Recent Changes and New Features - The Magic Bookshelf Under Construction

Expanding BookshelfUnder Construction

Hard to believe, but it's only been four months since my inaugural post here on the Magic Bookshelf. I've covered blogs, wikis, digital scrapbooks, tags, product ratings, and lots of other topics, and some great ideas have come back from you. The idea of this blog was to help our Community members learn how to take full advantage of our new site, and to share ideas on where we are heading with it, so it's very gratifying that, in those four short months, we've had over 17,000 separate people contribute posts and comments to the community.Yes

For Those Who Like to Play...

We've been busily making lots of improvements to the Community section of the site in the past couple weeks, so I thought it would be a good time to go over some of the changes and some of the things we have in store. I'm actually going to have to go back and edit a few of my posts here on this blog to reflect a few of the changes, but I figured I would let you know now so that, if you're the type who likes to learn new things by playing around, you can get started right away.

Cosmetic Changes

First things first -- the new features. Very early last Monday morning, we implemented a new and very much improved version of the software that runs the Community section of our site. You may have noticed a few of the cosmetic changes from this update - the name of the 'Photo' section changed to 'Media', a section called 'Groups' was added, and the main 'Blogs' page looks a little different - but the important changes are ones you may not have noticed.

Sharing Photos

For example, it's now much easier anywhere in the Community to upload photos. The last system was a little clunky, but now you have the ability from almost anywhere to upload photos into posts directly from your computer. If you haven't visited the new Photo Galleries yet (now called 'Media'), you should definitely take a look. Not only are photos much easier to upload there, but there are many more features, including the ability to sort photos by criteria such as 'Most Recent', 'Most Popular', and 'Most Downloads'. My favorite new feature in the Galleries though, is the one-click upload button, which you just click to upload your own photo to the gallery in a matter of moments.

Blog Widgets

You're going to be seeing some interesting new things popping up on our blogs. We are at the stage now where we are adding new blogs on a regular basis (in addition to existing blogs, we hope to have at least four new ones for you within the next month - and the return of Cathy!), so it was important that our update keep up with the needs of this growing group of writers. With the new software, bloggers will have much more flexibility in terms of how their blogs look and how they can be viewed. Best of all, bloggers now have the ability to include widgets. You may or may not know what a widget is (this will be a topic of one of my next few posts), but I can assure you you're going to like what they bring to your reading experience. Our Avid Embroiderer Pat is already experimenting with them and I'm sure you'll see the results of her efforts shortly.

Group Homes

I'm also very excited about our new 'Groups' feature. I've been on a mini-holiday this past week (Chicago - my kind of town!), so I haven't had a chance to set this up properly yet, butGroup Circle I thought I'd just give a quick explanation here of what we want to do with this new section. The best example I can think of is our Central Florida embroidery group. Right now, there is a thread in the forums with almost 500 posts. This is a great example of a dynamic group that has really bonded in our Community, but it is starting to get a little hard to find particular details. For instance, if I remembered that someone in the thread had once mentioned a great sale going on at a local dealer, it would be quite difficult to find this information the way the thread is currently organized. What our new 'Groups' function will allow us to do is to create a stand-alone space for this type of group in which threads and posts can be organized the way they are in other forums. Groups can have their own blog, their own media galleries, and their own forums. So, whether it's central Florida embroiderers, West Coast Brother dealers, or Australian quilters, there will be an online home here for anyone who wants one!

In The Pipeline...

Finally, I wanted to let you know a few of the things we have in development for the site in general that you should be seeing shortly, all of which come from suggestions over the past little while from our Community through the blogs and forums. We have developed and are currently testing a 'Print This Page' feature through the site that will bring up a printable version of any page. We have also put some work into our Free Designs download engine that will now take you back to the page where you started the download, making downloading free designs a smoother experience. We have also added e-mail address recognition to our 'Forgot Your Password?' feature, so that if you don't remember your username, you can still get your password reminder using just your e-mail address. Finally, our wonderful developers have set up a great 'Found This Cheaper Somewhere Else?' feature, so that you can help us keep our prices super-competitive with what our competitors are doing. All of these features will be coming online very shortly, and I hope they'll further improve your experience of the site.

As always, I not only welcome but actively encourage your comments on how we can continue to create the Magic Bookshelf I originally described. In fact, if you have a moment, go back and read my original description, and let me know if you think we're getting close!

BB

Comments (6) -

These are so great!  I was able to upload a photo to the "Challenges and Advice" area!  (Let's here it for ATG!!!)


I like the sound of the "Media" position.  I am thinking of what I want to place there...


