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Author Topic: UserQuotes.com Web Service: Initial Opening Jan 1, 2011  (Read 2296 times)
mouser
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« on: January 01, 2011, 11:28:40 AM »

The UserQuotes.com web service is a project that I and DC member JavaJones developed together.



The idea of the website is to let one or more people in a group manage a collection of quotes from users, links to online reviews, email testimonials, and feedback comments.

Many websites keep a collection of links to reviews, awards, email comments, etc. that praise their products.  Typically this list is created by hand and placed in a box on a website somewhere, with a heading something like "What people say about us"  or "Awards we have won."

But there are problems with maintaining such a list by hand and UserQuotes.com was designed to solve these problems:

  • Allows collective management of quotes/reviews/awards, so a *team* of people can add and manage items together.
  • Allows anonymous users to submit feedback form or add new items, but these items are not made public until the team appoves them; gives you control over what items are shown.
  • Site automatically fetches screenshot grabs of web pages (with reviews, etc.) and makes a thumbnail image of the web page (or directly of an award graphic).
  • In addition to reduced size thumbnails, the site will also grab a FULL image of the entire webpage and a text version of the webpage.  If the review page *ever* goes offline, users can still read the cached original.
  • Tags let you organize sets of quotes into logical groups and present them to users.  So a team can manager a collection of quotes about multiple projects, and you can choose different subsets of these to show on different pages.
  • You can embed random quote boxes in different styles and themes on your own site's pages.  Or just send people to the UserQuotes.com page to browse.

UserQuotes.com is currently in a *VERY* ROUGH BETA state.  Don't expect to be able to use this for your real projects yet.  Most features work well, but some final finishing touches are really in rough shape which will make it hard to actually deploy for real yet.  But we are working on it, so stay tuned.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2011, 11:31:03 AM by mouser » Logged
mouser
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« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2011, 12:31:43 PM »

ps.
Because UserQuotes is in such rough beta state and not really ready for lots of users, i'd like to ask everyone not to spread the word or encourage new users until we get more of the kinks worked out!

I would be remiss if I didn't thank a few people for helping with UserQuotes.com:
  • First, JavaJones for the teamwork and all of the support and discussions about it and for partnering with me in it's development; i hope we will have more projects to collaborate on.
  • Second, to Gothic (John, the dc server admin) for doing a lot of work to get the server set up to run it and run some additional helper tools that had to be compiled and installed for it; not easy work and really appreciated.
  • DC member Krishean who solved a css/html problem with formatting that i felt like i was going to lose my mind over.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2011, 05:26:13 PM by mouser » Logged
mouser
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« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2011, 01:51:44 PM »

UQ is really made for embedding quote boxes on your own web pages, but just as a quick and dirty sample you can view:

DC Quotes (layout is still wonky and needs improvement)
http://www.userquotes.com/uqpage?nid=4

And you can test the built-in feedback form functionality and let us know about new dc quotes/reviews/etc:
http://www.userquotes.com/uqfeedback?nid=4

The feedback page not only makes it easy to submit feedback, but also submit found web page reviews.  All submissions are first approved by the group admins for the quote set.

Soon i will embed a quotes box with DC quotes on the main DC pages.  And then i can add some people to help manage the quotes through UQ to help us find and add more reviews and writeups, etc.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2011, 02:08:01 PM by mouser » Logged
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« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2011, 10:23:19 PM »

Hi mouser. April let me know about this project on FriendFeed because she knows what I'm interested in and that I blog about solutions that benefit small businesses and bloggers.  I manage content for half a dozen marketing related blogs with significant followings. When you're ready to launch to a larger audience connect with me and we can talk about publishing posts explaining the service.

The fastest ways to reach me are:
 SKYPE: GrowMap
 Twitter: @GrowMap
 
My email address and additional contact information are on the contact tab on my blog at GrowMap.com.

Any members here who could use increased visibility for their projects or causes they believe in are always welcome to reach out to me. I can publish far more frequently than I am currently and welcome quality content. If blogging/writing isn't your thing but you can explain to me the benefits of what you are doing I can write it up for you.


 
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mouser
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« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2011, 10:27:06 PM »

that is very generous of you and much appreciated -- you will be hearing from me.  Thmbsup
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adi_barb
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« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2011, 03:28:32 AM »

the idea of this website is great! a lot of webmasters receive user opinions via e-mail and most of them actually don't have a feedback page.

Quote
How does it work? You and your team manage a collection of quotes from users, links to online reviews, email testimonials, and feedback comments. Then specify how you want them displayed -- show them off on standalone pages (hosted on our server or yours), or embed them on your existing website pages using attractive "quote boxes". Automatic thumbnails create a professional and eye-catching look.

where or how can webmasters do the things above?
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mouser
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« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2011, 09:01:09 AM »

Some help pages and videos are coming soon, but briefly:

The first thing you have to do is create a UserQuote SET for your quotes.  There are 3 kinds of objects you create on the site, items (quote), sets (collections of quotes), and groups (optional, to let multiple people maintain your quotes).

