adds the article title.

If you set the snippet length option here to 0, the entire first post (the article) will be rendered in the list, such that multiple full articles are visible on the listing page, much as you would expect to find on a blog.

Of course, you can choose a snippet length if your articles tend to be very long, or if you want people to view articles on their own canonical page along with their comments.


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Preview is our new, third display option for article listings.

It displays article blocks in a responsive grid, with the first article on the page occupying the full width of the page, the next few being half-width and the subsequent blocks occupying a quarter width. The grid is entirely CSS driven, and I'm sure we'll see all manner of different layouts in use with custom CSS before too long.

Preview mode is intended to be used with a snippet of the article text, and includes the ability to show a cover image, which currently fetches the first embedded image from the article, whether that be hot linked with an [IMG] tag, or directly attached. If no image can be found, the layout will gracefully omit the cover image.

The most important info about the article is all here, including the author's name and avatar, a link to the comments and indicators to show unread comments.

Inline moderation works in all article listings now.

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Similar schema.org metadata markup to that in full and expanded articles is also present in previews.

It's worth noting that the cover image only has to be the first embed in the article in order to be used as a cover, but it does not necessarily have to be visible. A sneaky trick to get a cover image that is separate from the content of the article is to set its width and height to 0, rendering it invisible in the actual article body.

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Article threads and forums are an important part of the feature set for XenForo 2.2, and one that we intend to continue to develop as time goes on. This is probably as far as we'll go for 2.2, but we hope that you'll be happy with what we've done so far.

I should also add some credit to The Brothers Brick, whose excellent RSS feed populates my article test data - Kier


Well-known member
A question on Article display style: if you select Preview or Expanded, the same option appears with the same title. This seems a little confusing as when you select Preview, you would not expect the option title to read: Expanded articles per page, but rather Preview articles per page. Is this intentional, or a bug?


XenForo developer
Staff member
We could just rename it to ‘articles per page’ as it disappears when a non-expanded option is selected


XenForo developer
Staff member
Credit where credit’s due, soon after beta 1 I started working on the ‘preview’ mode as a replacement for for the ‘expanded’ option, but then @Mike proposed that without a snippet limit, expanded mode would behave like a blog, et voila the three way option was born.


Well-known member
Preview mode is intended to be used with a snippet of the article text, and includes the ability to show a cover image, which currently fetches the first embedded image from the article
Please please please! Since the code now exists to fetch the first image in thread... please consider adding support for thread specific og:image and other related meta tags! This is a much requested feature on the support community. There is an add-on but it would be great to have this out of the box. Thanks.

(I had to remove the last bit of the quote because it was breaking the code somehow because of the img tag I believe)


Well-known member
After just reading this. Fantastic!

Then, could some or all of this in some way be used on other thread types?

I have been using previews on all my threads for years, it would be nice to not have to change templates for it to work with 2.2 and I think it helps people to get interested in reading threads, especially if the thread title is not informative enough.

It also would be nice if the first image in a thread could be shown in the thread list as an option on other thread types.


Well-known member
As articles can be very long, we also show the author's name in the attribution bar at the top of the article too, along with the number of comments that can be found below the article body.
I would restyle this slightly in my own forums. I am thinking I would increase the text size of the attribution bar at the top since I find it to be a bit lost. Just a few tweaks in, and this is what I came up with. Notice I removed the redundant attribution and date immediately below the article (thread) title, although that may not be possible forum-wide without some alterations, or a conditional to remove it only if the thread type is "article."


And I just wanted to add that this is really going to change how I look at forums in the future. I am already thinking of ways to use this on existing threads to help differentiate them more as content vs. discussions. 👍👍

Matthew S

Well-known member
Wow. This was totally unexpected! (y) (y)

Say, will I be able to keep my articles node as a list to keep consistency while navigating nodes, but have a different page I can use as a landing page that makes use of the expanded or preview modes? Perhaps, for example, the What's new page?