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My weekend with OCP3 - Summary

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Community saint

My weekend adventures with OCP3 was by no means an exhaustive or comprehensive beta test, merely a spin around the block. Let me tell you: my test drive was a very rewarding and pleasant experience. I not only learned a great deal about OCP, I also hope I helped the dev team to improve this wonderful product. I managed to find quite a few bugs, however, who cares, it's beta software. Additionally, Chris and team are damn near exterminators when it comes to bugs and it was amazing to watch how quickly all bugs found by me, them and others were squashed.

Overall, I think that OCP has a great future in the CMS/Portal market and that in it's completeness and support, the product will be raising the bar as far as CMS/Portals go. It is truly a terrific package…

Critique: these are some of the issues that concern me. Please note: this critique and these issues are my opinion only! They may not be issues for others or the majority of OCP users…that is for the dev team to decide. Also, I'm still trying to focus my critique from a novice+ point of view, as well as thru the eyes of someone who is considering a migration from another system. I can easily accept that moving from one system to another will always have a learning curve, and to that end, my points (hopefully) will only deal with items common across CMS packages. Additionally, some of this stuff is done from memory (which is less than perfect these days), so if my points are against something that indeed already exists (that I either didn't remember or didn't find), I apologize in advance.

Setup Wizard: a great way to get started, however, I don't recall seeing a strong recommendation to run this first immediately after installing OCP. If I am correct in my recollection, then having something on the main page as a first step is highly recommended. Something like this would appease both the advanced user (who can skip this step) as well as the novice who should run this wizard right off the bat. (in addition, possibly a line on the admin main page stating status of site (closed or open) and a link directly to configuration option to change status)
Update: I setup another OCP site for fun and this recommendation is in place; point moot.

Blocks: ahh, blocks, blocks and blocks. This is a common term across all CMS's I've tried. With OCP however, I still cannot find the place/area (other than setup wizard) to easily turn them on/off or position. This will be a big complaint/issue with migratory users who are used to this. In fact, this could be such a big issue that it may turn folks off right away. A section and/or link from the admin main page would be VERY helpful with this issue.

The "Site Area" should be the root of the site, not a next level in (or, the blocks should stay in the same position on both pages). The movement of blocks from right to left while switching between the areas will confuse folks. (this issue may be solved after successfully running the Setup Wizard and selecting "Single public zone" in Step #5)
Update: indeed, problem solved as noted above!

User management: where is it? *grin*…I have found, easily enough (but not necessarily intuitive), the area to view profile and change certain items, but no way for example to delete a user. To me, permissions, usergroups, users, staff, admin, etc. all go hand in hand, so a section containing all stuff pertaining to users (with the exception of overriding permissions per content item(s)) would be of great importance. (see screenshot for possible solution)

Forums: (this one definitely from memory) The result page after adding category should contain option to add forum. IIRC, this was not an option.

Investigate User: Some good tools here, however, the links should open in new window or popup.

Editing the site: Moving back and forth between admin and main pages during the editing process is a 'lil disconcerting. This is no doubt caused by other CMS/Portals having separate sections for site and admin. With tabbed browsing I generally will have one tab opened to the site and another to the admin section. This one I just throw out there for thought and comment.

Help Column: great idea, however, a waste of 1/3 of the real estate for the common line: "There is a tutorial etc.."

Permission overrides for content items: kewl idea, confusing in the descriptions and layout. Constantly changing descriptions (AJAX I'm assuming) on hover is going to throw folks off.

Wish list: I haven't explored OCP far enough as of yet to be qualified to create a wish list, however, there is one that jumps out:
The ability (like Invision) to not allow posting in the root of sub categories if desired.

Welp, this is about as far as I got this weekend. The above notwithstanding, OCP is on it's way to becoming a major force to be reckoned with in the CMS/Portal arena. Pat yourselves on the back Chris, Allen and Philip; well done mates!!