So there are actually a couple of ways to show quotes on your pages.



1. The easiest way is to simply embed an iframe on any web page like so:

Formatted for HTML with the GeSHI Syntax Highlighter [copy or print]
  1. <iframe src="http://www.userquotes.com/modules/userquotemod/uqlocal/uqp.php?nid=4&perpage=10&pagermode=prevnext&headfoot=0&theme=silverboxt&cols=1&allinbox=1&timage=quote16x16.png&length=notext&nobanner=1&uioptions=iframedetail&viewmode=topdetail" WIDTH=400 HEIGHT=80% FRAMEBORDER=0 TITLE="iframe quotes" ></iframe>

To see a sample of what this iframe would show just visit that url here.

That shows UserQuote *SET* number 4 which is the DonationCoder quotes set.  So you would change nid=4 to whatever node # your set is.  The iframe sidebar or whatever allows the user to page through your quotes and view the details of any of them.

There are lots of options for how to display the quotes and images, etc. That I will describe later.

The iframe method has the disadvantage of being an iframe, and making the UserQuotes.com server do all the work.



2. Another way is simply to link to the set page on the UserQuotes site itself instead of embedding quotes on your page.

For Example:  http://www.userquotes.com/uqpage?nid=4

That's the DonationCoder.com quotes again (set id 4) on a standalone page again with paging, but this time using a nicer javascript highslide option for displaying quote details without leaving the page.

And to let users anonymously submit new comments or review sitings, you'd send them to http://www.userquotes.com/uqfeedback?nid=4 (replacing your set id of course).



3. Lastly the much more powerful way and the way that really caused UQ to be delayed and to become much more complicated and messy than was originally planned, and the way that has caused all kinds of problems, is using a special local caching-proxy php script.

The local script will be available to download soon -- it lets you embed quote boxes on any page on your site in any div id you choose without using any of the iframe limitations, and most importantly, it serves up the quote text/images locally from your server, by cacheing them from the main UserQuotes site as needed.

This has some advantages:
  • Hugely less load on the main UserQuotes server, very scalable.
  • Much more flexibly than iframe in terms of formatting it for your pages.
  • Better experience for your users (nicer pop up quote details).
  • Works fine even if UserQuotes.com goes offline.
  • You can create your own custom themes, graphics, etc.

As well as some disadvantages:
  • Harder to configure, setup, and diagnose.

I will be posting more info about the local script stuff soon.
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JavaJones
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« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2011, 06:10:35 PM »

Wooo! I'm so glad to see this finally out in the open. cheesy I am really hopeful that small software houses will find it useful for their website toolboxes. As you can see with the DC quotes being used in the examples above, DC itself has many such snippets to manage, so this was a big inspiration for it. Given all the DC apps, the use case here is probably on the more complex side of things and more fully utilizes the tools available, but UQ can also be used for smaller needs quite effectively.

The truth is that most good software probably has more good stuff said about it than the devs realize, or at least more than the public ever knows about. The biggest reasons for this both have to do with the time and effort it takes to collect and publicize this information. For a small single developer, they may simply not have the resources or knowledge of where opinions, reviews, etc. would be posted about their app, and not be able to easily provide a way for users to give feedback that translates quickly into testimonials and reviews visible to their site visitors. So a simple feedback from can act as a concentrator, feeding right into a great system to manage that feedback. For others, they may already get tremendous amounts of positive feedback via email, forums, or other methods, but it takes a lot of time and effort to translate that into well-presented website content. Again UQ is great for that. So it covers both those cases and more.

In particular I am hopeful that some open source projects will catch on to it as I feel they are often missing this kind of user-sourced information that can in turn really help generate more users. Many OS projects have forums, but most are used for complaints, questions, and how-tos. Where do you go to say how much you like Filezilla, for example? http://filezilla-project.org/ This is one of the biggest applications of its type in the OS world, yet there is no mention of user opinions, feedback, testimonials, etc. on its website menu or front page. Not every project would want such a thing, I grant, but for those that do I think UQ can be a great option.

I also want to say thanks to mouser for really sticking with this project, through thick and thin. I doubt most people realize how much really went in to this because the functionality may seem deceptively simple from the outside. Yet there were so many issues to solve, both because of the desire to have an alternative to iFrame and linking, and because of our choice of a CMS to base it around (note: I mean the fact that we chose a CMS at all, not necessarily the fault of Drupal itself). Ultimately it was a much longer and more challenging project than either of us anticipated, but it has been a *huge* learning experience, and I think it will set us up for many more cool projects in the future.

- Oshyan
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mouser
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« Reply #8 on: January 02, 2011, 07:48:18 PM »

There were definitely some hard lessons learned while working on UserQuotes, and problems that are worthwhile talking about, especially with regard to the use of Drupal and the other choices made during development.

Oshyan and I will be writing up a little essay about them soon.
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