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Discourse 1.7 Released!

Jeff Atwood January 6, 2017

Today, after four months of work, we’re proud to release Discourse 1.7.

Official iOS and Android Apps

Thanks to Sam Saffron, we released an Official Android Discourse app and an official iOS Discourse app. These apps offer native push notifications and a way to aggregate all your Discourse sites in one place.

Discourse Mobile App for iOS and Android Discourse Mobile App for iOS and Android

Discourse Mobile App for iOS and Android Discourse Mobile App for iOS and Android

The apps are free to use for all, but do note that push notifications require special support from Apple and Google respectively, and are currently only available to sites hosted by us. As with all Discourse code, the app is 100% open source.

Improved Mobile Progress Expansion and Back Button

We’ve drastically improved the behavior of the Back button that appears on the timeline — both on desktop, and on mobile. You will see a back button pop up more reliably when you scroll up while reading a topic, so you never lose your place. And if you expand the mobile progress bar, you now have full access to the timeline, just like on desktop!

Revamped Categories Page

We noticed site owners struggled to decide what their home page should be: a static list of categories, or a dynamic list of topics. Both pages have their pros and cons, and you want to get it right, as the home page is the primary experience for most users.

We’ve added a new default which lets you have the best of both worlds — a set of relatively static categories for navigation on the left, and a list of the most recently updated topics on the right.

Discourse hybrid category and latest page

“Why not both?” indeed!

Setup Wizard

As much as we enjoy Discourse, we have to admit that our setup process wasn’t exactly.. fun. In this release we set out to change that.

When you set up a Discourse for the first time, you’ll now be greeted by the setup wizard, who helpfully walks you through all the steps to getting started with a brand new Discourse instance!

Discourse Setup Wizard Steps

Thanks to Robin for this major improvement in ease of setup. We have plans to make the wizard even better in future releases, but it’s already worlds better than our previous “I hope you enjoy reading this wall of Getting Started text” strategy.

Onebox Everywhere and Start Topic With a Link

In all versions of Discourse, pasting a link on a line by itself resulted in “oneboxing”, or a quick expansion of the link into a title, summary, and picture. But only for certain whitelisted websites. In Discourse 1.7, we’ve extended this support to all links. Any link that supports OpenGraph or oEmbed will now onebox!

We also made it easier to start a topic with a link, as it’s so common to want to have a conversation about an article you read online. Simply paste a link into the title field and we’ll populate the body and title for you. And the resulting topic will show a link source, ala Reddit.

Redesigned Email Summaries

Email summaries are critical to the health of any Discourse instance — we automatically email anyone who hasn’t been seen on the site for a week with a “greatest hits” of the most interesting community discussions, with an eye on enticing them back to participate.

Since we mail a lot of these out, they need to be great. With the help of Rewphus from the community and Neil from our team, we completely redesigned the summary to make it more visually interesting and show more relevant stats to each user, such as now many new notifications they have, or how many new likes they’ve gotten (if available).

Discourse weekly summary email

(Note that we only email people we haven’t seen once per week, for a maximum of year since we last saw them. Proper unsubscribe email headers are built in, plus a one-click link to unsubscribe.)

Advanced Search UI

We’ve improved basic search a few times, and we’ve added a number of advanced search terms, but they were hard to find and use. No longer! Thanks to community member cpradio, we now have a proper user interface for advanced search. Fill out exactly what you want to search for in a simple form — no complex commands required!

Enhanced Groups Pages

There’s been a lot of interest in more dynamic Groups pages, as well as continuing on our march toward making every @group first class citizens alongside every @user.

Guo Xiang Tan spent a few weeks improving our groups pages, adding descriptions and full names to groups, as well as letting people (if allowed by the group) to join and leave the group, or request membership to a closed group.

Email Forwarding Support

Another frequent request, for those sites that have incoming email configured, is to allow forwarding emails into Discourse. Thanks to the hard work of Régis, this is now possible!

forward emails into Discourse

(For this version, we only support forwarding a single email, but we plan to allow forwarding of entire email chains into Discourse in 1.8 and beyond.)

Public Security Program

To make sure Discourse is as safe and secure as possible, in 2017 we’ve added a public exploit bounty program at Hacker One. This is in addition to our existing security policy and the two formal security audits our customers contributed in 2016.

Although we didn’t uncover any critical vulnerabilities from our Hacker One program so far, we have benefited from several minor issues they uncovered. And we absolutely want to reward and publicly acknowledge anyone who privately discloses a security vulnerability that helps make Discourse safer for everyone. This is important to us, and we feel Hacker One gives us a framework for doing so, as well as “defense in depth.”

Safe Mode

We’ve added a quick and easy Safe Mode switch to diagnose problems with third party plugins.

Discourse Safe Mode

This is an important milestone, along with improved plugin versioning in this release, but there’s still much work to be done in ensuring safety and stability with third party plugins.

