kottke.org posts about Stellar
It's been nearly three months since I launched Stellar in closed beta, so I thought it might be time for a status update.
I've been working steadily on the site since then and have made several improvements, notably in the scaling department, but it's been slow-going because it's just me and I'm not the world's quickest programmer. (God, I'm learning a ton though.) Right now I'm working on a pretty major feature (in terms of modification to the site's backend) that will hopefully make Stellar's reading experience even better and, more importantly, pave the way for other additions and improvements in the future. After that's done, there are lots of little improvements I want to push out to upgrade the reading experience in other ways. Can you tell that I'm focused on "the reading experience"?
Next: invites. When I opened up the invite request form in March, 7000 people (!!) signed up in fewer than 24 hours. The invite request form is still closed and I am still working on getting all of those folks off the waiting list (there are thousands still on the list but new invites go out every day). To everyone on the waiting list and to those waiting for the invite request form to open up again, I thank you for your patience. Like I said, I'm letting people in "reeeeally sloooowly".
And thanks also to everyone for their feedback via email and Twitter...it's been quite helpful in chasing down bugs and plotting out the future of the site. I've also been collecting some of the nice things people have been saying about the site here.
Finally, I've set up a Stellar leaderboard of sorts that shows some of the most-faved stuff on the site. It's a regular Stellar account so you can follow it if you're signed up. But it's also publicly available for bookmarking, etc.
Pssst. If you're on the waiting list (and only if you're on the waiting list), bug me on Twitter and I'll try (no promises!) to send an invite your way.
Sippey posted a brief item on pagination navigation on "river of news" type sites, comparing the opposite approaches of Stellar and Mlkshk. I thought a lot about where to put those buttons and what to label them. There's no good correct answer. For example, "older" usually points the way to stuff further back in the timeline that you haven't read, i.e. it's new to you but old compared to the first page of stuff...are you confused yet? I focused on two things in choosing a nav scheme:
1. The Western left-to-right reading pattern. If you're in the middle of reading a book, the material to your left is a) chronologically older and b) has already been read and the material to your right is a) chronologically newer and b) unread. From a strict data perspective, a) is the correct way to present information but websites/blogs don't work like books. b) is how people actually how people use blogs...when a user gets to the bottom of the page, they want to see more unread material and that's naturally to the right.
2. Consistency. Once you add page numbers into the mix -- e.g. "< newer 1 2 3 4 older >" -- it's a no-brainer which label goes where. I don't think I've ever seen the reverse: "< older 4 3 2 1 newer >".
Also, I do whatever Dan Cederholm does. (But dammit, he does the opposite on his blog! Hair tearing out noise!!) That said, I like Sandy's suggestion of getting rid of the "newer" button altogether:
We put "Older" on the right, but did away with "Newer" altogether in favor of a link back to page 1. If they want to go back to the previous pages, people can use their back button.
Or maybe put "newer" at the top of the page? Still a waste of screen real estate? Anyway, once I figure out how I want to do infinite scrolling on Stellar, those problematic older/newer buttons will go away. Huzzah!
For the past several months, I've been working on a new web app/site called Stellar. Stellar helps you discover and keep track of your favorite things online. If you like playing around on Twitter or Flickr, you'll probably enjoy Stellar. There are a few dozen people using Stellar right now and some of them seem pretty enthusiastic about it, so I'm encouraged to open the site up a bit more. As of just this minute, you'll be able to do a few things with Stellar:
1. View people's fave pages. For example here are my faves, Meg Hourihan's faves, Dennis Crowley's faves, Matt Haughey's faves, Ainsley Drew's faves, Heather Armstrong's faves, Anil Dash's faves, etc. You can find others by browsing around the site a bit. You can also look at the "best of" pages, a person's items faved by others...here are my items faved by others.
2. Sign up to reserve your preferred username and request an invite to the beta. FYI: I'm letting people in reeeeally sloooowly so even if you sign up right away it might be awhile before you get in.
3. Current Stellar users will each have a few site invites to give away.
And that's about it for now. You'll be hearing more about Stellar in the next few days/week/months here on kottke.org, but you can also follow the Stellar Twitter account for updates. Thanks.