Sunday, July 13, 2008

Threaded Comments in Blogger

With all the new features being introduced in blogger, there was still a feature I would like which was not included - Threaded Comments. So I decided to mix the existing comment system with a little bit of javascript and come up with my own version of threaded comments. The advantage of using this is that you are still allowing blogger
to manage your comments unlike a couple of other tools I have seen. Check out the Threaded version in action
by adding your comments below ;).

The idea behind this came from the simple observation that most of us use @AuthorName to reply to comments posted by other users in 'single' threaded comments. So the javascript I wrote just parses the comment bodies for this author name (or comment ids) and then searches for appropriate comments to find parents of the reply comments.

Below is an image of how after I implemented this idea the comments section on my blog changed:

Features:
In addition to the threaded support:

  • Include multiple replies in your comment using multiple @replyTargets on separate lines in your comment
  • Blog authors can have their comments highlightd differently - use css styles for 'blog-author-comment' and 'blog-nonauthor-comment'
  • Include multiple replies in your comment using multiple @replyTargets in the comment
  • Hide/Show individual comments
  • Configurable template to display comments - use you custom template to call applyCommentTemplate();

How to install:
Note: Remember to back up your existing template before making any changes to it.
Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Include the java script file to the top of your template just before the <b:skin> tags starts

    <script type="text/javascript">
    //<![CDATA[
    /*
    --- Threaded Comments ---
    v 0.9.3 15th March 2009
    By Shams Mahmood
    http://shamsmi.blogspot.com
    */
    function Author(C,A,B){this.id=C;this.name=A;this.url=B;this.toString=function(F){var E="\t";if(F){for(var D=0;D<F;D++){E+="\t"}}return"Author[\n"+E+"id="+this.id+", \n"+E+"name="+this.name+", \n"+E+"url="+this.url+"\n"+E+"]"}}function Comment(E,H,G,C,B,D,F,A){this.id=E;this.sequenceNumber=H;this.postedTime=G;this.body=F;this.deleted=A;this.deleteUrl=B;this.deleteText=D;this.parentId="";this.children=new Array();this.level=0;this.author=C;this.getChildCount=function(){return this.children.length};this.addChild=function(I){this.children[this.getChildCount()]=I.id;I.parentId=this.id;I.level=this.level+1};this.toString=function(K){var J="\t";if(K){for(var I=0;I<K;I++){J+="\t"}}return"Comment[\n"+J+"id="+this.id+", \n"+J+"sequence="+this.sequenceNumber+", \n"+J+"deleted="+this.deleted+", \n"+J+"parentId="+this.parentId+", \n"+J+"children=["+this.children+"], \n"+J+"level="+this.level+", \n"+J+"author="+this.author.toString(1)+", \n"+J+"posted time="+this.postedTime+", \n"+J+"body="+this.body+"\n"+J+"]"}}function trimBrsFromString(C){var F=trimString(C);var B=["<br>","<br >","<br/>","<br />","<BR>","<BR >","<BR/>","<BR />"];if(F){var E=true;while(E){E=false;for(var D in B){var A=B[D];if(F.indexOf(A)==0){F=F.substring(A.length);F=trimString(F);E=true}var H=F.length;var G=F.lastIndexOf(A);if(G>=0&&G==H-A.length){F=F.substring(0,G);F=trimString(F);E=true}}}}return F}function trimString(A){var E="";if(A){var D=false;for(var B=0;B<A.length;B++){var F=A.charAt(B);if(!D&&F!