|We have a new article submission wizard!
The short version is we have a new article submission wizard (and updated systems) that provides
- An all new, single page article editor.
- An auto-save facility in case of crashes
- The ability for members to edit "edited" articles safely. No more needing to send in updates manually.
- Simplified references to uploaded files.
- A new "Alternative article" option that allows you to create alternate versions of existing articles
- An update for Tips n' Tricks so that they now use the standard article UI
- You can now upload images and downloads for blog and tip articles.
- The ability to easily switch article types (Make an article a tip, promote a technical blog to full article, etc)
The longer version:
About 6 months ago we finally had the time to revamp the aging submission wizard. I wanted a single page editor that allowed in-page (ie Ajax) file and that looked very much like what the final article would look like. The idea is that it would feel like you were editing the article in-place. Click on the title to edit it, upload a file and add the file to the content with a single click etc. And, of course, auto-save with a simple recovery model for those bad times.
I also wanted to address the need to allow our authors more access to their articles. Currently what we do is we pick the top articles and edit them. This editing corrects formatting, spelling, cleans the downloads and generally ensures that the article conforms to our standards. However, once an article is edited by an editor it is inviolate: it can no longer be updated online by the original author.
The reason for this is that, after spending so much time fixing articles, we were getting a little frustrated when members would go an re-edit the article's we edited and re-introduce all the errors we had fixed. This is understandable because they would often simply take the copy of article they had originally written, make corrections to it, then copy and paste it over whatever we had done. So we put an ednd to that for our own sanity and made a pact with ourselves (and with you) that we would be as fast as possible in posting updates you sent in.
However, this punishes those who are good authors for the sake of protecting the few that are bad, so we've come up with a compromise, and also a solution to a subtle problem.
Previously when you posted an article using the wizard, the article would be placed in a Pending queue and would be reviewed by other members who would then approve, disapprove, and/or comment on the article. After approval the article became public and everyone was happy. Except that the author could now edit their new article, upload a bunch of inappropriate material, and have it available immediately. The solution was to modify our system so that all edits of articles create a new pending version of the article. After editing, the old version will still be seen by most members, but moderators will be able to see (and approve) the new version. Once approved the new version replaces the old version and goes live.
In doing this we had to tackle a few issues with files. We choose not to store files as database BLOBs, but as system files, so where do we store your upload files while you're editing? When you start the submission wizard you haven't chosen a section, yet you can upload files. When editing an existing article you may need to upload new versions of files (updated zips or images) but we need to ensure the old version of those files and images are still available for the current article.
We ended up introducing a "Working" directory for your new uploads in order to separate out the old and the new, but this then made life difficult for those looking to reference files in their article's HTML. Previously we had the concept of a "Basename" for an article, which was effectively the name of the article's directory, and which author's used to reference an uploaded file (eg src="basename/myfile.zip"). We've abandoned that since it causes problems with name uniqueness, and in fact abandoned the whole concept of asking members to worry about directories. Now you simply reference an uploaded file by its filename, and we make sure we track things like which file (old or new) you're talking about, as well as ensuring we adjust the references in your articles during the various stages (composing to pending to available).
We've also introduced the concept of Alterative Articles. There are many, many articles that are no longer being maintained and this is a first step to allow other members to take over abandoned articles, or to simply provide different implementations such as a different language.
To provide a symmetric article experience we've now upgraded the Tips n Tricks articles to be displayed in the same manner as traditional articles (as well as their alternatives), and now make it very simple to convert a tip to a standard article, or to any other article type. No more complaint about short articles or long tips. We can quickly recategorise as needed.
This also brings a nice benefit: you can now upload images and zips to your blog and tips articles.
With regards to moving tips to the new UI - you might notice something a little weird with your rep. We moved all the comments that were associated with tips into their own separate forum for each tip instead of having the confusing comments-per-tip-plus-bonus-forum-at-the-bottom.
This release should be conidered a Beta release, so please send in all feedback and bug reports to the Bugs and Suggestions forum.
The Code Project | Co-founder
Microsoft C++ MVP