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I am irritated.

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Washu

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I am irritated with the GameDev.net journal system. I am posting my thoughts here because I want your opinions, especially if you are a GDNet+ member (or other Mod)

A few points go for it:


  • Exposure: By having a journal on GDNet you inheritly get more exposure than if it was, for instance, on your own website, etc.

  • Audience: Those who visit GDNet tend to have a bit higher of a technical background than on most of the other popular blogging spots, as such the audience is more likely to understand your message.

  • Unification of Interests: It is in your interest to unify both your source of information (i.e. the articles and forums), and your method of communicating back your results. This can be done in many ways, but a developers journal is a great way to keep track of progress along with updating others, while remaining on topic (and not poluting other areas with OT but pertinant information).

The major annoyances:


  • Control: This is my biggest beef with it. I have no real control over the formatting of my posts, often times I have to edit a post several times before publishing it, just because I don't have the control to exactly specify how it should look.

  • HTML: You have no ability to use HTML in your journals. "But Washu, I can see you using it right now!" Yes, I'm using what VERY limited abilities you do have. You can't use tables, you can't use divs, you can't use spans. You can use bold tags, teletype tags, italics, lists, and a few other minor tags, along with the GDNet ones. For most people this would be enough, but we are technical people, as such our requirements are often far from the norm.

  • Code Highlighting: Ugh. You know, I typically like my code highlighted in a specific way. For instance, I like my numeric literals and string literals colored differently. I like my keywords in blue, my preprocessor directives in italic, and many other little things like that. Without the ability to use HTML, I have to rely on the GDNet code formatter, which...from my crude observations of it, appears to just be a regex that misses keywords, and sometimes highlights things that shouldn't be. Not only that, but why the hell is my C# code highlighted like that abomination Java (no offense intended to you poor bastids who have to use Java, but this is my journal.)!



Now, as you can see, my primary beef with the journal system is functionality wise. But when that is the primary means that you use to control how your information will be presented, and hence conceptualized, to your audience it becomes a major annoyance.
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okay, so my thoughts...

Before I get started, I'll say that I'm pretty happy overall. Some things could be improved or added, but for the most part it suits me fine.

As a slight extension of #3 - I made a conscious decision a while back to make GDNet my home. My previous website proved to be a bit of a timesink with just keeping it ticking over (lots of moving host-to-host etc..). I technically have some other webspace but I don't use it - it's nice and convenient for me to keep everything here.

Admittedly, I haven't checked to see if theres a way around it - but I'd like to see the viewing of journals restricted to the last week (or few days). I've noticed that some journals take a very long time to download due to a huge amount of text and images if nothing else.

I'd also like to see the 'preview post' feature working in journals and some sort of flagging/notification (like we used to have for private messages) for when someone has replied to your journal entry.

Quote:
Control:...
I used to try and format my posts in a particular way, but I kinda gave up. I've been fairly happy using regular forum-style formatting for posting code fragments and images. Doesn't seem to bother me as much as it does you...

Quote:
HTML:...
I can't personally think of any reason why **I** would want to use more advanced HTML - but I can see that some people might find it useful. In a slightly connected way, I wanted to post my XML-based log file the other day, but theres no point as I can't upload the XSL file to display it.

Quote:
Code Highlighting:...

It's better than the stuff on the MSDN forums [lol]

I would like to see it as a bigger feature across the forums though. How many 10's of 1000's of posts in the forums include source code? Decent presentation and customizability of that feature would not only add a lot, but it'd "touch" a lot of the site.

I worked on language processors for the Eclipse platform at IBM - it's far from trivial to get GOOD syntax highlighting. It'd be a fairly big project for the development team.

Anyway, thats all I can think of right now.
Jack

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My annoyances or 'wants' lean twoards additional functionality.

for instance i would like it if there was a task-list tool, where you could add tasks, sub-tasks and their level of completeness, this would be useful for me (since im always working on a project) but i dont know if anyone else would want it.

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I'd love to have increased formatting capability. Tables would go a long way to improve readability and management of my journal content.

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I too am generally happy with what is available, but I definitely agree that the preview button should be included in journals if nothing else.

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Since I'm mainly just posting text with the occasional image, my main gripe is the lack of preview, to check if I've got the spacing and formatting correct (especially with images).

