Combining Data across site

Last updated by Joss Comments (4)

 One of the frustrating things with the last version of Liferay was not being able to combine certain things like forums. For instance, If I belong to 3 different communities it would be nice to see all the forum sections from all three communities presented in one forum layout. In the newest version of Liferay Portal 6 they have tried to go someway to addressing the need of having an application that needs to be viewed in several different area by creating what they call Scopes.

However, this is not an ideal solution and a user still has no real way of collecting all his or her data from all their activities into one neat area!

Coming up with a neat solution for this issue would give Elgg the edge over many competitors. It is something that to a certain extent Facebook has done better, but it still does not collect data together, but rather yells at you to tell you there is something going on.

When I log on to my profile/dashboard I really want to be able to scan the page with my eyes to see what is happening in my parts of the community without having to click menus all over the place.

The most obvious way of doing this is with a system of dockable widgets, such as are used already, but with more complex settings. For instance, if you put a blog widget in a certain place in your page, you can then define which blogs should be displayed and whether they are displayed seperately or whether recent posts are combined.

Likewise, with a forum widget you can search to add sections from forums that are available to you.

This kind of system also allows site administrators ways of collecting data to produce information rich sitewide pages.

  • Note:

    There is a good marketing reason for giving users an overall view of all the groups they belong to - especially with forums.

    Where you have a multi group system each with their own forum, then the system can be very fragmented. For instance, on this site, it is very difficult to see what is happening where without a lot of travelling around the site - if you are trying to get people more involved, this can be a barrier.

    As a community administrator, I would want to automatically add members to certain groups (a functionality that can already be added to Elgg) and then make sure that hey can see all the associate discussions and blogs when they log in.

    If they had a menu button that said "my forums" that then showed the combined out put of forums that they are members of in a layout that was similar to something like a stand alone forum, then they can very quickly see what it happening.

    This could be expanded for groups that wanted to "advertise" what is happening on their forums on a combined page (this may prove an issue on huge sites with hundreds or thousands of groups, but not an issue if the admin can switch it off)

    For sites such as Elgg, this is an obvious benefit as it helps to draw visitors into the community, and community members into the issues being raised.

    Human beings are very lazy at getting out there and getting involved - sometimes you have to pull them in, and that is good marketing.

  • On this site I implemented a tab for "discussions in my groups". It would not be difficult to integrate that into the core groups plugin.

    I strongly agree with the need for better dashboard widgets. I'd like to have widgets that I can configure per person (show me John's activity), per group (show me the Hiking group's activity), or per tool (show me my friends' blogs).

  • Maybe that is a project that could be implemented and encouraged amongst third party develoeprs - encouraging them to come up with new ways of displaying existing data in a no fuss useful way. (rather than creating new data)

    Obviously, such widgets would need to be future proof, so perhaps the project brief would include technical specs on exactly how these widgets must be impletmented.

    For instance, they must be able to be used as either a tab or a floating widget, they must have global and local parameters so admins can limit how they are used or who has access to them permission wise. Maybe they ought to be categorized.

    I have made a note about widgets/plugins in a comment at the bottom of the Administration Page

  • I think you definitely need to be able to insert widgets into pages, by the way.

    Having a ton of customisesable widgets is fine - but if you are limited to sticking them all in one place, it could be impossible. If you can create "pages" That then allow you to break these all down a bit, would make this wonderfully manageble. Then you can create a forum page and put all your forum related widgets (recent discussions, import forum, etc) in one place.