IdeaXchg Help

Forum Contents Page

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Each IdeaXchg forum has a main Contents page, which presents an edited outline of the articles, help pages, and other pages or bookmarks relevant to that forum.  (Actually, there are 2 flavors of Contents pages, for framed and unframed viewing, but otherwise identical.)  The purpose of the Contents page is to give people a quick way to find information under logical topic headings, with minimal searching.

Contents page layout

While IdeaXchg forums differ in content and are physically separate, they share a common structure and organization.  The forum Contents page is generally composed of the following series of sections:

Page header

At the top left is the name of the forum to which the Contents page belongs.  At the top right, there is a small navigation bar that typically reads:

| Bottom | Frame | Unframe | Help |

Bottom goes to the bottom of the current page.  The Frame/Unframe links allows you to toggle between viewing the Contents in the upper frame of a split browser window or viewing the Contents page in a normal (unframed) browser window.  Note that when you switch from Unframed to Framed viewing, the lower frame is initially loaded with the forum's Welcome page, and the splitter is restored to its default position.  The Frame link is disabled when you are already viewing the framed version of the Contents page.  You should experiment with the behavior of your browser's "Back" button and context menu commands, to understand how to navigate most conveniently with framesHelp takes you to this page.

Main navigation bar

Below the page header is a standard navigation bar that appears throughout IdeaXchg, which looks roughly like this:

        | IdeaXchg | Contents | Discussion | Search | Post |

points to the home page for this web.  Other webs and subwebs that follow the IdeaXchg conventions would substitute the name of their own home page for this first link.
This link is disabled since it points to the current page, but the text remains in order to keep a consistent navigation bar appearance.  When you go to the Discussion threads page, the Contents link will be enabled and the Discussion link disabled.
goes to the Discussion threads TOC page, i.e. the indented outline of message titles in this forum's discussion area.  Using the Discussion link preserves your current mode of browsing either framed or unframed, i.e. if you are viewing the Contents in the upper frame, you will go to the Discussion page in the upper frame, but if you were on the unframed Contents page, the Discussion link takes you to the unframed Discussion threads page.  Also note that using the Discussion link in framed mode preserves the current splitter arrangement and does not change the page loaded in the lower frame.
goes to the search form for this forum's discussion area.  In framed mode, this link loads the Search page into the lower frame.  (Note that the scope of searching is dependent on the physical web organization: discussion messages are indexed separately from edited content pages, and combined indexes are used for all folders in a given subweb.)
goes to the form for posting new messages and replies to this forum's discussion area.  In framed mode, this link loads the Posting page into the lower frame.

Edited outline of forum contents

The main body of the forum Contents page is occupied by an outline of links to pages and bookmarks that the editor has chosen and put into some logical organization.  Since this outline can grow to a large size, it is may be broken into sub-sections with intermediate headers and dividing lines.  Intra-page links are also provided for convenience (by convention these links are in boldface).  In framed mode, the normal (non-boldface) outline entries will generally load the target page into the lower frame, so you can easily keep track of your position in the outline and quickly scan over a series of entries.  The following sequence of outline sections is typical, but variations from forum to forum are at the editor's discretion:

Note: the ability to list all forum message postings in the sequence of their serialized filenames depends on having special server permissions properly set.  Otherwise you'll get an error to the effect that you are not authorized to view this page.  The sequential listing of messages is different from from the indented outline grouped by Discussion threads (which is always available, without special server settings).  When there are a lot of messages, the sequential listing provides a convenient way to quickly peruse the most recent postings, irrespective of the thread under which they fall.  The ability to list messages in reverse sequential order, showing the most recent postings first, is especially useful, but this feature is server-dependent.

Lower navigation bar

Near the bottom of the Contents page is a navigation bar containing a link to the Top of page, Frame/Unframe links (as in the page header), and a page hit counter.  By convention, a similar navigation bottom bar is used on most IdeaXchg pages, but only TOC pages (e.g. Home, Contents, or Discussion pages) include a Frame link.

Page footer

All IdeaXchg pages (except for include pages) include one of a variety of standard page footers.  The page footer typically includes a link to the site's home page, an indication of the type of page, timestamp information, the page's URL, and a copyright notice.

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