PlantCatching just keeps getting better

Here are the very latest features and updates

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PlantCatching 2.0, modern and beautiful, available soon

Posted on January 29, 2015 • Comments:

This article is the first of a short series of five that will introduce the new features planned for the platform this year to you. Don't worry, the PlantCatching you use and love, based on plant sharings, stays here. But you have been a lot last year to share your ideas and wishes for a brilliant future, and this is what motivated some new developments during this winter.

Let's start in a light way by speaking about visual changes. It may seem pointless but during the internet age, where people are used to modern and interactive web services, I had to update the appearance of the site in order to attract people, young in general, who like this modernity. Since the young generation is the one wishing to change the world for a better one, it is important to introduce PlantCatching to her and keep her.

Here are these few changes:

  • The main menu has been revamped to be more organized and clear. Since a picture is worth a thousand words:

    The new menu clearly shows the two main aspects of the platform, i.e. "Search" and "Share". The rest is acecssible in a dropdown menu. It is also thinner and saves real estate on the screen.

  • The map on the homepage uses a new lighter color palette. Again, here is a picture to show you how the markers on the new map are less drown in the background data. This is even more true when there is many markers..

  • All the forms now have a new appearance. Previously they seemed to be made by a rookie ;) but check how they look now:

  • As you can see on the previous screenshot, icons identifying what is given and the sharing mode have been redesigned as well. Although still done by myself, and I'm not a graphist, they shine a bit more, don't they? ;)

  • The listings are displayed in a panel sliding from the right. This is a window that you may already have seen since I was mentioning it in my last blog post about geolocation. Apart from a new presentation, this lets more space to show more data. I will write a full post on what will be added there.

  • The photo upload tool has been rewritten. Since it is now more intuitive and clear, I wouldn't be surprised to see more photos in the published listings. ;)

I hope that all these measures will contribute to even more pleasure for the visitor. You will see in my next articles that this is only the icing on the cake. Indeed, there are many new serious things that will appear with PlantCatching 2.0. Watch for my next post as I will show you some functional and very interesting changes.

PlantCatching unlimited

Posted on October 14, 2014 • Comments:

PlantCatching has always been built and improved regarding the same schema: write the minimum amount of code to get the best possible value. Why develop a feature when it is not really demanded? Why optimize a web page when the site is not famous and under pressure yet... However, when later, a valuable trigger motivates a new development, then yes, I analyze its feasibility and I start coding when it's necessary. That's how I succeed progressing alone on this project so far.

Two weeks ago, the nice PlantCatching video has been published on youtube and the news has been largely shared on social networks. The reaction was instantaneous: traffic spiked, as well as new registrations on the site, and many plants were shared. Among those new gardeners, some wrote to me with great enthusiasm about installing PlantCatching in their area but also mentioned that it was impossible for them to input their home address or the location of a plant share. These peopl live in Japan, Tahiti, Tunisia, India and Mexico. Even you have maybe experienced this issue if you live in a french "lieu-dit" or in a remote area of Quebec. Albert Mondor, quebec horticulturist, is sometimes tearing out his hairs when he wants to announce on the platform an event located in the countryside. He has to cheat to find a recognized (by Google geocoding) address, but when one lives in Tunisia, where streets in the small town are all but known by the geocoder, or at the km50 mark from Papeete, or on the land of the rising sun where addresses have a different structure from those in our west countries, being named Albert does not help. Therefore it was time to fix this since we have clearly the trigger I was mentioning above. Because the site is more and more known, I have to open it to everyone, no questions asked. On PlantCatching, an exact position is far more important than a precise textual address when it's time to geolocalize an item. Once we know that, if an address can't be determined, I just had to create a new user interface to input a city and move a marker on a map. And voila, this is done.

Solve the geolocation issues So, welcome to all of you, wherever you are in the world. Sharing plants has now no limits, except maybe the lack of supported languages on these very web pages.

PS: some parts of this web site have been tremendously modified for this fix. If you see something strange or clearly a bug, please, contact me.

A video of PlantCatching, as seen by its creator and its users

Posted on September 29, 2014 • Comments:

If you remember, Olivier Asselin, freelance photographer and film-maker, passionate about permaculture, had shooted a short interview of myself at the beginning of last summer. He had also asked three gardening women what they were thinking about the web service that they use regularly. Because of a busy schedule, Olivier was able to finish the editing just now and this is with a great pleasure that I want to share it with you. In the next days, I will find a way to embed it in a prominent place of the web site so that newcomers can quickly get a nice overview of what they can expect on PlantCatching.

I also want to mention the web sites of Olivier, who I heartily thank.

Have a great fall gardening!

Summer news

Posted on July 27, 2014 • Comments:

After a very busy spring, summer brings its calm regarding horticulture, and this is the perfect time to code a few new features. Let me show you two of them: photo upload and listing cards. Bit by bit, PlantCatching becomes more solid, and this is all for you.

Photo upload

Attaching a photo to a listing is the best way to show the reader what a plant looks like or how nice an Incredible Edible installation is.

So far, it was possible to attach a photo to your listing but you had to know the URL of the image on the net. In other words, you had to find an existing image hosted somewhere, or you had to upload it to a photo sharing site and then get its URL. Not so obvious for most of the users...

That's why I decided to add a homemade feature to allow you to upload a photo directly from your computer to PlantCatching. Or, at least this is what it looks like because, behind the curtain, the photo is uploaded to imgur, a photo hosting service. I will pay 24 US$ annually to enable an infinite number of pictures to be hosted on a private PlantCatching account there. You keep the control of your photos since you can, at any time, decide to remove them.

To upload a photo, click on the special dashed box labelled accordingly and the tool will run. You can either browse your folders to get the desired picture, or drag and drop it on the window or at last copy/paste it (if you were editing or resizing an image in your favorite drawing software). The icing on the cake is that you are not obliged to resize/compress your image before submitting it. My tool will take care of that, which means the file could directly be grabbed from your camera. If its size is huge (let's say 5Mb), it will be transformed to a gentle Nx100 kb new chunk of data. This is more comfort to the final user since images will be downloaded quickly at viewing time.

Photo upload tool

Note that I tested this tool on the latest known browsers, except Safari. I can't guarantee normal operations with this one and on old browsers. There are also some differences among browsers. For example, copy/paste won't work under Internet Explorer. But this is not an issue since the good old "Browse" technique will always work.

You need a PlantCatching account to use this feature, for security reasons.

The listing card

Reading a listing in the long scrollable column at the left of the map is not really... optimal. So, I will run this experiment: when you click on a marker on the map or on a collapsed listing in the column, a card will popup that will display the same data as usual.

Listing card

But additionally (and this is really new), it will also show all the offers of the same donating gardener. I think this is a good way to synthetize these informations related to a same context.

I hope you will tell me what you think about these new features and that, together, we will continue enhancing the platform.

Have a nice summer.

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