ACP UX Improvements

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Elsensee
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ACP UX Improvements

Post by Elsensee » Mon Oct 02, 2017 2:12 am

In this topic I want to talk about user experience improvements that can be made to the ACP.
This will include evaluating the existence of some settings, the introduction of some features and proposing to move some pages around.
For this I just went manually through (hopefully) all pages of the ACP and made some notes.

Besides the following points it should be clear that the design is not very up-to-date. Marc once did a mockup of a possible style for the ACP which I very like. But also in general I believe that we should allow users to modify the ACP style as easy as it is to modify the board style.
Actually we should even think about merging both parts so that you can download a style from the Customisation Database on phpBB.com and the board + the ACP will have the same look. (I never understood why there even is that kind of seperation)
Removing this seperation would also be nice so that we can design the new style for phpBB for both - the board and the ACP at once - so that both things will look similar again.


I will sort the following list by colours. The options which should be removed IMHO are red, the options which removal should be discussed are blue and the other modifications I propose are green. Let's go:

  • General
      • Reset board's start date - (I don't see any use case that makes sense)
      • Add a search options for settings to the ACP
    • Attachment settings
      • Upload directory - (Why do you need to change this?)
    • Board settings
      • Guest style - (This should be handled by Default style; also, this setting should influence the style option of the Anonymous user)
      • Default language - (Should influence the language setting of the Anonymous user too)
    • Board features
      • Allow subscribing to topics/forums - (I can't see a reason why you should disallow this)
      • Allow bookmarking topics - (Either remove the option, because why would you want to disable it, or remove the function. It's 2017 - modern browsers can handle this too)
      • Allow birthdays - (Remark: The option for the birthday listing at the bottom of the index should not be removed, just the option to allow/disallow users to enter their birthdays since I don't see a reason why you should want to disallow this..)
      • Display subject of last added post on forum list - (They are automatically hidden if the user has no permission to read topics)
      • Load settings - (This area should go to the page Load settings)
      • Allow styles to display custom profile fields in memberlist - (Why do style authors even have this option and does anybody ever use this?)
      • Display custom profile fields in private messages/user profiles/topic pages - (Admins can this enable/disable per field in another option)
    • Avatar settings
      • Avatar gallery path - (Why do you need to change this?)
      • Avatar storage path - (Or this?)
    • Private message settings
      • Limit editing time - (Only for PMs, though)
      • Allow BBCodes/smilies/signature in private messages - (There should only be one setting for posts&PMs)
      • Allow print view in private messages
      • Allow forwarding of private messages - (Nasty users can just copy the PM...)
      • Allow use of IMG/BBCode tag - (Again, only one setting for posts and PMs, please)
      • Maximum private message folders - (Is it really necessary to limit this?)
      • Maximum private messages per box - (What should it be called? Box or Folder? Also, why do we still need a PM limit?)
    • Post settings
      • Maximum characters per post/message - (Why do we need a limit?)
      • Maximum nesting depth for quotes - (Please explain)
      • Allow links in posts/private messages - (This is in the wrong place. This should be in Board features or also appear in Private message settings)
    • Feed settings
      • Item statistics - (First of all, the title is misleading. Second, why would you want to hide information about the author and the post time?)
    • User registration settings
      • Password length max - (passwords should not have a maximum except for the internal hardcoded maximum to prevent a denial of service attack)
      • COPPA - (This should go into an extension)
    • Spambot countermeasures
      • Remove broken CAPTCHAs and maybe include new ones
      • After removal of broken CAPTCHAs, maybe make Q&A CAPTCHA the default if there are no other options. To add default questions, maybe add the Simplemath CAPTCHA Mod from nickvergessen - Also, another RFC
    • Client Communication
      • Integrate the whole category into Server configuration.
    • Authentication
      • This whole category should go into the expert mode (see below) since changing the Authentication mode can make it impossible for the user to login again.
      • Also, this category needs more documentation. There is nothing on the page!
      • Make OAuth more prominent (you can't really break login with this)
    • Email settings
      • Users send email via board - (It should be visible in the UCP for example that this setting is enabled/disabled)
      • Hide email addresses - (The explanation isn't very explaining)
      • SMTP settings/Email function name - (Maybe move to the expert mode? - See below)
    • Jabber settings
      • Maybe move this module as well to the expert mode (see below)
    • Cookie settings
      • Cookie path - (it even says that that setting should always be a slash, so why have it then?)
      • Cookie name - (The explanation should say "unique" instead of "original" to emphasise that the name must be unique, IMHO)
      • Cookie notice - (On installation as well as here there should be a map or something similar that shows users where this is mandatory and where it's only optional.) Probably put this into an extension as well, just like COPPA
    • Server settings
      • Smilies/Post icons/Extensions group icons/Rank image storage path - (Why do you need to change this?)
      • Move to expert mode (see below)
      • Run periodic tasks from system cron - (It should be made clearer that with this option the phpBB cron will be disabled and the system cron won't be setup by phpBB itself but has to be setup by the server administrator)
    • Security settings
      • Allow php in templates
      • Tie forms to guest sessions
      • Allow "Remember me" logins - (Why disallow them?)
      • Allow password reset ("Forgot Password") - (Why disallow this?)
      • Many options should be moved to the expert mode (see below)
      • Validate browser - (Not very good explained)
    • Load settings
      • Display notifications - (Why even disable this?)
      • Enable display of user online/offline information
      • Limit system load - (This definitely is an expert setting and thus should be moved to the expert mode - see below)
      • Enable dotted topics - (Is not very well explained, what does it do?)
      • Enable online user listings - (Title is misleading)
      • Recompile stale style components - (This is actually a developer setting, maybe have this moved to another.. uh.. developer mode? :mrgreen: )
      • Allow usage of third party content delivery networks - (As stated in the explanation, this might be security critical; so this also might belong to the Secruity settings page)
    • Help support phpBB
      • This definitely doesn't belong to the Server configuration category...
  • Forums
    • Manage forums
      • Enable post review
      • Make it easier to move forums around
      • Change forum type - (Make it clearer that posts will be deleted/moved when a forum is going to be a category or a link.. make it red for example)
      • Forum password - (Make it visible, this is not a user password, there is no reason to hide it)
      • Forum permissions/moderators - (Text is too small, make settings also more user friendly)
    • Copy forum permissions
      • This looks like Web 1.0
  • Posting
    • Topic icons
      • Install icons package - (Not explained well where the user has to put it, if he wants to install one - maybe also allow the user to upload one on that page)
    • Smilies
      • Install smilies package - (Same as for icons)
      • On the click on every gear icon, it should toggle into an edit mode instead of displaying an entirely new page. Also, sorting them should be made easier - maybe by dragging and dropping.
    • Attachments
    • Manage attachments
      • "Mark" should be named "Delete" or "Delete?" as that is the only thing you can do with marked items.
  • Maintenance
    • Backups
      • Don't annoy people with table names. Instead show them checkboxes like "Save users/posts/PMs?" and then let phpBB decide which tables are affected by this. Also, this should be done asynchronously with refreshes after timeouts so that big boards can also make backups in the ACP.
  • System
    • Spiders/Robots
      • Re-evaluate the list of crawlers and allow bulk-edit.
    • Module Management - (No, seriously, just remove it altogether. Why would you want to hide modules or even move them around?) Move to expert mode.

