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CommunityWalk Blog

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

An Alaska Vacation and a Brainstorm

My girlfriend create a map of her trip to Alaska last night and commented about she didn't like the order of the markers in the marker list. I told her that she could change it, using the order field in the details section of each marker, but she wasn't exactly thrilled by that possibility. She just wanted there to be a better natural order. She didn't even realize that they were in alphabetic order.

This wasn't the first time I've had this feedback from people, so I decided to sit down and brainstorm how to make it better. The best solution I could think of was to organize the marker list by category name, breaking it up a bit and making it feel more organized. Luckily this was easy to do, which is usually a very good sign.

Check out the new marker list on her Alaska Vacation Map.

CommunityWalk Map - Alaska Vacation


Sunday, October 15, 2006

A New Front Page

I've just released some changes to the front page. I've wanted to change the front page for some time now as I keep getting feedback from people who are coming to the site for the first time that they aren't sure what you are supposed to do on the site.

In order to fix this problem we focused on making the front page much more simple and clear. Hopefully this will encourage people to dive right into making maps. We've also made a space for featuring a great map right on the front page, to give some more exposure to maps other than the top 10 and let people see what a map looks like right off the bat.

I'll likely be making some tweaks to it over the next week or two, so it might change a bit still. I'd love to hear people's thoughts on the changes. Feel free to email me (jared [@] or leave a comment on the blog.


Friday, October 13, 2006

Search and Exploring

I've added in a search box to the top of each CommunityWalk page except for the map page. It uses Google to search CommunityWalk maps and return results within CommunityWalk. Although I'd rather get an internal search solution integrated, this will have to do for now.

Now that this search functionality is in place I've replaced the live search function on the Explore page with an Explore City box that lets you zoom into a city or town without having to click all the way in. I've been playing around with this a bit already and it feels like a much better exploring experience!


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A Little Bit Faster, A Little Easier to Share

I've just released two enhancements to the application.

The first is a performance enhancement that should speed up map loading times by as much as 40%. The site already feels quite a bit snappier to me.

The second has been a long time coming. It lets you email the link to any map right from the map page. Just click "Email Map" in the toolbar under "Share/Export". Hopefully this will encourage people to share all of the great maps on CommunityWalk!


Monday, October 09, 2006

Code snippets for all

I've finally gotten around to exposing the code snippet code on the map page. So now people can more easily include a map that they've created or that someone else has made public in their blog or website. Just click on the "Code snippets" link under the "Share/Export" tab.

Unfortunately the code snippets are still not the most intuitive functionality, so I think there is still some work to do there.


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Quick Edit Mode and Caching

I am working hard to try and get CommunityWalk performing as quickly as possible. In the past week I've done a few things along these lines:

1) Made the queries on the explore page faster. The performance still is not fantastic on the explore page, but it should be much better now.

2) Cached external views. This should make looking at your map via another website or a blog using one of the code snippets faster. You won't see the difference the first time you look at the map, but subsequent times should be considerably faster.

3) Quick Edit Mode. This was in the application a while ago. I pulled it out because I thought it would not be necessary any more. but it looks like it still is. This setting is under the "Map Settings" tab on the map page. It lets you turn off "Full Refresh Mode" so that changes you make to the map will not make all of the panels on the left side of the page refresh. For larger maps this can make the process of editing a map much more efficient.

There is still a lot more to come. Performance is consistently one of my highest priorities. Unfortunately it is a bit difficult to keep up with given the growth of the site. Thanks to everyone for sticking around during some of the rougher patches during the recent growth spurt :)