Be well,
SD



Last edit: by SoccerDad

"no violence, no hate, no pain, no enemies
just peace, unity, tolerance and love" - The Beloved

OCP V7 | Advocating monetary reform - FreeOurMoney

Need OCP friendly hosting? Look no further:
Web Hosting, Reseller Hosting, and Dedicated Servers w/cPanel - Elief! - Official hosting partner for ocPortal.
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Posted
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#19397
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SoccerDad said

My weekend adventures with OCP3 was by no means an exhaustive or comprehensive beta test, merely a spin around the block. Let me tell you: my test drive was a very rewarding and pleasant experience. I not only learned a great deal about OCP, I also hope I helped the dev team to improve this wonderful product. I managed to find quite a few bugs, however, who cares, it's beta software. Additionally, Chris and team are damn near exterminators when it comes to bugs and it was amazing to watch how quickly all bugs found by me, them and others were squashed.

Overall, I think that OCP has a great future in the CMS/Portal market and that in it's completeness and support, the product will be raising the bar as far as CMS/Portals go. It is truly a terrific package…

Thank you very much for your kind regards. They help give us motivation to move forward. :)

Setup Wizard: a great way to get started, however, I don't recall seeing a strong recommendation to run this first immediately after installing OCP. If I am correct in my recollection, then having something on the main page as a first step is highly recommended. Something like this would appease both the advanced user (who can skip this step) as well as the novice who should run this wizard right off the bat. (in addition, possibly a line on the admin main page stating status of site (closed or open) and a link directly to configuration option to change status)
Update: I setup another OCP site for fun and this recommendation is in place; point moot.

Your point is still valid - the fact you didn't notice the recommendation in the first place is a bit of a concern, but hopefully it was just a bit of laziness at fault ;). We made an effort to make the setup wizard a prominent recommendation after completing installation.

Blocks: ahh, blocks, blocks and blocks. This is a common term across all CMS's I've tried. With OCP however, I still cannot find the place/area (other than setup wizard) to easily turn them on/off or position. This will be a big complaint/issue with migratory users who are used to this. In fact, this could be such a big issue that it may turn folks off right away. A section and/or link from the admin main page would be VERY helpful with this issue.

You may or may not have realized this, but I'll explain briefly. ocPortal does not have a block interface that is similar to something like Drupal, where you have a list of blocks, you set their weight and position, etc. Instead, it is a matter of editing the panel_left comcode page, which in turn, contains a list of blocks. You can rearrange and add blocks by moving the word [block]side_poll[/block] up and down in the editor, for example. The reason for this is that it provides far greater flexibility than other systems - allowing you to, for example, add HTML or Comcode in between certain blocks if you so desire. Use the zone editor (in structure) to accomplish all of this.

But it is important to us that people are able to find things like this. This is one of the reasons we created the help wizard, accessible from the icon area at the bottom-left corner of every page. The idea is that it will help guide you to the correct section of ocPortal to accomplish a given task. I'll look into adding a section about rearranging blocks to the help wizard if it isn't already there.

User management: where is it? *grin*…I have found, easily enough (but not necessarily intuitive), the area to view profile and change certain items, but no way for example to delete a user. To me, permissions, usergroups, users, staff, admin, etc. all go hand in hand, so a section containing all stuff pertaining to users (with the exception of overriding permissions per content item(s)) would be of great importance. (see screenshot for possible solution)

I agree. I'll look into the possibility of adding a "user management" icon in the administration zone somewhere - perhaps as you suggest.

Forums: (this one definitely from memory) The result page after adding category should contain option to add forum. IIRC, this was not an option.

This sounds like a simple fix - I'll mention it to Chris (though he'll probably read this himself, anyway).

Investigate User: Some good tools here, however, the links should open in new window or popup.

You really think so? I personally dislike sites that force links open in new windows unless I consider it a very good reason.

Editing the site: Moving back and forth between admin and main pages during the editing process is a 'lil disconcerting. This is no doubt caused by other CMS/Portals having separate sections for site and admin. With tabbed browsing I generally will have one tab opened to the site and another to the admin section. This one I just throw out there for thought and comment.

Can you give a more specific example about something that confused you?

Help Column: great idea, however, a waste of 1/3 of the real estate for the common line: "There is a tutorial etc.."

Without the help column, you end up with the entire width of the screen taken up with whatever minimal things you may have on that page, since we don't have a vertical menu on one side. At 1280x1024 resolution, that's a huge amount of white space that's just sitting there. The helper panel helps give a bit of contrast to the thing, give it a bit of framing, and it's also a nicely sized spot to put the larger page icons. If you'd like, it's very easy to comment out the helper panel in GLOBAL.tpl.

