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fm3's fresh features: Data Entry and Presentation

We'd like to highlight some of the aspects of the latest incarnation of in a few short articles. We hope to point out features you may have missed and share some of the reasoning behind our design decisions with our long-time users. We hope you enjoy the new site, and look forward to your thoughtfully-considered and kindly-worded comments and suggestions. In this installment: User interface changes.

Two important principles in the latest redesign of freshmeat have been simplification and trust in authors' abilities to organize their information more appropriately than we can. We simplified with the removal of the branches system and the Juggernaut Trove matrix. At the same time, we've made it possible for authors to structure their data in whatever way makes better sense to them than our preconceptions of how it should be done. They can categorize their projects and releases however they like and can add as many URLs as they need, labeling them in any appropriate way.


fm2 URL entry system


fm3 URL entry system

Taking advantage of Web development techniques that have become available since fm2 was launched, we've tried to make entering a project's information quicker and more natural. URL fields dynamically appear and disappear as they're added and deleted. Dependencies on other projects are added by simply typing the project's name with autocompletion, instead of hunting through the site for the one you want. Tags are similarly automatically completed, making the process both easier and less prone to tyops.

Autocompletion of dependencies

Autocompletion of tags

On the user side, we've taken the simplified author input as an opportunity to streamline the reader's view of news and project data. The great visual design of Greg Newman has provided clear organization of information. We think the new look brings the most important points to the eye immediately, and collapsed, expandable text provides more data per page and quicker scrolling to find what you want.

fm3's graphic design

In addition to a more powerful search engine and browsing by tags, two views provide quick navigation of the site. The first is rooted in /projects, which provides a reverse chronological list of all the projects on the site and is a good way to see which projects have been added recently. It's also the root of a tree which begins branching with /projects/{projectname}. From there, it descends to project-specific pages like releases, screenshots, dependencies, etc. At the top of each page, the path to the current page is given with each node linked, so it's easy, for example, to land on one of a project's releases and go straight to its main information page.

Project path screenshot

The second view provides project releases by date. URLs structured as /yyyy/mm/dd/ let readers view everything that was announced in any year or month or on any day. As with the /projects hierarchy, the path is given at the top of each page with nodes linked for speedy navigation. An easy-to-type and easy-to-bookmark entry point for this view is /today, which just redirects to today's /yyyy/mm/dd/ URL.

Date view screenshot

We hope that each of the user interface decisions we've made has worked to make your experience on the site easier, quicker, and more pleasant. Keep in touch and let us know how we've done.

Articles in this series:

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RSS Recent comments

16 Feb 2009 13:14 ed_avis

Huge screenshots
That first screenshot of the fm2 interface is 200 kilobytes big - huge, considering it's mostly white space! You would cut your bandwidth bill by taking more care to create small PNG files - an ordinary screen capture on the system I tried was only 29 kilobytes.

16 Feb 2009 13:49 jeffcovey

Re: Huge screenshots
Thanks for your concern.



20 Feb 2009 22:46 Avatar jengelh

FM Beta
Will fm2 at be upgraded with the new code and style — when FM3 is ready —, or will remain a separate entity to which we all have to reregister for after it is out of beta?

21 Feb 2009 03:08 jeffcovey

Re: FM Beta
fm3 will be the new version of



26 Feb 2009 09:16 pse001

I'm sorry, kids, but I have to go to bed immediately, because I have insomnia and right now it is killing me. Meet you all tomorrow, if I can.
philip..........the idiot

24 Mar 2009 17:05 jnareb

I am not sure if this article is a right place to complain about utter stupidity of UI redesign with respect to look of project page, where instead of having all the information available on first glance (perhaps separated by horizontal lines, or put into separate boxes) now I have to click through three "tabs", each containing _single_ information.

Not mentioning lost features, like 'similar projects' or 'other people like also', or projects depending on given project (not the dependencies, the reverse relation).

IMHO Freshmeat 3.0 redesign "looks cool" but is much, much less usable than the old layout.


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