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Kunena 4.0.5: what the developers didn’t tell you

2461 hits Updated: 23 September 2015

The K 4.0.5 “teaser” feature.

K 4.0.5 dashboard:  FAQs … ?

Kunena 5.0 is “an­nounced”

Kunena project personnel changes

In recent articles about K 4.0.5 I made some points about difficulties people will have installing third-party Kunena templates and the changed behaviour with the subscribe checkboxAnother new feature added to this so-called “minor” release adds the ability to incorporate a “teaser” ability on your forum but it’s not for everyone and the devil is in the detail.

In addition to the features added to K 4.0.5, the Kunena development team has recently announced plans for the next major release of Kunena [K 5.0] together with plans to overhaul their website and update the user documentation.

As I have written before, discussion about improving Kunena, to encourage people to join a website before they can participate in forum activity, has been going on for a long time.  Most people will be aware of what a “teaser” means but, for those who are reading this for the first time, here is my definition:

… a feature that allows [forum owners] to display a list of topics to guests but not allow guests to read the contents of the topics until they have registered and logged in.Installing and using The Drum template for Kunena, 24-Jul-2014

The Crypsis template makes it fairly obvious that people should register and login to “join the conversation”.  The reminder occurs at the end of every message posted on the forum. 

Recently one member of the Kunena community asked a question at the Kunena website about what are the developer’s plans to incorporate a teaser feature.  For those of you who are unable to access the link, this is how the discussion unfolded:

This feature is now in the core. With Crypsis template.Jelle Kok (as 810), Teasers - Read list of topics but not be able to view the contents unless you are registered, 22-Sep-2015
Can you share the template URL?epchilem, Teasers - Read list of topics but not be able to view the contents unless you are registered, 22-Sep-2015
It's on edit template when you have K 4.0.5 And J! 3.4 Jelle Kok (as 810), Teasers - Read list of topics but not be able to view the contents unless you are registered, 22-Sep-2015
Thanks for reply, but I couldn't see any option for that.  My version is K 4.0.5.  Could you explain more?epchilem, Teasers - Read list of topics but not be able to view the contents unless you are registered, 22-Sep-2015
How to use the teaser feature:
1) Enable Crypsis
2) Go to Kunena Config -> security -> Hide Replies For Guests set to "Yes".Jelle Kok (as 810), Teasers - Read list of topics but not be able to view the contents unless you are registered, 23-Sep-2015

Now remember, this is the only announcement that was made using the words teaser feature and this is the only user documentation that helps people understand how it works.  So, let’s look at how it works.

The setting Configuration » Security » Security Settings » Hide Replies For Guests is a new setting for K 4.0.  The explanatory text says

When enabled, users must be login before reading the answers.

There are two points to make about the “documentation”:

  1. The setting applies to all topics in all categories of the forum; and
  2. The setting only applies to the Crypsis template.

k405 teasersWhen the setting is enabled, the feature displays the contents of the first message posted in a topic and then conceals the text of the replies that follow afterwards.  The screenshot to the right (click to enlarge the image) illustrates this effect.  You will notice the additional encouragement for readers to join the website to “participate” in the discussion.  I will not comment on the aesthetics but I will leave it to my readers to decide whether this meets the original objects of the teaser feature as I outlined them earlier in this article and as I have implemented it in a different manner in the templates I have designed.

Although this new feature may be an improvement, I believe the community is tiring of the gimmickry and would prefer that the developers  concentrate on stabilising the product and stabilising the current design before rushing headlong into new, undocumented and largely untested territory.

K 4.0.5 dashboard:  FAQs … ?

So you’ve installed Kunena, you’ve got your “Welcome Mat” and “Suggestions Box” categories, you’ve read the sample first topic in your new forum and you may have even made a test post yourself.  What’s next?  If you are like any new user of software you’re probably looking for a user guide, or at least, a page of frequently asked questions.

Let’s look at how K 4.0.5 has this matter covered by examining the K 4.0.5 dashboard.  “Wow,” you may say, “there’s a ‘Getting Started’ section with links to FAQs!”

