Nexus – Alpha Release 3 Goes Live

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Release 3 of nexus just went live!

  • Our initial alpha release was on May 17th after one month of requirements, design, implementation and testing.
  • The next release of nexus was on May 22nd after five days of implementation and minor tweaks to prioritization.
  • This release of nexus took ten days, and included significant functionality – as much or more than the first release.

Read on to get a quick overview of the changes.

New capability for nexus users

The primary thrust of this release was support for the creation of bundles of articles. The secondary goal was to set up RSS feeds for the articles. We have released support for bundle creation and management, but not RSS feeds.

New Features now live in nexus

As part of implementing the bundle-creation and consumption use cases, we implemented several features. We also re-factored some of the code as part of our implementation, and re-factored some design elements as well. Here’s a list of the features that have been added (and things that have been noticeably changed) since the second release. A brief description accompanies each feature.

  • The main navigation bar now has links for articles and bundles, as well as a ‘your page’ where you can keep track of the content you submit and create. Previously there were two links for articles (latest first and sorted by rating).
  • The faceted navigation bars have been generalized. Previously, they were used to filter and sort articles. Now they can be used for articles and bundles. They are also available for managing the content that you create.
  • Bundles can be created and edited by users. Those bundles can be identified as allowing or disallowing other registered users to contribute to them. When other registered users are allowed to contribute, they can add items to your bundle, associate articles with those items, and delete those items. Other users can not otherwise edit the bundle. Note: anyone can currently re-order the items in any bundle – that slipped through the cracks for this release.
  • Registered users can create items for bundles. Those items can be created for any bundle that the user created, or any bundle that allows collaboration. The items have subjects and descriptions.
  • Registered users can associate articles with items from any screen that displays articles, without leaving the screen. Whenever an article is displayed, a link is presented to registered users to add this article to a bundle. When the user clicks on that link, a set of controls are presented to them without leaving the page. The user can select to add the article to any item that they have created, or to add a new item to an existing bundle with the article automatically associated, or to create a new bundle.
  • A bundle can hold any number of items, with or without associated articles. This design should support people who use an “outline first” approach to creating bundles. People will be able to create items that act as placeholders for each article they want to include, and later associated articles with those items. Or they can create a bundle, and add articles (automatically creating items) as they go.
  • A user can also very easily change the article associated with a particular item. If you create a bundle and link to several articles, then decide to replace those articles with better ones, it is trivially easy.
  • All of the “long text entry” fields in nexus now support a rich text editor. These are fields like the description of a bundle, or the abstract of an article. Now you can format your text with bold, italic, and indented text – or create bulleted or numbered lists.
  • A few editing functions now take place immediately within the page you are on to improve usability by maintaining context and improving perceived performance. For example, editing the contents of an item happens within the page for viewing the bundle that the item is in.
  • Login / Logout navigation has been improved. You should now be able to stay on the page you were viewing after logging in. Several other small (automatic) navigation changes were made.
  • User scoring has been modified to give credit for rating and reading articles and creating bundles.
  • Nexus now enforces that the URL for submitted articles must be unique.

What’s Next for nexus?

Next week will initially focus an iteration of ‘pure improvement.’ Increased test coverage, UI refinement, minor feature additions, and content additions will be the goal. The site truly has enough functionality to be compelling – it needs some TLC before announcing a beta release. Next week, while making these improvements, we’ll also be exploring new ideas and prioritization – to see if we can identify ideas that should be present before a beta (e.g. public) release.
So submit some great articles, and create some bundles.

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