A new year is a time for two things: annual summaries of pretty much everything (from Google’s great Zeitgeist to articles like “2011 in competitive curling”), and for some new year’s resolutions. An interesting survey by Harris Interactive shows, that in 2012 one of the top resolutions of internet users is to… “share less via social media”. It even beats “being kinder to others”!
While it might sound strange, I’m really excited by the results. Why? It just shows that people are tired of updating their social accounts constantly. After several years, the formula is getting old. First we had a fine art of writing letters, then we had long telephone calls, then e-mails, then instant messaging, social networks – people are social by nature, but they are constantly looking for new ways to stay social. Sharing your party photos on FB was a new thing years ago, but it doesn’t have the appeal it used to have. Some even feel forced to do it simply because that’s what’s expected of them. And that might be the reason behind this mysteriously popular resolution.
People won’t be any less social in 2012 than they were before. They will just look for ways other than writing updates and posting photos. We seem to be ready to depart in yet another direction…
In StormDriver team, our new year’s resolution is simple. We want to launch a public version as soon as possible, even though it would probably require a 48-hour working day. The feedback we had so far was very positive – a lot of people who checked StormDriver out really want this project to grow and thrive. Encouraged by them, we would love to release a complete public build, and let everyone into the system. But first, there are lots of things we still need to develop or improve.
And to show we’re not just playing darts and drinking beer all day long, here’s a list of changes in the latest version, that rolled out just before Christmas:
1) Easier browsing
You asked and we listened. That was probably number one requested change so far. You see, we never wanted to add a full browsing bar to StormDriver – not only having two browsing bars visible at the same time looked bad, it was also very confusing to some users. Instead, we extended the functionality of our multi-purpose share box to cover browsing as well. Now it allows you to post updates or share content, but also to simply navigate to any particular website you want to open in StormDriver.
2) Image Selector
It’s just one of those small quality of life improvements that every well-developed system should have. Say goodbye to poor feed icons – now when sharing a page, you can actually select which of the page’s pictures will represent that page in the feed.
3) Bottom browsing bar
We have added a collapsible bar that you can see on the bottom when you browse pages in the full-screen view. It allows you to see some basic info, like who’s one the page now, without turning the full social layer on.
4) Remove pages from trending list
The trending pages list didn’t change that often. That’s because if something’s popular, it’s likely to stay popular for a while, thanks to many community propagation mechanisms in StormDriver. But it doesn’t mean you have to stare at a top article you’ve already seen for hours. Now you can remove pages from the top list with just a single click.
5) Google+ integration
Another often requested change was a better integration with Google+. That’s why, from this version onwards, you can sign-up and login using your G+ credentials! Other options are sure to follow as soon as Google expands its API.
6) Improved stream layout
We took a look at how we display information in various system streams and did some minor tweaks, like improved grouping and altered layouts, that will make them cleaner. The overall conclusion of alpha testers was that the system has a really nice and clean design. But hey, there are always some little things you can improve, right?
7) System User
There’s a new user hanging out and about the system. He’s called StormDriver and he’s easy to spot thanks to a cloud avatar. Obviously, he has some special powers. For example, he can create system-wide messages that will display in everyone’s stream all across the system. We will use them to notify you about important testing events, to announce planned maintenance, and generally to provide any vital information about the tests.
8 ) StormDriver Bookmarklet
And here’s where the real fun starts. To make it even easier to add pages to StormDriver, we’ve developed a very nice bookmarklet. What is it? It’s basically a link you can put in your bookmarks bar. It will be there whenever you start your browser, and you can simply drag&drop any of your browser tabs to a bookmarklet, in order to quickly add a page to StormDriver, upvote it, downvote it, and do some other things.
Oh, and there’s a new cred icon too, and some minor interface changes.
As you can see, that’s a lot of coding and testing, and we haven’t even touched the real mammoth task like the implementation of “sources” that will replace friends lists, followers lists and bookmarks all across the system (you can find our first rough idea here).
But enough complaining. We have to get back to work on our next release. Remember to keep an eye on our Facebook fanpage – we’re going to announce a new wave of invites soon, as we need your help to test all of those new features.
Have fun and see you soon!