=" "&&F!="\n"&&F!="\t"){D=true}if(D){E+=F}}D=false;var C=-1;for(var B=E.length-1;!D&&B>0;B--){var F=E.charAt(B);if(!D&&F!=" "&&F!="\n"&&F!="\t"){D=true;C=B}}if(C>0){E=E.substring(0,C+1)}}return E}function addItem(A,B){A[B.id]=B}function getAllItems(C){var D=new Array();var B=0;for(var A in C){D[B]=C[A];B++}return D}function getItemsCount(C){var B=0;for(var A in C){B++}return B}var ALL_AUTHORS=new Object();var ALL_COMMENTS=new Object();function getNewAuthorId(){var C=1;for(var A in ALL_AUTHORS){if(ALL_AUTHORS[A]&&ALL_AUTHORS[A].id){var B=ALL_AUTHORS[A].id;if(B>=C){C=B+1}}}return C}function createAuthor(C,A,B){return new Author(C,A,B)}function addAuthor(A){addItem(ALL_AUTHORS,A)}function getAllAuthors(){return getAllItems(ALL_AUTHORS)}function getAuthorsCount(){return getItemsCount(ALL_AUTHORS)}function findAuthor(C,B){for(var A in ALL_AUTHORS){if(ALL_AUTHORS[A]){if(ALL_AUTHORS[A].name==C&&ALL_AUTHORS[A].url==B){return ALL_AUTHORS[A]}}}return null}function getNewCommentSequence(){var C=1;for(var A in ALL_COMMENTS){if(ALL_COMMENTS[A]&&ALL_COMMENTS[A].sequenceNumber){var B=ALL_COMMENTS[A].sequenceNumber;if(B>=C){C=B+1}}}return C}function createComment(E,H,G,C,B,D,F,A){return new Comment(E,H,G,C,B,D,F,A)}function addComment(A){addItem(ALL_COMMENTS,A)}function getAllComments(){return getAllItems(ALL_COMMENTS)}function getRootComments(){var D=new Array();var C=0;for(var A in ALL_COMMENTS){var B=ALL_COMMENTS[A];if(B&&B.level==0){D[C]=B;C++}}return D}function getCommentsCount(){return getItemsCount(ALL_COMMENTS)}function findComment(B){for(var A in ALL_COMMENTS){if(ALL_COMMENTS[A]){if(ALL_COMMENTS[A].id==B){return ALL_COMMENTS[A]}}}return null}function findLastCommentByAuthorName(C){var B=null;for(var A in ALL_COMMENTS){if(ALL_COMMENTS[A]){if(ALL_COMMENTS[A].author.name==C){B=ALL_COMMENTS[A]}}}return B}function findLastCommentByPartialAuthorName(C){var B=null;for(var A in ALL_COMMENTS){if(ALL_COMMENTS[A]){if(ALL_COMMENTS[A].author.name.toLowerCase().indexOf(C.toLowerCase())==0){B=ALL_COMMENTS[A]}}}return B}function addCommentHierarchy(D,C){if(D){C[C.length]=D;var A=D.children;for(var B in A){addCommentHierarchy(findComment(A[B]),C)}}}function getCommmentsInSortedOrder(){var D=new Array();var A=getRootComments();for(var B in A){var C=A[B];addCommentHierarchy(C,D)}return D}function ParsedResult(A,B){this.parentComment=A;this.body=B;this.toString=function(){return"[parentComment="+this.parentComment+", body="+this.body+", ]"}}function findParentCommentFromDescriptor(A){var B=findComment(A);if(B==null){B=findLastCommentByAuthorName(A)}if(B==null){B=findLastCommentByPartialAuthorName(A)}return B}function parseCommentBody(B,F){B=trimString(B);var A=B.indexOf("@");if(A==0){var H=B.indexOf("\n",0);var G=B.indexOf("<",0);var D=H;if(G>0&&(G<D||D<0)){D=G}if(D>2){var O=B.substring(1,D);O=trimString(O);var K=findParentCommentFromDescriptor(O);if(K==null){var J=O.indexOf(" ");if(J>0){var N=trimString(O.substring(0,J));K=findParentCommentFromDescriptor(N);if(K!