The Viewshare team has been hard at work on an extensive revision of the Viewshare platform. Almost every part of the workflow and interface is being tweaked and revised; so much so that we didn’t just want to foist the whole thing on all the existing users at once. So, we have set up a sandbox for current Viewshare users to give it a try.
You can start trying out some of the new features at beta.viewshare.org. There you can kick the tires and help us identify any of the bugs that are likely to emerge from this extensive a rework of the platform. Please post any questions, comments and issues in the feedback and troubleshooting forums.
Here is a quick set of notes on some of the major enhancements:
Get to building interfaces faster: Through observing folks use the tool and talking with a lot of users it was clear that there was way too much process. People want to pull in their data and see something. To that end, we have moved a few things around to get users to seeing something sooner rather than later. You now upload your data and start building your interface straight away. The biggest impact of this is that there is no longer a distinction between “data” and “views” of data. You just build views.
Start fiddling with the Dials: Throughout revisions to the interface we saw a lot of users respond well to situations where they could make configuration changes and directly see what those changes would mean in their interface. As a result, wherever possible we have tried to model a system where you get a live preview of exactly what any interface decision or change you make is going to look like. So you can tweak any of the presentation features and in real time see exactly what they will look like.
Embedded Audio and Video Players (HTML5): For a long time, users have been able to mark image URLs as such and then have them show up as images in their interfaces. We have extended this functionality to work the same way for audio and video links. If you have links to audio and video files in your collection data users can now just click and start listening and viewing in modern browsers.
Responsive Design: Viewshare interfaces have long been restrained to a maximum width. In the new version, a view can fill up the whole size of whatever screen you have available. By switching to a different framework for layouts you can now create views that fill the whole screen. On the other end of the size spectrum, this also makes views look a lot better on mobile devices.
Bar Charts and Better Pie Charts: The pie charts were the weakest part of the whole platform. There was a lot of potential there but it just didn’t really fit. To that end, we’ve now added in a whole different set of pie charts and bar charts. These charts are particularly useful as they are actually interfaces to collection items. So, you can click on a bar or a slice of a pie and see each of the items that are part of that slice and click through to see each of their item records.
Share a Particular State in a View: Lots of Viewshare users have told us that they when they get down to a particular set of records ( say those from a particular date range, by a particular author or from a particular region) that they would love to be able to share a link to exactly that subset. Now you can do that. There is a little bookmark icon on each view and if you click that you get a URL (admittedly a not particularly pretty URL) you can go ahead and link directly to that subset of the view.
So if you want to write a blog post comparing one subset of the data with another you can link directly to each of those subsets. Similarly, you can just email a link to part of a view to a colleague if there is a subset that you think they would be interested in.
So, those of you out there with Viewshare accounts, please help us out and give it a try. We have made a copy of all the existing data, so you can go in and just check in on what your views will look like. Do what you like with the data in this beta instance without any fear. This will not affect any of your actual active viewshare data sets or views. Eventually, when the whole system moves to the new version your data on viewshare.org will be migrated to the new version.