Ember 2.10 Latest

At long last, we’ve been able to upgrade our client side JavaScript framework, Ember.js, to the latest version. We spent a long time on Ember 1.12 waiting for critical improvements on the Ember roadmap, such as Glimmer 2, and our patience was rewarded — thanks to Ember 2.10 (and two months of work by Robin), you can enjoy 30% smaller app payloads, and 2x the performance of Ember 1.12 on most devices!

Ember.js logo

As a developer, you can now refer to the most recent and latest Ember documentation when building plugins or enhancements for Discourse.

… And Much More

These are just highlights of 1.7 — there are literally hundreds of other tiny improvements, refinements, and bugfixes that we aren’t covering here, but are in the full release notes.

Easy One Click Upgrade

Who wouldn’t want all these fantastic new features? That’s reason enough to upgrade! But do note this is another major security release — we urge everyone to upgrade to it as soon as possible. Fortunately, upgrading is as easy as clicking the Update button in our simple one click updater. It’s linked right from your dashboard:

You may need to SSH in to update your server in some upgrade scenarios. But it’s easy!

cd /var/discourse
git pull
./launcher rebuild app

If you don’t have a Discourse to upgrade, why not? Install it yourself in under 30 minutes, or get a free 14 day hosting trial!

Thank You

As always, let us first thank our customers for their direct financial support, without which there would be no Discourse project at all.

No open source project survives without code contributions, and we had many in this release. Thanks for the pull request contributions in this release from:

cpradio
fantasticfears
pfaffman
caugner
gdpelican
vinothkannans
mabras
scossar
angusmcleod
JaredReisinger
mrded
joebuhlig
ibnesayeed
davidgnavas
kevintelford
BYWallace
SafaAlfulaij
gschlager
mcwumbly
Mogztter
LeoMcA
Dax74
kgish
jjaffeux
ryantm
acshi
guillaumekln
frictionel
mbajur
dtbaker
erlend-sh
rimian
steinwaywhw
bradleypriest
DanielMarquard
AhmadFCheema
jamesmarkcook
vibol
pmusaraj
jsilvanus
davidtaylorhq
bekicot
kstaikov
ming-relax
jako512
rizka10
amotl
toumou
saiqulhaq
maclover7
xwmario
jomaxro
thalic
lalehmb
ricardoalcocer
larrysalibra
BrianAdams
matthewpurcell
bethaitman
pwightman
x0rm3r
mrosack
seanlin0324
mscherer
eric-hu
magni-
pda
lbergnehr
phaldan
simongareste
theikkila
robbyoconnor
acorncom
jneen
koss-lebedev
ojab
ignisf
lonre
thiagoarrais
amasad
rriemann
pjv

Also, thanks to the greater Discourse community for their numerous contributions toward this release — translations in Transifex, posting support and bug requests on meta.discourse, or simply providing feedback based on extensive participation in multiple Discourse communities. All your suggestions make Discourse better for everyone.

For insight into what’s coming up in future releases of Discourse, keep an eye on the releases category at meta discourse. And now, onward to Discourse 1.8!

7 comments

Discourse New User Tips and Tricks

Jeff Atwood December 16, 2016

If you’re new to Discourse, here are a few quick tips and tricks to get you started:

Reading

Selecting a topic title will always take you to your last read post in the topic. To enter at the top ↑ or bottom ↓ instead, select the reply count or last reply date.

topic list click areas in Discourse

Topics above the light red line are new or updated since your last visit. If you have read all the way to the end of a topic, its title will be light grey instead of black.

last visit date shown on topic list in Discourse

Navigation

For search, the menu, or your user page, use the icon buttons docked at the upper right.

search, menu, and notifications in Discourse

While reading a topic, use the timeline on the right side to jump to the top, bottom, or your last read position. On smaller screens, select the bottom progress bar to expand it.

(If you have a physical keyboard, you can also press ? for a list of keyboard shortcuts.)

Replying

Press any Reply button to open the editor panel at the bottom of your browser. Continue reading (and even navigate to different topics) while you compose your reply; minimize the editor for more room. Drafts will automatically be saved as you write.

collapsing and expanding the editor in Discourse

To insert a quote, select the text you wish to quote, then press the Quote button that pops up. Repeat for multiple quotes.

selecting a quote in Discourse

To notify someone about your reply, mention their name. Type @ to begin selecting a username.

mentioning a username in Discourse

To use standard Emoji, just type : to match by name, or traditional smileys ;)

completing Emoji in Discourse

To generate a summary for a link, paste it on a line by itself. To start a topic with a link, paste the link into the title field.

pasting link to onebox in Discourse

Your reply can be formatted using simple HTML, BBCode, or Markdown:

This is <b>bold</b>.
This is [b]bold[/b].
This is **bold**.

For more formatting tips, try our 10 minute tutorial.

Actions

There are action buttons at the bottom of each post:

  • To let someone know that you enjoyed and appreciated their post, use the like button. Share the love!
  • Grab a copy-pasteable link to any reply or topic via the link button.
  • Use the button to reveal more actions. Flag to privately let the author, or the site staff, know about a problem. Bookmark to find this post later on your profile page.

