If you’ve stumbled across this blog looking for Seadragon info, you might be pleased to know that Seadragon Ajax is alive and well, as OpenSeadragon. Come on over and get involved!
It’s been quiet on this blog for a while now. The Seadragon team is still doing awesome stuff, but I’ve moved on to other things, as has Kevin.
I thought I’d update here with a couple of Seadragon-related items:
- The old AppJet link for Infinite Canvas is now officially dead. Please update to http://infinitecanvas.jgate.de/.
Visuwords is the perfect site for anyone who hated the word relationship section of the G.R.E. or the S.A.T. It’s a zooming, infinite canvas, word relationship database. Oh sure, the site calls itself a “graphical dictionary” (whatever that means), but the definitions of the words are almost superfluous (you only get them on a mouse hover, anyway). Instead, this site feels like it’s illustrating relationships between words, thoughts and ideas.
Start out with a random word, or search for one of your own to have a cloud generated. Double click on nodes in the cloud to load in their related items. You can move them around whimsically, if you like, by clicking on a node and dragging it wherever your little heart desires. When your weather system of words gets too big, they’ve got a pretty neat mousewheel zoom to increase the size of your canvas. They don’t have springs on zoom or pan, and the mousewheel zoom is not of the zoom-to-point variety, but the whole experience is pretty fantastic, and their data set is amazing. Check it out.
Welcome back from the Holidays, the Seadragon team hopes yours were pleasant. Looking ahead to the new year, we continue with another post in our fledgling series on the Seadragon Philosophy. Previously, we posited that an ideal experience will never cause the user to wait, here we submit a complementary idea that the user should never be lost.
The user never getting lost has to do with visual continuity and spatial coherence. For instance, when we zoom in and you need higher resolution data, we keep the low-res data while we wait and smoothly blend the high-res in, unlike the “pop” of tiles you see on, say, Google Maps. In this particular case, this technique also serves to help the user never to wait; not only are we allowing them to move at their leisure, but we always provide visual cues as to where they are and what they are looking at.
Never being lost can also mean constraining the experience. In Seadragon Ajax, we limit your zoom out so that you always have a meaningful image on the screen. On zoom in, we don’t let you go too far past a 1:1 pixel ratio. We also implement “hard” boundaries on the screen; if you try to drag an image off of the screen, it will bounce back in. We do this because we never want the user to wonder where their image went, or what exactly they are looking at.
There are other tricks you can use to try and ensure your user always knows where they are in the experience. Things like providing a mini-map that details what and where you are currently viewing is certainly one way. A slider to indicate zoom level (as in both Bing and Google Maps on the web) is also a nod in this direction. These are decent measures, to be sure, but we tend to prefer the other tricks mentioned above to keep the user informed and aware. The Bing Maps iPhone experience being an excellent example of a zoom situation in which you are never lost and never have to wait.
iBing got final approval from Apple sometime yesterday and has made its way into the app store:
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bing/id345323231?mt=8 (itunes app store link, ye be warned)
It’s cool in and of itself that MS has made another iPhone app. There are features like voice search, multiple location view, saved locations… all the good stuff you’d want in a search app. It also shows off the daily image from Bing.com for a little bit more sparkle in your search experience.
It is cooler still that the experience is built on top of the Seadragon iPhone app; check out the maps feature and you’ll be able to see the Seadragon goodness. I recommend wi-fi over 3G (and don’t even get me started on Edge), ’cause AT&T is… not that great, but even over the wire, you’ll still get a usable, fluid experience. The Bing guys have really taken our philosophy of the user never waiting to heart and shipped it.
If you’re having a hard time finding good uses for the app, the fellas over at TechCruch have a suggestion or two (mildly NSFW).
Great question, and one that I’m glad you asked!
A Pearltree appears to be a user generated idea network set over an infinite canvas. It features click and drag, but not zooming, to navigate the branching nodes of interest. As a user, you can create an interest network and connect areas of it to those created by others to grow your… tree. The following video explains how to use the site:
I must admit that even after tooling around on the site, and watching the video, I am still a little bit lost. The idea is really fascinating and I love the social aspect of it, but the implementation seems kind of wonky, even discounting the lack of zoom.
Bing Maps released a bevy of new features today in their ongoing quest for world domination. These upgrades revolve around a Silverlight experience (IE and FF only) for their maps page. Featuring smooth transitions, great performance and a street side view, they are making strides not only for parity with Google, but on a performance level, to surpass them. My attention however, was drawn to another unique feature, namely their integration of Photosynth into the deepest levels of the mapping experience. The Bing blog post claims “you can zip down from space down into someone’s house”, which despite sounding vaguely horrifying, is also pretty cool. The video below demonstrates, if not digital breaking and entering, a similar idea:
You can find more information over at the Photosynth blog about the integration and how to get your synth featured on Bing Maps. You can also learn more about the full scope of new Maps features on the Bing blog.