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New search interface

Posted on October 4, 2012

When I created the PlantCatching web service, I first did it according to time constraints but also to the vision I had from it. To my mind, PlantCatching helps the gardener in his own neighborhood. This is the place where he can give his surplus to others and find what other gardeners have to donate. The search interface was modeled on this vision and, to his credit, it was at least straightforward. You had to enter your precise address and the existing offers were shown on the map, inside a reasonable radius (the kind of distance you can travel on foot).

But you have been so many to request a greater search radius or, in other terms, more flexibility when dealing with the map. Some of you are willing to grab a plant even when it's far from your home. This can be done while transiting too. Or some of you are just curious about what happens in your city or nearby. I could understand it but I was reluctant because it was far from what I was envisioning for my project. That's why I dragged my feet during some time, but eventually I realized that this was fully legitimate and that I had to adpat PlantCatching to the demand.

Finally, this is the big day. The previous interface, that I now find archaic ;) ,has been replaced by the one you can see right on the homepage. It took me some time to develop it since I had several things to learn to achieve what I wanted, but I think the result is worth it. There could be some remaining bugs, so please be patient.

Features:

  • As soon as the page is loaded, the code tries to know where you are located. If it can find your city (and this is sometimes approximate but out of my control), it shows right away the offers in its bounds. Otherwise, it invites you to enter your city or precise address so that it can be stored in your browser thanks to a cookie and wont be requested again.

  • The web server is interrogated each time you change the zoom or the position on the map. I hope it will be able to handle the load and this is you who will give me some feedback about the speed of the interface.

  • Plants and other items are displayed in a tab superimposed to the map. Its container can be hidden by clicking a small white arrow.

  • The plants requested in a given neighborhood are displayed in another tab.

  • You can click on the results in the tabs to know where they are located on the map, or inversely on the map markers to only see what is offered/requested there (click again on a marker to deselect it and go back to the full list of restuls).

  • Of course, you can continue typing addresses in the search bar like before.

  • Below a given zoom level (i.e. when you zoom out too far or when a searched city is really big) the search request is not sent to the server. Instead, a popup will appear asking you to zoom a bit more.