Posts Tagged ‘widgets’

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Improved image Handling: Custom and Insanely Custom Widgets

August 22, 2010

Part of the work that we’ve been doing for the next platform release is standardizing how we deal with widgets that have been customized through the custom widgets menu and what we internally call “insanely custom widgets” which have very unique looks usually driven by branding requirements.  As shown below, many of these widgets won’t even have to be exactly square in design.

Another example unrelated to the above image: In September, we’ll be running a trial with a good sized wireless carrier in Latin America that has a user base in the few million user range. Not huge but likely “right sized” for our current server infrastructure.   The trial runs for two weeks to 10% of their user base.  If successful, the trial will morph into a full set of revenue producing services available to the entire user base.   The widget to be used for this test is essentially a reproduction of  the carrier’s brand – there is nothing similar to it in our existing widget library.   That said, the code for this wireless carrier’s widget and,  more importantly, the dynamically produced images of widgets that we use in Facebook and other places are now handled through the same new code as our regular and more conventionally custom widgets.

The bulk of this change will be invisible to most of you but was a huge leap forward for us.  It improves your experience as a user by providing new out-of-the-normal widget designs and reduces the possibility for errors since we only have a single set of code to maintain.  It also opens the door to a whole slew of widget customization opportunities that we hadn’t been able to do before through a web interface. We previously were having to manually build exceptions for every insanely custom widget that we built.  That is no longer the case.

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Widget Failure Is Not An Option

November 26, 2008

The making of a widget can be a complicated process. The more configurable the widget is, the more points of possible failure it has. We haven’t served you as well as we might have liked in this regard. In the initial version of our platform, we didn’t have an acceptable level of proactive visibility to quickly identify failed widgets or the data right at our fingertips to quickly fix them.  This meant that the same error might continue for hours or days until noticed – until now.

You have been clear in communicating to us that we need to have a robust system. We all know that errors can occur and in response have added an internal system of error identification and notification into our video and document widget functionality. In the week that it has been live, it has been so successful in helping us identify even the tiniest of errors that dont impact the customer that we plan on rolling this same error handling approach broadly across our platform (including the multimedia developer API). So now, when the inadvertent widget error occurs, not only does our support staff and dev team get notified immediately upon a widget error, but I also get notified…for any error….no matter how trivial.  A database entry is also made for tracking purposes by the platform support team.

Errors do happen at times…but, as you say, they should be occasional, one time issues. As such, our teams will be measured on their ability to respond quickly and and ensure that the same error doesn’t again occur. If you aren’t satisfied, just tell me and we’ll make it right.

here is a real life example involving live functionality from a real customer. We rolled the error reporting system out a week ago and we just had our first notification this morning involving a live video interview widget on RAMB’s Broker Profitability page.  The widget had failed, the error message was sent to our support team with specific detail to identify the problem, and the widget was fixed within minutes. You’ll see that all of the RAMB widgets display properly again.

From here on, widget failure is not an option…

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Initial Examples Of Our Vidlisting Video Widgets For WordPress.com Blogs

October 9, 2008


Standard Size

UPDATE: Several people have privately contacted me asking to see a working demo of the functionality. Here is a test page where you can change the title of the above widget. If you don’t see the changes, you may have to refresh or clear your browser’s cache to see the changes when you return to this page depending on your browser settings.


Wordpress SideBar Size

We have a bit more work to do to make the mouseover video preview work and have all of our designs ready for wordpress. However, here are some of the important things that the widget that you are looking at now does:

– Autoupdates every time that you change the title, photo, size, or language of the real widget (soon it will change the design as well)
– Reports how many times that it has been rendered or clicked through
– Otherwise looks and acts like a regular video widget and its code is available on the wordpress link of the “Build A Single Widget” configuration menu

Here is a link to a demo of more cool functionality that we have introduced: MouseOver Video Previews That Are Implemented As Part of The Normal Video Upload Process

We’ll keep making improvements…you keep enjoying the improvements.

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Later Today: Automated Workaround For The WordPress Widget Problem

October 9, 2008

Later today, we’ll be releasing an automated workaround that will let members of our social network cut and paste special versions of our video and document widgets into WordPress.com blogs. It works for both sizes of widgets – regular and sidebar sized.

There isnt much sophistication to the workaround – the more technically savvy among you may be a bit disappointed – but it works. The widgets are configurable and will autoupdate just like our normal video and document widgets (except for some design limitations as noted below and that is only due to team size and not technical issues). That said, although the widgets appear to be normal widgets, there are a few technical limitations to the wordpress widgets – for instance, you’ll have to redirect to an external player page on your own site (or one of our player pages). We hope to have the video preview feature working however in the wordpress widgets.

