Improv'd Daily! (domburi, notreality)
Can’t believe what a coward I’ve been. I guess it wasn’t until I read recently about “how Jon Lech Johansen humilliated Hollywood by releasing a program to easily break DVD’s much vaunted DRM ”p">(when he was 15 years old) ":http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05290/590139.stm, or about the college droputs that run youTVpc.com for millions of people on just two low-end desktop computers that I realized how big a wuss I am.
Take Imagery. In a way, I never wanted it to be very popular because I knew I was doing something maybe-legal by scraping Google. I wanted to scrape Flickr and Yahoo! but feared they would be even less likely to see my scraping in a good light. I wanted to create a picture cache to make Imagery much faster and reliable (and to lessen the leech on independent websites) but fretted about bandwidth costs and about whether people would get angry about my caching.
Or take the Spanish dictionary of the Spanish Language Academy. It’s a tremendously useful, gratis dictionary and yet it has a butt-ugly, nonhumane interface. I’ve been bitching about it for years. And I’ve been thinking about giving it a new interface for that long, but, again, what if they don’t like my scraping? (In all probability they won’t. They’re the quintessential staid, monolithic organization.)
A lot of what ifs. But most importantly, so what? So sue me. Well, actually, most important is that I think these scrapings are an overwhelmingly good thing. I see them as a lot of fun — for me, for the scrapees (who’ll get to see how it’s done, ehem), and for the people who will enjoy just how much they never imagined missing. I see them as criticism by example.
So here’s Domburi and here’s NotReality. The idea of Domburi has changed somewhat from its inception (oh, the shame, so many goals not accomplished), it shall now be a collection of search superpowers instead of limiting itself to imagesearching. I believe, with an arrogance that I can’t believe but that I’ve missed, that I have a thing or two to teach Google in its own turf, not just in forgotten backwaters like imagesearching (where Imagery still kicks Google‘s ass easily). So I’m starting really tiny now with only a simple redesign of Google search results (there isn’t even imagesearching yet). I’ll be fleshing it out in the coming days, daily, with the daylog here below.
Not Reality, otoh, is still what I’ve always wanted it to be: my webfront for my interface experiments. It’s really simple now but I’ll be improving it daily too.
So please visit the websites, leave your feedback in this post’s comments, and come back often to check out the daylogs — there are loads of interesting things in the pipeline! Thanks for reading.
Endless fiddling on Domburi. Collapse of the incrementalism. Obsession with pipe dreams.
- Ajaxed requests. Loading icon. Everything happens on the same page. Title changes. Very lightweight script behind the scenes: the now deprecated but still unsurpassed moo.ajax.
- New one-column format with even results shaded. Results turn yellow on mouse over, which is silly interactivity, but surprisingly pleasant. Entire result is a link. No numbers anymore showing order.
- Displayed URL is now a link that shows results only within the website. This idea from SearchMash, of which I just found out yesterday, and which is a website run by Google where it tries out new interface ideas without the Google brand skewing perception. Very intriguing.
- Displayed URL is now cased smartly. So instead of greysanatomyinsider.com you get GreysAnatomyInsider.com. It extracts the case from the result’s title, uses some general heuristics (like upcasing after a), and if all fails, it simply capitalizes.
- Results displayed in-page. This had been the idea ever since I decided to expand Domburi from image searching. I wanted to make the whole searching experience feel faster and more like what Ben Schneiderman calls direct manipulation. It has been much harder than I thought and it was this point where I spent most of my fiddling (I also played for hours with the two-columns layout…). Here’s what I ended up with.
- Results seem to open in the entire page, with only the result entry on top. They really open in a full-screen iframe but the effect is surprising. To return to the results you can simply scroll out of the iframe, click the result entry, or…
- Pixelside. This is a strange but crucial feature that even if invisible and initially nonintuitive I find very, very promising: it’s simply a 1px-wide, 100%-height leftmost line. Right now you can click on it when on a full-screen result and return to the resultlist (and from there you can click again on it to return to your full-screen result). It is incredibly fast (in Fitt’s law WP terms, it has “infinite size”), handy, and habituating — and I imagine lots of cool ways to enhance the feature. The only problem is that crappy IE doesn’t allow leftmost pixels! So I’ll have to make up for it with JS. I cringe with only the thought.
- The title (but not the entire result, which is JS triggered) is a normal link so if you want to open results in a separate tab just middle-click or CTRL-click it.
- Strange cool script used. More details to follow. If you’re interested, check out $.
- Works in Firefox, IE, and Opera.
Not tested yet on Safari.Some weird bugs on Safari but it broadly works.
16/May/07 — 20/Jun/07
10-day trip to the US (haven’t told you about that!) with days way too happily busy. Too many books afterwards (63!) to do anything but read for several wonderful, obsessed days until all the stress and overcrowding of the house finally bring me down. Languishment in captivity.
I gotta say, I really, really like it. The new eye-candy screenshots are tremendous improvements but the crucial difference is the new text — sort of modeled on ancient book covers — and how it explains infinitely better what it is that I want to accomplish with Domburi and now PLBRS. Please do read it — it’s extremely short and heavily formatted — and tell me what you think.
Added a Not Reality link to Imagery, btw (and finally dropped publicly the promise of more browsers to come for it, it’s all Domburi from now on). Added Google Analytics tracking.
- Fixed logo to point correctly at home. Thanks volve!
- CSS fiddling for greater clarity, minor improvements, and cross-broswser compatibility.
- Added Google Analytics tracking.
- Height adjustment menu. A simple (though surprisingly troublesome) addition that makes Domburi much more useful, you can now adjust the height of the embedded windows and so can view and compare two or three results at the same time! Imagine this with dragging and width-adjustment…
22 and 23/jun/07
Bad time management. Sorry. :))
- New Book Section! With great quotes and cool photocovers.
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