Web discussion forums have become popular over the last couple years. They are easy to access and provide services--like polls and moderation systems--that are not available in Usenet newsgroups. On the other hand, it is much harder to read web forums than it is to read newsgroups. Newsreaders have multi-paned interfaces and threaded comment trees to make article browsing as easy as possible.
ForumZilla enables you to read web discussion forums in a Usenet newsreader-like interface. It displays forums in a three-pane window in which the first pane lists forums and stories, the second pane contains a threaded comment tree (with sortable subject, author, date, and score columns), and the third pane displays the currently selected story or comment.
Kuro5hin.org now supports ForumZilla, and support has been added to Scoop 0.6, which means that any forum using that software has ForumZilla support built in. MozillaZine, LiveJournal, and other sites also support ForumZilla.
Take a look at ForumZilla in action, then install it. If you don't have Mozilla, you have to install that first. ForumZilla works with the latest Mozilla milestone release as well as the recent nightly builds for Linux, Macintosh, and Windows. It probably works on other platforms that run Mozilla.
XUL is an XML language for describing user interfaces. It was originally designed to be used to generate the Mozilla web browser user interface, but it is now possible to use it for other applications. It has tags for buttons, trees, menus, and many other GUI widgets. XUL makes it almost as easy to design applications as it is to design web pages, and it makes it possible for interface designers to build application interfaces without knowing how to program. Mozilla's entire interface is defined in XUL, and so is ForumZilla's.
RDF is an XML language for publishing meta-data. Meta-data is information about other information. In a filesystem, for example, the name of a file is meta-data, while the contents of the file is the data itself. Meta-data in a web discussion forum includes the titles of stories and the subjects, authors, and scores of comments. ForumZilla-compatible discussion forums use RDF to publish meta-data about their stories and comments in a format ForumZilla knows how to parse and display.
We invite you to try ForumZilla out, abuse it, hack on it, and then tell us about it!