Monday, June 01, 2009

Sleeker, Faster and More Informative

VarunAbhiram.com now displays an entire stream of recent activity, similar to what you see in social networking sites like Orkut or Facebook. So if there's a new upload or a new comment, you won't miss it. I wanted to aggregate activity on a particular item (like say, if two people comment on the same photo it displays both the comments together), but that became too complicated to implement.

For the UI, I used the jquery.scrollable plugin for jQuery. The ability to scroll through the content using your mouse wheel, arrow keys or the page-wise navigator is pretty neat! And since it's jQuery, it's unobtrusive and cross-browser compatible. Getting the functionality right was a simple copy-paste of the example you see to your left; customising it to seamlessly blend in with the rest of the site, on the other hand, was a major pain. Took me the better part of a day to customize the CSS and replace all the images to get the look and feel right.

VarunAbhiram.com now also displays all the latest posts made on my blog in a neat and elegant fashion!

I had initially thought of writing a PHP script myself that would parse my blog's RSS feed and generate a list of the most recent posts, but a little crawling through Google and I came across a lot of little widgets that allow you to read a site's RSS feed and display them on a webpage very easily. They all had one problem though — they were not customizable at all. After some more searching, I found exactly what I was looking for — the Google Ajax Feed API. Very easy to use, very little code and highly customizable. Have a look at the final result on my site, it blends in so well!

Apart from the revamped homepage, there are a couple of other changes/enhancements as well —
  • No more Snapshots. Most people I know found the floating dialogs annoying and removing it improved page loads by a couple of seconds.
  • The Artwork Page now shows both the Traditional Art and the Digital Art together by default. You can use the Filter option to uh, filter content by Artwork Type.
  • There's a funky new About Page with all the content that first time visitors will be interested in.

Please feel free to leave your comments — I'd love to hear what you all have to say! Oh and by the way, the drawings are courtesy Karthik (much thanks!), the comics were made by me.

6 comments:

Kinnera said...

Atlast u did.. :)
Oye the first cartoon? I identify myself in the statement of the cartoon not the cartoon :P

Varun said...

Yup, finally!

LOL yeah, the statement only. Cartoon of you means one nice stick figure I would have drawn :P

Ismaele said...

Nice stuff! ;)

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Anonymous said...

Totally LOVING this post :)))

Best,

Pratyusha.

Varun said...

Thanks Pratyusha!