=null){D=J+1}}}if(K!=null){var P=null;var Q=D;var C=B.indexOf("@",Q+1);if(C>Q){var M=trimString(B.substring(C));P=parseCommentBody(M,C)}if(P&&P.length>0&&P[0].parentComment!=null){var L=trimString(B.substring(D,C));var I=new ParsedResult(K,L);var E=[I].concat(P);return E}else{var L=trimString(B.substring(D));var I=new ParsedResult(K,L);return[I]}return E}}}var I=new ParsedResult(null,B);return[I]}function buildComment(C,K,H,L,G,I,M,A){var F=findAuthor(C,K);if(!F){F=createAuthor(getNewAuthorId(),C,K);addAuthor(F)}var D=parseCommentBody(A,0);for(var J in D){var E="";E=D[J].body;E=trimBrsFromString(E);var B=createComment(H+"."+J,getNewCommentSequence(),L,F,I,M,E,G);addComment(B);if(D[J].parentComment!=null){D[J].parentComment.addChild(B)}}}function substituteConstant(A,D,C){var B=A;while(B.indexOf(D)>=0){B=B.replace(D,C)}return B}function substituteConstantIfValueExists(D,A,I,C,H){var J=D;var F=J.indexOf(A);var E=J.indexOf(I);while(F>0&&E>F){var B=J.substring(F,E+I.length);var G=null;if(H&&H.length>0){G=substituteConstant(B,C,H);G=G.substring(A.length,G.length-I.length)}else{G=""}J=J.replace(B,G);F=J.indexOf(A);E=J.indexOf(I)}return J}function isBlogAuthor(B){var A=false;if(window.BLOG_AUTHORS){for(var C in BLOG_AUTHORS){if(BLOG_AUTHORS[C]==B){A=true;break}}}else{if(window.BLOG_AUTHOR){A=(BLOG_AUTHOR==B)}}return A}function applyCommentTemplateToComment(F,E){var A=F;A=substituteConstant(A,"${COMMENT.ID}",E.id);A=substituteConstant(A,"${COMMENT.TIMESTAMP}",E.postedTime);A=substituteConstant(A,"${COMMENT.AUTHOR.NAME}",E.author.name);var C=(E.level>3)?"gt3":E.level;A=substituteConstant(A,"${COMMENT.LEVEL}",C);A=substituteConstantIfValueExists(A,"${COMMENT.AUTHOR.URL.EXISTS.START}","${COMMENT.AUTHOR.URL.EXISTS.END}","${COMMENT.AUTHOR.URL}",E.author.url);A=substituteConstant(A,"${COMMENT.AUTHOR.URL}",E.author.url);A=substituteConstant(A,"${COMMENT.DELETE.URL}",E.deleteUrl);A=substituteConstant(A,"${COMMENT.DELETE.TEXT}",E.deleteText);A=substituteConstant(A,"${COMMENT.BODY}",E.body);var D=isBlogAuthor(E.author.url)?"blog-author-comment":"blog-nonauthor-comment";A=substituteConstant(A,"${BLOG.AUTHOR}",D);A=substituteConstant(A,"${BLOG.POST.COMMENT.LINK}",BLOG_POST_COMMENT_LINK);var B=(E.deleted)?"deleted-comment":"";A=substituteConstant(A,"${COMMENT.DELETED.STYLE}",B);document.writeln(A)}function applyCommentTemplate(C){var D=getCommmentsInSortedOrder();for(var A in D){var B=D[A];applyCommentTemplateToComment(C,B)}}function setElementDisplay(B,C){var A=document.getElementById(B);if(A){A.style.display=C}}function setElementsDisplay(B,C){for(var A in B){setElementDisplay(B[A],C)}}function showElements(A){setElementsDisplay(A,"block")}function hideElements(A){setElementsDisplay(A,"none")}function showElement(A){setElementDisplay(A,"block")}function hideElement(A){setElementDisplay(A,"none")}function toggleElementDisplays(C,B,D){if(C.innerHTML=="[hide]"){for(var A in B){if(D[A]=="both"||D[A]=="hide"){hideElement(B[A])}}C.innerHTML="[show]"}else{for(var A in B){if(D[A]=="both"||D[A]=="show"){showElement(B[A])}}C.innerHTML="[hide]"}};// ]]>
    </script>



