As part of our continuous coverage of User Experience topics around Lithium Communities, we are happy to announce a little bit of incremental improvement that some of you have eagerly awaited for:
Introducing Relative Dates.
Summary: In our quest to make our UI friendlier and your communities' content feel even more relevant to your users, we now allow you to choose “Relative Dates” versus the standard numeric date stamp (starting with Lithium 9.0.3 and refined on upcoming 9.0.4).
What is so great about this feature?
Look at the standard experience of any board. Current dates are so precise that on a column, they need to be parsed one by one. They use numeric values, which do not allow for a webbed narrative or a contextual tie to the user’s concept of NOW.
16 minutes ago 25 minutes ago 1 hour ago 5 hours ago Yesterday PM Yesterday AM Saturday Friday a week ago 2 week ago February January December 2008 November 2008
Which system does allow you to get a faster gauge of the content's freshness? Which method seems more natural to you or your community's audience? Independently of the answer, you have a choice for either one. I should note that Relative Dates do offer a quick tooltip on rollover displaying the precise date should you need it (so you can get the best of both worlds).
Because we believe that Relative Dates are more human-readable, It would be the default for all new communities, but because we don’t presume to know better than you... It will be off by default on upgrading communities. You can change it ether way.
<geek info begins>
Now, for those of you that love this short of minutia, lets go on how we implemented it and how you can further customize it: We adopted a decreasing granularity of relative dates, under the knowledge that the average context awareness becomes less precise over time.
Today (1st hour): Granular on minutes
Today (Rest of day): Granular on hours
Yesterday: Granular on AM/PM
Rest of the week: Granular on days
Rest of month: Granular on weeks
Rest of year: Granular on months
In Settings > Layout Settings > Date and Time Settings you will have a couple of useful choices:
1. You will be able to uncheck “Use Date Names” if you prefer day and month numbers instead of name.
If so chosen, instead of:
Saturday Sunday February December 2008
You will get:
2 days ago 3 days ago 2 months ago 4 months ago
2. You will be able to choose the moment where to stop relative dates using “Relative Date Max Age (Days)”
That way, you may decide to list the first month as relative, and anything older in numeric dates... Your call. Different people recall events and dates on different manner. Use what works best for your community.
Your settings, by the way, are specific to each board, and all associated content to that board (columns, messages, search results, etc) will adopt the standard chosen.
<übber geek info begins>
Since we are in the groove of date customization... Lets remember some of the powerful settings that were already available in your admin. Independently of your use of Relative Dates, you can customize your date stamp in numerous ways:
In the Admin tool, at “Date Display Format” you can configure the MM-dd-yyyy string to achieve any desired effect (for those techy people in the audience: we adopted the Java SimpleDateFormat Class).
The letters in the string can be repeated to control the abbreviation or extent of the information.
Date and Time Pattern
"yyyy.MM.dd G 'at' HH:mm:ss z"
2001.07.04 AD at 12:08:56 PDT
"EEE, MMM d, ''yy"
Wed, Jul 4, '01
"hh 'o''clock' a, zzzz"
12 o'clock PM, Pacific Daylight Time
"K:mm a, z"
0:08 PM, PDT
"yyyyy.MMMMM.dd GGG hh:mm aaa"
02001.July.04 AD 12:08 PM
"EEE, d MMM yyyy HH:mm:ss Z"
Wed, 4 Jul 2001 12:08:56 -0700
You can see how this could be quite helful in order to localize your dates (to European format for example). For further information on that topic, visit the source documentation at Java support pages.