tenpastmidnight blog

Making hay while the sun shines

Macromedia ColdFusion forums

Macromedia have been changing their forums and instead of 'webforums.macromedia.com/coldfusion' there is now a new ColdFusion forums address.

There have been some minor interface changes, which I don't really mind, but they seem to have lost 200 of my posts (I'm now registered has having 40-odd posts, intead of 240-odd) which is quite annoying. Not just for the number next to my name, which doesn't really indicate a lot as you can get excellent answers from people with very few posts, and very odd questions from people with 400-500. I'm hoping they've actually still got my posts in their archives somewhere so they are searchable.

I did check the search interface, which has changed slightly. Before you were able to choose which sections of the forum to search on via tick boxes, now you have to ctrl-click inside a list box. This saves some space on the page, but is bloody horrible for usability and really just means you click 'select all' and the system has to spend time searching parts of the forum unnecessarily.

Also, at least right now, there hasn't been any speed increase to the forums. Even when under Allaire, the CF forums weren't sparklingly quick, but the update last year to the new MM style, which has various pieces of Flash interface on every page, seemed to slow it down further and I often get page timeouts when submitting. If they're going to update anything it would really be better to do something to speed up the server, and at the moment there are no indications of that.

Also, the forum now has a search 'current posts' and 'archive' section. This is great if you're the system admin, because you can relieve stress on the database, but is bad from a usability perspective because you potentially have to run two searches to find there are no results, rather than one. And if you run one and find a batch of posts, this doesn't mean you will find the answer you want if that is in the archive. There is no indication as to what is regarded as a 'current' post or not, so it could be week, a month, or a year. This too is very unhelpful. In part this may have been brought in because the ColdFusion server product and language has changed a lot over the years, especially now it has become MX (version 6.) but splitting the archive in to eras, e.g. 'archive 2001', 'archive 2002' would give you an indicator that you should search in a certain era if you are using an older version of the product.

It must be a nightmare updating a live forum, and I would imagine old posts might suddenly appear as they are being ported over, and other things will sort themselves out. However, at the moment on the main pages for each part of the forum the sorting by date is up the spout, with new posts appearing in the middle of the page with older ones above. That really is the sort of thing that should be caught in testing, especially from such a large organisation.
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