Forum & main site unified account feature is live!
I finally have the JSF forums and the main site properly bridged. As a result, there are quite a few cool new features that will make life easier for everyone. This morning I’d like to quickly go over everything. Don’t worry, none of this stuff is complicated. Getting the bridge properly working, however, was. But that’s my problem. 🙂
The first thing you need to know is all your account information is now contained in the forums database. Until now, members had separate accounts on the main site and on the forums. That was not ideal for a number of reasons. For example, if you changed your password on the forums, it would not be changed on the main site. This, understandably, created some confusion.
A picture is worth a thousand words. I think a few screenshots will help to illustrate how things work now. For this overview I’ve created a test account, which I’ve creatively named “newtest”. He’ll be our guide this morning.
You can click any of the images to enlarge.
Here’s how the main site looks to a user who is not logged in:
Note the user menu bar at the very top of the screen. As you can see, at top left there’s a link to the forums. At top right, you’ll find links to Log in or Register. Clicking the Log in or Register links will take you to the appropriate place on the forums. If you simply hover your cursor over the Log in link, a login form will appear.
Let’s assume that Mr. Newtest doesn’t log in using any of the links at the top, and just starts reading the blog and the comments. He’s enjoying the comments, and decides that he’d like to take part in the conversation. Since he’s not logged in, he’ll see the usual Log in to Reply or Rate links under each comment, as well as the “You must be logged in to post a comment. Not yet a member? Registration is fast and free!” blurb at the end of the comments section:
As one might expect, clicking any of those links will take Mr. Newtest over to the forums where he can log in. Check “Stay logged in” if you want the system to keep you logged in (you’ll stay logged in to both the main site and the forums).
Mr. Newtest has successfully logged in. Odd, he looks remarkably like me:
Speaking of avatars, now your forum avatar will automatically be used when you comment on the main site! You can upload your own picture, of course, or you can use a Gravatar if you like:
Ok, so now that Mr. Newtest is logged in, he can head back over to the main site. If you’ve got an existing account on the main site (if you’ve ever commented on the main site then you do), you’ll be asked to associate it with your forum account. You’ll need to confirm your password here. This only needs to be done once:
Here’s how things look on the main site now that Mr. Newtest is logged in:
Notice the top user menu bar now? On the right-hand side Mr. Newtest can easily see that he’s logged in (“Howdy, newtest”, shown along with his current avatar).
In addition, logged in members will now see any new forum conversation (private message) notifications, as well as various other forum alerts, while on the main site! These notifications appear in the top user bar, and are updated in real time using AJAX (you don’t have to refresh the page). In other words, if someone sends you a private forum message or there is a reply to a thread you’re following, you’ll now see those notifications immediately–even when you’re on the main site! Clicking either of the notification icons will take you directly to the appropriate area on the forums.
If you hover your cursor over “Howdy, [your name]” in the user bar, from there you can log out, or edit your profile. If you log out from either the forums or the main site, you will be logged out everywhere. Similarly, if you log in on either site, you will be logged in everywhere. Pretty cool, huh?
Mr. Newtest, now logged in, has elevated the conversation with his insightful new comment:
I know this something many of you have asked for, and I hope you enjoy the new features. I’ll be extending this functionality with some really neat new tricks very soon.
If you have any questions at all, just leave a comment.