Notes to Other modifications to the ACP
For some things I want to introduce an "expert mode". In normal use, some settings never have to be changed but should be available. If administrators want to change these they should enable an "expert mode" (or with a similar name) which should come at the warning that changing some settings available in this mode comes with the risk of locking the admin out of the board. Or something similar.
Some routers have this kind of thing, for example FRITZ!Box routers by AVM have something like a checkbox called "Expert settings" which allows users to further configure the router.

All of this is my own opinion, so please discuss these points with me. :) Oh, and thanks for reading to this point. :mrgreen:

After writing this post, I realised that phpBB really needs a WYSIWYG editor... This was madness.

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rxu
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Re: ACP UX Improvements

Post by rxu » Mon Oct 02, 2017 3:01 am

As for splitting/merging ACP style. I think that this was done to simplify the "main" style develpmnet and support as well as custom styles development. Also, as ACP is more technical than users area, I guess it was enough to be minimalistic as it is.
If we merge ACP style into "main" part, we'll force stryle authors to do more job than they expected (and it's mainly unneeded to be honest).If I were custom style author, I'd just left the ACP part as is ;)

As for the Attachments management module, its 1st version allowed to moving attachments between posts (this feature was removed in final version because Naderman has suggested to add forums/topics/posts browsing interface to select post to put attachment in instead of just a text area to put the post ID, lol).

As for the module management, personally I use it from time to time to manage some borked/unneeded stuff (especially caused by some leftovers etc after the board conversion/upgrade). So rather than removing I'd move it to [hypothetical] Expert mode tab :P

As an addition, like we discussed before, it would be nice to add parameters search option (which should be language sensitive I think).

