Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wednesday Update: Swag & Grog

Sorry, I meant "Drag & Drop". The problem-ridden drag UI has been refined and improved to allow for more future uses. Anyway, here's the list of changes for this rollout:

  • Hovering works hides the class icon.
  • Hovering movicles loads and plays the animation.
  • Improved cache-piercing: changes to picoids are now reflected on index pages on next load.
  • Clicking a work no longer opens the editor, but selects the work. To edit a work or see its details, double-click it. When not logged in, clicking will work as before.
  • Hold Ctrl and click to accumulate works to your selection. All selected works can be dragged.
  • Valid drag targets ("work boxes") highlight in red when hovered.
  • Insertion point is now marked by a red line.
  • When drag & dropping to other boxes, selected works will be copied.
  • When drag & dropping within the same box, selected works will be moved. Holding Ctrl while dropping will create a copy instead.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Site Redesign

The past days have been spent redesigning the site to make better use of screen estate; I also wanted to use a darker color scheme, so the user content shines more.

We picked a new font, Terminal Dosis by the gifted free font designer Pablo Impallari. At different weights, the font goes from thin minimal  engineering-planning strokes to thick fun-playful strokes, which communicates the goals of the Bottleship rather well.

The initial plan was to rewrite parts of the site, but as that took to long, I applied what I had learned to the already existing design. Here's a short list of changes:
  • Dark scheme to bring out the colors and exhibit user content better. Some inspiration was drawn from the Blender 2.5 UI design.
  • Fixed page layout, fixed footers, scroll bar is now only present in the content area.
  • Pocket is now permanently fixed to the left side, plain and simple.
  • Works (Picoids, Bundles, ...) use a 50% gray background to work against any contrast.
  • Site designed to work with a screen width of 960px, that's one half of a 1080p screen.
  • Site menu folded into dropdown menus.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thursday Update: Movicles and Publishing

First of all, about publishing:

You may have noticed that the front page is now rather empty. This is because new content will no longer bubble to the front page, but remain on your user page until you click the "Publish" button, which is the button with the little sun on it in the info box. Note that unpublished works are not invisible: people who visit your user page will still see them. But your works will not turn up on the front page and "Most Recent" list.

We added this feature so you have greater control on when to show off your work, and also keep individual animation frames unpublished, so they don't show up along with the final animation.

Moving on. In the past days, we've added a bunch of new features, here's a round-up:

  • Movicles: you can now create APNG animations from your picoids. The interface is very similar to bundles: just drag and drop picoids to your pocket, and from there to the animation.
  • Publishing: unpublished work is only visible on userpages, and hidden from public lists.
  • All general operation icons (Delete, Clone) have been moved to the info box.
  • Remixes are shown for bundles, too.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sunday Update: A Bunch of Smaller Fixes

Spent the past days refactoring the work status infos, and cleaning up, which in turn (hopefully) fixed a few issues:
  • Status infos now all share the same layout.
  • Picoid titles can now be viewed and edited.
  • Works have an icon next to the title that can be dragged to the pocket. If you are currently editing that work, the icon will currently not update.
  • The "Based on" icon can also be dragged to the pocket now.
  • Social media buttons on the front page are loaded after the document is ready, so third party sites can no longer stall the main page.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bundles of Love

Your pocket is finally of use: bundles just went live (see an example here). Using bundles, you can now aggregate your favorite picoids, create theme collections, and even put bundles in your bundles, so you can... well, you get the idea.

A lot of Javascript code has been changed, so in case you notice any glitches, you may want to hit F5, Shift+F5 or Ctrl+F5 depending on your browser to clear your cache.

Notice that this is the first implementation of Bundles, and it's nowhere from being complete. There is no support for multi-selection, explicit cloning, or deletion. All these features will arrive somewhere in the future.

Next stop: animations.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Catch a Falling Star, Put it in Your Pocket

The first new feature on our way to bundles to and animations has arrived: your pocket.

Once you are signed into Bottleship, your pocket appears at the bottom of every page you visit. It acts as temporary space for works you want to carry across multiple pages or remember for later.

Try it yourself: drag any picoid from a page to the pocket content area to put it in your pocket. Your pocket will contain a reference to that picoid until you remove it by dragging it to the "remove" icon at the far right of your pocket. This empties the item from your pocket.

The pocket is saved in your browsers local storage area, which means that it is always local to your browser - we do not store its contents on the server. If you use Bottleship from a different browser or clear your browsers cookies, your pocket will be empty too.

Pockets are going to be elemental for creating bundles and animations: you will be able to easily add new elements to your work by dragging and dropping picoids from your pocket to a bundle or animation.

More to follow this weekend, stay tuned.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Python Port Completed!

Just to let to you know that the Bottleship has successfully transitioned from Node.JS to Python/Flask. All features should work as before and have been reasonably well tested. Should you nevertheless find a bug or two, please let us know.

