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Native comments for ZOO 2.0


This is our sixth article from our blog post series about the new ZOO 2.0 release. If you didn’t read the latest posts here you go: the ZOO 2.0 announcement, the new app concept, the usability improvements, all the new elements and frequently asked questions.

This time we are very proud to present the brand new, native comment system of ZOO 2.0. There is already some information about the great user interface of the comment system to be found in the usability article.

Why a native comment system?

Yes, it’s a legitimate question. A year ago we would have answered this question with: “It’s not really necessary. There are great web services like IntenseDebate or Disqus.” A year later we introduce our own comment system for ZOO. What happened? On our own YOOtheme blog we use a third party comment service. In the beginning everything worked out well but before long we discovered some anomalies. On blog posts with lots of comments some disappeared for no reason. Some of them resurfaced later on and some didn't. In another incident comments from one article were swapped with comments from another article. To make a long story short: these comment services are nice and easy to setup but a native comment system definitively gives you more control over your comments. A major benefit of a third party comment system is that you'll only need one user account to comment on any blog that uses this system. But with the upcoming of Twitter, Facebook, Google and OpenID many users already have a central user profile with an avatar. Therefore if your comment system allows you to login and comment with your social network account, it would be as great a benefit as the third party comment solution. Another plus for a native comment system is that the comments are searchable. Actually the development of a native comment solution isn't a 5 minute task. It would deserve to be an independent extension of its own. We decided to couple our native solution with Zoo 2.0 and rather focus on simplicity and usability.

Feature highlights of our native comment system

First of all we implemented support for Akismet and Mollom. Both are web services that prevent spamming in your blog posts. These services check if the comment seems to be spam or ham. If it's not ham, the comment is marked as spam and we move it to the spam folder. We decided against a CAPTCHA mechanism because these spam preventing services are much more user friendly. The user won't notice anything and doesn't have to fill out extra fields.

In addition to prevent spam we added a black list feature. This means that when a comment contains any words from the black list in its content, name, URL, e-mail, or IP, it will be marked as spam. If a comment is not spam it can be approved by default, not by default or the approvement is only required once. The last setting is very useful. You can also set a time span between user posts so the user has to wait, before he is allowed to post again. We also decided to strip the HTML code from the comments by default. We think this is much better than allowing the user to enter any kind of HTML code. But we do detect automatically if the comment text includes any URL or email addresses. If so we add a link around the URLs with a rel attribute set to “nofollow”. The email addresses are also linked.

By now one feature has become a standard of most comment systems: nested comments! Of course we implemented this feature too. You can set the maximum comment depth in the administration. The default maximum is five.

Last but not least we support Gravatar. Gravatar is a web service to provide globally-unique avatars. You can register an account based on your email address and upload an avatar to be associated with this email address. When the user posts a comment and the email address is required our comments system checks whether that email address has an associated avatar at Gravatar. If so, the Gravatar is shown along with the comment.

We got only one feature left on our todo list on which we are working right now. The connects for Twitter, Facebook and OpenID. We are not sure if they will make into the BETA but we will add them in short with the next update.

By Steffan | | Posted in ZOO

Comments (19)

  • voland


    There`s jComments. Why you don`t want to use integration with it?
    • sascha


      | Profile |
      There is always room for improvement and we wanted our own native comment system which comes "out of the box" with ZOO.
      • well, if there is room for improvement, why not contribute to existing comment system instead of building a new one ? isn't that the basics of open source (with the possibility to make you own project if you want of course) ?

        This is not related specifically to Zoo but I get the feeling (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong) that joomla is getting more and more commercial and divided and less and less open source and summarize.

        I see everyone making its own CCK and comment system, and each & every one has great feature but I get the feeling that the real killer app would be the merge of all of them... that's a little sad from my pov !

        don't get me wrong, I love what you do... especially your templates ! But I have this feeling seeing all of this !
        • sascha


          | Profile |
          Yeah, I understand what you mean... But isn't it nice that Joomla has so much great extensions to offer instead of only one?

