Crucial features for v1.0?

Now that WriteFreely has been out for a while – and as we approach the January launch of v1.0 – I’d like to ask everyone using / administering their own site so far:

  • What features are glaringly missing? (Especially from our roadmap.)
  • What’s the most time-consuming part of maintaining your instance?
  • What was the most painful part about installing your instance?

Your answers will be an enormous help for deciding what makes it into v1.0. Thanks in advance!

1 Like

Installing my instance:

  1. The bug where underscores are allowed in user names, but don’t work in many URLs.
  2. Similar problem, but with mixed case usernames.
  3. How do I actually go about adding a new user with closed registration?
  4. How do I add smtp servers for outgoing emails?

Thanks for the feedback! To answer:

Today the only way is to open registration, let the person sign up, then close it again – so a better way is definitely important. For this, we’re thinking of creating a way to generate invite links, similar to how Mastodon does it. Would that work for you? Would you want some way to manually add a new user as an admin, as well?

There’s no actual email functionality built-in right now, but once we have features like automated password resetting, you’ll be able to hook up Mailgun or another provider for this.

2 Likes

Generating invite links sounds lovely! Also a command line tool for adding and removing users much similar to create-admin

1 Like

Hello

One feature I miss is the ability to class posts in categories, and browse them to see only posts from one category.
I guess this can be achieved with tags (more powerful), but we need a way to display all available tags from a blog to the visitor, because he can’t guess them.

3 Likes

I recently installed an instance of WriteFreely here and having tinkered with it all day I would say the most glaring missing features are the following:

  • Image uploads: you already have this (T550) on your project board as a “Far future” item, however I think its something that could be added incrementally. For example you could have it so that if a user pastes an image into the editor it gets uploaded and included as markdown, like what happens with GitHub issues.
  • Custom blog avatar: you also have this (T546) on your project board as a “wishlist” item. I’d say that this should have a greater priority than image uploads although you could reuse some of the same backend routes for the actual file uploading functionality. When a post is federated it is indistinguishable from all the other posts that come from write.as/WriteFreely due to them all having the same avatar displayed on Mastodon/Pleroma/etc. It’s important that each blog can be distinguished from one-another.
  • Password resetting: again you have this (T508) on your project board as a “Far future” item. I’m honestly surprised that WriteFreely doesn’t already ship with this included out of the box!
  • Global link to account settings: currently if I am in the write view I have to click the icon in the top left to go to /me/c before being able to click account settings in the dropdown under my username - this is quite clunky and I would expect to be able to access that from the drop down in the write view
  • Global link to admin: same as above
  • Admin -> Page management: Currently from the /admin route we can edit the About page and the privacy page. Personally i’d rather pages be something that can can be added/removed at leisure so you ship with about and privacy included but we can add additional pages if we choose to and select which templates/*.tmpl they use. This would provide a nice level of customisation and allow instance operators to create static pages.
  • Application monitor endpoint: You may already do this and I have yet to discover it but it would be nice if the metrics in the Admin Dashboard under the title Application monitor were available via an API endpoint secured with an API key so metrics could be monitored and graphed over time.
2 Likes

My wish list

  1. Automatically setup Let’s encrypt certificate
  2. Markdown extended…
  3. User management
  4. Invite users
  5. Import content from Tumblr

For myself my instance will be mostly for my own attention. But would like to try and integrate my Pixelfed account and my Mastodon account together with WriteFreely.

My Mastodon account cannot access the data from WriteFreely - I get a 503 error…? It may be because I am still running the WF instance under an IP rather than a dedicated domain…? I don’t know. PixelFed cant locate my fediverse address for WF…?

Maybe I need to know more about how these all work together.

So. Integration in a Fediverse sense is important. My personal focus is analog photography, so any future image based abilities probably useful.

Having recently tinkered with both single & multiple instance of the blog in development environment on my localserver, I would like to point out a few things

  1. As @carbontwelve said, the ability to easily add & delete custom pages is a major requirement. Not everyone can go to great lengths to tinker everything from start to finish. Apart from that I also agree to the Password resetting, Global link to admin & account settings.
  2. I would also like a little more subtle tweaks in the customization page like the ability to set background, text, heading & link colours and also change fonts. Not through CSS but through the customization tab in account/admin settings. Also, the ability to change the width of main container can be a good addition since, I feel that in desktop there is too much blankspace on either side & I would like to increase the width a little more.
  3. Ability to add social media links to the header so that more engagement can be driven. I know this is a privacy focused blog so but adding these options gives people the choice. Those who want it can use it. If not anything else, just Twitter & Instagram would do fine for now.
  4. Enable mardown in the description section of the blog. That way, people can have more in less through the ability to add links.
  5. As pointed out by @Xanthec people who are blogging for commercial purposes might seriously need tags to manage their posts. This will be a good addition.

