Emerging Tech investigate

TechRepublic makes discussions faster and easier to navigate

Check out the new "Dynamic Navigation" feature that TechRepublic launched to improve the forums, and learn a few useful keyboard shortcuts.

This week, TechRepublic rolled out a change to the forums that is aimed at making discussion threads much faster and easier to navigate. We like to call this "dynamic navigation" and the easiest way to notice it is to look at a thread in "Expanded" view and then notice the two little up and down arrows on the right side, above and below the voting box (see image below).

You can click the arrows to instantly flip to the next message in the thread, or flip back to the previous message. This doesn't do a full page-load, so it is very fast. You can also skip to another message by just clicking the title of message. Again, this no longer does a full page-load either so it should load almost instantaneously.

A quick tip: if you place your mouse over the down arrow and leave it there then the page will skip you to the next discussion and automatically put your pointer over the next down arrow. So, you can click the down arrow, read a discussion post, click the down arrow, read the next discussion post, and so on, without having to scroll at all (unless there's a really long discussion post that goes past the length of your screen).

Also, a lot of TechRepublic members aren't aware of the keyboard shortcuts that you can use to help navigate the forums. Take note:

  • T for toggle - You can press the "T" key to toggle between the "Expanded" (threaded) and "Collapsed" (flat) views in TechRepublic forums.
  • J and K - In "Expanded" view you can press the "J" key to jump to the next discussion post and the "K" key to jump to the previous discussion post
  • Left and right arrow keys - In "Expanded" view you can also use the Right Arrow key to jump to the next discussion post and the Left Arrow key to jump to the previous discussion post.

As always, I have to give a shout-out to our Top 100 community members for their persistent feedback on the things we need to do to improve the user experience of our forums.

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

20 comments
PurpleSkys
PurpleSkys

this morning there's some guy flicking what looks like bingo balls as a backdrop to a question page...i'm not sure i get it....and i definitely don't like it... :|

JJFitz
JJFitz

Using the Dolphin HD browser.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

I've already expressed one issue to the TR developers but they can't seem to understand it. I use OS X Lion with Safari 5.x and have to turn OFF Javascript in order to view any text when and after commenting. Even now, with only two posts in this thread, the only visible markings I have between the text entry block and "Join the conversation" are a pair of faint vertical grey lines at the left that indicate the original comment and the first response similar to the 'forward' lines used in Apple Mail. This makes it effectively impossible to respond coherently to a specific comment and makes it impossible to read any subsequent comments. Again, you have a Javascript problem which forces me to turn it OFF to read comments to the articles once I've clicked "Add Your Opinion". Secondly, once I've entered a comment, the system drops me off at the comment I've just posted and forces me to click "view entire thread" to get back to the comments, which drops me back at the head of the comments rather than where I placed the response, forcing me to review all the comments again to find my place. Maybe Javascript handles this differently, but since I've been forced to turn off Javascript just to read the comments, this additional step is worse than annoying.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Wonder if it happens to other browsers on OSX?

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

Javascript is supposed to work the same way across all browsers on all OSes, if it doesn't, something's wrong either with the browser or the Javascript. What I get when I refresh a page in Safari is a flash of text, then blank, as though deleted as quickly as it was displayed. It makes me believe some other script is overriding it. Since Javascript worked fine on this site up until the change, logic deduces that the problem is on the site, not in the browser. Further analysis implies that it has something to do with the text frames rather than the text itself, each comment in a separate 'box' within the overall thread.

PurpleSkys
PurpleSkys

although replies and such don't always fall into the right "place"...otherwise, yes, it's better. Thank you Jason. It also looks like you've taken away the full page ads that were behind the Q&A pages and the big pop down boxes, I truly appreciate that they're gone, it was just too flashy. My only other beef atm is the little black CNET bar at the bottom, it would be nice if we had the option to close it.

JJFitz
JJFitz

Half the time when i use ie8 and choose to "search on this page", the hit is highlighted under the black bar. annoying.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

It happens to be in FF 6 every time. Search results appear behind the ad bar.

JJFitz
JJFitz

It doesn't seem to hide behind the bar when I use my pc in ie8 / win XP but it does hide on my ie8 / win 7 laptop

toms
toms like.author.displayName 1 Like

I like the new method for the discussions; however, what would be most helpful would be for a "flame" indicator or "flame" counter added to the + - voting boxes. I enjoy reading the "on topic" discussion but have no respect for the flame retorts. especially those which are not remotely related to the basic topic of the article.

Michael Jay
Michael Jay

Just accept it and move on, some live to upset, or try to upset others.

wizard57m-cnet
wizard57m-cnet

Just wondering...our wayback machine was going haywire!

hippiekarl
hippiekarl

Left and right arrow especially. Thanks for the site improvement.

Slayer_
Slayer_ like.author.displayName 1 Like

This is way better.

Justin James
Justin James

... there are no down/up arrows or the first and last posts, at least not on this thread. J.Ja

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

But at least then I can read all the comments.

Justin James
Justin James

... when I enter the conversation from the links in the emails I get, the arrows ONLY appear on the first post. On that note, in some of those emails, when I go to a response, I can't see any others, just the response itself in isolation. The system seems badly broken when it comes to links in emails in general. J.Ja