Developers Log

v4.5 All Startpages Rebuilt

Uses new start-framework page to build all start pages.
Completes update of all individual startpages to use framework instead of individual php/html.
Fixes errors in drop-down and toolbar/sharing.
Fixes multiple broken links on various startpages.
(Note: Backend update creates case option for easy Apple Music, iTunes Store, Amazon, Wikipedia and IMDB links.)

v3.5 Create Your Own Theme!

Today AwesomeStart released a new feature that allows users to create their own startpage theme. The site previously let users customize their own startpage based on over four hundred themes in their gallery. Now users can create their own theme.

Create a Startpage
Create a Startpage

The new theme creator is now up at https://awesomestart.com/create/ and is ridiculously easy to use. You enter the URL of an image, select a few colors, and name the theme.

The theme is saved on your computer via cookies, but you can then go the extra mile and publish it to the site. All you have to do is enter the URL you’d like and click the publish button.

devlog-publish-theme-url

Anyone can use a published theme by going to the chosen URL and setting it as their homepage. These pages can easily be shared using the “Share” link in the upper right hand corner of each page.

AwesomeStart has also integrated the new public themes into the main site search and gallery. After a brief delay, the theme will show up in the public gallery. The gallery allows users to view submissions by tags to make browsing even easier.

Mystery Feature No Longer a Mystery?

It’s fun to read the posts on our facebook page. For months now people have been speculating on the new mystery feature. We’ve finally got an announcement ready – you won’t have to speculate much longer.

The new feature will go live this Wednesday, October 14th, 2009.

Beta testing has ended, and we’re now cleaning the databases for launch. We’ve already said too much! See you Wednesday!

New Share Feature

There is a brand new share feature in the upper right hand corner of every startpage. We started developing this feature as a part of our big feature update (which is planned to go up sometime in October). We decided to put up the sharing aspect early so everyone could start using it.

AwesomeStart Share Feature
AwesomeStart Share Feature

It’s pretty simple – so you click “Share” in the upper right hand corner of the page and pick which site you’d like to share on. The site will open in a new window with all the information filled in. There’s also a text field with some code incase you’re just looking to show off your startpage via HTML.

We’ve coded the share popup so it will work on both javascript and non-javascript browsers. Promote.AwesomeStart.com has also received an update to make use of the new feature. If you have a startpage set up, the promote page will display these sharing options by default. If not, you’ll see the standard banner codes.

By using our own code rather than a third party plug-in like Addthis, the share feature will load faster and can expand to include other functionality in the future.

Click the “Share” link on your startpage and give it a try!

XHTML and DIVs

It’s hard working on something most people will never see. Here’s a perfect example – this week we’ve been working really hard to recode the site. Everything used to be set up in HTML 4.01 Transitional. We decided to use XHTML for the new features we’re working on, so we finally made the move to switch everything from HTML to XHTML.

Normally this wouldn’t be such a big deal, but we also took the opportunity to reprogram all the tables. Over four years ago, when the site was still being built, CSS was making its way into the mainstream. Programmers were starting to throw out old bulky tables in exchange for clean new div containers. While AwesomeStart has always used CSS, figuring out how to program everything using divs was not a project our programming lead wanted to undertake. After all, getting this monster off the ground was already going to be a pretty major challenge.

The new code we’re using has a lot of advantages. Divs create a lot less code, which makes it a lot easier to understand what you’re looking at when you come back to the code later down the line. The previous clutter is part of the reason new features have always taken so long.

We’ve also programmed the sever side to pull everything from one source. This means a hand full of files essentially controls the entire main site layout. Think of it like having a template that we can edit. As we add new feature, we only have to write code for one page.

We know, we know – boring code stuff! Don’t worry, the next post will be about something exciting!