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Comment Plugin

This plugin allows users to quickly post comments to a page without an edit/preview/save cycle.

( Discussion in TWiki:Plugins/CommentPluginDev )


Inserts an edit box into the page that allows users to type in and save comments. Comments can be made

  • in different formats (as defined by a template),
  • in both forward and reverse chronological order,
  • signed or unsigned, dated or undated (as defined by a template),
  • in other topics, or other positions within the current topic.

Syntax Rules

Write the command %COMMENT{ attributes }% anywhere in a TWiki topic. %COMMENT% is also legal.

The following attributes are recognised

Name Description
type This is the name of the template to use for this comment. Comment templates are defined in a TWiki template - see Customisation, below. If this attribute is not defined, the type is whatever is defined by COMMENTPLUGIN_DEFAULT_TYPE, either in this topic or in your WebPreferences. By default this is 'below'.
target Name of the topic to add the comment to. Defaults to the current topic.
location Regular expression specifying the comment location in the target topic. Read carefully below!
mode For compatability with older versions only, synonymous with type
nonotify Set to "on" to disable change notification for target topics
noform Set to "on" to disable the automatic form that encloses your comment block - remember to insert <FORM> tags yourself!

Positioning the comment

%COMMENT supports several ways to specify where a comment should be inserted in the target topic. This is referred to as the location of the comment.

Location relative to %COMMENT tag

The default location is the %COMMENT tag itself. For example:
will add comments in the current topic, directly below the %COMMENT tag.

Location relative to a TWiki anchor

The target attribute may specify a web, and may also specify an anchor within the target topic; for example,
%COMMENT{type="above" target="%MAINWEB%.PersonalRemarks#InsertHere"}%
This uses a standard TWiki in-topic anchor as the insertion location. See TextFormattingRules for more about TWiki anchors.

Location relative to an arbitrary text string

Getting more sophisticated, you can also specify a regular expression for the target location using the location parameter. The target topic is searched for the regular expression, and the comment inserted relative to the string that the search matched. For example,
%COMMENT{type="above" location="Flights of Fancy"}%
will place comments above the first occurence of the string Flights of Fancy in the current topic.

Warning of course, if a user's comment contains the string "Flights of Fancy" they may and up changing the location for the next comment! Also, if you use a tag in the location, then you've just inserted another tag in the page that contains the %COMMENT! So be very careful how you specify the RE for location. Note that the RE is matched using perl "multiple line" mode, so ^ and $ match the start of a line and the end of a line respectively.

I look forward to someone leveraging this feature to create - for example - threaded conversations using %COMMENT.

If you specify an anchor and a location, the anchor will be ignored.

Default templates

Templates are used to define the "comment style" i.e. how comments appear in the page. The default is to add comments in "Blog like" style using bulleted lists, with the most recent comment at the top, but many other styles are available such as tables or Wiki thread mode comments. It is easy to define your own customer styles as well.

A set of default comment templates are shipped with the plugin. These are:

Template type Description
top Comments, signed and dated, added at top of the topic (the anchor is ignored)
bottom Comments, signed and dated, added at end of the target topic (the anchor is ignored)
above Comments, signed and dated, added immediately before the target anchor, or the %COMMENT if no anchor is specified
below Comments, signed and dated, added immediately below the target anchor, or the %COMMENT if no anchor is specified
threadmode Wiki thread mode comment, signed and dated
tableprepend Comments, signed and dated, formatted as an HTML table row, added below the anchor (which must be in an HTML <table>)
tableappend Comments, signed and dated, formatted as an HTML table row, added above the anchor (which must be in an HTML <table>)

Your local installation may add more template types as well - see Customisation, below.


Customisation of the comment plugin requires

The plugin picks up its templates from a standard TWiki template file, named "comments". This allows different templates to be defined for different TWiki skins. This template file may include other template files, or may include a topic from a user web (this is an extension to the normal handling of %TMPL:INCLUDE described in the documentation). The shipped plugin defines default templates in comments.tmpl and then includes the topic CommentsTmpl . If you want to define your own templates, add them to UserTemplates . Note that you can use %TMPL:INCLUDE in this file to include other files of templates. Note also that if you want to override any of the default templates shipped with the plugin, you can simply do so by defining them in UserTemplates , and they will replace the installed versions.