  2. Next you need add the css tyles for the comments section inside you <b:skin> section. Below is the one I am using in my blog:

    .comment-segment {
    margin-top: 10px;
    margin-right: 10px;
    }
    .comment-level-0 {
    margin-left: 10px;
    }
    .comment-level-1 {
    margin-left: 25px;
    }
    .comment-level-2 {
    margin-left: 40px;
    }
    .comment-level-3 {
    margin-left: 55px;
    }
    .comment-level-gt3 {
    margin-left: 70px;
    }
    .blog-author-comment {
    background-color: #F0F0BE;
    border: 1px solid #FFFF99;
    }
    .blog-nonauthor-comment {
    background-color: #B4C8F0;
    border: 1px solid #7296E2;
    }
    .deleted-comment {
    color: gray; font-STYLE: italic
    }
    .delete-comment-icon {
    background: url("http://www.blogblog.com/rounders3/icon_delete13.gif")
    no-repeat;
    }
    .comment-time {
    font-size: 80%;
    margin: inherit;
    padding-left: 10px;
    padding-bottom: 10px;
    }
    .reply-guide {
    background-color: #FFFFFF;
    border: #076a93 1px dotted;
    display: none;
    padding-right: 10px;
    padding-left: 10px;
    padding-bottom: 0.75em;
    padding-top: 5px;
    margin-right: 10px;
    margin-bottom: 10px;
    }
    .reply-guide-header {
    color: #076a93;
    padding-top: 10px;
    }
    .reply-guide-list {
    list-style: none;
    padding-left: 2px;
    margin-left: 2px;
    }
    .reply-guide-example {
    font-size: 85%;
    margin-right: 5px;
    margin-bottom: 10px;
    float: right;
    border: 1px dotted #076a93;
    padding: 5 5 5 5;
    }




  3. Lastly you need to insert the template for to render the threaded blog comments.
    You need to find the portion in your template responsible for rendering comment. In my template it started with:

    <b:includable id='comments' var='post'>
    <div class='comments' id='comments'>
    ...
    </div>
    </b:includable>


    I just replaced that <b:includable> with the following:


    <b:includable id='comments' var='post'>
    <div class='comments' id='comments'>
    <a name='comments'/>
    <b:if cond='data:post.allowComments'>
    <h4>
    <b:if cond='data:post.numComments == 1'> 1 <data:commentLabel/>:
    <b:else/><data:post.numComments/><data:commentLabelPlural/>:
    </b:if>
    </h4>

    <b:if cond='data:post.numComments > 0'>
    <!-- Include a post comment link before rendering the comments -->
    <p class='comment-footer'>
    <b:if cond='data:post.embedCommentForm'>
    <b:include data='post' name='comment-form'/>
    <b:else/>
    <b:if cond='data:post.allowComments'>
    <a expr:href='data:post.addCommentUrl'
    expr:onclick='data:post.addCommentOnclick'><data:postCommentMsg/></a>
    </b:if>
    </b:if>
    </p>
    </b:if>

    <!-- Loop through the comments adding the comment bodies in a hidden div -->
    <b:loop values='data:post.comments' var='comment'>
    <div style="display: none;" expr:id='"comment-body-" + data:comment.id' >
    <data:comment.body/>
    </div>
    </b:loop>
    <!-- Now create the comment using our javascript -->
    <script type="text/javascript">
    // USE THIS if YOU Have multiple Authors adding them in a comma separated form after removing the '//' from the next line
    // var BLOG_AUTHORS = ['http://www.blogger.com/profile/firstauthor', 'http://www.blogger.com/profile/secondauthor', 'http://www.blogger.com/profile/thirdauthor'];
    // Use this if you have just one author like this blog :)
    var BLOG_AUTHOR = 'http://www.blogger.com/profile/10301627897367423203';
    var BLOG_POST_COMMENT_LINK = '<data:post.addCommentUrl/>';

    var eCommentDelete = false;
    var eAuthorUrl = '';
    <b:loop values='data:post.comments' var='comment'>
    eCommentDelete = false;
    eAuthorUrl = '';
    <b:if cond='data:comment.authorUrl'>
    eAuthorUrl = "<data:comment.authorUrl/>";
    </b:if>
    <b:if cond='data:comment.isDeleted'>
    eCommentDelete = true;
    </b:if>

