Going all Blue Goo-ey over the forums

I don’t actually use the SL forums that much in terms of posting; my visits are more a case of diving into things like the technology and Commerce sub-forums, reading those threads which interest me and then buggering off again. Ergo, what I’m about to post here is liable to be very old news to a lot of forumites, and I apologise if this is the case, but as the saying goes, there’s no news like old news (or something like that…).

The issue with the default SL forum layout for many people … OK … one of the issues with the SL forums, because there are many, is that of general presentation / readability. It is not exactly easy-on-the eye for some, and while people have the option of having their own nice forum badges, these get semi-obliterated by icons and additional information not everyone is particularly interested in and can have problems with names being legible where dark colours are used in the badge.

To overcome this, Cerise Sorbet “recently” wrote a CSS theme for community.secondlife.com which can be used to replace the default theme, together with some additional snippets, all of which are aimed at improving the presentation / readability of the forums.

And by “recently”, I mean “early 2011” – yes, I’m on the ball here, folks…

The Blue Goo theme replaces the default forum theme with a set of muted colours which are designed to enhance the readability of the forum pages and which, at the same time, takes care of some formatting issues.

The default forum page presentation (top) and Blue Goo (bottom)
The default forum page presentation (top) and Blue Goo (bottom)

The code snippets also do much to improve the appearance of badges in forum posts, by adding a level of transparency to user names in badges, and by converting the additional information (number of posts / topics, the “bowling pin” icon”) so it is only displayed on a mouse-over. An additional CSS snippet adjusts the layout to suit 1024-pixel displays.

The optional badge CSS snippets: (l) - my badge as original displayed; (c) with the transparency added to my nae; (r) with the additional information coverted to appear when the mouse is over my badge
The optional badge CSS snippets: (l) – my badge as original displayed; (c) with the transparency added to my name; (r) with the additional information converted to appear when the mouse is over my badge

The theme and the CSS snippets can be used individually or together in any combination – so you can install all of them to present yourself with a complete “new look” forum display, or you can take things like the badge updates and add them to the default forum theme.

For those using Firefox or Chrome, the CSS code can be installed directly using Stylish. Greasemonkey can also be used for Chrome, and options are provided (as far as possible to enable installation on other browsers via the Blue Goo download page. Gavin Hird also provides assistance for Safari users in getting the theme working on the Mac.

As I’m a Firefox user, installation was a breeze: install the Stylish add-on, then click the theme / snippet buttons to install them as required. The same was true for Chrome, which I also have installed as an alternative for when Firefox throws the occasional fit. Once installed, the options are easy to control via the Stylish icon, which allows any of them to be instantly disabled / enabled, so no worries about installing something and finding you don’t actually like it – simply turn it off. Stlish also provides a number of other options as well for managing themes (and can be used on almost any site which allows for user-generated themes and options).

How it looks on individual replies: (t) a default forum post reply; (b) with blue goo enabled
How it looks on individual replies: (t) a default forum post reply; (b) with Blue Goo enabled

Related Links

With thanks to Cerise Sorbet for Blue Goo and snippets and to Darrius Gothly for pointing me to the theme back in November. Apologies to both for not giving a write-up sooner.

2 thoughts on “Going all Blue Goo-ey over the forums

  1. I remember, lo, these many years ago, when the Viewer 2 beta came out, and the problems with the default colour scheme were pointed it. It was a beta, it would be fixed of course.

    The eyes of the Lindens are not as those of other men. The Viewer has an add-on provided by a user, so that the LL Viewer has a choice of colour schemes, but there is no guarantee that the next update will not break it. It provides colour schemes which were, more or less, a supported part of viewer 1.

    Personally, I don’t see much need to bother with this tweak, but the website generally is a mess. Dashboard to Marketplace: easy. Forums to Marketplace: not so easy. Marketplace to anywhere else: difficult.

    I’ve given up on feeling surprised at what the Lindens get wrong.

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    1. Agreed on the mish-mass with the website are concerned. The vaunted “single sign-on” has yet to work for me, leave alone anything else.

      I actually find the tweak to the forums useful, as it does improve legibility for me, and I’m wishing that there were similar theme options for the dashboard. The Marketplace I’m not so concerned about, having sadly written that off as being something of a mess, no matter what is fiddled around with by LL (or anyone else).

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