Continue where you left off / hand off feature for reading posts

When reading posts on mobile, I sometimes wish there was an option to easily open the same post on my computer. Right now, the “easiest” way to do this is to add a bookmark on mobile, go to desktop, open the bookmark, delete the bookmark, and then continue reading. I’m wondering if this could be streamlined a bit. Here’s what I’m thinking:

I propose adding a new section similar to drafts, that would list all the posts you currently have open in a browser on any device. The thought here is that if you wanted to continue reading the same post on another device, there’s a section specifically for that purpose. No need to bookmark the post or start writing a draft to get there. You also can’t really use the defer feature for this purpose since that only works for the final post in a topic. I’m thinking of this as a “hand off” feature. We already effectively have this for writing via drafts, but we don’t have it for reading. The only thing close is bookmarks, but I think it would be nice to avoid the overhead of adding and deleting the bookmarks when you want to immediately switch devices to continue reading.

If it’s not desirable to automatically detect what posts are currently opened on a device, another approach would be to have a menu option per post similar to Defer, which would send an immediate notification. The automatic detection approach feels cleaner to me though, since it’s more similar to drafts.

Thoughts?

3 Likes

There is a secret trick:

https://meta.discourse.org/read

The read filter lets you see stuff you recently read, back in version 0 of Discourse I introduced it, but it never became too popular. A bit hard to explain to people. I don’t think too many sites use it.

3 Likes

So by default it’s not available through UI navigation in any way? From the link, it seems intended to be similar to the Latest and Top pages, and I can totally understand why that would cause confusion. Why not include it in the user’s Activity section instead, where the secondary dropdown lets you pick things like topics and replies? Just add an option called “Recently Read”. It is specific to the user’s activity after all.

That said, the read page isn’t quite the same as my proposal. The main difference being that I want to get back to the current post I’m viewing, not the next unread post in the topic. This is an important distinction, as I may be revisiting a post (perhaps from a link) in the middle of a topic I’ve already read. In that case, the Read page would be useless.

If my proposal isn’t worth it, getting the Recently Read option added to the Activity dropdown would be better than nothing though.

1 Like

Oh this is indeed very complex, I think at this level of complexity you should lean on vendor cross device integration. Safari do this between iOS and Mac OS. I am sure Chrome has something similar in either a plugin or something like that.

I get the desire here, but I worry that a feature like this introduces enormous amounts of complexity.

3 Likes

Unfortunately this won’t work in my case. I just use the default Safari on my iPhone, but I use Chrome on my laptop. Plus, sometimes I may be on my work computer, where I visit Discourse instances, but wouldn’t feel right installing a plugin just to manage this. That’s why I was hoping for something built into Discourse itself.

I understand that it may not be worth it given the complexity though. Honestly, I was hoping it was similar to the tracking that’s done to prevent editing a draft in multiple tabs. But even if it was similar, I suppose that wouldn’t necessarily make the feature easy to implement.

In that case, is this sometime you’d be willing to consider? I think it would provide value at least some of the time for my use case, and should have value in general as well. Hopefully this one would be low enough effort that it’s worth considering.

1 Like

I think adding Recently Read to here is kind of handy:

@codinghorror / @awesomerobot how do you feel about it?

4 Likes

It’s fine as long as it is easy, we definitely have the route but do not advertise it, so that’d be a good way of advertising it, on the user page.

6 Likes

Yes this should be very easy, and it is a nice value add to the activity page! I can see people using this.

@techAPJ can you take this? Lets call the new item Read with the helptext Recently read topics

7 Likes

Done via:

6 Likes

Confirmed, there is now a “read” entry on your activity page/my/activity/read

Thanks @techAPJ :clap:

5 Likes