Permission overrides for content items: kewl idea, confusing in the descriptions and layout. Constantly changing descriptions (AJAX I'm assuming) on hover is going to throw folks off.

It's actually just simple Javascript which makes the descriptions change. We were trying to come up with a way to fit as much as we could in as little space as possible, because that provides more options for the administrators.

Wish list: I haven't explored OCP far enough as of yet to be qualified to create a wish list, however, there is one that jumps out:
The ability (like Invision) to not allow posting in the root of sub categories if desired.

From what I understand, this is already possible. I'll leave it to Chris to explain the specifics, however. He's much more experienced with the permissions editing system than I am.

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Posted
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#19406
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Community saint

Thanx for the feedback Allen!

Allen said

Thank you very much for your kind regards. They help give us motivation to move forward. :)
You are very welcome, glad to help, and ya'll earned the praise!

Allen said

Your point is still valid - the fact you didn't notice the recommendation in the first place is a bit of a concern, but hopefully it was just a bit of laziness at fault ;). We made an effort to make the setup wizard a prominent recommendation after completing installation.
*grin*, me thinks it was a combination of laziness and excitement and I blew right past it. You have it as the first option and Recommended is bold and bracketed; I should have seen it. One possible option, if still a concern, would be to have the user directed to page one of the setup wizard after sucessful install with a link/button there for advanced users to skip the wizard and go direct to either site or admin.

Allen said

You may or may not have realized this, but I'll explain briefly. ocPortal does not have a block interface that is similar to something like Drupal, where you have a list of blocks, you set their weight and position, etc. Instead, it is a matter of editing the panel_left comcode page, which in turn, contains a list of blocks. You can rearrange and add blocks by moving the word [block]side_poll[/block] up and down in the editor, for example. The reason for this is that it provides far greater flexibility than other systems - allowing you to, for example, add HTML or Comcode in between certain blocks if you so desire. Use the zone editor (in structure) to accomplish all of this.

But it is important to us that people are able to find things like this. This is one of the reasons we created the help wizard, accessible from the icon area at the bottom-left corner of every page. The idea is that it will help guide you to the correct section of ocPortal to accomplish a given task. I'll look into adding a section about rearranging blocks to the help wizard if it isn't already there.
Indeed I did not realize this and your explaination above is perfectly clear, thanx. I would agree that a section in help that is directly entitled or referenced as "blocks", followed by an explaination of how OCP works in relation to blocks. Basically, to get the most of OCP, one migrating from another system will need to unlearn certain things. OCP directly addresses (as you've mentioned above) certain limitations with regards to blocks and positioning in other cms/portals and your approach is certainly more powerful and flexible. Understanding this approach is part of the unlearning. *grin*, time for me to play with blocks now!!

Allen said

SoccerDad said

Investigate User: Some good tools here, however, the links should open in new window or popup.

You really think so? I personally dislike sites that force links open in new windows unless I consider it a very good reason.
This one is more of a personal convenience item for me, so opinion only. I explored all the tools and found some required further clicks to accomplish the goal. That now puts me 3 or more pages away from where I started. Again, just a personal thing. A possible compromise might be to include another link that opens in popup or new window and gives the operator the option.

Allen said

SoccerDad said

Editing the site: Moving back and forth between admin and main pages during the editing process is a 'lil disconcerting. This is no doubt caused by other CMS/Portals having separate sections for site and admin. With tabbed browsing I generally will have one tab opened to the site and another to the admin section. This one I just throw out there for thought and comment.

Can you give a more specific example about something that confused you?
The first time this popped up was when I tried to edit my blog posts here at OCP. I was actually presented with the admin login and in my mind, users should never be directed to admin pages. After exploring this issue more however, I think I'll mentally move this to the unlearning category as well. It really boils down to changing the way I think about site editing. In reality, it is actually quite convenient to more or less seemlessly move between the site and admin. Another issue is prolly down right laziness. For example: if I'm trying to facilitate a change on a certain page, laziness dictates that you change what you need in admin, then click the site tab and refresh. Moving back and forth requires one to make the change in admin, click "Home" then navigate back to the page in question to check changes. Bottom line: I would classify this one not really as confusion, but rather the need to unlearn some things and relearn the OCP way. As an end user with the goal of exploiting the power of OCP to it's fullest, this unlearning and relearning is not really an issue.

