As we announced in a previous entry, we’ve been lately implementing important changes in the participative mapping application Whatif during this past months. Counting the major internal improvements and the characteristics added regarding its installation, personalisation and use, we thought it was finally time to do a full version upgrade, renaming it from version 1.0 to 2.0.
Below these lines we are going to describe in a more detalied way the features that have been developed or improved:
Change of plattform
Version 2.0 of Whatif(w) has been rewritten from scratch to work as a theme for WordPress, the popular, open source Content Management System that is usually used to build advanced blogs and dynamic websites of any kind.
this strategic move aims at making the installation process easier (just like any other WordPress theme), increasing the possibilities of customization and allowing its modular development through the future addition of plugins.
Changes on design and interface behaviour
The input of data during the publishing process of an entry on the website is now much more agile, allowing the user to move back and forth quickly, with an intuitive sliding visual effect, in order to modify or correct any data before publishing.
In the visualization mode, entries are also loaded by groups in order to facilitate navigation without having to transfer too much information over the net at a time.
Using rags for content management
Taking advantage of WordPress’ own features, now the tags attached to any entry are connected to the database, allowing them to link to a view where all similar tagged items are displayed. This allows the user to filter the content by areas of interest, and makes the analysis of the results of a participative process much more straightforward.
Enhanced keyword cloud, now based on actual WP tags
The former keyword cloud is now a more useful tag cloud, based on WP tags rather than words taken from the content of the entries as the previous version did. The size of the tags changes dynamically depending on the number of entries tagged with each one of them, thus helping to show in a very visual and intuitive way the topics that are generating more interest in a positive (ideas, proposals) or a negative (complaints, problems) way.
Added Facebook, Twitter and Tuenti sharing buttons
In order to help spreading the project itself and every entry on its own, and the creation of distributed conversations aside the website itself —something crucial in every participative process—, we have included an option to publish any entry separately to the most usual social networks.
Added an entry voting system
A button placed over every entry now allows the user to add a +1 like vote, thus giving a simple way of measuring the reach and support that entry is achieving. The voting system, together with the already mentioned ability to share entries on social networks, encourages the user to see him- and hersef as upholder and publicist of his/her own ideas, helping them spread and evolve into projects.
Changes on icons to make them more informative
The icons that filter the categories now show in a graphical way whether they are selected or not, as well as the number of entries available under each category.
Linking entries to the map
All entries are now linked from their text view to their exact position on the map, allowing the connection of both views in a fast, intuitive way.
User registration and profiles
Another key change in this version is the addition of user profiles. The sign-up process is really fast (takes just a few seconds) and allows connecting entries with their authors. That way any participant can access to the list of his published entries, check the votes they have got so far and share or edit them.
The user profile is editable and can show personal information at will, helping this way the users to contact each other and start conversations and projects around the existing ideas.
Once the register is completed, the user can link his/her account to Facebook Connect or Twitter to make login even easier.
All changes mentioned above —and some minor ones we may have forgotten here— aim at the same goal: making Whatif(w) easier to use and improving its potential for generating interaction through socialization of its contents.
With the web application hitting an intense phase of final polish, version 2.0 beta is already having a test run at Whatif Cáceres and Whatif Alicante. We intend to be publishing soon the official site for the Whatif project, containing general information about the tool, instructions and the download links to the Whatif(w) WordPress theme itself.