And thanks for that big ACP review, good job 👍
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canonknipser
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Re: ACP UX Improvements

Post by canonknipser » Mon Oct 02, 2017 6:25 am

Elsensee, thanks for your long and elaborate post ;)

I agree with a lot of points, esp. the "expert mode" and "developers mode"

Some remarks:
Maximum private messages per box - (What should it be called? Box or Folder? Also, why do we still need a PM limit?)
"Folder" would be the correct term, i think, because the limit is per folder.
Maximum private message folders - (Is it really necessary to limit this?)
I think yes, because otherwise some boards will have more PM than "real" posts, so keep it ;)
But maybe there can be an extra explanation: "For the total users limit you need to multiply those parameters"

Maximum nesting depth for quotes - (Please explain)
If we have to many quotes in a row, post can get unreadable:
k
j
i
h
g
(this went down to "a" when i created this post ... So innermost quotes are removed depending on this setting.

Enable post review
Keep it or make it default - for me it is annoying to write a long an elaborate post and find out another user has posted in between and my post is missing information from the other post. And if my post is the first on a new page, I have hardly a chance to recognize the other post as it is on a previous page.
"Mark" should be named "Delete" or "Delete?" as that is the only thing you can do with marked items.
I would keep it as "mark" or maybe "select", because some extensions can add functionality - keep marking an item and action on an marked item seperated.
Greetings, Frank

english is not my native language

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Vinny
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Re: ACP UX Improvements

Post by Vinny » Mon Oct 02, 2017 7:17 am

I agree with all the red ones.

Elsensee wrote:
Mon Oct 02, 2017 2:12 am
Spambot countermeasures

Remove broken CAPTCHAs and maybe include new ones
After removal of broken CAPTCHAs, maybe make Q&A CAPTCHA the default if there are no other options. To add default questions, maybe add the Simplemath CAPTCHA Mod from nickvergessen
I think the recaptcha should be upgrade to the Invisible reCAPTCHA version. Captcha settings should be made during installation with a "skip" button. Check out this RFC about Q&A by default.

Elsensee wrote:
Mon Oct 02, 2017 2:12 am
Maybe throw away FLASH completely...?
please kill FLASH from everywhere. https://blogs.adobe.com/conversations/2 ... pdate.html

Elsensee wrote:
Mon Oct 02, 2017 2:12 am
Actually we should even think about merging both parts so that you can download a style from the Customisation Database on phpBB.com and the board + the ACP will have the same look. (I never understood why there even is that kind of seperation)
I liked that idea. If I'm not mistaken, CDB only hasone ACP style.

Senky
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Re: ACP UX Improvements

Post by Senky » Mon Oct 02, 2017 9:22 am

Elsensee wrote:
Mon Oct 02, 2017 2:12 am
Actually we should even think about merging both parts so that you can download a style from the Customisation Database on phpBB.com and the board + the ACP will have the same look. (I never understood why there even is that kind of seperation)
Removing this seperation would also be nice so that we can design the new style for phpBB for both - the board and the ACP at once - so that both things will look similar again.
Actually, imagine a use case when one person administers multiple boards. He is really glad to have the same style on all his ACPs, supporting easier navigation. He can, of course choose the same ACP style for all his boards. But there is another argument. UX. As admins don't visit ACP on daily basis, it's difficult for them to remember where specific settings are. We should aim for as clear UI as possible to support seamless navigation and usage. Style authors usually aim for good look more than for easy usage (and that's good, because phpBB has only few different pages and navigation is pretty straightforward). ACP is, however, different environment. I think we should gather all the possible data to create the best and unified ACP interface that's top priority will be the navigation (thus UX), not great look. I can tell, however, there are some geeks who's priority is the mood of the look more than the ease of the use. So take this just as a thinking aloud, a food for thoughts.

Elsensee wrote:
Mon Oct 02, 2017 2:12 am
  • Upload directory - (Why do you need to change this?)
  • Avatar gallery path - (Why do you need to change this?)
  • Avatar storage path - (Or this?)
It is going to be waaay different with new Storage Interface (developed by GSoC student I assume). So this is probably out of question.

Elsensee wrote:
Mon Oct 02, 2017 2:12 am
  • Allow bookmarking topics - (Either remove the option, because why would you want to disable it, or remove the function. It's 2017 - modern browsers can handle this too)
+1 to remove

Elsensee wrote:
Mon Oct 02, 2017 2:12 am
  • Maximum characters per post/message - (Why do we need a limit?)
Admin might want to limit the length of the post for various reasons - to make discussion more constructive, or even imitate Twitter! :D I think this option is valuable and should be kept.

Elsensee wrote:
Mon Oct 02, 2017 2:12 am
  • COPPA - (This should go into an extension)
+∞

Elsensee wrote:
Mon Oct 02, 2017 2:12 am
  • This whole category should go into the expert mode (see below) since changing the Authentication mode can make it impossible for the user to login again.
But separate the OAuth then. OAuth is simple, commonly used and doesn't require expert to handle (you can't break login by adding OAuth keys).

