Well, we added over a hundred new news topics to the website. This takes a hell of a long time. There really should be a better system in place, but it's a complicated procedure and I've streamlined it the best I can. Anyway, with help from all the staff we got it done and active. This brings us to a total of 508 news icons/topics on the website. That's a whole shit load. I'll have to re-learn what we have icons for or don't now while posting news.
We also updated a few of the old icons with some new updated ones. I can't believe how long it took to put this all together tonight. Oh well, it helps the website - helps the visitors - that's what matters most.
I think I'm going to play with some PHP/MySQL stuff for a little while and see if I can get it to spit out this page automatically. If so then I may be able to automate the entire process and make adding icons and topics a whole lot easier. I just have to code the alphabetizing part (spitting out the anchor code) ... that's the most difficult. The rest isn't that hard. I may give it a shot ... see if it's possible.
After playing with some code for a few hours - I figured out how to do it. So, I spit it out - dynamically - here. Seems to work perfectly (for the menu and the listing). Only problem is I wasn't able to get "headers" for each letter of the alphabet, but I figured that was a minimal loss. Everything seems to work well. Saves me a big fucking headache in the future too. This means that if we add new icons/topics ... the process should be far easier. We can upload the icon, rename the big image to the icon ID, upload that, and then we'll only need to update only two places on the website (the menu for filtering, and a pull down menu buried on one of the search pages). That's a basic cut and paste job for both of those. So, thankfully things will be much simpler in the future. Which is good, cause I know we'll be adding more icons/topics as the website expands.
With a little more fiddling I was able to get it to automatically populate the "filter" page (on the edit options page) as well. Makes updating icons/topics completely seamless now. Just about getting the info into the database and creating the images. Wish I would have done this sooner.
Well, the new blog system is basically completed. Now that I have everything done - I figured I would post a little update explaining why the change, what exactly has changed, as well as some commentary on my reasoning in general. I plan to do this with most of the new "things" I'm playing with around the website in the future. Hopefully this will help explain my thought process and there will be less "complaining" when I change something.
The Name Change
I changed the name from "journal" to "blog" for a variety of reasons. First it was to signify a change in how I viewed this section of the website. When I think of journal I think of personal diary entries. When I think of blog I think of - well - anything. People talking - notes - recommendations - sharing - articles - links - videos ... all of that and more. I wanted this section to be more free flowing. And, as it's not my journal, I figured this made sense. Furthermore the name change goes along well with the big changes in design/functionality. It signifies a new direction.
I changed the layout to allow more options on the blog page. More information to be displayed in a manner that doesn't (hopefully) detract from the main content (the blogs themselves). I also designed this section in a way that will allow us to have other writers (non-staff) post blogs and if they are linked to, more information is available about the writer. Not just a "back to profile" link as before. This new layout also allows for a better comment system. I hated how they worked before. It looked funny and without all of the postbit materials (that regular posts have) it looked bare and naked. So I mimicked the release date calendar comments. Basically I consider this my "mini-postbit" - for places where comments should be available but not the entire post like everywhere else on the website. The look is basically jacked from Facebook. People continually make the "absolutefacebook" joke - and whatever, I love the company and innovation they've provided so I have no problem borrowing from the best. You'll see my attitudes are very "facebook" and "apple" and "microsoft" orientated. I borrow a lot from all these companies as I envy what they have been able to accomplish. Plus, the layout works - it's clean - it's intuitive. That's important to me.
The Entry Bit
The entry bit has been cleaned up. I think it's much smoother (currently playing and moods are hidden until clicked to provide a cleaner look and not clutter the view). This new bit puts all the information at a user's fingertips - yet doesn't overwhelm with too much information.
Probably the portion of the new blogs I'm most proud of. I coded this entire section/function by hand. I think it's the most important addition to the blogs for a variety of reasons. For starters it allows for very quick access to all information. If you read my blog you know I post about a shit load of different things (inside ap, first impressions, recommendations, reviews, movies, music, etc.). Now all of those posts can be quickly found with the click of a mouse. Want all my (or others) recommendations? Click the tag (I also put the link in my signature). Want all the "inside AP" blogs to read? Click the tag. There are endless possibilities for me, users, and staff members. This will allow us to have bands blog easier, industry folk, all of that. Plus it allows you to sort through your blogs much quicker without having to run searches. Also, say you find a blogger with a bunch of recommendations you like -- boom -- pull them all up at once. The "tag cloud" is still technically a work in progress. It works like it should; however, there's a few minor errors (I'm not gonna tell you because I haven't fixed them yet) that I need to fix. That'll be done in the future once I figure those all out. I just but that up cause it basically works as it should.
As you'll see on my blog I have added a "photo blog" feature on the top. This is a feature I put together in coordination with Buzznet.com. Now, first, why buzznet? Well, for starters because they have the system in place to "email a photo to your profile" - something that I love due to my Sidekick. I used to hiplog, but no one ever really checked it out. This way my hiplog and my blog are the same page. Everything on one page. Second because I like the company. They're good people and have good ideas. It's easy to use - was easy to integrate - and looks clean. I put the 4 latest image widget on the blogs (if you have a buzznet account just add your username to your profile page and it works automatically) and then a 20 image link if you click "more." This 20 image in-screen can also be activated on the member's profile page. Hopefully our own gallery will be vastly improved in the future ... but for now ... this is pretty cool. I plan to use it a lot (and the cool thing is that it's all integrated almost seamlessly).