To define a comment type, you have to provide two simple template definitions in the template file; one for the prompt box, and one for the generated output. If we have a template type "mytype", these are named PROMPT:mytype and OUTPUT:mytype respectively. See comments.tmpl in the templates directory for examples.

The PROMPT template

The PROMPT template defines the contents of an HTML form that is used to capture the comment. This form invokes the comment generator when submitted. Parameters to the comment generator are defined using standard HTML input fields, such as input, textarea and select. The user enters values for these parameters, and these are then available when the OUTPUT template is expanded, in the form of %URLPARAM%s.

Only the input fields of the form need be defined. The plugin automatically generates the >form< and &gt:/form< tags, unless you specify noform="on", in which case you have to provide them yourself. Note that you must define a "submit" button if you want the form to work!

If an attribute is given to the %COMMENT tag that is not one of the standard attributes, then that attribute is taken as the name of a parameter to be expanded in the PROMPT template. Expressions in the template of the form %param|default% (e.g. %rows|3%, %button|Push me%) are expanded to the values given in the %COMMENT. For example, if the PROMPT template 'example' contains:

<textarea rows=%rows|3% cols="%cols|50%" value="%tval|Rubbish%">
and the %COMMENT tag is:
%COMMENT{type="example" cols="75"}%
then the template will be expanded as
<textarea rows="3" cols="75" value="Rubbish">

As well as support for all the usual TWiki variables in templates, the following special variables are supported in the PROMPT definition:

Variable Description
%MESSAGE% A helpful generated message, either a lock message or a reminder to refresh.
%DISABLED% Set to 'disabled' when you cannot comment (see Important Note regarding Locks, below).

The OUTPUT template

The OUTPUT template defines the format for the text that actually gets embedded into the topic. All the usual TWiki variables are available in the PROMPT definition, but note that they get expanded when the comment is inserted in the text, so time, date and username will refer to the time and date when the comment was made and the user who made it.

There are also four position tags that are used to indicate where the comment should be placed, relative to the location defined in the %COMMENT tag:

%POS:TOP% If present, comments will be inserted at the top of the topic i.e. before any other text
%POS:BOTTOM% If present, comments will be inserted at the end of the topic i.e. after all existing text
%POS:BEFORE% If present, comments will be inserted immediately before the %COMMENT% tag
%POS:AFTER% If present, comments will be inserted immediately after the %COMMENT% tag
Note that these position tags are obviously mutually exclusive. If you define more than one, the result is undefined. If none is present, the default is taken from the plugin setting DEFAULT_TYPE

Important Note regarding Locks

The plugin checks if the page is locked for edit. When a locked page is displayed in 'view' mode, comment input is automatically disabled.

Note that if the page was read long time ago, it's possible that page was locked by another user after it was read, and the lock is still outstanding. In this case, comments cannot be saved, and you will be redirected to a "topic is locked" page. You then have two options:

  • Cancel - throw away your comment and return to viewing the page.
  • Back - WARNING some browsers might requery the page and lose your comments - so test how your browser behaves before using the Back button.

To help avoid edit conflict, a reminder to refresh the page before entering comments is the default text for a %COMMENT. When the target page is known to be locked, the PROMPT form is automatically disabled.


  • Description:
    • Set SHORTDESCRIPTION = Allows users to quickly post comments to a page without an edit/preview/save cycle.
  • Name of file in the 'templates' directory that contains the comment templates. The default 'comments.tmpl' automatically includes user templates from CommentsTmpl
    • Set TEMPLATES = comments
  • default template type (if not present, defaults to "below")
    • Set DEFAULT_TYPE = below

Plugin Installation Instructions

  • Download the ZIP file from the Plugin web (see below)
  • Unzip CommentPlugin.zip in your twiki installation directory. Content:
    File: Description:
    data/TWiki/CommentPlugin.txt Plugin doc page (this page)
    data/TWiki/CommentsTmpl.txt Example user templates
    templates/comments.tmpl Master comment templates
    lib/TWiki/Plugins/CommentPlugin.pm Plugin Perl module
    lib/TWiki/Plugins/CommentPlugin/Comment.pm Plugin Perl module
    lib/TWiki/Plugins/CommentPlugin/test.zip Tests
    lib/TWiki/Plugins/CommentPlugin/build.pl Build file
    CommentPlugin_installer.pl Install script