Elsensee wrote:
Mon Oct 02, 2017 2:12 am
  • Cookie path - (it even says that that setting should always be a slash, so why have it then?)
Not strictly always. It has already been discussed that description is wrong here (see this PR). Option should be kept.

Elsensee wrote:
Mon Oct 02, 2017 2:12 am
  • Allow "Remember me" logins - (Why disallow them?)
  • Allow password reset ("Forgot Password") - (Why disallow this?)
Security reasons (ie. intranets). Should really be kept. As for password reset, some orgs might want only server admins to reset the passwords for the users.

Elsensee wrote:
Mon Oct 02, 2017 2:12 am
  • Recompile stale style components - (This is actually a developer setting, maybe have this moved to another.. uh.. developer mode? :mrgreen: )
Or better, constant defined in config.php.

Elsensee wrote:
Mon Oct 02, 2017 2:12 am
  • Maybe throw away FLASH completely...?
+∞

Elsensee wrote:
Mon Oct 02, 2017 2:12 am
  • Module Management - (No, seriously, just remove it altogether. Why would you want to hide modules or even move them around?)
Not so simple. ;) As extensions developer, I sometimes mess with modules and need to manually delete/repair them. This management really makes it much easier than alter DB directly. Maybe another stuff for "developer section"?

Elsensee wrote:
Mon Oct 02, 2017 2:12 am
For some things I want to introduce an "expert mode".
Huge like for this idea! With this, ACP will finally become small enough to be easy to use for common admins.

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Louis7777
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Re: ACP UX Improvements

Post by Louis7777 » Mon Oct 02, 2017 10:10 am

First of all, I agree that things like forums and smilies should be easier to move around using drag and drop and AJAX features! That's very important. (Related discussion: https://area51.phpbb.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?&t=43989)

I also agree that COPPA should be an extension. And that FLASH should be removed.

And I would like to have a language feature so that each admin can choose his own ACP language which can be different from the board's language.
Elsensee wrote:
Mon Oct 02, 2017 2:12 am
Post settings
  • Maximum characters per post/message - (Why do we need a limit?)
  • Maximum nesting depth for quotes - (Please explain)
We need a limit for flooders and spammers and to prevent someone from sending a big-ass message that will make the discussion hard to read.
Same for quotes - to have a cleaner discussion.
Elsensee wrote:
Mon Oct 02, 2017 2:12 am
Spiders/Robots
  • Re-evaluate the list of crawlers.
I would also like a way to bulk edit them and change their board language.

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Re: ACP UX Improvements

Post by CHItA » Mon Oct 02, 2017 10:27 am

Throwing out options will not result in better UX. I don't think that it is possible to improve UX without completely redesigning the ACP.

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Re: ACP UX Improvements

Post by Meis2M » Mon Oct 02, 2017 11:06 am

it is possible use a same framework ( like Base-L ) for default style and ACP style.
i am waiting for opinion of Hanakin about this.

Marc abandoned this project ( ACP Style ) ?

and Yes about this :D
Elsensee wrote:
Mon Oct 02, 2017 2:12 am
After writing this post, I realised that phpBB really needs a WYSIWYG editor... This was madness.

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DavidIQ
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Re: ACP UX Improvements

Post by DavidIQ » Mon Oct 02, 2017 12:10 pm

I am not in favor of making the ACP style dependent on the main style. Style authors care very little about it since a very limited audience will actually see it (anywhere from 1 person to 100 out of 1000+ members of any given forum?) and might either break it or make it look ugly. Plus we may scare away the few style authors we still have. I can't think of any software that is successful at or even bothers making the administration area look like the main style. Those that do, like Coppermine, are very shaky at best with the administration area styling for each style.

As far as I can see that ACP style Marc had come up with looks and would work very well and could probably be used in the next version if more work is put into it.
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Re: ACP UX Improvements

Post by Crizzo » Mon Oct 02, 2017 12:14 pm

Elsensee wrote:
Mon Oct 02, 2017 2:12 am
Actually we should even think about merging both parts so that you can download a style from the Customisation Database on phpBB.com and the board + the ACP will have the same look. (I never understood why there even is that kind of seperation)
Removing this seperation would also be nice so that we can design the new style for phpBB for both - the board and the ACP at once - so that both things will look similar again.
Just a few things to this:
I wouldn't want that. The ACP is often used for support and you can quite easily describe the way with Screenshots, Videos etc. Different styles will put the links/section in different looks and on different locations, which will lead to more trouble figuring out how you should reach option X.

Even though it would increase, at least a bit the workload for the style authors. Which should only affect User-Frontend, imho.
CHItA wrote:
Mon Oct 02, 2017 10:27 am
Throwing out options will not result in better UX. I don't think that it is possible to improve UX without completely redesigning the ACP.
I would combine this removal with a new layout/structure. Then it really should help to tidy up the ACP.

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