8.5 Discussion template

Ok, now this is beyond a joke. Sorry, but Domino 8.5 is going to be an accessibility nightmare. I know the discussion template is used many many companies and I’ve seen some University’s base their discussion facilities on this template (not us, we wrote our own), but the new template makes NO ATTEMPT to be accessible, both from point of view of handling javascript or by using semantic HTML.

Sean Cull has kindly left his 8.5 discussion template  open for us to play with.

If you’ve got Firefox with the web developer tool bar installed. Switch off css

discuss

Notice how the page just collapses into a mess. None of the generally accepted conventions for semantic pages have been obeyed (such as marking up related links as lists).

It’s even worse if you switch off javascript. Although many of the advanced screen readers such as JAWS, integrate with Internet Explorer and deal with certain types of Javascript events, it’s generally accepted in accessibility circles that wherever possible, web developers should attempt to make as much of the page work without javascript as possible. In fact nothing in the discussion template works without javascript. All the links are to ‘#’ with the clicks being handled through events. Why, when there’s a document stored in the database is it now possible to show the document when javascript is switched off.

If the template demonstrated significant usability improvements over the existing template it would almost be acceptable, but the template is very basic. Where’s the different view modes such as viewing discussions as linear threads or the ability to filter discussions to the current conversation (i.e. limiting the view to the direct reply hierarchy). Where’s the facility to view the message you’re writing your reply to? Where’s the lookup when tags are added?

A core template such as this, should be accessible. If I was evaluating this product for use within the University it would not make it past the tender. It would fail on every accessibility point.  Sorry, it’s simply that bad.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Mike McP says:

    I would say 50% of my blog comments are about IBMs templates:) I’m not sure why a company this large, with a development community this active, hasn’t decided to open-source these templates. All it would take is a project manager to run them from OpenNTF.org and manage the code revisions, then a development team to scan the final code for security issues and take care of any ‘consistency’ issues.

    Instead, we complain about these templates during every release, and IBM fails to understand that these templates are the ‘face’ of Notes to the majority of users. Here’s my challenge: IBM, you know 8.5.1 will come out, so put this template on openNTF and start an IdeaJam for enhancements requests. Sean will be your first contributor to take care of the accessibility issues! Give the big contributors a NFR copy of the server or something for their trouble. Is it really that difficult?

    I was forwarded a RIM PDF on how to blackberry-enable a doc lib or discussion template (can’t remember which), complete with code samples. I just shook my head as I read it, wondering why on earth this wasn’t built into the template already, with the strong IBM/RIM partnership. They went through the trouble of making a PDF to show DEVELOPERS how to make the template work. IS that not completely ridiculous? I’m sure RIM would have rather contributed to the template to make sure it worked out of the box…

    I realize someone could start an open-source discussion template, but the inclusion in the release is the key, for both bragging rights of contributors and wide-spread adoption. If it’s open-sourced, then next release you can completely ignore us when we complain about how awful they are:)

  2. Paul Hudson says:

    I’ve always thought the same. For me the big advantage of Domino is that you can easily generate new functionality. So why don’t IBM do that. You wouldn’t need a big team to generate a new template every few months.

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