Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Postcard Updated

We have just updated the postcard template so that the story description on the back has more room! One day soon we will allow scrolling of longer descriptions which at the moment simply get clipped.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Social Media Now Includes Blogs

Users and communities can now nominate a blog to be associated with. Nothing really interesting happens with this yet, it is just another "follow this user/community on" link. However, in the near future we will probably support auto-publishing to wordpress blogs.

Yippee - Facebook came to the party!

Something that is making the developers here at Feral Arts happy is that Facebook have finally made it easier for developers to access and update a user's profile/wall automagically. And their authentication process now follows the standard that most websites (such as Twitter, YouTube etc) follow.

What does this mean? In the very first instance, if a PlaceStories user has authenticated against a Facebook account, we will be able to publish to their wall when they do something significant like create a story. This is a great leap forward.

It also appears that we get access to Facebook events, so we might come up with some interesting hooks from a PlaceStories event to a Facebook event.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Default Map Location

We have changed the default map location when creating a story or going to the default mode of the main map page to be, roughly, "the world". It used to be Australia.

A New Header!

We have now changed the look of the header banner. We like it! Do you?

We have also changed the background colour of the pages. Its much easier on the eye now.

A Handy Tip About Postcard Images

It has been great seeing people publish their postcards. Some awesome images and interesting tales to go with them. And what we at ferals really like about postcards as a story type is how quick it is to publish!

The one thing the postcard creation wizard lacks is the ability to preview your postcard before publishing. This would be especially useful if your image wasn't a standard landscape ratio. The postcard template has been designed for landscape images, and so portrait or non-standard images may not look as the user intended!

To reinforce this point, we have made mention of this fact in the first page of the postcard creation wizard.

Story Locations Now Mandatory

It used to be optional to geolocate a story. We have now made it mandatory. We have also changed the location page of the story creation wizard to be more intuitive. On the location page, all you have to do is type the address of the story in the location field, hit ENTER, then the map will be placed at this location for you. You can refine this location by dragging the marker to the correct location.

A subtle point which you may be interested in knowing is that the text location doesn't have to match the geolocation on the map. As an example, you might want the location to read "The hall at the back of the local school, Charleville". This location won't geocode to an address. So the quickest way to assign a location to this story would be to enter an address in the location field that will geocode (such as "142 School St, Charleville"). Then, once the map marker is in the right place, go back and change the location field to "The hall at the back of the local school, Charleville", and continue to the next step in the wizard.

A Change To Our Creation Wizards

The creation wizards (story, project, project-event), used to have "prev/next/done" buttons at the bottom of each page. We feel this lead to a couple of problems, namely:

1. A lot of the time those buttons were off the bottom of the browser page and so you had to scroll to see the click them. For users not used to the wizards it would have been a bit confusing figuring out how to submit the form.

2. Users seeing these buttons on the first screen weren't even considering inputing data in following screens/steps. This data, whilst optional, was still fairly important. For example, it was optional to geolocate a story. However, if a story doesn't have a geolocation, then it won't appear on the map.

For these reasons, we have made the following change. The "prev/next/done" buttons have been removed altogether, and a final "step" up the top has been added, and it's called "Done". We hope this will make users at least consider inputing data at all steps in the wizard. Also, you don't have to scroll the page at all to submit your new story/project/project-event. We feel this will work better as a user interface.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Slideshare Anyone?

We have been looking at adding a new story type :- Slideshare. Slideshare is a web portal for sharing slide shows, such as conference presentations. (For more information, go to their website:

You can upload a variety of different file formats, namely:

Presentations: pdf, ppt, pps, pptx, ppsx, pot, potx (Powerpoint); odp (OpenOffice); key, zip (Apple Keynote).
Documents: pdf, doc, docx, rtf, xls (MSOffice); odt, ods(OpenOffice); Apple iWork Pages.

and files can be up to 100Mb in size. It converts your uploaded file into a Flash format, and presents the slide show to the user through a standard Flash interface.

We could link to a slideshare account in much the same way we connect to YouTube or Flickr. It could be a neat way for folks to put more "informational" stories online, using the project structure to organise content.

Do any of you PlaceStories users out there think this would be a worthwhile story type?

Project Calendars

We have now added support for project calendars. This allows you to create events and display them to people who browse your project page.

When you go to a project page, you will see an "Events" panel on the rhs. In this panel is a 1 month calendar, by default the current month, and a list of events for that month underneath. If you click the left and right arrows at the top near the month and year text you can move backwards and forwards one month at a time. This is done inplace via AJAX so you don't have to leave the page to quickly see events near the current date.

There is a link at the bottom of this panel called "more info" - this will take you to a page where you can browse project events in a larger format. Full event descriptions are available here.

So who can add an event? Project admins and community admins for the community in which the project was originally published. How do you add an event? If you have permission you will be able to click a day on the calendar directly to create an event for that day. Otherwise, click the "add event" link at the bottom of the calendar on the project page.

What can you specify for an event? Lots of things:
1. Date
2. Title
3. Description
4. Event type (workshop, conference, etc)
5. More info website
6. Facebook event page
7. Location - both general (text) location and a specific map location
8. A member of the project to act as a contact for the event

What can't you do?
1. Specify an event that runs over more than 1 day
2. Specify a time of day for the event (though you can mention this in the event description)

What is coming up?
1. Support for events at the community level.
2. Notification support. For example, you could say "email all project members at 7 days and then 1 day from the event reminding them of it".

Any feedback or suggestions for feature enhancement most welcome!

Map Clustering

As of last friday we now have clustering support on our map page. When story or folk markers are too close together we represent them with a special marker that has a plus sign at the top right corner.

If you click on a clustered marker, the story or folk dialog will appear as usual, but you will notice in the bottom right hand corner of the bubble prev/next buttons, and some text telling you which story/folk you are looking at (eg "1 of 6"). These buttons enable you to view all the stories or folks of the cluster without having to close the bubble. Very handy!

Go to our map page now to see what we mean:

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Creating Flickr Postcards with the 'grab an image from a url' option

On the postcard creation page, when you use the "grab an image from a url option", the url required is not a url to a flickr photo page, but rather a url directly to an actual image, which can be from anywhere on the web. PS3 does not assume the image has to come from flickr).

What you need to do from the Flickr photo page is click "all sizes", then right-click the "Download the Original Size" link at the top, and select "copy link" and paste into the URL field on the postcard creation page. Soon the system will be a little smarter about recognizing flickr photo pages and work it out 'automagically'

A neater way to use your flickr images in postcard creation is to associate your flickr account (if you have one) with your user account so that when you are creating a postcard it will allow you to browse and select a photo from your flickr account directly - it's faster and more bulletproof - and it also allows other users to view and link to your flickr account generally.