Since the launch of the new Discourse Templates plugin, I’ve really been enjoying the new functionality of having reply templates stored in topics within a dedicated template category. This makes it easy to view and edit templates, while allowing the ability to filter, tag, edit, and sort existing templates as needed.
However, currently there can only be template category selected at a time, so all templates for a site are shared by all users with access to the set template category.
Additionally, if a user wanted to create a template that only they themselves could access, there’s currently no way to do this without modifying access to all templates within the template category.
Based on these observations, here are a couple features that I feel many different types of Discourse users could benefit from:
- The ability to create a personal private template that only the user who created the template could access and view.
- The ability to create private templates that two or more users on the site could access, but would still be hidden from anyone else.
A few ways this could be used in different situations.
- A user wants to create personal templates for themselves, but doesn’t want to clutter up the main templates category with irrelevant templates for the entire site.
- Ex: Alex’s company uses Discourse as a support platform, and they want to store answers to every possible customer question as a template. Even if the templates never get uses, Alex can reference back on their personal templates for future related customer questions, or knowledge about something they might not have seen in a while - even if the templates never get used.
- Ex: Alex uses Discourse as community forum for the products and services they are selling on their main (non-Discourse) website. Alex creates a template for a topic that only they post to their Discourse site every Friday to help build engagement.
- Shared templates for an entire team but not the entire company.
- Ex: Alex works as a software developer, and their team frequently runs though multiple different sets of tasks internally. The software development team has a template with a checklist or other actionable items for each set of tasks that needs to be completed by each member on the team.
- Ex: Alex manages a team who uses Discourse as a support platform. Alex creates templates that only the support team can access to help the team respond to customers faster.
- Two or more members of a team would like access to the same templates, but they don’t need these shared with the entire team.
- Ex: Alex works in support and John works in software development, their company uses Discourse to communicate with customers. John just fixed a bug, so he decides to create a template explaining the changes he made to the company’s software to fix the bug - he then shares this template with Alex so they can inform customers about the updates. Once all customers have been notified the template could be deleted.
I’m sure there’s many more use cases not mentioned here.
With all this in mind, and regardless of what features exist for making templates public or private, users of a site still need to decide - “Who should a template be shared with?”
There’s a balance between “Everyone on the site will use this template everyday”, and “Someone used this template once for one specific task and now it’s never used again”. In this first situation, yes of course we’d want this template to be shared with everyone, but in the later case, if the template was shared, it would simply clutter up the list of templates, and the list of all templates could quickly become overwhelming, outdated, or extraneous if there were no standards as to what is an “acceptable” template for the entire site.
With Discourse Templates, we can now tag each template to help with sorting and finding templates when the time comes to use them, so why should we even need templates that are private to an individual or team? Why couldn’t a support team just tag all their templates with a
#support tag and be done with all this? Why couldn’t Alex just tag all their personal templates with an
#alex-templates tag and move on?
Short Answer: There’s no reason why this wouldn’t work. Users can simple tag templates and then search for them when they’re trying to pull them up.
Long Answer (which is really just more questions): When people use templates do they scroll through all of them, or just search for what they need? If you’re just searching for templates, the number of templates you’re searching through probably doesn’t matter as much - you just search and then you’re done once you find what you’re looking for. However, if you’re scrolling through all the possible templates you could use, this could be a lengthy task depending on how many templates your site has.
What if your site is huge? If your site had 1000 templates, but you only ever use 10 of those, why should you need to see all the extra templates, wouldn’t those just be extra clutter for you? Okay, a little extreme, but still, there becomes a threshold where there’s just too many templates for a particular set of people, or entire site to have access to.
Also, what if you don’t know what to search? What if you just started moderating a particular Discourse site and you don’t know what all the templates are named, and there’s 100 of them? What if you’re searching for an “site introduction” template, but someone called the template you’re looking for “welcome” (or a similar situation) and your search doesn’t bring up anything?
There’s lots of questions that need to be considered here, and there isn’t necessarily a right answer.
It looks like other users on here may have thoughts about this as well. While this was about the now outdated Canned Replies plugin, the ideas expressed are still applicable here:
When we think about the actual mechanics here, it has been mentioned that @saquetim may know more about how to best implement this.
For personal templates, perhaps a PM to self + special tag could do the trick?
If you wanted a couple people to have access to a template, maybe you could PM yourself, and the other person with a special tag?
Maybe we could have the ability to select multiple
discourse templates categories?
What are everyone’s thoughts about this?
- Would something like this actually be useful?
- Why would we want the ability to create private templates?
- How do we want this to be used?