[Discussion] Removing outdated features

Support area for phpBB's mChat extension

Which of these features should be removed or redesigned?

Auto-growing input field
8
23%
Status icons
4
11%
Update frequency (Updates every x seconds)
6
17%
Chat session ends in mm:ss
4
11%
Pause on input
5
14%
Number of characters when typing
3
9%
Multi-line text area
3
9%
None of them, don't change anything!
2
6%
 
Total votes: 35

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kasimi
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[Discussion] Removing outdated features

#1

Post by kasimi » 11 Feb 2018, 11:41

For a future version of mChat, I'm thinking about removing some outdated features. Here is a list of what I currently have in mind, with a short description as to why I think it should be removed.

  1. Auto-growing input field
    This feature relies on an ancient 3rd party JavaScript file that I would like to see gone. The input field/text area should use the full width that's available, with some small padding. That way, typing a message is aligned with the message texts in the message container, which is easier for the eyes.
  2. Status icons
    • ✔️ indicates that the latest request to the server was successful. This can be implied. It shouldn't be necessary to always inform the user that there is no problem.
    • ⏸️ is displayed when mChat has stopped updating. This information should be kept but displayed in a different way. For example, the send button could be dimmed or its icon could be changed.
    • 🔄 is displayed while mChat is waiting for a server response. There is no need to display this to the user. If requests take a long time, a message should be displayed to make the user aware that things are going slow.
    • ❌ is displayed if the last request to the server didn't complete successfully, or the server returned an error code. In most cases, mChat displays the error in a popup, making the icon redundant. When the request timed out, there is no popup, in which case there should be some other way to make the user aware of the potential problem.
  3. Update frequency (Updates every x seconds)
    This is a technical detail that is of no interest to the user. Removing this information will improve the impression of mChat being an actual real-time chat.
  4. Chat session ends in mm:ss
    Displaying the remaining time until mChat goes into idle mode isn't useful to the user. When it goes to idle mode, the user should be made aware, but until then, the user doesn't care. Therefore I think the countdown should be removed.
  5. Pause on input
    I've never quite understood this option and it adds noticeable complexity to the JavaScript code. I think it should be removed. Events should be added where not already available, to allow adding this feature via an add-on extension.
  6. Number of characters when typing
    I feel this is a useless information to the user, except when there are too many characters. If there is a limit set in the ACP, the user should be made aware as soon as the limit is crossed, but until then, or if there is no limit at all, the number doesn't need to be displayed.
  7. Multi-line text area
    Some may use it but it looks clunky and is awkward to integrate in the UI. Let me know if you can't live without it!

I haven't made any decisions yet and I'm hoping for feedback regarding these points. If you think any of the these features should stay in mChat, please provide reasons. Likewise, feel free to suggest other features you think users don't need. Keep in mind that this is about mChat itself and not some add-on extension. Changes will affect all users.

Hoping for lots of opinions. :)

terry2
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Re: [Discussion] Removing outdated features

#2

Post by terry2 » 11 Feb 2018, 17:18

remove all but leave the icons i for one do use the icons some sites do crap out alot when chatting (on a crap host) and the icons are a good way to tel.

Input yes make it go full lengh of chat maybe keep it just the input and drop the text area (the larger input) i'v never seen a site that uses it myself.

Pause on imput never used it either.

nou nou
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Re: [Discussion] Removing outdated features

#3

Post by nou nou » 11 Feb 2018, 21:29

I've removed most of those things from the template already so go right ahead :)

I like the input box behaviour change for sure.

One thing I wonder is if it would be possible to have updating that's a bit more dynamic, i.e. only update when there is an actual post made, rather than update every X seconds regardless of an update being available or not.

Checking if there is an update is still a page request I guess so I have no idea if it will make that much of a difference?

terry2
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Re: [Discussion] Removing outdated features

#4

Post by terry2 » 11 Feb 2018, 22:11

So 1 wants icons and 1 dont so the logical thing is maybe put these things on a switch in acp let the founder decide to show the items or not.

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kasimi
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Re: [Discussion] Removing outdated features

#5

Post by kasimi » 17 Feb 2018, 12:45

Thanks for your replies.
terry2 wrote:
11 Feb 2018, 17:18
leave the icons i for one do use the icons some sites do crap out alot when chatting (on a crap host) and the icons are a good way to tel.
The icons wouldn't be removed but replaced with something more modern and less intrusive. Adding yet another option in the ACP is something I want to avoid, as it is already too crammed. I haven't come up with a good solution yet, suggestions welcome.
terry2 wrote:
11 Feb 2018, 17:18
drop the text area (the larger input) i'v never seen a site that uses it myself.
I thought about this as well, would love to remove the text area because it's a pain to integrate in the UI, but I have a feeling there are people who do still use it. I'm undecided about it.
nou nou wrote:
11 Feb 2018, 21:29
I like the input box behaviour change for sure.
Which change are talking about exactly?
nou nou wrote:
11 Feb 2018, 21:29
One thing I wonder is if it would be possible to have updating that's a bit more dynamic, i.e. only update when there is an actual post made, rather than update every X seconds regardless of an update being available or not.
Maybe I don't get what you're saying here but how would mChat know there is no update without checking?

