Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A New Main Menu Feature

You may notice now that when you hover over the "create" item in the main menu you get a dropdown menu with selections for story and project. Previously there was no menu and clicking the menu item took you to a story create wizard. Creating a new project was a feature that was more difficult to get to.

In the future we may allow users to create their own communities as well, and that option would then appear in this menu.

Project Page Enhancements

OK, we now have some more improvements on the project page.

In the story list, you can see at a glance the type of story each entry is. This currently is a short piece of text in square brackets (eg [YouTube]) beneath the creators' name. We are currently working on a better way to differentiate stories visually, but this is it for now. Next to this text is a link called "preview!". This is a cool new feature - you can view a story inplace without having to go to the story page. It slides down a viewing area beneath the story description and plays the story for you straight away. If you are near the bottom of the browser window it will scroll upwards just enough to view the entire story window. You can hide the previewer by clicking the cross in the right hand corner of the previewer, or by clicking the "preview!" link again.

Another change is we have moved away from the old style visibility badges for stories (basically the word "public", "community" or "private" with a coloured background) to a thin coloured strip that sits beneath the story image. You can still click on this strip to change the story visibility. This may not be our final solution to representing this information elegantly, but it will do for now.

The member list has some new features too. Each member has an action menu you can activate when hovering over a member. A down arrow button appears in the rhs corner - click this to get a menu of actions that relate to that user. This menu contains our first attempt to create stronger connection links to other users. At the bottom of the menu you will see a section called "Connect With This Member" - this section contains links to all the different social media this user has. Everything from a simple message, to skype, to facebook etc etc. We aim to have this kind of connection to a user everywhere it makes sense. PlaceStories wants its users to make full use of their other social media in interesting and elegant ways and features like this should go a long way to helping us achieve this.

Another feature you will find useful is a "Members" page in project settings. This looks a lot like the members tab in the Project Create wizard. It allows you to add and remove members from your project quickly and easily, as well as change their status (admin vs member).


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Date/Time Tooltips

A small feature we have been spreading through the website is wherever a date is mentioned, the full time (in the timezone of the viewing user) is displayed as a tooltip when you hover over the date. This can be handy if you need to know the *exact* time of day an action occurred.

We may not have applied this to all dates yet, but we are getting there.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A New Widget - Project Carousel!

As you may be aware by now, the community home page has a project carousel. We feel this is a visually appealing way to showcase projects in a small area.

Well, we have now wrapped the carousel up into a widget, so you can have a project widget on your own website! It is a fixed size (625x385), but you can set the content filter and whether it has a footer or not. Try it out, we think you'll like it!

Better Browser Awareness

Our ps3beta site has only ever supported the most modern browsers: IE8+, Firefox3+, Chrome4+, Safari4+ etc.

Whilst we made mention of this on the home page, if you landed on another page in the ps3beta site with an old browser, no mention was made of the need for a better browser, and the page was probably rendered incorrectly, and most definitely wouldn't have behaved properly either.

Now we do "browser sniffing" in a much more robust way. If you go to *any* page on the ps3beta site using an old browser, there is an unmissable message at the top of the page saying we only support modern browsers, and that the page below is probably broken.

Also, as our widgets are html-based, we do browser sniffing in them as well. If you embed a widget in your external website, and a user comes to your webpage in an old browser, then the widget won't display content, but rather a message saying why it can't.

In the future, we may support IE7, but we definitely won't be supporting IE6.

Customise Your Community Home Page

You can now start customising your community home page. At the moment this includes the default view for your project carousel and story grid, and whether your community needs features such as calendars and discussions. Any feature you turn off won't be mentioned on the home page. Also, you can turn a feature back on at any time.

Community admins get access to these features via the "community settings" page. Simply select the "Home Page" option and go from there.

And, of course, more customisations will be added to community home pages over time.

Facelist for Community Pages

Well, it's been in the pipeline for a while, and finally it's done. The community page now has two new features, a project carousel and a story grid. These replace the fairly mundane 'lists' that were the old display method.

The project carousel displays 6 projects according to the selected filter. You can view "latest", "featured", "most popular", or a "random" selection. Basic information about each project is displayed, with handy links to all the major pages related to the project (map, widgets, contact, stories, members).

We have also added a story grid viewer for stories. You can view stories either in a thumbnail grid, which allows you to view stories inplace, or as a list. And like the project carousel, you can change the filter applied to the selection of stories, "latest", "most popular" and "random". Viewing stories inplace on the grid is a handy and quick way to get a taste for the stories of a community.

If you want to see these new features in action, visit any community home page, or check out the content at the Disseminate community, http://ps3beta.com/community/disseminate.