Friday, March 27, 2009

Deploy is complete. Come revel in new features

So, I have completed another deploy (well, two deploys actually) of Quicksilver.

You can reach it here, and you can read more about how it was built or how to view the code here

One of the new features is the "remembered zoom"... where the zoom for a selected region will be maintained if only the legend, timespan, or conditions change. Changing the region (from MD to IN, from MD to the 208 zip 3, the 208 zip3 to a view of all states) will revert to the default zoom level for that region type. But now, if you had to zoom in on Rhode Island... you won't have to zoom in again after selecting for a different condition or widening your search.

Another new feature is the adjustable legend... meaning that you can change the difference in the count numbers that determine the colors for polygons.

Finally the search dates default to the current week. This is not going to be that useful on the training node because we are using test data that only goes up to about October 2008, but when Quicksilver gets deployed to a production setting and starts getting access to more recent data, it will be much more helpful than a always starting on a random week in February 2008.

Meanwhile, lots of people had a good long look at the app today and came in with lots of feedback. It was both wonderful (because lots of people liked the application and thought it was neat and I got some ooohs and aaahs from things like flot) and terrifying (because I was worried it would break, people found ways to make the app do strange things, and because people tried things and thought of features that would be insanely cool to install that I never would have dreamed of). Having a bunch of users that are not that familiar with the application generates a LOT of very good feedback and questions. People were getting confused over things that, in retrospect, are not very clear at all. Today literally involved a large explosion of possibilities and potential, and it's as paralyzing as it is motivating. If anything because it's difficult to triage what should be done first.

So, next week will be a lot of implementations of little and big fixes. There are some very salient UI tweaks to be made (Like labeling more clearly, having "zip3: 208 // Total Count: 350" is a lot more handy than just "208 // 350") lots of little help pages and legend explanation (namely how the C2 algorythm means the blue average line and outlier status is based only on the average of the preceding 30 days (minus the closest two)) and finally, an attempt to make the polygon drawing much more streamlined to get rid of the really-quite-irritating "This script is taking a long time, do you want it to continue" error thrown by IE, which is exacerbated by having a not-bleeding-edge computer.

I think I have found a way to do that, and it's called polygon encoding, and I'll be detailing that in the next post.

Either way, I am elated and looking-forward to how nifty we can make this application.


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