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Wandering Monk Rolemaster Forums Feature Information

Iinformation on how to use the various features and MODfifications of the Wandering Monk forums.

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Wandering Monk Rolemaster Forums Feature Information

Post Number:#1  Postby The Keeper » 22 Feb 2011, 16:14

Hi all! After registering here and looking around you may be curious as to the features available to you here. Well, I wanted to provide a brief overview of some of the things you'll find. If you need more detail feel free to browse (and comment on) the more detailed posts to follow.

First things first.
This forum is powered by phpBB. PhpBB is a FREE forum software that anyone can use. Currently the latest version is 3.0.8. Our forum is using version 3.0.7-PL1. You can find all the gory details you want about that right here if you like!

If you take a look at phpBB.com you will immediately see that what they offer for download is quite a bit different than these forums (long time phpBB users will probably notice that right away). The reason for that is that I have heavily modified the base phpBB forum package that I downloaded and installed about three years ago. But, that's the beauty and flexibility of phpBB. You can modify it to make it look and function as you wish (within the bounds of what's available). If you are experienced at all with PHP you can go even farther and modify your own code.

These forums are also using a non-standard style. This one is called proDark and it's a proSilver-based style (proSilver is the phpBB default style). proDark is a style that was created for version 3.0.5 of phpBB. Quick Reply was not a feature of that version. That was introduced in version 3.0.6. Consequently, although the base feature is present because we use version 3.0.7-PL1, we are unable to utilize it because the code in the proDark style is not present to do so. But wait you say! There is a Quick Reply button on the forums! Well, that's because of a modification (referred to as a MOD) that I applied, so that this feature would be available for everyone.

What you probably won't notice, unless you just registered or you spend a lot of time in your UCP (User Control Panel), is the language that the forum uses. Yep, you can use different languages for different regions of the world. Localization is one of the reasons phpBB is used worldwide. Well, the one WE are using is the standard British English. Why not US English? Well, two reasons for that. One, British English is the default language style for phpBB. Every MOD released for phpBB has to have it's changes done in British English. So when I am applying MODs, it makes it far easier to use the modifications already done for British English. If I want to install a MOD to utilize other language packs, I either have to make sure that I apply the MOD to all the other language packs or make sure that the other language pack is the only one installed. Next, it's been my experience that the US English language pack is missing some important graphics. And finally, because this is a RPG themed forum, British English seemed appropriate.

What's Next?
Well, forums exist to foster community and disseminate information. People in the forum community do that by posting. The standard post template for phpBB is pretty good, but not intuiative. phpBB uses what's called BBCode. BBCode is standard across many different types of forums that allows a poster to enhance their text. When you go to post you'll see buttons. In our forum it's going to look an awful lot like it does in Microsoft Word. But on the standard phpBB install you dont see a fancy setup, just some buttons. 'B' for Bold, 'I' for Italics, etcetera. What you do when you want to format text is highlight the text you want to format and then click on one of the buttons. The board software automatically applies the code. If you want bold italics, you have to first select, apply one code and then select again and apply the second code. Definitely NOT intuiative. Now to compensate for this, the designers of phpBB included a Preview button. You can click on that button and see EXACTLY how your post will look (including your signature). If there are any BBCode errors you'll spot them there. Well. That wasn't good enough for me. I wanted to see a preview of how things looked as I typed. So I installed another MOD that does just that. You'll see a small rectangular box above the BBCode box when you first start a post. The moment you start typing what you type will appear live in that box. All you have to do is scroll up somewhat to see it live. You can of course still click on the standard Preview button if you like. Oh, and that MS Word like bar? That's courtesy of Advanced BBCode Box 3. Looks way more intuiative huh? Sorry, there is no WYSIWYG when it comes to BBCode, but the Advanced BBCode Box 3 MOD makes things much easier to understand. Not to mention that the MOD also installs a bunch of new custom BBCode. That's right, you can create custom BBCodes. Check out the Help button on the far right of the code bar to get an explanation of what you can do with BBCode (or at least with the codes I have here).

OK. What about images? Yeah, you can do that. Standard BBCode IMG tag. But guess what? I installed a MOD that allows you to very easily add an image to your post! Two MODS if you count an additonal feature of the Advanced BBCode Box 3 MOD. The traditional way is to type in the URL in the IMG tag after you've uploaded the image somewhere. Well we have two options. You can use the BBCode button on the bar or click the "Add image to post" link to the bottom left of the posting area. Both features are explained more in depth in another post, but they make this so much easier.

BTW, did you know you can resize the text area? Yeah, grab the light gray colored gripper bar and pull up or down. Want to quick edit without having to go back to the main editor? Click on the Quickedit button and you'll get a box that will apply your edits directly on the page when you hit submit. No refreshing the page to see your edits. If you need the full power of the Advanced BBCode Box then you can also click on the Advanced Edit button and you'll be put in the full editor. And that Quick Reply I told you about earlier. Well, click the button and you'll see the QR pop down. It's got full editing and BBCode capabilities and you don't even have to leave the page!

Want to save a draft of a message and come back to it later? Standard phpBB forum feature. Just click save and everything you typed will be saved. You can find your drafts in your UCP where you can load them and continue on. More on that later.

Final Words
As you might have guessed I have applied a lot of modifications to the forums. If you like it or hate it let me know. It's all here to make things easier for you as a user and us as Moderators and Admins. If there is anything you'd like to see that we have not implemented, let us know that too. I am always searching for ways to improve the forums. And if you run across a bug or error, please also let us know. Those kinds of things really mess up the flow of a forum and I like to fix them as soon as I find them.

Looking forward to your feedback!

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