There's a fair amount of configuring you can do by tweaking the hnrc and/or the article-specific .html,urc files. More major changes involve modifying (polite word for hacking) the Perl scripts. I've done a bit of this. For instance, on one of the sites where I've installed HyperNews, its main use will be to add response functionality to the photographic portfolio of one of my colleagues. We decided to eliminate the icons, present by default, which indicate the response type—happy, angry, comment, question, etc. These icons can be informative, but they also play a large role in setting the tone of the page, and they won't be appropriate for every HyperNews article. I've also thinned out the article response form, since we're not planning to use membership and wanted to incorporate our own wording for the form's instructions.
As with all package-hacking, my assaults on the HyperNews code will make it harder to upgrade to new versions at that particular site. In fact, if I hadn't needed no-icon-ness right away, I might very well have hung tight and seen whether it gets incorporated into the package down the road. One of the great things about the HyperNews home page (see URL, above) is that many suggestions for change and improvement can be, and are, posted—and Daniel LaLiberte, the author of HyperNews, is extremely receptive and responsive. If you want to keep pace with HyperNews development and releases, you can subscribe to the “history” page at union.ncsa.uiuc.edu/HyperNews/get/history.html.
If a package like HyperNews could be described thoroughly in an article of this length, it probably wouldn't be worth writing an article about. There are plenty of features and possibilities, and a few problems, that I haven't covered. If HyperNews intrigues you, have a look at its home page, where you can read and post responses to many base articles, including a couple of test and guestbook-style ones. You'll find a lot of support from the community of users, and you may very well also find one or more uses for HyperNews in the context of your own web development.
David Alan Black (email@example.com)
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