Wednesday May 27, 2009

Sun Software Library Overview Screencast

Bob May on the Sun Software Library team put together this overview screencast, demonstrating how to search and publish using the Sun Software Libray.  It is very nice, and in less than 10 minutes, shows all the prominent features.

Of course, this screencast is also visible directly inside the Sun Software Library: https://library.network.com/app.jsp#resource/5236

Tuesday Nov 25, 2008

Always something new at the Sun Software Library

We are an Agile team - we develop new features, we push them out into production.  As such, there is always something new at the Sun Software Library.

User Interface improvements

  • MyLibrary: We've significantly improved the UI in the MyLibrary tab, it is now easier than ever to manage your content.
    MyLibrary UI
  • Tag Cloud: Our tag cloud gets an overhaul, and now matches some other popular web sites.
    New Tag Cloud
  • Icons: Icons, and Icons, and Icons, Oh My! Icons More Icons Even More Icons
  • Clarify browser support: We've gotten a lot of feedback that our application doesn't work on specific browsers, so we decided to make it a little more prominent what browsers we support (and what we don't). In this day and age, you'd think it would be straight forward to build Rich Internet Applications that work seamlessly across browser types, but that is pretty far from the truth. We still have to test our app on each and every version of every browser. Supported Browsers
  • Request to be a content manager: We've gotten some feedback that our feature to request to be a content manager was confusing, so we added some text to help explain the process. When you click on that button, an electronic message is sent to the owners of that publisher, indicating your request. They can then log in, and approve or deny your request. You'll be notified when they process your request. Request to be a Content Manager message

Search criteria now matches on partial keywords

Our default search now matches in partial keywords, rather than whole keywords. For example, searching for "micro" now retrieve entries that have "microsystems" in them. Previously, you had to search for "micro\*" to find microsystems (e.g. using our regular expression matching feature). Partial Keyword Match

Direct integration with more Syndication readers

We have added direct support for more popular syndication (e.g. RSS) readers. We prefer the term "syndication" rather than "RSS" because technically we support syndication via the Atom protocol, and not via any of the RSS protocols, but that's really nitpicking. If you don't see your favorite Syndication reader in there, you should tell us, we'd be happy to add it in there. You can always use the "feed" option and then cut-n-paste the URL into your favorite reader.Subscription Options

Also, we fixed numerous bugs..  Nothing new here, we are always fixing bugs.

As always, feedback (either positive, constructive, or what the weather is like where you) is always welcomed!



Wednesday Nov 05, 2008

You Can Suggest Topics for a Sun Software Library User Guide

The Sun Software Library User's Guide

The Sun Software Library is designed to be easy to use and expedient to navigate. Users can perform complex or simple searches and updates of entities with parallel ease. And help is typically available in many contexts.

It would be of additional benefit, however, if all the concepts related to the Sun Software Library and which would be helpful to a user were documented, and if many of the paths and most of the logistics of using the Library were similarly documented.

The Sun Software Library User's Guide will document those concepts and that flow. It will differ from the help in that it will be more inclusive in its discussion of concepts and logistics, and in that it will show complete paths towards accomplishing specific tasks. It will also have screenshots that illustrate many of the steps along the user's way,

What You Can Do

As someone with an interest in the Sun Software Library, you're the best person to come up with ideas for a User's Guide. The topics for the User's Guide are yours --both to suggest and to say why they are needed. Ideas for topics can be as simple as describing a concept: "What is a Publisher?" and the steps involved in "Writing a Review".

How You Can Do It

Simply provide a comment to this blog entry with your suggestion, or hopefully, with more than one suggestion. We'll collate the suggestions and provide the resulting outline before the book is written and then published on the Sun Software Library.`

You're the co-author!




New Features at the Sun Software Library

We have recently updated the Sun Software Library with some significant new features.

Bookmarkable URL's

We now have full support for Bookmarkable URL's for many facets of the Sun Software Library.  For example, you can bookmark and reuse (e.g. email, link to, etc.) any of these URL's:

Support for Browser's back button

We now have basic support for the Browser's back button.  Pressing the back button while navigating the Library will take you back to a logical previous page, for example, if you performed a search, then clicked on an entry in the search results table, pressing the back button in the detail page will take you back to the search results table.

Not all things are fully supported via the back button, for example, if you change the sort order in the search results table and then press the back button, the sort order change will not be undone.  The reason for this is partially technical and partially aesthetic.  In order for the back button to work, we need to store the state of the application in the URL.  If we stored every single state change in the URL, the URL would get long (and hence ugly).  We wanted to intentionally keep our URL's short.  How many times have you received an email that had a really long URL in it, only to have the URL be munged due to word wrapping?  Annoying?  Exactly.

Many people will argue that Rich Internet Applications should not support the browser's back button.  A colleague even said that the browser's back button, when pressed, should simply exit the Sun Software Library, rather than try to navigate to an intermediate page.  I'll leave this to others to argue and sort out.

Form based search

Similar to Google's "advanced search" function, we now support some options for narrowing the results of keyword searches.  Try it out.


API Documentation

We now have two separate documents describing the Sun Software Library web services API, a tutorial and a reference guide.  View both of them here, or by clicking the "API Documentation" link.

Captchas

Sigh.  The realities of putting up an Internet facing application finally caught up with us (we were getting approximately 20 nasty postings per day, and this number was quickly increasing).  We were getting so many SPAM postings in our customer care app that we had to finally implement Captchas.  Fortunately, the Captchas supported in PHPMyFAQ (which is what we use for the Help center) are easy to read.


Syndication

Via this feature, if you subscribe to a publisher, software, or resource, you'll be notified whenever changes are made to that entity.


Stay tuned, this is only the beginning of our syndication features, we are working on the following:

  • Subscription to all publishers, all software, or all resources: for example, you'll be notified whenever any publisher is updated.  This is useful to keep track of additions or changes to the library.
  • Subscription to a tag: you'll be notified whenever a new entity is tagged with that tag, or when any of the entities tagged with that tag are changed. For example, if you subscribe to the "Finance" tag, you'll be notified whenever new software is tagged with "Finance", or when any software already tagged with "Finance" is updated.
  • Support for integration with other readers: My Yahoo, Netvibes, and NewsGator. Let us know if there are others you would like to see on this list.

Share this page

Since we now have Bookmarkable URL's, we can now integrate directly with URL sharing sites.  Let us know if there are others you would like to see on this list.


Performance improvements & Bug Fixes

We significantly increased the startup and runtime performance of this site, specifically:

  • Home Page: 59.2% improvement
  • Search Results Page: 61% improvement
  • Login time: A whopping 78.6% improvement.
How did we do this?  We'll describe this in a future blog entry.

Also, we fixed numerous bugs..

As always, feedback (either positive, constructive, or what the weather is like where you) is always welcomed!


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Welcome to the Sun Software Library blog, where you will find interesting updates and tidbits about using the Sun Software Library.

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