It works. Makes it easy to stay up to date with your favorite blogs as well as export your blogs to Facebook or other places. Just a great feature that I can't get enough of.
I think everything else is pretty self-explanatory. Shouldn't be too hard to follow. Hopefully everyone enjoys the upgrades as much as I do -- I know they're things I'll use on a daily basis and think they're dramatically improve our blog system in general.
In The Next Few Days
I'll update on a few other new features and explain my reasoning and so forth. Check back.
I snapped at some people in the general forum today that were complaining/bitching about a few new things I was trying out on the website. There's just something about working on something ... spending a lot of time on it ... and then having people complain/bitch/whine about it before you've even explained how it's going to work. Of course now that page is almost completed (hint) and I think it's going to work so people can track what's going on with their friends as the website expands and grows. I'll explain more about this whole feature/addition tomorrow. It just really gets under my skin when people start complaining about things on a website they're using for free. "Add this" or "this is worthless" or "bring back this" or "do this." Now, I have no problem with constructive criticisms or suggestions (I read our suggestion forum daily) - but when it becomes a hyperbole filled tirade or when the entire objective is to jump on a soap box and complain -- it just bugs me. Try spending your whole day at work .. then the moment you leave the office have someone walk up to you and start bitching about what you spent the last 8 hours working on. It's aggravating. Only so much shit you can take. I'll touch on this all more in the next few days.
After a day of basically learning XML and RSS formats, blogs (which are starting their first of a few new template facelifts as well) now have RSS feeds! The link is available on the blogs, compliant browsers will recognize the feed (Firefox puts the little icon in the upper right corner), and it's also available on your member profile (more "member" feeds will be available on the profile shortly).
Hopefully everything worked as it should (the feed validates), and this will be one step forward toward keeping track of all your favorite AP blogs (I recommend google reader). I've also imported my blog into my Facebook profile under the "notes" section. So my facebook friends can stay up to date with me.
Note: there are probably still some bugs in this system - I'm working everything out, and I'll work more tomorrow.
Finally got around to flushing out the "filter" portion of the user profiles. Never again will I listen to a "why do you post so much about _____" complaint.
I had this option in place for a while so we could kind of tell people to "filter shit out" (but it was pretty confusing to use). The new system is much, much better. And people can edit/filter out roughly 100 different topics (compared to trying to find the "ID" of only 5 topics before).
I spent all day on this (it's the little things that are always so difficult to do correctly) - so I'm gonna go relax and watch a movie now.
1) Finally removed that trailing comma in the clickable profile fields. This has been bugging me for a year and I finally got around to fixing the code. It's funny when the solution is so simple and yet you've overlooked it for whatever reason. (Adding substr_replace($userinfo["$profilefieldname"],'',-2); was all that needed to be done - I don't know why I didn't think of it before - that's basic PHP 101.
2) Friend list pages much improved.
3) Memberlist improved.
4) Friend system vastly improved (uses in-screen removal/addition) instead of the old shitty way.
5) Beta version of the "friend status page" is up (userCP) - more will be coming with that in the future. Just a "proof of concept" sort of thing at the moment.
6) User status on member profiles (online/offline).
7) Minor optimization.
8) Poke (like friend) system moved "in screen" (except via PM for both). Minor "spam" fixes in the code.
9) Added loading screen to ajax powered in-screen readers. Just little UI stuff.
More coming soon ... I'm tinkering with little things on the profile pages right now. Hoping to improve them a little. Blog stuff will probably be after that. I don't know if this is interesting to anyone - but I felt like updating. I'll update more tomorrow (probably while testing new blog stuff) - lots to discuss.
Sorry for the lack of blog updates. A lot on my mind I want to get out. A lot I want to explain. A lot I want to tell you. But ... for now ... I can't. Soon. It's late and I need to go relax and rest a little bit. I have a big presentation to put together tomorrow. For what? Well, that's part of the "can't tell you" thing. Hopefully soon. I'll explain myself fully - I promise. Don't worry - it's all very, very good.
In the meantime, here's what I've been working on behind the scenes:
I'll explain it in more detail later. It's still in the early design process - but it's coming along very nicely. It's been fun to be the only one using it while I design and code it, it's insanely helpful.
Man, these blogs need tags - badly. So much to do ... so little time ...
I set up a new feature on the AP artist/label profiles. It goes something like this: staff and profile creators can now enter their youtube usernames into the profile and it will automatically pull the last 10 uploaded videos from that profile and put it under "Video Showcase." Automated updated content is great for us and it means more content for the users (which is always good). Should be great when we get more profiles updated with it. But it works ... and it was relatively easy to code and put together.
Ok, I'm exhausted. I didn't answer any emails today because I was trying to catch back up on everything I missed the past two days. I'll have the weekend now (when the website is usually much, much slower) to get caught up on all of that.
I'm going to go make myself a sammich - get something to drink - and go for a walk. I needa get outside some today. Then I plan on working on the Facebook application for AP, making a pizza for dinner, maybe watching a movie or some Man vs Wild (Discover Channel FTW), and getting stuff packed for my trip to California mid -week (I have a bunch of AP related business meetings to attend).
Added an AP.net extension to the banner page I've been working on. Slowly adding new widgets and stuff to help promote AP. This is the 0.0.1 version of the add-on ... it will probably see improvements in the future, but it works for now, and does what I wanted it too. Not bad for teaching myself how to code for Mozilla in one night.