From better organization to more interactivity, here's what our file area rewrite was all about.
Posted by Daniel Tonks on February 5, 2011 at 7:09 AM
A few weeks ago I announced the launch
of our completely new file area, and asked members to look around and test things out. After a number of bugs and other changes and improvements, things have settled down and I thought it was time to itemize everything that’s changed.
So what’s new? A whole lot! The first thing you’ll notice that everything is sporting a spiffy new design that better meshes with the current design of the site’s already-revamped sections, such as News, Forums and the Wiki. But beyond the basic facelift, absolutely everything beneath the hood is entirely new code, and that means new concepts and new features. I tried to maintain what was good about the old file area, correct everything that was wrong, and overcome all of the previous limitations.
- NEW! Because the old file area program was completely hard coded, including structure and descriptive text, it was a huge issue to add new file areas or sections. No longer. The first thing you’ll see is that the “Other/Miscellaneous” file area has been reduced in scope with much of its content moving to two new areas: Universal Remote Control Manuals, a special place to host our extensive collection of remote manuals, and the Device Command Library, for remote-generic infrared, RS-232 and IP network codes. Our library of discrete hex codes has also been moved from the Pronto Classic file area to the Device Command Library, since a wide range of remotes support Pronto hex format.
- NEW! Versatile tree-style navigation allows for better (and deeper) file categorization than the old fixed system, and no longer limits certain types of files to certain placements. Plus there’s a big “previous level” icon for those who like to browse around...
- NEW! The more advanced database system allows for truly freeform file entries: each “file collection” can have any number of “elements” (unique items/descriptions), any number of attached files, any number of screenshots, be compatible with any number of remote models, and can even be grouped into special “file families” to link related entries together.
- IMPROVED! Greatly reduced URL length will make it much easier to copy links to specific files. Be sure to use the “PermaLink” option for best (shortest) results.
- IMPROVED! The simplified file voting system removes the thumbs up/down/neutral options and follows the now-familiar “9 of 10 users have found this useful” format. You can even re-vote on a file if you later change your mind.
- NEW! You can now comment on file entries, letting other downloaders know what you thought of a submission, or provide tips on usage. The most recent comments will be shown on both the main index and a file area’s index.
- NEW! The entirely revamped search system utilizes the same speedy search engine as the forums. New options include the ability to search through specific file areas, search for files matching specific remote models, find files by author, or even return only certain types of files.
- NEW! Click on a remote control’s name and you’ll see the new compatibility screen, featuring a table of all remote controls whose files can be imported by that model, as well as a list of other models that can import its files.
- NEW! All future file submissions will have full-resolution screenshots (typically .png format) that can be enlarged from the thumbnail view. Plus as mentioned earlier, users will no longer be limited to just 1 or 2 screenshots if they desire.
- NEW! Need a device file, fast? Look for the Device Browser box on the main index page – with this you’ll be able to browse every single device file on Remote Central, regardless of which model remote the file was originally created for.
- NEW! The custom filter feature, which replaces the old and horrendously confusing “focus” option, makes it easy to find system files for particular remotes – just click on an option to display appropriate matches from all related file sections.
- IMPROVED! The file area is now fully account-aware, keeping you close to your RC Mail, and letting you perform actions limited to those with accounts (such as voting and comments).
- IMPROVED! The revamped and expanded top downloads reporting system displays the most frequently downloaded files (for yesterday, last week, last month and all time), for both specific file areas as well as all file areas.
- IMPROVED! The file upload form is now account-aware, as submitted files can be credited to your Remote Central account. This section has, however, only seen a minor change as I hope to come up with an entirely new file upload system in the future.
- HUGE NEW! Although users will never see it, over 3800 lines of code are dedicated to the entirely new and highly automated administrative side. What users will be able to see as a result of this is a huge improvement in my ability to gets file submissions up quickly and correctly!
My previous request still stands – if you spot anything wrong, or have an idea for something you’d like to see, please let me know. I’m always looking for suggestions!
If you’re browsing the new file area and notice that you aren’t logged in (while the forums continue to show you as being logged in), this is due to a change that had to be made to Remote Central’s login cookie, to support the file area’s new subdomain. The change to the login program was made back in December, but if you’ve been logged in longer than that you’ll need to log out of the forums, and then back in again.
It's time to upload content!
Remote Central’s file area is entirely free and built upon the submissions of the community – that means you! If you have any sort of remote control-related file, such as device commands, system files, manuals, code sheets, discrete hex codes, graphics, icons and so forth, please take the time to upload
. Even if there currently isn’t a place for that file – it’s a snap now for me to give it a place!