Notifications

When someone is talking directly to you — by replying to you, quoting your post, mentioning your @username, or even linking to your post, a number will immediately appear over your profile picture docked at the top right. Select it to access your notifications.

notification in Discourse

Don’t worry about missing a reply – you’ll be emailed any notifications that arrive when you are away.

Preferences

All topics less than two days old are considered new, and will show a new indicator.

new topic indicator in Discourse

Any topic you’ve actively participated in — by creating it, replying to it, or reading it for an extended period — will be automatically tracked on your behalf, and will show an unread post count indicator.

unread topic indicator in Discourse

You can change your notification level for any topic via the notification control at the bottom, and right hand side, of each topic.

topic notification control in Discourse

Notification level can also be set per category. To change any of these defaults, see your user preferences.

11 comments

Discourse for Maker Communities

Erlend Sogge Heggen November 2, 2016

There is a thing called the “maker movement” and, well, it’s awesome. People are setting up shop in their basements, backyards or dedicated makerspaces to create things together. Makers openly exchanging their ideas and designs with one another in the pursuit of better solutions to problems that need solving. That problem can be anything from “how can we make underwater exploration affordable to hobbyists?” to “can we make an airborne flamethrower?”.

makers-highlights

Turns out Discourse is a great addition to a maker’s toolbelt when your DIY activity of choice can be shared with hundreds or even thousands of other makers. After all, isn’t it more fun to make stuff that can be shared with others?

We surveyed a total of 17 maker communities to figure out what they’re getting out of Discourse.

Customers

Non-customers

9 of them got back to us. Here are their responses, in summarised form.

How does your organisation use Discourse?

Our “Projects and Prints” category has provided us with several user stories and demonstrated some awesome applications for our printers like a time-lapse movie created from hundreds of prints.

“General Discussion” is a great hub for user feedback and helps us to iterate current products as well as gauge demand for new ones. Many of the requests and comments seen in general discussion were directly implemented into the Form 2.

Discourse also serves as a hub for things like announcements and troubleshooting. It serves as a resource that users can search through to find issues other users might have had before opening a ticket with our support team.

~ Formlabs

What are your favourite things about Discourse?

First and foremost my favourite thing is the responsiveness of the dev team. They really do respond to user feedback, in a way I’ve never seen. You can post your issues on Discourse Meta, and whether you like the answer or not, you ALWAYS get one, usually within minutes. Every serious issue is resolved within days or even hours. They push dozens of updates every day. No other software project of this scale provides customer support of this quality. Thank you Discourse team!! You guys are the best.

~ Drive On Wood

Ordered by most frequently mentioned.

  • Modern, clean, cross-platform interface that’s as responsive as a mobile application.

  • Powerful thread mechanics: Instant updates, infinite scrolling, linkbacks, the post editor, drag-n-drop images, Markdown support, wiki posts, “one-boxing”, ability to read other posts while replying, ability to mark solutions to help topics, auto recommended similar posts… phew!

  • Highly customizable: Discourse comes with very sane defaults, but it allows for a great deal of customization. Admins and end-users alike can tweak an abundance of little things to according to their preference.

  • Powerful search: Discourse’s powerful search makes it fast and efficient to find relevant posts, within a topic or across the forum. Great for technical communities where there’s a lot of knowledge exchange going on.

  • Advanced administration tools: Automated as well as crowdsourced anti-spam/troll/asshat tools keep the bad actors at bay. Backup export/import is done with the click of a button. Moving posts or splitting threads is simple and unintimidating.

  • API: “Crucially, the API lets us drive Discourse from our home-made membership system very easily. For example, when a member’s payment goes through, they are added to the Members group on Discourse, allowing them access to the private Categories.”

What are some things that would make Discourse better?

Ordered by most frequently mentioned.

  • iOS/Android app with notifications
    We just finished beta testing our mobile apps. They’ll be publicly available in a few weeks!
  • Better docs: A cleaner documentation site with a clear structure would make Discourse’s more advanced topics much easier to digest.
    Agreed. We’ll set aside some time for this shortly.
  • UX stability: The Discourse UX is constantly evolving. While that’s usually a good thing, it sometimes happens so fast that it’s hard for slightly custom styles to keep up.
    This should be much less of an issue once we support Native Themes.
  • Overly aggressive spam filter: Occasionally the automated spam-protection will block legitimate posts.
    While a tiny amount of false positives is nearly impossible to avoid when it comes to automated moderation, we’ll try get better at notifying site owners about automated moderation tasks.

Plugin ideas

  • User photo galleries
  • Assigning posts/PMs to specific users
  • Simpler “post-to-social-media” shortcuts.
  • Blog style view homepage
  • User map to allow people find others in the same area
  • WYSIWYG Editor

Self-install suggestions

  • Integrated SSL via Let’s Encrypt.
  • Better support for installing/uninstalling plugins easier via admin section.

Thanks a bunch for all your feedback! Missing some feature requests, or didn’t get a chance to participate in the survey? Please make a post in our #feature category!

2 comments