Custom sidebar sections being tested on meta

I think there are multiple goals mentioned here that aren’t very controversial that we’ll reach in time:

For custom link sections:

  • ability to add external links
  • fancier features like new/unread topic activity?

Sidebar in general:

  • default custom sections added by admins
  • default ordering of sidebar sections by admins
  • user defined ordering of sidebar sections
  • user edits to the “community” section

To support this (and probably more!) I think the + button in the footer will become an “edit mode” for the sidebar. We still need to figure out the design for this.

18 Likes

This is the key one for me. I wouldn’t use custom links in the sidebar unless I could link to something external.

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@awesomerobot, you are probably far ahead of me, but I was thinking about this this morning and wanted to put it in writing in case it’s helpful. I can think of these different types of menu items:

Internal Links

What’s there now, with usability enhancements and so on.

External Links

Probably most important for admin-configured menus — docs, legal/compliance policy links, etc.

“Watchable” Items

As many of the non-custom sections have now: selected categories, tags, inboxes, messages, chat channels, personal chats.

Might as well also add the ability to pin a particular topic. This could be bookmarks, but I would use this for a few particular posts beyond bookmarks (which I mostly use for timed reminders). For example Fedora Strategy 2028: a topic index for our planning process - Fedora Discussion.
(The difference from an internal link: it’d have an indicator of new replies or edits, and possibly a counter.)

Dynamic Watchables

Rather than particular channels, tags, topics, etc., there could be:

  • most recently-active N categories
  • tags that match the pattern release-*
  • top 5 topics that match a search term
  • most-used personal chats

… these would, I hope obviously, add multiple entries. (Possibly requiring the whole section to be for that? Maybe!)

Moderator Tools

Could duplicate the notification for the review queue (with indicator for something needing to be handled), but I’m thinking beyond that:

  • last five topics from new users
  • new hits for a particular watched word
  • topics which are getting heated (using the Disorder plugin or other heuristics like two people replying back and forth quickly
  • something indicating other mods’ recent actions?
  • probably a lot more ideas…

Also, this could be where my “sudo mode” switch would go. :slight_smile:

User Options

Like the theme selector, but other options too. Title, status, flair, featured topic, etc.

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Why is adding external links banned? It would be cool to switch from meta.discourse.org to another forum or service.

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Oh, another one, which doesn’t quite fit cleanly into the categories I made: tag/category intersections. (Posts with a given tag in a specific category — or posts in a given category with a specific tag, depending on how you think of it.) This can be expressed with an internal link, but again it’d be nice to have the right category and tag styling, and to have the activity indicators.

Speaking of which — the sidebar now has blue dots, but… am I imagining things? Did it originally have counters? If this wasn’t a performance optimization, it might be nice to have count-or-just-dot as an option when customizing.

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Yes, it was changed to dots a while ago :slight_smile:

You can change the setting here: https://meta.discourse.org/my/preferences/sidebar
image

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Cool — then my suggestion stands: this would be nice as a per-custom-list-item config option rather than a global one.

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It doesn’t let me use /my/profile or similar - they need to be actual relative links. This is inconsistent with other bits of the UI (such as Watched Words Links)

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Thanks for the heads-up, in that case it wouldn’t work for the main usage case I was planning on using it for, I would need the /my/ links to work.

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Two minor things:

  • When we focus an input, as soon as we click elsewhere without entering anything, the input has an invalid state (red border).

  • The icon list appears when we start typing in the icon selector. If we move the mouse cursor on an icon and continue to type, it clears the text we already typed, forcing us to re-write from the beginning. It can be slightly annoying when we want to complete the current text to find more similar icons.

  • The red text on black or grey (selected) background on the WCAG Dark palette is hard to read:
    image
    Same with a red button with black text:
    image

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I very much welcome customisable sidebars. Nice one, @kris.kotlarek @awesomerobot @sam.

Moving the location of default sections with the ability to rename them would be an excellent start (for Admins).

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+1 and I suggest something related:

[details=“Little improvement on Community section”]
We would like to display more fields on “Community” section because people won’t trigger More and we have our leaderboard, groups and docs there (!)

Probably show 5 lines would be great for the majority (adding docs, leaderboard or rules).

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Is there any ETA yet on these functionalities?

The sidebar is a great improvement over the dropdown imho but I find that the lack of ability to even customize the top links (adding new, last, etc. for example) greatly limit its usability.

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We don’t have an ETA, but we’ve got a rough list of interrelated features defined that we’re working on… in no particular order:

  • Ability for admins to edit the Community section (including section name)
  • Users can reorder sidebar sections
  • Users can reorder links within custom sections
  • Users can show/hide (not just collapse) sidebar sections
  • Users can edit their own Community section
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Loving EVERY one of those as they cover basically everything the users have been asking for :slight_smile:

Thank you for the update!

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I just noticed that the alphabetical list of icons ends with “plug”. Are there no more icons or is the list cut at that position? I thought someting like share should be there.

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Hello

Is the “Custom sidebar sections” feature included in the latest beta version of Discourse (3.1.0.beta3) ?

Because there is information in “New Features” that suggests that…

image

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It came even earlier :wink:

Settings and enable custom sidebar sections.

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I can get it to bring up ‘question’ if I search, so I think the rest are in there somewhere:

image

I’m not sure why the list only has until ‘P’. The lookup list when creating a new badge cuts off at ‘C’ as well, so maybe there’s a limit?

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Hello,

I have noticed two minor issue with usage. :slightly_smiling_face:

  1. On mobile, the fields little misaligned.

  2. If I use capital in search it won’t find the icon. This can be a problem on mobile because when the field in focus the keyboard will capitalize letters first.

Thank you :slightly_smiling_face: This is a really great feature! Love it :heart:

6 Likes