Review of Panoramio (1/2)

October 14th, 2005 by Joaquín Cuenca Abela

Eduardo has contacted some pals in the usability field, and Christopher Grant and Albert Ribera sent back to us a review of Panoramio. They found a lot of little and not so little problems, so I decided (with their permission) to post it here along with my replies. I will start with the problems found by Christopher, as they were already in english. Happy reading.

BUG: I search for “Accra, Ghana”. On the one hand I get an error message “No places match this name” but the searching animated icon does not disappear.
  • Fix bug
  • When place is not found send mouse focus back to search field
  • Write error message in red.

Yup, the search is horribly broken. I will be working on it next week. Good idea to put the error message in red.

Login, register, help, blog, forum and link to this page links don’t make sense together
  • Add username and password fields to toolbar area. Include links for register and forgotten passwords. Include help link in toolbar area but seperate it from login area with a divider.
  • Move help, blog and forum links to upper right-hand corner. Group blog and forum together. Help should be seperate.

Yeah, right now it’s a bit of a mess. My preferences are however different:

  1. Remove the “Link to this page”. Only experienced users now how to copy an url out of a link, or what it means at all. My plan is to update the real url in realtime without reloading the page. It should also put each movement in the history of the browser.
  2. Group together Help, Forum and Blog, as these three links are useful to people looking for help / more info.
Register is not a very “webby” word.
Recomendation: use the same terminology as Yahoo, Google, Flickr, etc.: Sign Up (Darte de alta), Sign-up (el alta), Sign In (logarte)

Done. But I have not yet taken a hard decision on this one. The old wording may be worse in english, but I’m sure it was much clearer to our non english users. I may revert to the old wording even if only until I internationalize Panoramio.

When I’ve signed up or signed in, the help link disappears.
Recomendation: don’t remove this link. See point #2 “login and link” placement.

Done, good catch.

BUG: I upload a photo of Chicago, but when I search for other photos of Chicago, I am shown a map of Belize. I also search for Cincinnati, USA and the search box recommends “Cincinnati, Zimbabwe”.

US and Puerto Rico places are not yet indexed. That’s explained in the help, but obviously I should give a proper error message, and it should say “No places matches”. (Or start working and add US cities to the database.)

Search feature is very uncomfortable, I can’t tell when it’s started or stopped searching.
Recomendation: add “Search button”. Don’t show the animated searching icon until the user has clicked on the button.

It was thought as a mean to give the user feedback about the different places in the world that can match its query, in real time. Obviously it’s not working, so I either make it much much faster or I will have to ditch the whole idea.

I click on the help link and am taken to a new page with no link back to Panoromia. Recommendation: place help content in a pop-up window.

I don’t like pop-ups, but a link back to the home is indeed needed.

I didn’t bother to read the text in the toolbar and had a very hard time figuring out how to upload my pictures.
Recomendation: don’t expect the user to read the toolbar text. Include a large “Add your photos” which opens a bubble that explains how to upload pictures and how to navigate from place to place using the map.

I don’t like the “big links” approach. It sometimes makes links even easier to dismiss, as they start looking like logos or ads. But your concert is very real… I put the relevant text in bold, as is by far the most import in the whole toolbar. Maybe I should put it in the last place in the toolbar, because there is less clutter in the middle of the page (over the map) than in the left side (over the previews).

BUG: When I try to upload a PNG the system takes 2 to 3 minutes to tell me that only JPEGs are accepted.

It also says that only jpegs are accepted in the Upload picture balloon. I will put an additional client side test to ensure that the file ends with .jpg or .jpeg.

BUG: When browsing other people’s pictures I see a delete link which allows me to delete pcitures that aren’t mine.

Wow. That thing is of course also checked in the server, but it’s disturbing anyway. It’s fixed now.

While browsing other people’s pictures I decide to search for Athens, Greece. The “searching icon” appears but I am not shown the results until I click on the “Back to map” link.
Recomendation: as soon as the person begins a search, automatically jump back to map and show the location searched for.

Yup, good suggestion. It was also on our to-do list.

While browsing other people’s pictures I am constantly scrolling down to see the map and locate the place the picture was taken.
Recomendation: move the map above the fold.

If I do so, I fear you will be constantly scrolling down to see the picture. I tried to put the satellite mini map to the right of the picture, but there was not enough free space to put it on 1024×768. Eduardo suggested to put the mini map at the bottom of this page, and I think it looks better there.

It’s not clear which pictures appear in the left.hand column. Recomendation:
  • As soon as the user clicks on a picture in the left hand column, show the picture in the right-hand column, zoom in on the surrounding region and show all of the pictures from the selected region, not just the picture that has been selected. Use colors and borders to distinguish between the spot where the selected picture was taken and the spots marking other available pictures from the selected region.
  • When the user mouses over a spot marked on the map, show aa thick red border around the picture that corresponds to the place on the map. Then, when the user moves the mouse off of the market spot, remove the red border.

I will take a look at this suggestion later. My brain seems to not be able to digest it right now :-)

BUG: When I try to go back or forward I see the following error message:

Never seen it, but I will try reproduce this. Note to my dear readers: I know the image is not readable. You may address your concerns about the appaling image handling in MS Word to Microsoft.

I can’t tell how many pictures are available throughout Panoramio or just in the region I’m browsing.
Recomendation: Include the total number of pictures uploaded in Panoramio’s history and today. Include the number of pictures available for a given region and show me where I am within the search results (“25-50 of 310 pictures”).

Yup, done. But I still want to improve a bit more. A link to each “page” of pictures would be better.