          Everybody has a different approach of solving an problem. So it is great to have more than one choice, right?
          • getimo


            I agree with sebkun. The big problem for the user is to decide between all these solutions. The users have to deal with the many issues caused by different javascript libraries and so on. In my special situation i Can't decide between jReviews and ZOO. Everything is getting more difficult instead of getting easier. Sure, you really make Joomla boost but this is a problem which makes Joomla not so attractive when choosing between Typo3 and Joomla for example (I know, that these systems are very different).
          • yeah ! I sure would agree you in a perfect world where everything is free ! But in a joomla world, it's kind of frustrating 'cause every product has its very own nice feature but none are perfect ! For instance, I love JReviews but I get the feeling that your approach of "applications" will be great ! But I can't afford to spend once more hundred bucks. Same one social apps or anything else.

            Except for Yootools for which I have to agree I did not find anything making me regret (and by the way, I do not regret buying JReviews which is great also).

            So to sum up, I do agree with you for Zoo for instance but for comments, I am sad that there is not a single robust comment system ! (that should be in the core or almost).

  • nine


    Sounds excellent..
    Another drawback of the third party comment systems are the legal issues.. Did you ever bother to read intensedebate's general terms and conditions? For example, as far as I understood it (please correct me if I am wrong), they seem to retain copyright on the material you enter into their forms and reserve the right to delete it at any moment without notice.. Inacceptable, I think..
  • FeSys


    Thanks Sascha
    You talked about your own Commenting system.. am agree 100%..
    Why not to make a local option for uploading avatars too instead of all comes from"Gravatar "...
    One drawback I guess, not all people know English to go an register at international areas. Not all people want others to track every post the post... ( example; K2 own comment and avatar system).
    Amy right?
  • Jo Snow

    Jo Snow

    I believe its the competition thats been keeping Joomla exciting over the past few months - without it - the interminable wait for 1.6 would be unbearable.

    Sometimes centralized planning is the driving force behind Joomla but right now its companies like Yootheme that are providing the spark.

    You are correct in pointing out the duplication of effort, however we seem to be seeing rapid innovation in these areas precisely because creative companies are competing and refining each others improvements .

    To me, its about balance - in fact I think things right now are out of whack with the tail wagging the dog - the question is how do we get the dog to run...when its hardly moved in 18 months.
  • mark.mckeen


    | Profile |
    I also hope you will integrate this with either JomSocial and/or Community Builder. It would be great to have the JomSocial avatar used and to link back to the user's profile ... and also add automatic updates to the JomSocial activity feed...
  • ajmal


    Hi YooTheme,

    I believe you guys are on the right track. I have used some other popular CCKs in Joomla; of course each of 'em have its own strength and drawbacks. Interestingly, most of the similar drawback is indeed, a *decent* native commenting system (From observation, things like nested or "reply", FB/Twitter connects etc.).

    Now since I (and some others too perhaps) has done lotsa of work or tweaking of these other components, switching over to a new one might require some work and time (learning curve etc.). I believe this commenting system would be one of the great reasons why we should go ahead and spend some times with Zoo 2.0. This is definitely would be one of killer features of Zoo 2.0.

    Keep us posted. Thanks for the updates :)
  • zach


    | Profile |
    YooTheme is not only just a theme provider anymore - they are a true all-in-one Joomla! solution!

  • I think it is awesome to have an out-of-the-box solution as great as ZOO. I had ben looking for a way to integrate blogging [currently MyBlog] and commenting [currently sometimes (although often turned off) jomcomment] media [allvideosreloaded], a download solution [docman is still paltry on 1.5] and I could go on and on. I get to delete several components and just use ZOO. Better experience on my/admin end and better [faster performance] on the client side. Personally, I am grateful to have one solution that so beautifully integrates so much functionality, and given we are already using yoo themes ... well. That's my $0.37. :-)
  • jeremy harding

    jeremy harding

    Looks great guys
  • warrenholland


    | Profile |
    Can comments be limited to just the registered users of a site?
  • Polux2


    This looks so good. I'll try it. Thanks.
  • Another drawback of the third party comment systems are the legal issues.
  • This looks so good. I'll try it. Thanks.
  • Hey that looks awesome did you get it going ?

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