IdeaXchg Help

Message Posting Page

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Each discussion area has a page for submitting new messages, which can either be "top-level postings" or replies to other people's posted messages.

Forum Message Types

There are two basic types of messages that you can submit, as determined by the type of link you used to get to the posting page.  In either case the same form is used, but its behavior depends on how the posting page was reached.

Top-Level Messages
Top-level postings are messages that start a new "thread", or topic of conversation.  This is the type of message that will be posted if you used a Post link to reach the posting page.  Each of the forum's summary contents pages include a Post link in the main navigation bar, and there is also a Post link in every individual message page.  The threaded discussion outline always displays top-level messages at the left hand margin of the page.  (IdeaXchg also uses a special flavor of top-level posting called a placeholder message, but these can not be generated by the usual Posting procedure.)

Reply Messages
When you click on the Reply link in an individual message page, the posting page appears with a default Subject line derived from the previous message.  If you submit a message in this fashion, i.e. as a Reply, it will be "threaded" into the organization of the discussion area so as to indicate its relationship the preceding message, which may in turn be a reply to another message, and so on.  There is no Reply link in the main forum navigation bars, because a reply can only be made relative to a specific prior message.  The threaded discussion outline groups messages by thread, with replies indented under their "parent" message.

Fields in the Posting Form

The message posting form typically includes the following fill-in fields and controls:

Subject Field
a required line of text that will be displayed in the discussion outline as well as the title of the generated message page.  For top-level postings this field will be initially blank, but for replies it will be initialized to "Re: " + the subject line of the message to which it is a reply.  (The "Re: " is not repeated when you reply to a reply.)

It's a good idea to give some thought to the wording of your message subject lines, and you should also bear in mind that you can modify the default subject line supplied for Reply postings.  You will not be able to directly alter any part of a message after it has been posted (but an administrator with web authoring permissions can edit or delete messages).  Try to keep the title of your message short, but sufficiently specific to convey the gist of it.  When posting a Reply, consider appending some brief further qualification, to save people time when they are looking at the compact discussion threads outline.

From Field
generally a required field, this is where you would enter your name, nickname, or initials.  (For private, password-protected forums, this field may be omitted, because the user has already been identified.)  Some browsers support auto-completion, which can save you a little time by choosing a previously entered value from a pop-up list that appears when you double-click on the empty field.  What you enter in the From field will also be included (along with the subject, date, and time) in the corresponding line of the discussion outline.

Keywords List
a list from which you can select one or more keys to be attached to your message.  To select more than one keyword, hold down the Ctrl key and click on your selections.  (The usual Windows Shift and Ctrl key shortcuts apply.)  By convention, the initially selected key is the name of the forum or a similar word.  You should generally leave at least this default keyword selected.  (Unfortunately FrontPage doesn't make it easy to force a value to stay selected).

When a message page is generated from your posting, it includes a header line of the form:

    Keywords: key1, key2, key3, ...

You can employ these keywords in full-text searching via the message area's Search page.

Comments Text Box
where you enter the body of your message, which can be as long as you like.  A scroll bar will appear if it's needed.  Note that white space formatting and hard newlines are not generally preserved exactly as you enter them, so punctuation is recommended.  If you have a long message, it may be more convenient to prepare the body of the message in any text editor.  Then copy the message text onto the Windows clipboard and then paste it into the Comments field of the posting page.

If you end a sentence a single newline by pressing the Enter key once in the Comments field, the line break will not be preserved; it just turns into a space.  But if you press Enter twice, introducing a visible blank line, the paragraph break will be preserved in the generated page for your posting.  Also note that tabs and multiple consecutive spaces will be turned into a single space.

One convenience is the automatic generation of  hyperlinks for pieces of text that look like URLs; these forms will turn into live hyperlinks in the posted message page: http://www.ideaxchg.com or mailto:fubar@ideaxchg.com.  Unfortunately, however, you can not simply enter raw HTML into your message; it doesn't work.

Post Message Command Button
click once on this button (don't double-click) to submit the message that you've entered into the posting form.  If you leave the posting page without clicking on the Post Message button (or equivalent keyboard action), no message will be posted.  If you omit a required field when you attempt to post the message, you'll receive an error message and be allowed to complete the form and try again.

After you have clicked on the Post button once, wait a moment and you should receive a posting confirmation page, which displays the information you submitted.  This is a sure indication that your message was posted.  Don't get impatient and click the Post button more than once, or you may end up making redundant postings.

Reset Form Command Button
clears everything you entered in the form, and restores the default Keyword selection.

What Happens When You Post a Message

When you post a message, two things happen:

  1. a message page is generated
  2. the discussion outline is updated

These pages reside in a discussion folder (directory) reserved for that forum.  The details of this architecture and message posting logic are governed entirely by FrontPage 2000's automated Discussion Component, which also relies on the FrontPage Server Extensions.

Message Pages
Each new message page is named with the next available sequence number, and the page's title is the subject line, as entered.  The layout of message pages includes a standard header and footer, with the re-formatted message fields in the middle.  Navigation bars are provided in the message header and footer, including links to Reply and Next/Previous/Up for traversing the threads.

Discussion Outline
There is an indented outline of all threads in the discussion area, named tocproto.htm, which is generated and maintained automatically as postings and replies are made.  Each line of the discussion outline includes the subject (title), author (from field), and the date and time of the posting.  This page is used (as an "include file") to construct the framed and unframed versions of the main Discussion contents page for that forum.  

A useful feature of FrontPage's tocproto.htm file is that each line of the discussion outline is "bookmarked" or tagged with the message number that the line refers to.  This means that one can create a link directly to a particular message's line within the outline, e.g. to point to the start of a thread.  (IdeaXchg makes extensive use of this capability in order to provide the most convenient possible connection between edited articles or help pages and corresponding placeholder discussion threads.)

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