  • Optionally, run CommentPlugin_installer to automatically check and install other TWiki modules that this module depends on. You can also do this step manually.
  • Alternatively, manually make sure the dependencies listed in the table below are resolved.
    TWiki::Contrib::Attrs>=1.000Required. Download from TWiki:Plugins/AttrsContrib and install.
    TWiki::Plugins::CairoContrib >=1.000Optional, only required if the plugin is to be run with versions of TWiki before Cairo. Available from the TWiki:Plugins/CairoContrib repository.
  • The Plugin depends on the viewauth script to authenticate the user. As described in TWikiAccessControl, copy the view script to viewauth (or better, create a symbolic link) and add viewauth to the list of authenticated scripts in the .htaccess file.

If installed correctly, you should see a %COMMENT edit box below here.

No such template def TMPL:DEF{PROMPT:top}

Plugin Info

Plugin Author: v1.0 TWiki:Main.DavidWeller v2.0 TWiki:Main.PeterMasiar v3.0 TWiki:Main.CrawfordCurrie http://www.c-dot.co.uk
Plugin Version: 3.009
Change History:
<-- Most recent first -->
25 Feb 2005 3.009 Added Olivier Berger's fix for anchors and Jacob Eisinger's fix for variable expansion
16 Oct 2004 3.008 Added the noform attribute to Comment - TWiki:Main.MartinCleaver
12 Oct 2004 3.007 Disabled comment boxes in rdiff pane.
6 Oct 2004 3.006 Fixed action template, which was expanded incorrectly. Upped default comment box to 70 chars default width.
16 Aug 2004 3.005 Cairo readiness; dependency checking; added threadmode template.
11 Apr 2004 3.004 Minor line termination problem fixed, and "security" hyphen on standard comment removed and replaced with a bulleted list.
6 April 2004 3.003 Applied patches (thanks Peter Thoeny) for multiple comment adding, BOTTOM and TOP inside meta-data, and moved example to Sandbox.
13 March 2004 3.002 Modified to use viewauth save technique (safer), add nonotify parameter, move templates fully into topics, with a hook for site-specifics, support %COMMENT%, internationalisation fixes
18 Feb 2004 3.001 TWiki:Main/CrawfordCurrie rewrote for standard templates and other user requests. Recognition to Patrice Fournier and Sam Abrams for terrific testing and patch support.
7 Feb 2004 TWiki:Main/CrawfordCurrie rewrote this page and CommentTemplates in an effort to make the plugin more user friendly. Added {TIME} variable. Also updated CVS.
23 Sep 2003 2.000 TWiki:Main/PeterMasiar: 80% rewrite/refactor, adding templates
15 July 2003 TWiki:Main/PeterMasiar added "reminder" parameter and feature to pass comments to oopslockedcomments.tmpl template to copy-paste later
5 March 2002 Bug fixes, TWiki:Main/JonLambert created oopslockedcomments.tmpl template
24 Feb 2002 added a few more user requests, made "English" text configurable
4 Dec 2001 1.010 release, changed name to CommentPlugin, added $button var, changed textarea WRAP setting to "soft"
30 Nov 2001 1.000 Initial version
TWiki::Contrib::Attrs>=1.000Required. Download from TWiki:Plugins/AttrsContrib and install.
TWiki::Plugins::CairoContrib >=1.000Optional, only required if the plugin is to be run with versions of TWiki before Cairo. Available from the TWiki:Plugins/CairoContrib repository.
Perl Version: 5.0
Plugin Home: TWiki:Plugins/CommentPlugin
Feedback: TWiki:Plugins/CommentPluginDev

Related Topics: TWikiPreferences, TWikiPlugins

-- TWiki:Main/DavidWeller - 05 Mar 2002
-- TWiki:Main/PeterMasiar - 15 Jul 2003, 23 Sep 2003
-- TWiki:Main/CrawfordCurrie - 09:58:34 25 February 2005

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