The Road to deninet 6.0: Are we there yet?


It's been several months since I last wrote about the slow, but on-going progress toward deninet 6.0. As usual, life, work, and other events prosaic prevented me from making an update sooner. I could apologize further, but really, what's the point? While I try to run my little corner of the Internet like a company, it's only me and a few friends that bought into my "creative cooperative" spiel. ^_~

While developing some of the concepts of the Idea Database around 2002 and 2003, I ran into a bit of a problem. I was faced with the issue of organizing the topology into a social platform. I consider a few different possibilities at the time. Groups could be created that follow and discuss ideas of a certain sort. Those that would want to use the same Idea Database platform to crowdsource thought development could rally around Projects. The problem was, in my mind, constructs like groups and projects derive from the same thing.

Early on in development, I called this a "Net", but later I settled on the less vague term "Channel". Channels were to be the basis of organization on the site. Users could create their own channels, using them for simple discussion, or for the collaborative creation of a project. Channels operate as subsites within deninet, allowing you to have your own little piece without having to abandon all the benefits of existing in a larger, social networking ecosystem.

I've been mulling about just how to implement Channels here, on a Drupal-powered deninet. The natural choice, of course, was a combination of CCK, Views, and Panels. Organic Groups would serve as the glue that would provide the social networking features as well as content security. What held me up for the longest time was exactly how to go about implementing the interface.

I tried a few things, but nothing really worked the way I wanted to. Most resulted in too many tabs on each channel page, causing element to disappear under the sidebar. I let the effort sit for a while. While I was vacation in Seattle, I attempted to force a solution, and came away empty-handed. Someday I'll learn to actually relax on vacations.

I came to the realization about a week ago that the solution needed to be something similar to what I created for the Deninet Springboard. Instead of so many separate tabs, create a single dashboard view that would display all channel activity into a single dashboard.

The new Channel Dashboards aim to provide a public view of all channel activity in a single glance. It is also designed to help channels locate and access their own content quickly and easily. Although not yet complete, I've already deployed what I have out to the production site. Each channel dashboard lists idea and blog posts prominently, along with the channel's public tasks, wiki posts, and a tag-cloud. Yet to be developed include an event calendar, image, and album display.

Although not quite what I expected, deninet 6.0 is shaping up well. The Idea Database has been reborn, each member has their own Springboard, and not each Channel has a dashboard. With many of the imagined features now coming into be, the question remains: Are we there yet?