Thanks Greg, hope Chicago was as great as it usually is!  My son and his family live there (Lake Forest area) and I enjoy visiting them once or twice yearly.


Pat


jalcumbrack 7/14/2008 12:50:22 PM

Hey BB,


Great blog as always! Looks like lots of new and exciting ideas coming to the site to make our experience much easier for us.Love that idea! It will certainly make the whole ATG experience so much more for everyone.


I love Chicago! Other than getting mugged the last time we were there it is still one of my favorites! The food ,the shows,the shopping...........need I say more!


Also BB, Thank you so much for your wonderful words in the forum and I hope everyone will take it to heart and do something about it,also thanks for you wonderful words with our recent loss. The great news is ,we have a new baby to spoil! So I have been super busy with all the baby stuff to get in the mail to them.


I am looking forward to "playing" with all the new toys on the site .


As ever


Judy


P.S. Thanks for the plug for the CFG! Saturday is the day of our luncheon,I can hardly wait to meet all the wonderful folks on the forum! We are getting new members every day,it is Wonderful!!


Pat: I'm sure you'll be an early adopter of these new features as with everything else. You've been great with reinforcing my tips and passing them on to community members.


Judy: Great to have you back, and congrats on the new baby in your lives! I do pop into the Central Florida forum quite regularly and I want to commend you on organizing the get-together. I have no doubt that you are all going to have a blast. If any great ideas come up, I hope you'll share them with me and with the community so that we can continue to build.


And as for Chicago, it was great and I managed to avoid getting mugged (ouch Judy, sorry to hear about that). I went down to see a very dear friend I hadn't seen in 15 years, and the years just vanished. I'll definitely be bringing my wife and kids down next time, as I'm sure they'd love the city as well.


jalcumbrack 7/19/2008 6:37:46 AM

Hey BB,


Thank you ,but I was more than glad to do this for the Florida folks,what a great bunch of people!!Oh yes! the vanishing years,guilty! It does fly by quickly doesn't it? One day I was holding my Grandson in my arms and next thing you know ,he is graduating! Oh MY !


As far as your wife loving Chicago,I am sure she will,just take her to the "Magic Mile" she will be happy !(hide your credit card though,LOL) If you have any daughters ,there is the American Girl Store that she will adore!


They also have some of the best restaurants as well,and if you get a chance go to some of the comedy clubs or shows. It is a wonderful town,once you get to know your way around a bit. As far as getting mugged,I didn't let it stop  me from doing any thing! I did have to stop all my banking stuff,but just used hubby's instead,LOL.I certainly didn't let it stop me from enjoying Chicago as a whole,it could have just as easily have happend any where.


Again,Thank you for letting me share on the forums,I really enjoy all the wonderful people I have met.Today is the day!! I get to meet all those wonderful,crazy Florida Folks!!


P.S. What kind of music do you like? I was raised in a very musical family,literally. We all did or played or sang something,lol.When I was a teenager I always thought I would end up on Broadway,lol. That didn't happen,but I got two great kids instead!I do great lullabyes!


travelbug1237 7/20/2008 12:33:14 AM

HH Greg,


  Boy have I missed a lot in such a short time...You went to Chicago???


How fun!! It's been a long time since I was there; visited a college roommate who moved there get a master's degree in linguistics....).& met her PhD husband to be there,so  she was one happy transplanted Oregonian!!! Smile I loved the downtown and the great restaurants! Smile


   So....we bloggers will be able to widget things huh??? OK...if you say so!!!


Sorry I was missing in action....I really thought I'd let you know I had summer grad classes...


 Continued success with all you do!!!!....Sorry too it's gonna take you a week to edit my 2 blogs though!!!  (I was on a very Chatty Cathy roll!!! SmileSmile


  I REALLY love the new bloggers' blogs. They are just GREAT and such a wonderful addition to Ann's site!  You're doing such a good job!!! SmileSmile


Smile


CinO


Thanks, Cathy. I'm sure everyone will be impressed to learn that you have submitted to me not one but three blog posts, and that you're continuing to share that wonderful sense of humor!


Judy, I do great lullabies, too! In fact, I used to be a busker and I even have a current gig once a week as the lead vocalist for a band. But my kids have always been the best audience....


You asked about my musical tastes. I like anything that is good, and I love to share my music as much as you love to share your creative passion. So what I'm going to do. I will put together a selection of music that you and the community might like and I'll give you a link to an Internet radio station that I have programmed just for you!


The Internet's great for sharing a lot more than embroidery stuff...


BB


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