Quote:
for instance i would like it if there was a task-list tool, where you could add tasks, sub-tasks and their level of completeness, this would be useful for me (since im always working on a project) but i dont know if anyone else would want it.

I'd love this feature too. I'm terrible at planning, and having an in-built method of displaying tasks like that would be very useful. I'm planning on emulating the list on your journal, but having it in-built within the system would be nice.

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Quote:
for instance i would like it if there was a task-list tool, where you could add tasks, sub-tasks and their level of completeness, this would be useful for me (since im always working on a project) but i dont know if anyone else would want it.

I'd love this feature too.
I tend to flick from project-to-project in my journal, but this would indeed be pretty cool.

If nothing else, it'd be interesting to me purely as a reader - could get a quick idea of what people are upto.

Jack

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I thought you invented Java?

Damn it! You're not supposed to tell them my dirty secrets!

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okay, so my thoughts...

Before I get started, I'll say that I'm pretty happy overall. Some things could be improved or added, but for the most part it suits me fine.

Well, I made a decision to use the journal system before hand as well. I knew the limitations, however I did have a few options that I could use to get around those annoyances. Unfortuantly, I just recently noticed that such workarounds have been worked around to prevent such hacks from working anymore. This to me seems a bit rediculous, as we are either moderators (in which case we have to be somewhat responsible) or GDNet+ members (in which case you have paid for the service). In both cases I see restricting your abilities to control your journal even further as silly.
Quote:

As a slight extension of #3 - I made a conscious decision a while back to make GDNet my home. My previous website proved to be a bit of a timesink with just keeping it ticking over (lots of moving host-to-host etc..). I technically have some other webspace but I don't use it - it's nice and convenient for me to keep everything here.

I'll probably be slapping up my own little site in a while, but mostly because I need added functionality that I cannot get here. This journal will remain active, although I will often just point people to the other site, as pertinent information will be there.
Quote:

Admittedly, I haven't checked to see if theres a way around it - but I'd like to see the viewing of journals restricted to the last week (or few days). I've noticed that some journals take a very long time to download due to a huge amount of text and images if nothing else.

I'd also like to see the 'preview post' feature working in journals and some sort of flagging/notification (like we used to have for private messages) for when someone has replied to your journal entry.

I would also like to see a friggen quote button for replying to replies.
Quote:

Quote:
Control:...
I used to try and format my posts in a particular way, but I kinda gave up. I've been fairly happy using regular forum-style formatting for posting code fragments and images. Doesn't seem to bother me as much as it does you...

It bothers me because how you present your information will determine how your audience conceptualizes it. If I cannot control how the information is presented, then the audience may miss my point entirely, or find the topic harder to understand than needed. A simple example: I have a small diagram that I want you to refer to in a particular paragraph. Now, typically I would just make this float left or right of the current paragraph, with a margin of space around it. This would typically be accomplished simply through the use of a style tag (style="float: left;margin-right: 5px;"). With the current system I have to give my image an ID, then edit the stylesheet of my header (which requires going to another place completely), preview the post to verify that it looks right... Not exactly a clean process.
Quote:

Quote:
HTML:...
I can't personally think of any reason why **I** would want to use more advanced HTML - but I can see that some people might find it useful. In a slightly connected way, I wanted to post my XML-based log file the other day, but theres no point as I can't upload the XSL file to display it.

Ever wanted to display some information that was seperated into columns? You have two choices here: 1) use a [ code] block and insert spaces, or 2) Don't format it and it will appear ugly.

If you could use tables, then you could make it look good, and do it simply.
Quote:

Quote:
Code Highlighting:...

It's better than the stuff on the MSDN forums [lol]

I would like to see it as a bigger feature across the forums though. How many 10's of 1000's of posts in the forums include source code? Decent presentation and customizability of that feature would not only add a lot, but it'd "touch" a lot of the site.

Code highlighting is kind of a big one for me because I tend to like my code colorful. Not bright and gaudy, but subtle yet there enough to recognize the difference.
char*i = "hello world";
Quote:

I worked on language processors for the Eclipse platform at IBM - it's far from trivial to get GOOD syntax highlighting. It'd be a fairly big project for the development team.

