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August 2007

By RBA - August 30th, 2007, 21:44, Category: General

Do you have a coRank site? (if not, you should :-)

Have you customized it but wish you could do more?

  • Would you like being able to edit the menu on the left?

  • Or add/remove options there? Perhaps move it to the right?

  • Would you like to get rid of some functionality (such as the sources, or favorites, etc)?

  • How about completely redesign the block that shows each submitted entry?

  • Or modify the forms used to submit stories?

  • Add new functionality via the coRank API right where you want it?

  • Or, to put it simple, being able to edit virtually every template used by your coRank site?

Up until now, you've been able to edit a handful of files. These include the CSS definitions, headers, footers and index pages.That gave you the power to give your coRank site a unique look. But still, you couldn't do any of the things mentioned above.

Not anymore.

Starting today we're launching a new advanced feature (available so far only upon request) that allows you to edit however you want the almost 150 templates used by your coRank site.

That gives you the power to truly customize your site, not only at the CSS/header/footer level as it's been the case so far, but reaching almost every single detail.

For example, right now a story box may have this structure:

And by editing your CSS file you could actually change its look considerably:

That's quite a makeup! However, although different in design, you're stuck with some restrictions, such as having the Submitted by, Tags, Category, etc. lines at the bottom, the "Join discussion" text link is where it is no matter what, the associated image goes all the way to the right, etc. In essence, you are still limited to live with the same elements and their positioning - more or less. What if, using the first example, you'd rather present it like this?

In this case, we've removed the URL under the title and the "Join discussion" link, we've moved the Tags and Category links to the top under the title, we've also removed the time, reformatted and moved the vote count, got rid of the submitters name in the "Add xxx as a source" and also moved that link to the top, and moved the associated image to the left.

Ok, this may or may not be your ideal way to present submitted items, but hopefully you get the idea. Full control over the way things are presented. And of course it's not limited to the submitted stories box, but, as I mentioned before, you now can edit almost all the templates used internally by your coRanking site.

Now, with power comes responsibility. By being able to edit almost every template used by the site, you could screw things up royally in just minutes. Obviously not only you need to know where each template is used and how, but you also must have at least a basic-medium understanding of HTML/CSS. Also, although the feature is fully functional, we have not written the documentation yet - that's where we'll explain how each template is used, what are the variable names used in the templates, and provide examples about how to do the most commonly edits people will be interested in doing.

That's one of the reasons today we're making available this feature only upon request, and will only make it available to everyone after a brief closed beta period. That will allow us to better identify the most common issues, so when the feature is rolled out for everyone, we already have answers to the most frequently asked questions.

Of course, you don't have to use this feature if you're happy with the current look of your site. The main idea of coRank is to provide the best framework, hosting and technology for you to create a coRanking site without having to install anything or deal with any programming, editing, etc. but at the same time we want you to have the freedom to customize your site the way you want it, if you want. And because you can also interact programatically with your coRank site via the coRank API, you can now do almost anything you want.

So... If you would like to try out this feature, let us know!

By RBA - August 18th, 2007, 0:58, Category: General

Nothing big, but just to keep you updated...

Submitting stories: Now you have a 5000 characters limit for the description, instead of the previous 500 characters. You probably won't need this many characters, but if you do, now you can enter long descriptions or even complete articles. This only made sense since we've always allowed up to 5000 characters for the comments.

API: A new call has been added. That's coRank.News.GetItemFromUrl. It basically allows you to query coRank to find out whether a particular URL has already been submitted. How could we miss this one when we first launched the API?

You need fans: A few days ago we added the requirement that, if you wanted to submit a new story, you must have at least one person as your fan. This was only activated at the main coRank site, so other coRank sites continue working as usual and no special requirements are needed to submit stories.

Stay tuned, some new features are coming soon!

By RBA - August 11th, 2007, 2:19, Category: General

Well, the coRank API is finally here!!

This is the very first version of the coRank API. At this moment it provides a handful of basic calls, but there's a lot more funtionality on the way.

And of course, the coRank API is not limited to the main coRank site, but it is available to any and all coRank sites, and best of all, if you already have a coRanking site, you don't need to do anything. The API is already available at your coRanking site, and you can see its specific API documentation by selecting the API option in the left menu of your site.

For example, the API documentation for the Almost Everything iPhone site is here. Also, if you have your coRanking site under your own domain, same thing. It's there for you to use however you like. You can find, for example, the MapMole API documentation right here.

One of the neatest things about the API and coRank in general is that, because you can already edit certain areas of your coRanking site however you like, you could develop a tool using the API and apply it right into your coRanking site, effectively adding new widgets and functionality to your coRanking site. Of course, you can also create apps to use in your own blog or however you like.

One thing to note is that this first version of the API is read-only. That is, you can read data from your coRanking site, but you cannot use the API to write things. In other words, you can read data from stories, users, who voted what, comments, etc. but cannot use the API to cast a vote, submit a story or a comment.

We left the "write" part of the API for the next version, coming very soon. But even before the next version comes out, we're already working on a new group of "read-only" calls to provide even more functionality and flexibility very soon, so check this blog often.

Now that the first version of the API is finally out there, there's only two things we'd love to hear from you. One is of course that if you build something interesting, let us know. We might feature them here in the blog, or even build a repository of cool apps developed using the API.

The other thing is, if you start using the API and feel that something is missing, or would like to have an API call that does something in particular, then by all means let us know.

As always, you can contact us either by posting a comment here in the blog, or by using our contact form.

By RBA - August 6th, 2007, 15:32, Category: General

Within a month or two, owners of a coRanking site will be able to customize all pages and templates that build their sites - all of them! They don't have to, but they'll be able to do it if they want.

In the meantime, you know you can already edit a limited number of pages (index, header, etc) as well as defining three terms used across the site: voting up, voting down and sources (friends, contacts...).

Well, following that trend of being able to quickly define terms that are used across a coRanking site, today we've added one more customizable term: Story.

So if you have a coRanking site where people submit something more specific than just "stories", you can go to the admin pages, select the Terms tab, and you'll be able to define the word that better fits the type of content that your site is about, and then, magically (well, not really magically, it's all trivial science :-) whenever the words story/stories were originally used, you'll see the new term instead. So for example, if you replaced the words story/stories (the default) with news/news, where before one could read "There are no stories yet", now it would say "There are no news yet". Or if you replaced it with photo/photos, it would say "There are no photos yet".

This is aimed at making it easier to craft a term across an entire coRanking site, but as I said before, for those who truly would like to customize their site to their hearths content, in a few weeks you'll be able to edit any of the templates used by your coRanking site - something that will allow you to completely redesign the UI of your site if you like.

But before that happens, we'll be launching something even more exciting. Something we've promised a number of times but just didn't happen. The coRank API. And I'll talk about that in an upcoming post.

By RBA - August 1st, 2007, 16:16, Category: General

ReadWriteWeb just published an article I wrote that talks about how the type of services coRank provides goes a long way from just being a service to create "Digg clones". It somehow relates to my previous article here in this blog.

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