Let’s examine those three FAQs:

  • FAQ: How to Setup
    • I’m not sure what we’re “setting up” but I’m guessing it might have something to do with the way the configuration settings work.
  • FAQ: Setup Categories
    • Yeah, I need to know how to setup forum categories (whatever they might be)
  • FAQ: Get Support
    • There’s a FAQ on support?  Really?  Sounds interesting.  I might visit that link later.

Now let’s see what those three things actually do.

  • FAQ: How to Setup
    • This link tells me how to install K 2.0!  What the hell?  I want to use K 4.0, not K 2.0! (mumble-grumble)
  • FAQ: Setup Categories
    • What do you mean this article “needs to be updated for K 1.6”.  That was, like, 4 years ago!  And what’s all this stuff about J! 1.5 doing here?  (more mumbling and grumbling)
  • FAQ: Get Support
    • This isn’t a link to a FAQs page.  It’s just another forum where I have to ask a question that has probably been asked a thousand times before and they’ll probably think I’m just another noob.  (more mumbling, grumbling … ready to press the uninstall button).

k405 dashboardJust in case you suspect that I’m being cruelly unfair on the development team, I alerted the team to these issues back when K 4.0.2 was released (in June this year) and they’ve made no effort to address these matters.  The screenshot on the right is taken from the K 4.0.5 dashboard and I invite to see for yourselves whether these FAQs links are worth the trouble of clicking.  As far as I know, these matters have not been addressed in K 4.0.6 (and who knows what will happen with K 5.0), either, but we shall have to wait and see.

Kunena 5.0 is “announced”

After less than 6 months of trialling K 4.0—I describe it as a trial because, in my opinion, K 4.0 has never been more than beta software—the developers have today released their plans for K 5.0.  There are no real surprises with K 5.0.  Given the history of adding new features with every minor software release, the long-term acceptance by the Kunena community to embrace K 5.0 will be little different to the way people have embraced Kunena since the original founding project team members departed from project before K 4.0 was released.

Key to K 5.0 (expected to be available in November this year) is the indication that the website will be overhauled.  This advice about a forthcoming change to the Kunena website is not new.  It was first tweeted back in May this year (together with images that have since been removed).  The information then, as now, is that the change would be taking place sometime “soon” and that the new site would include new documentation.

I′ve had a peek at the new documentation—such as it exists—that has not been updated since June 2015.  Most of the documentation (less than 20 articles) is simply a copy-and-paste of parts of the original Kunena Wiki.  There is nothing astonishingly new in this documentation (apart from the format).  Have a look at it for yourselves and you decide whether this new documentation is an improvement or worthy of the importance that the team placed on it in making their announcement.  Documentation is important.  I think the developers need to acknowledge that they need help in producing documentation that is not only understandable but is also relevant to what people expect.

To give them credit, these announcements may be long overdue and they contain unsettling news for Kunena community, at least the development team has made an effort to engage with the community.

Kunena project personnel changes

There have been a few changes in the personnel who run the Kunena project.

  • Matias Griese abandonded the project more than 6 months ago.  He makes the occasional contribution in GitHub but, for all practical purposes, he is no longer involved with Kunena.
  • Jelle Kok is the lead developer, project manager, head moderator and public relations manager.
  • Florian del Fitto is a part-time contributor and software developer.  He is primarily involved in the design and construction of most of the new features that people see in future versions of Kunena.
  • Josh Weiss abandoned Kunena more than 6 months ago.  He has no involvement with the project.
  • Rich Binder performs some day-to-day forum moderation and is the main person who tests new versions of Kunena.

It would be nice if the Kunena team page was updated to reflect the changes that have occurred over the last year.  Perhaps we will see some of those things in the new website?

About the author:

is a Joomla professional and former member of the Kunena project for more than 8 years—a substantial contributor to the original Kunena documentation project with over twenty thousand messages posted at the Kunena forum. The opinions expressed in this article are entirely those of the author. View his profile here.

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