Bull. muer did it. He can highlight almost a dozen languages properly. All it takes is to write a decent language parser, doesn't even have to fully parse the language either.
Quote:

Anyway, thats all I can think of right now.
Jack

Gar!

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I'd like to be able to upload images directly from the post window... currently it's not too bad, I use firefox, so in one tab I upload, in another I post, but if I could do everything from the same window, I'd be happy.

Also, I'd like to see the posts I'm replying to, sometimes I forget what I'm going to reply to because I don't have easy access to it, other than copy the text, hit back, read whatever, hit 'post reply' again...

Finally, I'd like for my journal to have an "always on top" button, but ONLY mine. haha!

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Damn it! You're not supposed to tell them my dirty secrets!



Wait, what?! You worked on Java? Damn you hate your own creations.

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* Exposure: By having a journal on GDNet you inheritly get more exposure than if it was, for instance, on your own website, etc.
I certainly agree, it's a great thing that journals get so much exposure. The sad thing is that pretty much only the GDNet+ members read them.

Quote:
* Control: This is my biggest beef with it. I have no real control over the formatting of my posts, often times I have to edit a post several times before publishing it, just because I don't have the control to exactly specify how it should look.
A preview option for the journals is a definate must, especially considering it's already implemented in the regular posts. A preview post option should be evident in the Submit A News Article as well.

Quote:
* Code Highlighting: Ugh. You know, I typically like my code highlighted in a specific way. For instance, I like my numeric literals and string literals colored differently. I like my keywords in blue, my preprocessor directives in italic, and many other little things like that. Without the ability to use HTML, I have to rely on the GDNet code formatter, which...from my crude observations of it, appears to just be a regex that misses keywords, and sometimes highlights things that shouldn't be. Not only that, but why the hell is my C# code highlighted like that abomination Java (no offense intended to you poor bastids who have to use Java, but this is my journal.)!
The only thing I'd like on this is support for more languages. PHP, for example.

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I'll play catch-up [smile]

Quote:
This to me seems a bit rediculous, as we are either moderators (in which case we have to be somewhat responsible) or GDNet+ members (in which case you have paid for the service). In both cases I see restricting your abilities to control your journal even further as silly.
Aren't the limitations more down to the general forum software? I was on the understanding that the journals are just customized forum threads. That is, whatever isn't allowed in the forums isn't allowed here.

Quote:
I would also like to see a friggen quote button for replying to replies
That would indeed making typing this (and millions of others) much easier. Even having the thread review part at the bottom would be good. I've got your journal open in one tab and the "Reply to Topic" open in another so that I can read/quote what I'm replying to [oh]

Quote:
With the current system I have to give my image an ID, then edit the stylesheet of my header (which requires going to another place completely), preview the post to verify that it looks right... Not exactly a clean process.
I can see how that's annoying. For diagrams I tend to have it centered with a "click here to enlarge" above the paragraph the refers to it. Nothing particularly clever about that though [smile]

Quote:
Code highlighting is kind of a big one for me because I tend to like my code colorful
Same. It's funny though - I had quite a lot of "arguments" with the veterans at IBM about syntax highlighting. They were quite happy with the green/black terminal emulators from the 70's - couldn't see any reason for this "syntax highlighting nonsense" [rolleyes]

Quote:
Quote:
I worked on language processors for the Eclipse platform at IBM - it's far from trivial to get GOOD syntax highlighting. It'd be a fairly big project for the development team.
Bull. muer did it. He can highlight almost a dozen languages properly. All it takes is to write a decent language parser, doesn't even have to fully parse the language either.
Okay, maybe I overestimated it - but the work I was doing was substantially more complex than anything this site would ever need. Our implementation had to take on a lot of compiler-like functionality (syntax trees), but it allowed you to edit it (and it'd get all the intellisense and syntax correct mid-edit). It also used GML for a #include-like system gone absolutely nuts. One code 15,000 line file could contain any number of fragments contributing to any number of composite files written in any number of languages. Yeah, that made code-processing bundles of fun.

Quote:
The sad thing is that pretty much only the GDNet+ members read them.
A while back I proposed that the "journal" button at the bottom of all our posts changed colour (or animated/flashed) if we'd updated in the last 24 hours or so.

