Improv'd Daily! (PLBRS, Uruban)
Finally, after complaining for more than a year about its terrible interface design, the first sketch of a new interface for RAE’s Spanish Dictionary ( is now live. Expect service to be bumpy and patchy since the algorithms are still green but things will get better soon — daily!
The main improvements over DRAE so far are:
- Definitions load in the same page, stacked newest on top, which means you effortlessly keep a history of lookups. Very handy.
- You don’t have to type a word’s accents (or its ñ’s) for PLBRS to grok what you mean — 99% of the time (the other, harmless 1% is made of words like LÚcido and luCIdo, where there is ambiguity)). This effectively solves the original complaint and brings tears of joy to my eyes.
- Various simple format improvements that make things more attractive, more compact, and easier to grok.
- That silly tilde (~) used in phrases to stand for the entry word is now actually replaced with the word. In general, DRAE is full of abbreviations that may have made sense for the print version but are a confusing, pointless legacy in digital expanses. They’ll go away in the next couple of days.
Been getting a lot of ideas from Ninjawords — a very cool, very fast English dictionary. Check it out.
Asked on Wikipedia’s secret, Jimbo Wales, recently remarked,
“We make the web not suck.”
and I found it a very fitting answer and possible second slogan to the whole project. The best way I’ve found to describe what I want to do with Uruban is by adapting that phrase,
Uruban is about making the local web not suck.
It will be a wiki, a local encyclopedia, a local yellow pages, a local guide (not just a tourist guide). The place to find the menu of your neighborhood taco stand or the nearest Tejuino selling carts, movie listings of all theaters or places to get a hooker, cafes open late at night or drugstores that print your photos in an hour. It will be the city digitized and digested, given a common, comprehensive, and always updated interface. Above all, it will be local, hyperlocal.
So that’s the dream. For now I had to get myself to start and so I just transcribed a list of all churches in the metro area and their Sunday mass hours (I needed them when my grandfather was staying here and it disappointed me to no end they weren’t online anywhere). Expect bits and scraps of content added in the next couple of days and a full featured wiki (I’ll probably use MediaWiki) in a week or so.
Hope you like these two and please do tell me your first impressions-what works, what doesn’t? are these things at all helpful to you?
22 and 23/jun/07
Bad time management. Sorry. :))
- Better Definition Structure. Definitions are now grouped visually under grammatical category (like, say, all the definitions of the word as a noun, and then all those of it as an adverb). They’re already grouped sequentially in the original dictionary but it’s all very redundant and clumsy (every definition has the grammatical category indicated at the beginning). This is a big improvement. Try it out by searching for “correr” in both plbrs and DRAE.
- Expanded Abbreviations. Most abbreviations are now automatically expanded, which works wonderfully in most cases though there are still several fringe cases like “usado o usada o usadas o usados”, which will be corrected tomorrow.
- Improved the simple design. Added a “definir” button, a neat magnifying glass icon, made topbar type smaller, and chose slightly better color combinations. Moved slogan below and added a small explanatory sentence. Added Improv’dDaily and NotReality icons.
- Improved status reporting. Now besides the loading image a message appears saying that your query is being searched. If multiple queries are being currently searched all of them appear in the message.
- Improved Not Found message. The query you were looking for now appears on the message (duh!) — thanks chemito! Message trimmed. Added fallback link to a Google search for your query.
- Much new content! 8 new places added, together with photos and descriptions. It’s all terribly paltry and sketchy but it’s a beginning.
- Improved design. Gave the website a blue-green color scheme and generally beautified the whole thing. Added Improv’d Daily link.
- New copy. “Enciclopedia Local” is the new main slogan, “Haciendo que la Web Local No Apeste” the subslogan.
Remember to hard refresh (Ctrl-R) to see the most recent changes!