Recent Site Changes

I made few changes to the site in the past few days. I thought I’d talk about them a bit.

The first two changes are in the way the voting mechanism and the feedback mechanism work at the end of stories. I’ve added some JavaScripts to make the forms submit to the site and return feedback without having to reload the whole page.

The reason for the change is to make a better user interface. Previously (and currently if you don’t have JavaScript active in your browser or doesn’t have a supported browser), when a reader clicked the vote button in the voting form or send button in the mail form, the whole page would change, so to do both, one usually had to hit the back button once.

With the change, the form simply goes away and the text changes to reflect the result.

Overall, it works very well. Most people have recent browsers and most people have JavaScript active.

The transition for the voting form was almost trouble free, but the one for the mail form was quite bumpy. The reason for the bumpiness is mostly my inexperience with the new technology that I’m using in the new forms; I’m learning it as I implement it. Many readers had the mail form fail to send or return any results and it took me a couple of days to sort out why it’s happening and how to go about solving the issue. But it also took longer to sort because very few people reported the problem; only two people reported it.

To help me fix any current or future problems with the site, I would appreciate it if those problems were reported to me. The webmaster link on the site provides an easy way to do it.

So, if the new forms are not working for you, let me know. In the Webmaster’s contact page, select the message type as Bug Report.

» Webmaster’s Contact Page

The third change affects only premier level members and authors.

The site’s download system now provides TEXT archives for all stories, not just single-part ones. The TEXT archives are available for download as .bz2 files. The BZ2 format is similar to the ZIP format but way more efficient for TEXT files. I found it on average to be about 40% more efficient than ZIP.

Mac and Linux users should have no problem opening .bz2 files but some Windows users may have a problem with them. Usually, WinZip should have no problem decompressing BZ2 files. But in case you don’t have a recent version or a version that can’t handle it, the site’s help page has links to utilities that can.

» Site FAQ

I’ve made few more minor changes to the site as well for premier members:

The Category search page now has shortcut buttons to search and sort by date (newest stories first) and search and sort by score (highest scores first).

The library’s active serials list now retains concluded serials until you access the last chapter.