The idea was that if I'm reading an interesting thread and one of the contributors has something interesting to say I'll sometimes follow through to their journal to see what other interesting things they've been saying/doing. Having it indicate that theres (potentially) fresh content in the actual forum threads would be useful.

Quote:
A preview post option should be evident in the Submit A News Article as well
And in Private Messages.

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The only thing I'd like on this is support for more languages. PHP, for example.
HLSL/FX/GLSL/Shaders would be a good one for the DirectX/OpenGL forums - lots of posts include fragments of those languages.

Jack

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Aren't the limitations more down to the general forum software? I was on the understanding that the journals are just customized forum threads. That is, whatever isn't allowed in the forums isn't allowed here.

Indeed, although I see those restrictions on us (not the general user) as a bit frivolous all throughout the forums.
Quote:
That would indeed making typing this (and millions of others) much easier. Even having the thread review part at the bottom would be good. I've got your journal open in one tab and the "Reply to Topic" open in another so that I can read/quote what I'm replying to [oh]

Yes, that would ALSO be nice.
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I can see how that's annoying. For diagrams I tend to have it centered with a "click here to enlarge" above the paragraph the refers to it. Nothing particularly clever about that though [smile]

Although that works, for a small reference image, it tends to leave a giant blank space in your journal, kind of jars your thoughts a bit...not good at all. The alternative of align="right" or left, also isn't very good as it doesn't have the margin.
Quote:
Same. It's funny though - I had quite a lot of "arguments" with the veterans at IBM about syntax highlighting. They were quite happy with the green/black terminal emulators from the 70's - couldn't see any reason for this "syntax highlighting nonsense" [rolleyes]

Stoneagers. It's not so much that I need it (hell, I programmed in DOS for a LONG time, no syntax highlighting there), but it makes things so much more readable.
Quote:
Quote:
Quote:
I worked on language processors for the Eclipse platform at IBM - it's far from trivial to get GOOD syntax highlighting. It'd be a fairly big project for the development team.
Bull. muer did it. He can highlight almost a dozen languages properly. All it takes is to write a decent language parser, doesn't even have to fully parse the language either.
Okay, maybe I overestimated it - but the work I was doing was substantially more complex than anything this site would ever need. Our implementation had to take on a lot of compiler-like functionality (syntax trees), but it allowed you to edit it (and it'd get all the intellisense and syntax correct mid-edit). It also used GML for a #include-like system gone absolutely nuts. One code 15,000 line file could contain any number of fragments contributing to any number of composite files written in any number of languages. Yeah, that made code-processing bundles of fun.

Well, that's exactly it: They don't need to validate syntax. In fact, they don't even need a parser, just a lexer.
Quote:
A while back I proposed that the "journal" button at the bottom of all our posts changed colour (or animated/flashed) if we'd updated in the last 24 hours or so.

I don't even know if GDNet+ members read them. Few people reply to them, that's for sure (well, except the crap posts).
Quote:

The idea was that if I'm reading an interesting thread and one of the contributors has something interesting to say I'll sometimes follow through to their journal to see what other interesting things they've been saying/doing. Having it indicate that theres (potentially) fresh content in the actual forum threads would be useful.

See, now there's an idea. Would also keep me posting regularily.

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I don't even know if GDNet+ members read them. Few people reply to them, that's for sure (well, except the crap posts).
If you offer people cookies they'll reply. That's worked for me on a number of occasions [grin]

So, I guess the big question is whether any of what's been discussed in this thread can actually become a reality...

  • Relaxed formatting/HTML for mods and GDNet+
  • Task list creator/viewer
  • Preview button for journal posts
  • Quote button for journal replies
  • "recent posts" view in journal reply page
  • Improved syntax highlighting - ideally with user-specific colours/customization
  • More languages with syntax highlighting
  • Upload images directly from the post window
  • Recent updates to a journal exposed as a different "journal" button on a users regular forum posts


Jack

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Quote:
I don't even know if GDNet+ members read them. Few people reply to them, that's for sure (well, except the crap posts).
If you offer people cookies they'll reply. That's worked for me on a number of occasions [grin]

So, I guess the big question is whether any of what's been discussed in this thread can actually become a reality...

