It’s hard to believe it’s been eight months since I last posted. You can blame university for that. A very busy and at times quite stressful year, but it’s all over now. University is finished and I’m back home permanently, not counting the short break I’m leaving for tomorrow. With university out of the way I should be able to maintain more of a presence online than I have been in recent months, despite the inevitable job hunting that will be taking place soon. One of the things I should now be able to do however, is give all my plugins some long awaited attention. The first plugin to recieve such attention is the new and improved shoutbox plugin.
Shoutbox 2.2 boasts a number of new features and improvements, including some very common requests. Firstly, the plugin is written exclusively for MyBB 1.4 and will be released upon the public debut of 1.4. Because of this, the plugin makes use of the new plugin features which are available in MyBB 1.4, such as integrated update checking against the MyBB Mods database, and the ability to activate and deactivate the plugin without loosing all existing shout data.
With the new version comes a number of new settings for controlling the shoutbox. As before, the following options are available:
- Number of shouts per page
- Number of seconds before the page automatically refreshes (0 disables)
- Number of consecutive shouts allowed before flood control takes effect (*more on this to follow)
- Maximum shout length
- Allow HTML
- Allow MyCode
- Allow Smilies
- Allow [img] Code
- Width of shoutbox popup window
- Height of shoutbox popup window
In addition to the above, a number of new options are also available.
Minimum Shout Length: Fairly obvious, the minimum length of a shout.
Display Mode: Many times since the shoutbox plugin was first released, people have requested they be able to display the shoutbox on their forum index, rather than in a standalone window. Some have managed this through template editing and the use of iFrames, but no ideal solution was ever available. That is, until now. This new setting allows you to choose whether to show the shoutbox in a window or on the index page. Or, if you just can’t decide, you can have the best of both worlds and display the shoutbox in both ways. The shoutbox is fully integrated into the board index if you choose to display it there, with no template editing required and no use of iFrames. (*Screenshots to follow)
Shouts Per Page on Index: If you’re showing the shoutbox on the index page, you’re not likely to want it to show 25 shouts per page. But, if you’re also showing the shoutbox in a window (because you’re spoilt for choice), you’ll likely be equally as unhappy about only showing five shouts in the popup window. For this reason, the existing “Shouts Per Page” setting continues to control the number of shouts displayed per page in the popup window, but the new “Shouts Per Page on Index” setting allows you to specify a different number of shouts per page for the shoutbox on the index. What’s more, this particular setting is only visible when the “Display Mode” is set to “Index Only” or “Both”, to save confusion.
Shout Sorting Order: Another commonly requested feature is the option to reverse the shout sorting order. By default, shouts are shown in ascending order, with the newest shouts shown at the bottom of the page. This new setting allows you to change that so as new shouts are shown at the top of the page. Since this will inevitably mean that new shouts are then shown on the last shoutbox page rather than the first, the plugin knows which order has been selected and sends you to the correct default page accordingly.
Show Friendly Redirect Pages: Some users expressed a desire to disable friendly redirect pages for the shoutbox, since the page is generally quite small in windowed mode. This new option allows you to do just that.
So those are all the new shoutbox settings, but that’s not all there is that’s new…
Surely, that’s it…isn’t it? Nope, there’s still something more to show you…
Since you can now activate and deactivate the plugin without loosing your existing data, your shoutbox is likely to become very full over time. For this reason, a new pruning tool has also been added to the admin panel. Upon installation of the shoutbox, a new “Shoutbox Pruning” menu option will appear in the “Tools and Maintenance” section. Like the log pruning tools, this tool will similarly prune the shouts table, deleting shouts which are older than the number of days specified. I’ll probably also include a tool for the new MyBB Task System which will, when enabled, automatically prune shouts at regular intervals, but I haven’t yet written one. Whether or not it should be released with the main plugin or as a seperate option also still needs to be decided.
So, you know about the new admin options for the shoutbox, but how does it look on the front-end? It probably comes as no great surprise that aesthetically, the shoutbox looks pretty much the same on the front-end, but it has been tweaked slightly. The following screenshots demonstrate the shoutbox displaying on both the index page and in a popup window.
You may notice in the screenshots above that the refresh link has gone. Rather, it has combined with the shout button. In part, this is to make space for the link that takes its place, allowing users to enable or disable the automatic page refreshing, regardless of the default setting. This is done through a cookie stored on the users machine. If the disable cookie is flagged as enabled in the shoutbox, the page will not automaticaly refresh for that user. The disable auto refresh link changes, allowing the user to enable auto refresh again in the same way. Note however that if you disable auto refresh globally (by setting the limit to 0), users will not have the option to enable or disable the refresh.
That’s pretty much it for the new shoutbox plugin. It’s the most significant update the plugin has ever recieved and I really hope people enjoy it. I’ll probably release a beta version to the beta testers of MyBB 1.4 before my trip away for a few days. Updates will be coming for the Board Message and Downloads Section plugins soon, since they are regarded as my other priority plugins. Unfortunately, I simply haven’t had the time to get much done for these other plugins yet. Stay tuned however, I’ll post updates (for some other plugins also) in the coming weeks as I start to work through them.