For me, a comment system with fediverse support (like Plume does)

3 Likes

And a real and correct support for federation (ActivityPub). It’s actualy brocken

When in Blog View mode and logged-in. A Log-Out link in the menu would be useful.

Some way of adding Social Media img/text links in the header and/or footer area.

addendum:
In addition to the above ‘Social-Media links’, Which I think is quite important for folks to be able to show.

Under Customisation -

  • Rather than have to use a separate Static page for say an ‘About Me’ section the ability to have both that and a ‘Short & Long Description’ setting.
  • Avatar integration and/or ability to upload a custom avatar.
  • Although I am quite happy with basic Markdown, I think you’re right in trying to offer a WYSIWYG editor or a ‘split editor’ like the one I am using here to write this post :slight_smile:
  • For admins, it is easy to share a post/entry via their own Social Media channels or through Federation etc. For Readers maybe an easy way to be able to share a post other than copy/paste of the web address…
  • Although I said elsewhere about not making it a CMS :wink: Some kind of choice between One/Two column layout with a ‘Tag Cloud’, ‘Date based’ or ‘Category’ navigation AKA HUGO :smile: So as blogs grow readers are not forced to click back through ‘Older’ articles.

I know there is a mix here of what could be implemented in the Core and what could be implemented through a Plugin structure.

At the end of the day, if folks want to load up their pages with endless additional infrastructure that is up to them. For me a few carefully chosen and essential additions to the product at its base, a philosophy that works to keep it that way is important. From my own world experiences I know how important it is to keep in mind your OWN reasons for beginning a project and not let others take over and in doing so lose the raison d’etre

4 Likes

As I use Write.as on a regular basis, one thing is really missing for me is a minimal search function for my posts/blog. Something minimal like Lunarjs to run searches on the client-side… Or an integration with Algolia community solution…

https://lunrjs.com/

2 Likes

I’d like to second the need for a search function feature that Aris made. Even for a minimalist blogging platform, I consider this a core need with perhaps a medium-level priority. Specifically, my thoughts on this are: A search keyword input box for an individual blog. This is regardless whether the blog is public or private. I don’t see searching through all one’s blogs as having the same importance, though if that can be easily done without adverse system resources implications, it would also be a helpful feature. If possible, simple AND, OR, ANDNOT logic for the keyword searches.

What I’m doing now is exporting my blogs, and then searching with a simple php program to do this search client-side. But then, whenever I make changes, a new export needs to be made. It would be nice to have the search feature built-in.

1 Like

I know this is a v1.0 “crucial” thread, but I have a hard time in my brain ranking things. I’m going to give my general list of wants and try my best to give some sense of priorities for me. Some of these are going to prompt “well, yeah, we’re doing that”, but I’ll leave them on my list anyway.

  • Date stamps on posts. I’ve already said this elsewhere. This is high-priority for me, personally. (Tack onto this one the user’s local timezone thing, so I don’t keep thinking my own posts are coming from my future.)
  • Navigation between and amongst posts. There should at least be previous/next links on every post. (Eventually a date archive somewhere, and search.) Honestly, I’d be okay with just the previous/next links in the near-term, and then readers can find other stuff via hashtags for the time being.
  • Site-wide “branding” customizations. Mostly, for my purposes, fonts and colors. I want to use the color and font scheme I’m already using on the announcement page. This might even include an admin setting for what default serif, sans-serif, and fixed-width fonts are used for the blogs themselves.
  • Option to limit user customizations. One of the things I actually liked about Medium was how little a user could do other than write. If I can’t disallow user customizations entirely (which is fine), I’d like to be able to restrict or minimize the options available. When a reader visits my instance, I want them to know from looking at it.
  • More consistent navigation. I admit that I myself sometimes get confused as to what clicking the upper left corner of the site is going to do, as it seems to change depending on where I am? (This also could just be me in the midst of “I’m on a new site what’s happening” syndrome.)
  • User setting for landing page default. While I get the design/UI choice behind starting on the editor, I find this a confusing approach to navigating the site. I actually want a proper front page that I can find even if I’m logged in. I’d be fine with this being a user setting for what they want as their start: the main site page or the editor.

ETA: I just noticed that on WriteFreely sites, while the blog index page, at the bottom, links to the site’s main page, blog posts themselves do not, and only link all the way back to WriteFreely. That doesn’t help discoverability when a reader comes to a blog post.

2 Likes

Something statically typed for that sweet sweet safety, like the super fast https://github.com/meilisearch/MeiliSearch might be better :grin:

1 Like