We’ll initially have the wordpress widgets functional for Vidlisting.com, BienesRaicesVideo.com, and Imoveisvideo.com only. We’ll then add the unbranded widgets by next week and hopefully have all of the custom widgets (such as RAMB) complete by end of the month.

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A Few More Customer Requested Changes In APIs, Widgets, and Players

August 28, 2008

Video Conversion API: We’re wrapping up a few more changes on the still unreleased API after some user beta testing.  Our beta folks made it clear that they want to be able to return to the preliminary XML file that is initially generated if they need to do so in their apps using the API. Therefore, we took a late change and are redirecting to a separate link to generate the preliminary XML for users that want to regenerate the original XML again…well….without converting the files in the source directory multiple times.

Automated Conversion Widgets: These types of widgets have been live for a few days now.  The reception has been great and we are already involved in planning for a number of projects that will use the widget. So far, the two most requested additions to the widget are 1) a way to optionally configure a "Grab This Widget" link and 2) a smaller version of the widget that can fit in the sidebar section of a wordpress blog.  We heard your feedback and should be ready to release by tonight or tomorrow latest.

Video Player Widgets:   We’ve applied the feedback about smaller sidebar-sized widgets to our video player widget as well.  So, now, we have a sidebar sized video player that can redirect viewers to your own site or play the video right in the page where the widget is embedded.

Workaround For Embedded Widgets on WordPress.com Blogs: We have a ridiculously simple workaround for embedding our video widgets on wordpress.com blogs that we are planning on releasing wordpress.com blogs. The workaround will be available as part of conversios done as part of the standalone upload page and also as part of the real estate social network Since we support youtube video and real estate shows in our own widget format, you’ll be able to use the workaround for this content in the social network using our widget format as well.

Stay tuned.  More coming…

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Summarizing Real Estate Social Network Changes Over The Past Few Months

August 27, 2008

 While summarizing the changes over at the Real Estate Social Network for a friend who has not logged in for several months, I realized that the list might have broader applicability.  I’ve added the list here (names and links may have been changed to protect the guilty)

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Here is just a small list of what we have done since you last logged in:
 
– completed an entire redesign of the site including moving the widget construction into its own area and adding instant drop down help
 
– integrated member and content data from the social network with a whole set of hyperlocal pages using our geolocation engine within the platform (83 countries now supported)
 
– added support for PDF files, MS Office files, and links
 
– now allowing any supported content type to be added onto widgets as supplementary content (think of a individual real estate show widget of a property that also has a PDF of the plat, an agent intro video from Youtube, a community video hosted on Vidlisting, and a word doc purchase and sale sample)
 
– allow hot swapping of widget titles, designs, and where you can play the video (redirected to a video page or having the video play within a widget)
 
– added a customizable photo cropping feature during photo upload or at will
 
– completely redesigned our player page to better integrate the public video platform with both the social network and hyperlocal pages ( Jim Duncan’s property video is the best live example – look at the icons on the side for his profile and geolocation page both autogenerated from the data in the social network)
 
– added the FTP configurations to control the automated video conversion widgets (the conversion widgets are actually built on top of the conversion API and are live)
 
– added the ability to quickly wrap geolocation data around data external to our database (we geolocated almost 200,000 loosely structured text items by lat/long in less than 30 minutes and added them to the hyperlocal pages including surrounding towns not listed by name withn the text)
– redesigned the public profile pages to be different from the internal member pages
 
– and lots more….
 
Here’s what we have on the near term horizon:
 
– Video Conversion API (releases today – found a bug that needed fixing yesterday)
 
– automatically adding motion video thumbnails as part of the upload process that play when mouseover’d (Thursday or Friday)
 
– we have to go back and do some interface work on the horizontal and vertical content bars (need to get them to the same ease of use as the individual widgets) 
 
– We’ll go back and clean up the widget reporting pages when they dont have live data to report; they show data generated during creation and configuration which we think confuses users
 
– Add an RSS feed to each hyperlocal page for all of the content on that page from desparate sources
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Portuguese Version Of The Real Estate Social Network Launches Friday

August 27, 2008

Lots of you have been asking about the Portuguese version of the social network. Though our small development team has been hard at work developing new features, stabilizig older code, and improving performance, we haven’t in any work forgotten about the Portuguese language version of the social network.

We plan on formally launching the Portugese version of the real estate social network on Friday, 29 August 2008. The invite emails and interfaces are just about ready. We have some widget design work left and some DNS work as well.

Until then, you can try out the Portuguese version and provide feedback by simply logging in or registering in the Vidlisting branded real estate socal network and changing the language option to Portuguese. We look forward to hearing from you.