[Dev Chat Followup] Feed page redesign suggestions

At the chat on New Years Day, Rhiju said that Sharif is working on a home page redesign, and that suggestions would be appreciated. This topic is for the feed page after a user logs in, please also check out the topic for the landing page previous to a user logging in. Please post any thoughts here!


I’ve had a bunch of thoughts about this that I’ve been working through for a while, so I’ll start off with mentioning them:

  • The notifications that currently take up the bulk of the feed page would really be much easier to read through using an inbox-like system as opposed to just a feed. I’d suggest adding a new page for this, and only listing say, the first 5 updates of any type on the home page.
  • Go for a more visual and activity/action based approach (the latter speaking of user interaction and some dynamic content). Currently, there’s just a lot of text. I feel like EteRNA as a whole could benefit from various little adjustments to present less lists, and more interesting things to get involved in.
  • This should be both an overview and a jumping off point, providing a quick view of the latest information and a place to go if you’re looking for something to do. I’ve thought of this as a dashboard, a portal, and a workbench for your own personal lab. As far as content, I’ll get into that now.
  • It would be cool to have a carousel banner of sorts like there was for the RNA-AW main page, thought smaller, to call attention to the latest official things going on (ie, so instead of modifying the logo, you could put things here advertising new features, relevant blog/forum/informational items on whatever’s hot, etc). EDIT: Read the other topic for a clarification.
  • Show some user stats. Maybe information about your activity, performance in the lab, script use (or performance if it’s for solving puzzles), etc.
  • We have “Looking for something to do?”, but what about a more specific todo list? Labs to be done, script improvements (or new scripts) you want to make, analysis to be done, you name it. Even better is customization and custom tasks, but with the site helping as much as possible. For newer users who haven’t established their own workflow, or for users who just want something to do, this should be a good place to go, and be still tied into the roadmap ideally (though maybe the roadmap would need to be adjusted, I don’t know).
  • If possible, make and dashboard-ish things customizable, letting the user develop their own workflow and have what’s important to them at their fingertips.

In general, I would like to see more involvement from the EteRNA interface with user activity, for example with analysis, predictions, tools, projects, etc. Adjusting groups for this would be ideal in my opinion, allowing all of the related actions throughout all areas of EteRNA to be contained there (ie sequence submissions, proposed labs, analysis, discussion, etc.) and would give groups some use. I bring this up because I think a similar feature to this (my idea for a new feed page) would be useful for groups as well as individuals, perhaps slightly tailored to the user visiting the group with a little “my stuff” thing within say, a group task list to see what’s your assignment (or assigned to everyone). Also, I’m imagining a future where the forums and a more intelligent chat (both through bots and a Slack-like handling) are nicely integrated into EteRNA, and there are dedicated areas for things like analysis so all the information can easily be found and utilized. Again, I bring all of this up because it’s related to my vision of making this a hub for your EteRNA activity, which would most fully be utilized with some extra extension of how content is handled in EteRNA.

Easy access of information where it’s needed and helping players to accomplish things should be the goals of the EteRNA interface in my perspective. The things I’ve mentioned aren’t all necessarily simple or even viable to do, particuarly in the short-term, but this is my “dream”, to hopefully spark some thought to look at possibilities, and maybe provide some future goals even. I hope I’ve been able to clarify some of my thoughts more than I have been able to before.

And per Jennifer Pearl commenting on my thought of possibly adding some of the current goings on (as I outlined) to a news item:

yeah it would be nice to have “ongoing eterna projects” news item that is always being updated

I think that would fit well with this, including on this dashboard some of these things you could get involved in, ideally through the “working groups” (I have previously mentioned that the idea brought up to have working groups would fit with an enhanced group system) or if it’s simpler, just discussion posts. Official projects or maybe standout community projects could be featured, but it would be nice to have more interface support for any types of projects users could start.

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I like this. I really like the idea about the homepage being a dashboard. I think that would be very beneficial.  

I’ll probably create another topic with these thoughts that aren’t directly related to the landing page, but just to keep things together, I have another thought I’ll just put here.

It would be neat if as many aspects of EteRNA as possible were “extendable” by EteRNAScript. This could be algorithms for the game, custom visualizations within the data browser, making some aspect of the site look or function how you want, etc. It’s a bit of an odd thought, but I think it would be cool to have your own tools wherever you want to have them throughout the site. Of course, this would need some level of control (IE, if forums are integrated, preventing any restrictions on topic contents like custom code to be arbitrarily lifted, or to prevent changes to other users without them also activating the extension, things being done that the user didn’t ask for, and so forth).

i think that integrating through the site might take more developer cycles than we can currently spare, unfortunately.

what if, to start with, you could just run your custom dashboard in eternascript? or what if it was viewable as a window in your profile? maybe allow it to be seeable by other players too who could copy/paste eternascript chunks that they like? 

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It could absolutely be done in EternaScript, and in fact if I get some time I could at least mock out a basic API for it, as could anyone else (for both the programmers AND the end-user interface). Same concept could theoretically be expanded to other aspects of Eterna too.

The only real things that can’t be dealt with within EternaScript are putting it on a particular page (it’s possible to replace the whole contents of the script page you’re running it from locally, but obviously there’s no way to alter another page), and having a way to store user data on the servers (localstorage can be used locally, but doesn’t transfer across computers and I think it gets deleted with browser cache).

Once it’s stable enough and able to be supported, I see no reason why it can’t just be dropped into the main page or wherever, but I do think putting it in your profile would be a cool idea as an intermediate step if needed. I don’t think copying EternaScript chunks would make sense, as the data would only be relative (or want to be kept) personally, and the widgets themselves should be individual scripts (probably contained in their own category).

The dashboard configuration would probably want to be stored on the server, along with any settings and so forth. Personally, I think it would be useful for scripts to have a *limited* amount of storage space for state-maintenance purposes (so you can come back later and have things how you like them, ie for a utility or whatnot, or actually doing some minor work that requires data storage).