I can’t “reset” the app, ie. I can’t get back to the very first screen I saw with a view of the whole world.
Recomendation: Include a “reset” or “zoom out” or “home” link.

The “Panoramio” word is a link to the very first screen. I hope when we have our logo ready this will be much more evident.

Our to-do list

October 11th, 2005 by Eduardo Manchón

We are now working in browser compatibility. Explorer 6 and Firefox 1.0.7 should work okay. It’s still not possible to post pictures with Safari and there are some bugs in Opera and Firebird, but we are fixing them. If Panoramio doesn’t work properly in your browser, please report it to the support forum.

Today we made some minor changes in the search engine in order to make more intuitive the “suggest” system. Now the code to upload the pictures is also a bit more robust. We also raised the upload limit up to 5 Mb pictures.

We have been asked for other features like personal areas, editing personal data, photos urls, GPS and rotation EXIF tags, etc. They are all included in our to-do list.

Less is better

October 7th, 2005 by Joaquín Cuenca Abela

Some big names are redoing their webmail interfaces, in response to GMail. They are redoing the whole thing using a richer interface.

Basically, both of them are building something akin Outlook on html / javascript. And they are so wrong.

GMail has show us that you can implement responsive applications on a browser. It raised the bar. But people is not loving it because it uses XMLHttpRequest. Nobody knows what the hell is XMLHttpRequest.

It is because its interface is BETTER than anything else. Excuse me, but I already have Outlook. Why do I need another Outlook in my browser? I don’t want new applications, be it for the web or the desktop to be clones of what I already have.

There is somebody that has got the point. 37signals keeps pumping out little gems.

Excuse my french, these guys have balls! They have done a web page so you could have to do lists! And it’s working!

37signals have the gift to see the deep root of a problem, and to deliver an application that fixes this single problem. And then stop. Don’t think about “what if”’s. It is done.

Good and bad news

October 7th, 2005 by Eduardo Manchón

The good news: Yesterday Panoramio appeared in some big sites and visitors came fast and furious. Hundreds of amazing pics around the world were posted; Moscow, Italy, California, London, Kizhi (Russia), etc. We added a small world map to the photo page in order to give an idea of where the picture was located. Posting pictures over Japan didn’t work, but we already fixed the problem.

The bad news: We have discovered there are still problems with Safari, Opera and Firefox. In Safari you can not post new pictures (bad bad) and in Opera you can hardly see the pictures, as a big map is over them (very bad). Firefox is showing the drop down of the search under the images. We are working in all these problems, and fixing them as fast as we can.

Bugs, comments, suggestions… please, report them to the Panoramio forum.

Panoramio 1.0, soft launch

October 3rd, 2005 by Eduardo Manchón

Joaquín and me have been working in Panoramio the last weeks. Finally we believe Panoramio it’s ready for a soft launch. Ideas, suggestions or bugs are welcome in Panoramio forum.

Using Panoramio

October 3rd, 2005 by Eduardo Manchón

The Pico Turquino trail (Cuba), Cape Of God Hope (thanks eSHa) and North Cape and Mageroya island (Norway) are some examples.

I even have seen someone posting a McDonalds restaurant in Chicago. Some small cities like Konstanz (Germany) or Callosa de Segura (Spain) can give an idea of what it’s possible, but it depends very much on the availability of high resolution pictures from Google Maps.

Next uses are to come, experiments are welcome.

Embedding Panoramio in your site

September 27th, 2005 by Joaquín Cuenca Abela

Some people have asked in the forum for a way to have Panoramio on their site. So I went for an easier solution for all of you. I just cooked a mini panoramio version, ready to be used on iframes outside Panoramio. An example is:

This is what you need to write in your site:

<iframe src=” lt=43.406295&ln=-2.686586&z=3&k=1″ width=”446px” height=”300px”></iframe>

You must pass these options as you will do for a GET request, and the name of these options is lt (for latitude), ln (for longitude), k (for kind of map, 0 = map, 1 = satellite, 2 = hybrid), z (for zoom level, 0 is the maximum zoom, 17 is the minimum), zm = 1 to activate the zoom with the mouse wheel and user (for the user email). All of these options are optional.

You can of course tweak the size of this frame using its width and/or height attributes.

I will improve this mini Panoramio over time, specially so it can show pictures at a decent size.

onload event

September 18th, 2005 by Joaquín Cuenca Abela

You can use the onload event on images to know when the browser has finished the download of an image.

I have used it for the upcoming version of Panoramio, where I only show the images after they have been fully loaded.

There is however a subtle difference between Internet Explorer and Firefox related to this event.

If you set up the handler to this event after setting the src of the image and the image is in the cache, Internet Explorer will not fire the onload event.

Internet Explorer fires this event inmediatelly if the image is in the cache, so you should do:

img.onload = onLoadHandler; img.src = "foo.png";

instead of

img.src = "foo.png"; img.onload = onLoadHandler;

or your code will not work on Internet Explorer for cached images.

More differences between Internet Explorer and the other browsers

September 5th, 2005 by Joaquín Cuenca Abela

Directly from Internet Explorer does not like certain names for the id of your controls.

People using “tags” as id are having problems to print the page (?). Explorer also gets confused if you use “options” as id, but this time you will probably get a javascript error. To make good things better, it also has problems if you use as id the name of another control.

Another example of problem that will not be discovered with any w3c test.

Test early, test often, and with as much browsers as possible!

Hurricane Katrina

September 2nd, 2005 by Joaquín Cuenca Abela

If you are (like me) not from the USA, and you want to help people affected by Katrina, you can do so through the Blogcritics Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund.

Remember that the United States people have always been there to help us when we needed it. It is time to give them back a little bit of help.