Allen said

SoccerDad said

Help Column: great idea, however, a waste of 1/3 of the real estate for the common line: "There is a tutorial etc.."

Without the help column, you end up with the entire width of the screen taken up with whatever minimal things you may have on that page, since we don't have a vertical menu on one side. At 1280x1024 resolution, that's a huge amount of white space that's just sitting there. The helper panel helps give a bit of contrast to the thing, give it a bit of framing, and it's also a nicely sized spot to put the larger page icons. If you'd like, it's very easy to comment out the helper panel in GLOBAL.tpl.
My jury is still out on this one. I really like the idea of the help section, and coupled with your explaination, I understand completely what your objective here is. I really don't know what to suggest. Obviously, the first work around would be to have a smaller size on the pages that only have "There is a tutorial for this", however, that then introduces inconsistancy in page layout which may not be a good thing. *grin*, a rare occasion for a chatterbox like me: I'm at a loss for words!

Allen said

SoccerDad said

Permission overrides for content items: kewl idea, confusing in the descriptions and layout. Constantly changing descriptions (AJAX I'm assuming) on hover is going to throw folks off.

It's actually just simple Javascript which makes the descriptions change. We were trying to come up with a way to fit as much as we could in as little space as possible, because that provides more options for the administrators.
I went back and looked and I think the biggest issue is a cosmetic one. When one is hovering, the hover text is bold which in turn changes the position of where your mouse was hovering in the first place. Additionally, some of the text lines are longer ('specially when bolded) so the wrap around moves the combo boxes. This, to me, makes for a confusing interface. A possible work around could be to put the words "Access for" at the top of the list and only once. In the column below that, then you would only need the words "Guest", Super-Moderators", etc. This in turn would allow you to make the permissions column wider which may result in less movement of boxes and text.

Allen said

SoccerDad said

Wish list: I haven't explored OCP far enough as of yet to be qualified to create a wish list, however, there is one that jumps out:
The ability (like Invision) to not allow posting in the root of sub categories if desired.

From what I understand, this is already possible. I'll leave it to Chris to explain the specifics, however. He's much more experienced with the permissions editing system than I am.
Very kewl! I guess I need to play more  :thumbs:

Be well
SD

"no violence, no hate, no pain, no enemies
just peace, unity, tolerance and love" - The Beloved

OCP V7 | Advocating monetary reform - FreeOurMoney

Need OCP friendly hosting? Look no further:
Web Hosting, Reseller Hosting, and Dedicated Servers w/cPanel - Elief! - Official hosting partner for ocPortal.
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Posted
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Hi,

Thanks for the feedback, it's been very useful to us.

The ability (like Invision) to not allow posting in the root of sub categories if desired.

I consider it a design flaw that other systems can't do this (those other systems being designed in terms of 'adding on' forum-tree support). However, by default ocPortal 3 disables it for non-staff by overriding the permissions for the root forum.

Help panel

I've added a little hide button that you can click if you need the extra space, such as when you're using the crowded permissions box.

User management

Member management is done by viewing the Personal Zone of the member to be managed. You can get a link to this from their profile. I'll see about getting an icon added to the Admin Zone menus that links to the member list, along with some description about why it works like that.

Permission overrides for content items

We'll consider redesigning the interface for a future version, but it'll be pretty tricky.

After adding a category

Icons added.

Thanks again.


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Posted
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Community saint

Chris said

Thanks for the feedback, it's been very useful to us.
Pleasure's all mine! It's not very often I get to play like a kid in a sandbox…lol  ;)

Be well
SD

"no violence, no hate, no pain, no enemies
just peace, unity, tolerance and love" - The Beloved

OCP V7 | Advocating monetary reform - FreeOurMoney

Need OCP friendly hosting? Look no further:
Web Hosting, Reseller Hosting, and Dedicated Servers w/cPanel - Elief! - Official hosting partner for ocPortal.
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