The Stongly Structured Apps

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GregChapman GregChapman
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The Stongly Structured Apps

This post was updated on .

Introduction

The "Strongly Structured" class of apps have no facility for posting topics within them. This means that they are intended to hold only sub-forums and these need to be created before the forum can be used by ordinary users.

There are two apps in this class, Category and Board.

Category App

Category App

This app is closely related to the Forum app but designed to contain only sub-forums. When used in this way these are the most significant changes in behaviour:

  • There is no "New Topic" link to the left of "Topics View", making this app overtly designed for organising all posts within a predetermined set of folders.
  • Sub-forum names are shown with their descriptions, so the descriptions need to kept relatively short
    Note: The Category app will display pre-existing topics that were posted in a loosely structured app before the app was changed to one of this class. See further notes on Structure
  • Where there are any, further sub-forums are listed as links, making it easy to skip a level when navigating the hierarchy and, therefore, making especially suitable for forums that have a deep structure.
  • The folder icons do not show a pin although the sub-forums operate as pinned sub-forums and can be re-ordered via:
    Options > Structure > Manage subcategories.

Structure

To build folders under this app use:
Options > Structure > Create new sub-forum
By default this creates a new Forum app which will be pinned.

Consider the following points when building a forum based on the Category app:

  • Add sub-forums only where there is a clear need for them and then move existing posts into them. Constantly navigating to empty areas can lead to frustration for users, so avoid creating a large structure, in anticipation of content appearing
  • If you do build levels deeper than the first consider using further Category apps. When displaying topics the Category app displays an extensive snippet from the post, which may be preferable to showing the Subject line alone, as happens with the Forum app
  • Apart from destroying the intention of strong structuring, a side effect of mixing sub-forums and topics is that the sub-forums lose their descriptions.
  • To preserve the strong structuring intent of this app, it is recommended that, once beyond the testing stage, any topics within the app are moved to an appropriate sub-forum

Board App

Board App

The Board app appears to be an incomplete project. It could work where there is an extremely limited range of topics and visitors normally only need to see the first few lines of the opening post and then read the latest reply and, perhaps, post their own. However, there are various inconsistencies in the app that will limit its appeal.

For example, the Topics and Posts columns do not appear relevant when displayed by individual posts. Topics at the root level of the app (which can only have been created when the app was previously a loosely structured app) show "No replies" or a snippet from the first reply. That cannot be intended behaviour! In spite of its failings it might prove worth using as a way of displaying snippets of post in folders at the bottom level within the structure of a forum.

The app has features taken from both the Mixed and Category apps, listed below:

  • There is no "New Topic" link to the left of "Topics View", indicating that all posts must be made within sub-forums.
  • Sub-forums are shown as headings in a tabular structure similar to the Mixed app
  • Sub-forums at the next level down are shown with their descriptions, in similar fashion to the Category app. Sub-forums deeper than that are listed as links
  • Topics in sub-forums show a subject line and an extensive snippet (of around 250 characters)

As might be imagined, given the extensive topic snippets displayed, this app has the capacity to grow enormously and require a great deal of scrolling if there are many topics to navigate. It would work very well for these situations:

  • A forum that poses a few short questions that require complex closely reasoned responses
  • On a forum where it is used at the bottom of a deep multi-level structure

Structure

To build folders under this app use:
Options > Structure > Create new subcategory
By default this creates a new Category app which will be pinned.

The nature of this app is such that it is probably best used only with a single level beneath it and that each of those sub-forums are created using the default Category app containing the required topics. The result is that when you navigate to a sub-folder you end up with a screen that filters out all the other sub-forums from the display.

Greg