I have added two more points (#6 Number of characters when typing, #7 Multi-line text area) and a poll to the first post. Please vote. :+1:

nou nou
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Re: [Discussion] Removing outdated features

#6

Post by nou nou » 18 Feb 2018, 01:36

I like what you suggest in #1 - sorry for not being clear.

What I meant with the update is (and I don't know at all how this works precisely so bear with me) that I wondered if there is a potential performance gain to be had. So as I understand it, mChat updates the chat every X seconds. Does mChat load only what is added since the last check? How many database hits are involved in one of those updates?

I'm just looking at page request stats for my web server and mChat's are huge, even when the interval is set to something like 30 seconds.

#6 I actually like and use - I will adjust my writing style as I go along and see the number go up.

#7 text area input. I'm one of the people that can't live without it, and so are most if not all of my users. In fact I've had to set it to the default because I got too many requests to change it. I run a forum where a lot of code and media links are being shared and the 1-line input is utterly inadequate for that. Please pretty please don't remove it...

Tarantino
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Re: [Discussion] Removing outdated features

#7

Post by Tarantino » 18 Feb 2018, 21:56

The only thing that I may use is the multi-line text area. All of the rest I agree with you.

EVO_VV
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Re: [Discussion] Removing outdated features

#8

Post by EVO_VV » 24 Feb 2018, 04:43

The one thing I miss about the single line input is the ability to use Shift+Enter to get a newline for the following text as it makes longer messages much more readable.

If the update frequency is fairly small then it may not be of much use but if it is larger then it does give members an indication that there will be a wait before a reply can be seen. However, if a reply instigates an update then it is not of much use.

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kasimi
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Re: [Discussion] Removing outdated features

#9

Post by kasimi » 01 Mar 2018, 17:34

nou nou wrote:
18 Feb 2018, 01:36
mChat updates the chat every X seconds. Does mChat load only what is added since the last check?
Basically, when mChat refreshes, it sends the ID of the latest message that you see in the browser to the server. The server checks the database and sends back all messages with a higher ID, if there are any.

EVO_VV wrote:
24 Feb 2018, 04:43
However, if a reply instigates an update then it is not of much use.
Exactly this. When you send a message, mChat does what I've described above and additionally, the server adds your message to the database prior to fetching messages with a higher ID.
nou nou wrote:
18 Feb 2018, 01:36
How many database hits are involved in one of those updates?
On each refresh, a clean phpBB install with just mChat installed needs 4-5 queries: 3 queries for phpBB itself (config table, session table, styles table). mChat then sends 1 query to check for new messages (mchat table). If you have "Live update of edited and deleted messages" enabled, mChat sends another query to check for those (mchat_log table). They are all quite light-weight, too, so the number of queries might be high, but the performance impact shouldn't be.


In this topic, so far, we've heard these three different behaviours of the input field:
  1. Single line input. Enter, Ctrl+Enter and Shift+Enter send the message. mChat currently supports this.
  2. Single line input. Enter and Ctrl+Enter send the message. Shift+Enter changes the input to multi line. Currently not supported.
  3. Multi line text area. Enter and Shift+Enter add a new line. Ctrl+Enter sends the message. mChat currently supports this.
From a coding perspective it's an easy decision: the single line <input> element will be removed. mChat will always use a <textarea> with a small enough height so that it looks like an <input>. As a result the UCP option to switch between them can be removed as well.

Now the difficult question is, what should the three keyboard shortcuts do. Bearing in mind that I never use multi-line texts so I might be missing something, I would suggest that
  • Enter sends the message.
  • Ctrl+Enter and Shift+Enter visually expand the textarea and add a new empty line.
While this wouldn't change anything for the current singly-line input users, who are the great majority I think, it would be a small change for the current multi-line textarea users, who would have to switch from using Enter to (Ctrl or Shift)+Enter to add a new line. Let me know if you think people can live with this, if you can think of a better allocation of the shortcuts, or if there should be a UCP option to change what those shortcuts do.

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kasimi
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Re: [Discussion] Removing outdated features

#10

Post by kasimi » 01 Mar 2018, 21:44

Another thought about the textarea: the two ideas could be combined. After a new page load, the textarea has one line, it looks and acts like an <input> basically: Enter sends the message, (Ctrl or Shift)+Enter adds a new line. When a new line is added, the keyboard shortcuts switch: Enter adds another (3rd, 4th etc) new line, and (Ctrl or Shift)+Enter sends the message.

While this would make typing and sending of both one-line and multi-line messages easier, it might be confusing for users initially.

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