Monday, September 10, 2012

Upcoming NEXLAB Work

First official post on this page and there is an awful lot to discuss. Lets get started.

A couple weeks ago I finally got a bug up my ass to do something about the growing need for an alternative to FLANIS loops for mobile users on NEXLAB. Actually, the truth is I'm an Android user. I own a Droid 4, and until my phone pulled down "Ice Cream Sandwich" (aka Android OS ver. 4.0) I was willing to dodge the issue with the remark "Well it works for Android...". Turns out I was completely un-aware that Bill Bellon out at University of Wisconsin-Madison had worked up a Javascript-based counterpart to Flanis called JSAni, which I've come to refer to as 'Janis'. It just rolls of the tongue better. Anyways, I had already discovered a method with which to detect mobile users on our site; So with the advent of JSAni I decided to move full steam ahead on creating functional mobile counterparts to many of our more frequently used "loop-able" products. e.g. Satellite, Radar and Models.

When it comes to our Satellite and Composite Radar products, the current desktop version of those products have really been gathering dust. They don't always function correctly, the menus aren't as good as they can be, the navigational ability is practically non-existant.... the list of things to fix with them is rather long, lets just say that. So I opted to move toward a complete redesign with the new mobile version of these pages that would essentially be a test bed for the desktop version. Any of you readers who are also mobile users of our site (NEXLAB) hopefully have already noticed those new pages.

Well what I'm working on now is bringing what I've done for the mobile version of these products to the desktop version, while at the same time now tailoring the functionality of the page ENTIRELY toward the desktop user. Since I now have the products operate with two distinct mobile and desktop counterparts, I can get away with implementing nicer features. Not to mention the fact that I am constantly learning new tricks. On a side-note, that's almost one of my downfalls as a web-designer, because as I work on one project I learn about 3-4 new techniques that are immediately applicable to project I just finished work on. But I digress.

What I'd really like to get to now is something I hope to do as much as I possibly can on this site, which is to offer the curious (which you must be if you found yourself reading this) a glimpse of what I'm working on. If you haven't had a sense of it yet, I'll just come right out and tell you; I very much wish to keep the lines of communication between User and Designer open. I enjoy any feedback I can get and I like to give everyone the best idea of what to expect from what is being worked on behind-the-scenes. So with that said, here is our new 2km Satellite page...


As of (9/8/2012), this page is quite close to completion, but work is still being done on it. What's new?
  • Congealed menus with similar organization to changes made to our Upper Air Sounding and NEXRAD data (Product Menu/Sector Map)
  • Menus BEHAVE much more as one would expect. They open by clicking the tabs and close by either clicking the tab again, mousing out of the menu for a period of time, or clicking virtually anywhere other than the menu itself.
  • Menu will NOT close instantly, and will remain open if the mouse re-enters the menu.
  • The hard-set 10 min page refresh has been replaced with a USER-DEFINED Auto-Refresh feature (found in the Product Menu). Can be turned OFF, or opened up to a 30 min refresh time. Defaults to our 10 min standard.
  • Better image handling, especially with loops, which means there should be fewer instances where server/data problems result in this page breaking for extended periods of time.
  • Improved aesthetic look at feel. I'm really trying to wipe out THAT blue color. It was a poor, hastily made decision on my part made very early on, and across to much of the site to be quickly dealt with.

Apart from this, the rest of our staff has been hard at work on some MUCH needed improvements to many of our Surface and Upper Air Analysis products. I can't get into that too much. It's still in it's infancy at this point. But I can tell you we are very excited about it, so I'll save that for a future entry.

Thank you reader, and welcome to my inner sanctum of geekery.

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