Enhancements to Discussions

By Mark Eichler posted Aug 12, 2015 02:29 PM


The Volunteer Manager product release is (rightly) Higher Logic’s lead story right now. Our CEO, UX Director, and many of our best developers dedicated the bulk of their spring and summer to that product re-boot.  And the results are amazing.  Regardless, we do have a number of other enhancements that went live in the second quarter of 2015.  Many of these were in Higher Logic’s cornerstone product: Discussions.   

Why “cornerstone”?  Because, as our CEO states, Higher Logic is focused on “engagement”.  Discussions is at the heart of engagement. Today, most user activity happens through discussions.  Most user-created library entries are attachments to a discussion post. Enhancements happen across the codebase but we never lose sight of the Discussions product.  So, even the Volunteer Manager overhaul did not keep us from making exciting enhancements to Discussions.  Here’s some of the highlights:

Content preview for linked webpages

Links to webpages are often included in discussion posts.  Now, a user can include a preview of the content to which they link.  On pasting-in or typing-in a URL the editor will reach-out to the page linked, capturing its most relevant text and image.  This is then provided in the discussion post as a linked preview.  The author of the post remains in charge – if he or she doesn’t want that preview or any previews they can remove and/or disable the functionality as desired.    

Discussions now display library attachment media within web content

Discussion posts are often used to distribute image and video files.  Until now, the user reading the post would need to click on the attachment icon to navigate to the library entry page to see the multimedia.  Now, those videos and/or images are displayed within the discussion post’s webpage as well. Here are some examples - a video and an image displayed within the discussion post to which the library entry was attached.

Discussion attachment upload interface improved

The interface for uploading files allows drag-and-drop and upload from online sources.  We updated the discussion attachment path to use 

Discussion image inclusion simplified

Sometimes the inclusion of an image in a discussion post is needed, but a multimedia library entry would be too much.  Images can easily be included in discussion posts in-line (mixed with text) via multiple methods, including drag-and-drop, copy/paste, and good-old-fashioned file upload.

There is more.  The enhancements to moderation are primarily enhancements to the Discussions product, for example.  Please see the official release notes for a complete list of all items released from April to June of 2015. 

Clearly, the Discussions product ended the 2nd quarter stronger and more agile than it was on March 31.  By this time next year we plan on making other product experiences more similar to the Discussions experience – including topic-based, author-based, and popularity-based outputs to email.  I’ve touched on this on HUG and we will be elaborating on that further soon.