Coming up: new features. Finally!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

What's Happening?

The past three weeks have been rather quiet, so I thought I would let you know what's going on.

I have been working hard on animated picoids, our next big feature, and figured out that continuing on the Node.js/Express.js path doesn't scale well. I'm not worried about the performance, it's just that this style of asynchronous nested functions combined with a truly terrible type system is causing a lot more headaches than it should, and stalls the development of new features.

In addition, I also spent two weeks relaxing because of the common cold, which also gave me time to think things over. After consulting a friend, I decided to go with Flask and began to port the server. Flask is a really neat micro-framework not so far away from the functionality that Express.js offers. As a bonus, everything is synchronous and works on Python, which feels just so much more comfortable and reliable.

I'm working a few hours every evening. About 60% of the present functionality has been restored. This weekend we'll roll out the finished port. Nothing should change for you as a user, but new features should roll in rather quickly in the following weeks.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Update: Voting


  • Reddit-style voting is now partially in place. You can up/downvote Picoids to show your appreciation/disgust at individual works.
  • The front page now shows the most recently created picoids, sorted by score ("hot" sorting).
  • A new "most recent" page shows picoids created or changed within the last seven days, sorted by last changed date.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunday Update: Deleting, More Picking, Tooltips

Just rolled out the last features and bug fixes for today, here's the complete list of what changed this weekend:

  • Picoids can now be "deleted", which works through revoking ownership. Picoids deleted this way will be moved to a special bot account, the account of "Mr. Dumpster", where they stay until we figure out what to do with them. Mr. Dumpsters picoids do not show up in remixes and on the front page. (Ticket #23)
  • Ctrl+Click now picks the color under the cursor. (Ticket #29)
  • Hovering remix and front page picoids shows you the picoids owner.
  • Bumped number of front page picoids from 48 to 92.
  • Bug Fix: When cloning or forking picoids, the canvas is now properly updated; changes done on the original since start of viewing are properly reflected. (Ticket #16)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Feature Update: Cloning, Color Picking

We just rolled out a feature update. Here's a short summary of the changes:

  • User pages are now public. You can show off your user page now.
  • Picoids: Toolbar for painting tools.
  • Picoids: Tooltips. Hover an element to learn more about it.
  • Picoids: The color palette is now on the right side, next to the tools. Shortens paths and groups elements more logically.
  • Picoids: Color picker tool. Click, then click a color in the picoid to select your active color. Left click selects foreground, right click selects background color.
  • Picoids: Clone picoid tool. Clone existing or modified picoids. This also allows you to make copies of your own picoids. The tool has been tuned to prevent accidental clones as far as possible.
  • A handful of wording changes.
  • Bonus: Pattern button draws the edited picoid as background tiles, so you can test if your tiling works.
  • Fixed being able to edit picoids when not signed in. Too much work lost because of it.

Monday, September 12, 2011

What Bottleship is About

We've been unclear about what Bottleship actually is and what our goals are. Here's the transcript of the best explanation I could come up for now, from a Twitter Q&A:

Many of us dream of making a computer game or a machinima, yet we often find ourselves unable to gather the necessary assets and logic for such a project; assembling a productive team is even harder, when the only reward is fame and 15 minutes of popularity. We have a lot of awesome ideas we can't realize because of time or money constraints. Many hobbyist projects fall apart before they have even started.

Nyan Cat could have been a Bottleship project
With Bottleship, we want to solve this problem and foster massively crowd sourced entertainment - by the masses for the masses.

At Bottleship, you will be able to playfully create new content, and combine this content into larger pieces, collages and works. Everything created at Bottleship is Creative Commons licensed, so that any content can be copied, modified and integrated into your own projects.

This way, anything crafted here can be of use to everyone. Assets can change many hands before they turn into a successful idea, without contributors knowing each other, or having to plan ahead. Because assets are always created using Bottleship, everything can be combined into larger pieces. It just fits.

We focus on making the creation process fun, and taking the seriousness out of it. We do not want Bottleshippers to feel pressured, and invite them to play around instead. After all, this is the perfect condition for maximum creativity.

Bottleship was founded two weeks ago and is in early alpha stage. At the moment you can only pixel small textures (Picoids), but it will be possible to create sprites, animations, scripts, sounds, music, maps & levels, meshes and shaders later on.

Bottleship is currently invite only, but we already have a handful of dedicated members. If you'd like to join, but can't find anyone who's already a shipper, drop either Sylvia or me a mail and we'll send you an invite.

Browser compatibility: at the moment, both Google Chrome 12+ and Firefox 6+ on the Desktop are supported. We'll try to fix experiences on other browsers as far as possible, but using Bottleship with Google Chrome is highly recommended.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Migration complete!

You might have noticed: we have moved. The Bottleship has finally anchored at bottleship.net, so update your bookmarks, because this is going to be our domain for the foreseeable future!

Huge thanks to Synyx for the server space.