Getting around Community server

I have become a beginner

When Erik first announced that he was planning to move to Community Server, I went to the site, and started reading up on it a bit, and joined a few forums to try to learn a bit about it, thinking it would all give me a head start.

Now I feel just like a department head 2 weeks after upgrading to Navision. The 15 minutes playing in a test system didn't help me in the least, and I keep wanting the new system to do every thing the same way my old system worked.

Well I am using Dynamics Users on Community Server, and am loving it. The learning curve is mainly because it just has soooo many new features, that I am barely touching the surface.

So the biggest issue I see users having, is how to get around the site, and especially how to view recent posts, and track particular threads.

RSS The Way Forward

Community Server is designed to be very RSS friendly. But maybe its just a bit too friendly. There are so many RSS options, that its nearly impossible to know what to subscribe to.

Most Forum software (Snitz, vBulletin, phpb etc) gives you the ability to Subscribe to a forum, either all posts or just the initial post, and some ability to break down to a particular forum, or all forums. Community server seems to have an RSS option on just about every page. And I am still struggling to work it all out.  I am sure even the hardened RSS users are getting a bit lost with the number of available feeds.

Anyway, I am sure most of you by now know about RSS feeds. If not please read my earlier Blogg about this, the full version can be found here ... but in community server there is more.

Dynamics Users has its own built in RSS Portal

I am not sure if everyone realizes that not only does Dynamics Users have RSS feeds, it also has an inbuilt RSS Reader. I have decided to use this for tracking threads, since its then all in one system.

The Dynamics Users RSS Reader is fairly straight forward, and is missing one key feature; a pop up window to tell you of a new feed. For me to check new posts, the Active Posts Link is the most useful.

Still lets take a look at the built in RSS Reader. Firstly not only is it able to read Dynamics Users Feeds, but you can also add any other RSS feed. So for example I have also added MBSOnline feeds, so if someone posts on the old forum I see that post here in Dynamics Users.

I have created an OPML file to get you started if you want to play with RSS feeds without having to even install an RSS Reader. Click this link The Dynamics Users RSS Reader it will open the Reader page in Dynamics Users. Then Download this file RSS OPML file to test RSS in Dynamics Users this is an OPML file. Basically its just an XML file with a fancy extension. You can open it with a text editor and see how it works. NOTE the OPML file is no the RSS feed. That is the XML file that your RSS Reader gets its data from. The OPML file is used to tell your reader where to find the RSS XML source file, and then how to format it on your screen. Once you have this file, go back to the RSS Reader page and right click on the
My Feeds Icon. Open the option to import  OPML file, and import the file you down loaded. Now you may have to wait a few seconds for it to update. Best is to close the page and reopen it. (I just click on Active Posts, then back to Reader). You now have set up RSS feed reader.

Where Dynamics Users RSS feeds stand out
Long is the debate between many Forum Groups and its members, about how to use RSS Key among the issues is should you a/ Use RSS to find new threads, and then if its a thread you want to follow, then use another method to follow it, to avoid the clutter of having too many feeds. Or ... should you read everything into RSS, Initial post, plus all the following responses so that you don't miss anything.

Well Dynamics Users gives you the best of both worlds. When you subscribe to a Forum's feed, you get the initial post, and then all the replies are indented under the original. That way you can decide if you want to expand a thread or not. This feature is so good, that I am now actually using RSS with Dynamics Users exactly the OPPOSITE of how I normally use RSS on other forums, (yes I am active in the world outside Navision also). Basically I use the Active posts page to find new threads, and then if its something I am interested in, then I use RSS to track the replies.

Different Courses For Different Horses

When we first moved to Dynamics Users, I said that I would work out the best way to use RSS, and post how to do it for everyone else. Well that is not going to happen. Its very clear that the power of Community Server means that everyone will do it their way, and will be able to customize their experience to their individual liking. Something we cold not do with any of the older Forum packages out there. I have said it before I know, but I really love Community Server. Not as passionately as Dynamics NAV, but ...

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