Finished my forum’s message preview section. It sits at the bottom of the main screen just like the preview in Outlook Express does. But I do extend it the full width of the page as that allows for more viewing area for the message. It basically was an adaptation of the detail page I had before and was not too difficult to do (if you call about 5 hours work “not too difficult”).
One glitch did catch me, though. Using browser links is nice, because the links are one color (the color depends on your browser’s settings) when you have not viewed the message, and another color when you have. That’s great, since it frees my forum from having to track your viewed messages for you - something I was NOT planning on doing. But when I added the ability to select the sort order, I made the message number negative when the order was decreasing. I now see this is bad because if you change the order, all your previously visited links are no longer indicated as visited. I cannot save the sort direction in the user profile, since the visitor may choose not to login. Therefore, the only way remaining is to save the direction along with the last viewed message number as a cookie. The one caveat here is if someone who is paranoid has their cookies turned off, they will not get the recall that others would. But then, they will be missing out on getting help at all the other sites they visit as well.