    buildComment("<data:comment.author/>", eAuthorUrl,
    "<data:comment.id/>", "<data:comment.timestamp/>", eCommentDelete,
    "<data:comment.deleteUrl/>", "<data:top.deleteCommentMsg/>",
    document.getElementById('comment-body-<data:comment.id/>').innerHTML);
    </b:loop>
    // <![CDATA[
    var eCommentTemplate = '' +
    '<div class="comment-segment comment-level-${COMMENT.LEVEL} ${BLOG.AUTHOR} ${COMMENT.DELETED.STYLE}" >' + '\n' +
    ' <a name="comment-${COMMENT.ID}"></a>' + '\n' +
    ' <span style="float: right; margin-right: 5px; " >' + '\n' +
    ' <a href="#" ' + '\n' +
    ' onclick="toggleElementDisplays(this, ' +
    '[\'comment-${COMMENT.ID}-body\', \'comment-${COMMENT.ID}-footer\', \'reply-guide-${COMMENT.ID}\'], ' +
    '[\'both\', \'both\', \'hide\']); return false;" >[hide]</a>' + '\n' +
    ' </span>' + '\n' +
    ' <span class="comment-author" >' +
    '${COMMENT.AUTHOR.URL.EXISTS.START}' +
    '<a href="${COMMENT.AUTHOR.URL}" rel="nofollow">' +
    '${COMMENT.AUTHOR.URL.EXISTS.END}' +
    '${COMMENT.AUTHOR.NAME}' +
    '${COMMENT.AUTHOR.URL.EXISTS.START}' +
    '</a>' +
    '${COMMENT.AUTHOR.URL.EXISTS.END}</span>' + '\n' +
    ' said... ' + '\n' +
    ' <div id="comment-${COMMENT.ID}-body" class="comment-body" ><p>${COMMENT.BODY}</p></div>' + '\n' +
    ' <span class="comment-time">on ${COMMENT.TIMESTAMP}</span>' + '\n' +
    ' <div id="reply-guide-${COMMENT.ID}" class="reply-guide comment-level-0 " >' + '\n' +
    ' <span style="float: right;" ><a href="#" onclick="hideElement(\'reply-guide-${COMMENT.ID}\'); return false;" >[hide]</a></span>' + '\n' +
    ' <h4 class="reply-guide-header">How to Reply to this comment</h4>' + '\n' +
    ' <span>' + '\n' +
    ' To reply to this comment please ensure that <b>one</b> of the following lines: ' + '\n' +
    ' <ul class="reply-guide-list">' + '\n' +
    '<li>@${COMMENT.ID}</li>' + '\n' +
    '<li>@${COMMENT.AUTHOR.NAME}</li>' + '\n' +
    ' </ul>' + '\n' +
    ' is the <b>first line</b> of your comment. ' + '\n' +
    ' <br />' + '\n' +
    ' <a href="${BLOG.POST.COMMENT.LINK}"' + '\n' +
    ' >Click here to enter your reply</a>' + '\n' +
    ' </span>' + '\n' +
    ' </div>' + '\n' +
    ' <div id="comment-${COMMENT.ID}-footer" class="comment-footer">' + '\n' +
    ' <span><a ' +
    'href="#" onclick="showElement(\'reply-guide-${COMMENT.ID}\'); return false;" >Reply</a></span> ' + '\n' +
    ' <span><a href="#comment-${COMMENT.ID}">Permalink</a></span> ' + '\n' +
    ' <span><a href="${COMMENT.DELETE.URL}" title="${COMMENT.DELETE.TEXT}" style="text-decoration: none;" ><span class="delete-comment-icon"> </span></a></span>' + '\n' +
    ' </div>' + '\n' +
    '</div>' + '\n';

    applyCommentTemplate(eCommentTemplate);
    // ]]>
    </script>
    <p class='comment-footer'>
    <a expr:href='data:post.addCommentUrl' expr:onclick='data:post.addCommentOnclick'><data:postCommentMsg/></a>
    </p>
    </b:if>
    <div id='backlinks-container'>
    <div expr:id='data:widget.instanceId + "_backlinks-container"'>
    <b:if cond='data:post.showBacklinks'>
    <b:include data='post' name='backlinks'/>
    </b:if>
    </div>
    </div>
    </div>
    </b:includable>



Remember to replace the
var BLOG_AUTHORS = 
['http://www.blogger.com/profile/firstauthor',
'http://www.blogger.com/profile/otherauthor'];
OR
var BLOG_AUTHOR = 'http://www.blogger.com/profile/onlyauthor';
segment with your appropriate profile url(s).

A sample blogger template is also available in case you want to skip some of the work.

Future work:
Unfortunately the way blogger comments need to be posted it is the responsibilty of the user now to include a @replyTarget line to the top of her comment. Once blogger supports inline comment forms completely (currently it is available only in draft mode) it will be possible to relieve the user of this task and use javascript to auto insert the @replyTarget line into the form.

Feel free to use this in your blogs and let me know your thoughts/bugs you find while using this :)

--

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