  • Relaxed formatting/HTML for mods and GDNet+
  • Task list creator/viewer
  • Preview button for journal posts
  • Quote button for journal replies
  • "recent posts" view in journal reply page
  • Improved syntax highlighting - ideally with user-specific colours/customization
  • More languages with syntax highlighting
  • Upload images directly from the post window
  • Recent updates to a journal exposed as a different "journal" button on a users regular forum posts


Jack

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Quote:
[...]Code highlighting is kind of a big one for me because I tend to like my code colorful. Not bright and gaudy, but subtle yet there enough to recognize the difference.[...]
Note that the code sample you posted is practically unreadable on the dark theme. Customization of the syntax highlighting should be a user preference that is applied when reading source, not writing it, so that everybody sees the highlighting in their preferred colors.

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All I want is a post reply button only I can see right on the journal page under the calender or something, would make life so much easier.

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Quote:
Quote:
[...]Code highlighting is kind of a big one for me because I tend to like my code colorful. Not bright and gaudy, but subtle yet there enough to recognize the difference.[...]
Note that the code sample you posted is practically unreadable on the dark theme. Customization of the syntax highlighting should be a user preference that is applied when reading source, not writing it, so that everybody sees the highlighting in their preferred colors.

That is because I do not have the ability to use div's or spans, otherwise that code would have had a white background, which would have made it show up perfectly on the dark theme.

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White backgrounds generally hurt my eyes, so that wouldn't help a whole lot when you post more than a few lines of code.

Anyways, it would be very difficult to read even if the colors weren't a problem, because I'd see blue and think 'string' as per my color scheme, and would probably have to re-read it many times to correctly understand the source.

I still vote for a 'Colors' 'tab' in the control panel =-) That could go for themes, too, since I'd really like to have the old scheme back and would accept being able to darken a few things as a decent substitute.

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Well, I don't use the journal feature, but I would really like to have better HTML support to format the FAQs. When I last frobbed the FB FAQ to make it readable with the new stylesheet, I wanted to make nice tables of links, but it couldn't be done.

*sigh*

Time for the Gamedev Jacquerie!

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Awesome. I love the suggestions! I think there is an awful lot that can be done to improve journals.

One quick note I think worth mentioning. The syntax highlighting was done more to provide *some* sort of highlighting better than a straight code block. Because of problems with Microsoft's regex parser, we've even experienced crashing as a result of hung regular expressions. We did think ahead enough, though, to style how keywords were colored.

This should make it possible, I think, for enterprising individuals such as Washu to embed alternate source coloring schemes in the journal header.

This is the stylesheet where pages currently get their syntax colors:
http://www.gamedev.net/template/source.css

---
Michael Tanczos

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I think a lot more non-GDNet+ers read the journals than one would expect. We are just a shy lot : )
I read at least ten different journals every day because many of them are packed with intersesting information and are very inspiring.

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PsuedoQuote of Michael Tanczos[...]This should make it possible, I think, for enterprising individuals such as Washu to embed alternate source coloring schemes in the journal header.[...]
I implore you not to allow journal writers to change such things because it would make the code inaccessable to certain people. If you want to allow color customization, allow each GDNet+ (or higher, eg mods & staff) to specify a (or select from among fixed choices, as for themes) highlighting scheme. It's already bad enough with a forced white background (why can't it be default color like the post text box?), I don't need source snippets to confuse me in addition to the blinding that already takes place =-/

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Code highlighting ? You mean: something like this ?


#ifndef PROCESS_ACTION_EC_H
#define PROCESS_ACTION_EC_H

#include "process/Action.h"
#include "process/ProcessingContext.h"
#include "process/ExamMap.h"

namespace process
{

class CActionEc : public CAction
{
CProcessingContext *GetProcessingContext(CJobContext *context);
CExamMap *GetExamMap(CJobContext *context);
virtual bool Process(CProcessingContext *context, CExamMap *exammap) = 0;
virtual bool Init(CProcessingContext *context, CExamMap *exammap) = 0;
public :
CActionEc();
virtual ~CActionEc();

bool Process(CJobContext *context);
bool Init(CJobContext *context);
};

}

#endif // PROCESS_ACTION_EC_H

When I want a clean syntax highligh without this pesky scroll bar, I use PSPad (free; can export HTML to the clipboard).

Regards,

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