Planned Improvements / Known Bugs

HomeBuiltAirplanes.com

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Jman

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As we look ahead at the future of HBA Belle and I have come up with a list of planned improvements to the website. It's not an exhaustive list and it's not in any particular order. I'd like to know what the members think about which improvements they would like to see take place first.

If you have a second, please take the time to use the poll and let me know which improvement means the most to you. Choose only 3 please. I can't promise that whichever improvement does best in the poll will be the first to be implimented. Variables such as cost and time will play a role as well. It will, however, give me a sense of the kinds of features that are important to YOU. There has been a lot of talk over the years and plenty of good suggestions. Now we are ready to make some progress. Feel free to post comments in this thread but try to keep it pretty tight on topic.

I've also listed some known bugs that need to be fixed. As I hear of others, I'll them to the list in this thread. I'll be working to fix them as time allows.

Coming Improvements

* Articles – Categorized member submitted Article section. This could morph into an online magazine of sorts later down the road.

* Links – Categorized member submitted website Links Section. These will have thumbnails of the front page of the destination link.

* Blogs / Project Log – Each member could have their own blog to chronicle either the aircraft build or aviation adventures. Ideally I'd like to see this customized and similar to functionality with expercraft.

* My Hangar – A place to showcase your stable of airplanes.

* Re-organized forum areas – Split some forums and combine others into organized and logical categories.

* Experimental aircraft database – Searchable database of homebuilt airplanes. This has been done before but it can be done better….maybe.

* Improve the overall look the look and feel of the website.

* Home page for HBA – A homepage to showcase new articles, popular threads, industry news, etc…

* Downloads Database - Added at the suggestion of Autoreply. Like it points out, it could be a legal nightmare.

* Member Map - Also added at the suggestion of Autoreply. Great way to connect with other members.


Known Bugs

* Search Function is barely functional. Google may be a possible replacement.

* Special characters in older posts show as a string of characters such as: &8uh(

* Click a photo to enlarge it. Click it again and you lose whatever reply you were working on.

* On Chrome and Safari web browsers, the What You See is What You Get (WYSIWYG) editor does not work. You have to manually place BB Code into the text to change formatting.

* Viewing the site on small devices such as ipad and net books causes date to fall off the thread list.

* Old forum structure had a link at the bottom of a page to go back to the parent forum.
 
Last edited:

autoreply

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Rotterdam, Netherlands
My replies might be a bit sharp. Nothing offensive, just convinced that a sharp debate might yield better/clearer results.


* Articles – Categorized member submitted Article section. This could morph into an online magazine of sorts later down the road.
Nobody reads articles, even the EAA magazine is horribly read, web-based stuff is way worse.
Focus on the strength of this forum. Interactivity and quality of the replies.
* Links – Categorized member submitted website Links Section. These will have thumbnails of the front page of the destination link.
See above. Links without context aren't that interesting. People lacking the skill won't find them on this forum, people with the skills (like me, he said in utter modesty ;)) will find them anyway. Context, insight and information is what this forums make so valuable.
* Blogs / Project Log – Each member could have their own blog to chronicle either the aircraft build or aviation adventures. Ideally I'd like to see this customized and similar to functionality with expercraft.
I'm not familiar with Expercraft, but interactive is the keyword. Nobody reads static blogs. Everybody reads active blogs though:
http://www.homebuiltairplanes.com/forums/light-stuff-area/5622-cricri-mc-15-nz.html
* Re-organized forum areas – Split some forums and combine others into organized and logical categories.
Aerodynamics really deserves a split-off I think.
Otherwise, the classical 80/20 is valid. Take a look at the 20% subfora with the least posts and merge them with a bigger subject (not strictly true, given that "auto conversions" is already a "subforum). Do the same with the largest 20% subfora.

Personally I think, we might deserve a couple of "central" topics, thus avoiding many separate topics. I'm thinking of:

  1. "Central aviation films/movies topic".
  2. "Central interesting links topic"
  3. And some more FAQ's, but that's a project, already going on.
* Experimental aircraft database – Searchable database of homebuilt airplanes. This has been done before but it can be done better….maybe.
I think google (or the search) works way better. I'd much rather find 3 topics about my preferred design, compared to a limited database. It's also much more time-efficient; keeping up a database requires a tremendous amount of time.
* Improve the overall look the look and feel of the website.
I like it, but others have pointed to possible improvements and those colors are probably not the best. Stick to the points that are important. Thinking of this forum; I think of "well-arranged; well-ordered; neat; easy-view". Don't loose those strong points.
* Special characters in older posts show as a string of characters such as: &8uh(
How's the database arranged. Search and replace? Need a bit of code? I guess several people are able to help you out, given the specifics are known.
* Click a photo to enlarge it. Click it again and you lose whatever reply you were working on.
Sometimes you can't input (using advanced reply) a phote in real size. Might be annoying if you're trying to "show" something, while it works just fine in quick reply.


Some things I'd like to add:

  1. Geographic references. It's great to see that another forum member is close by. As much as I'd like to have a beer with Jake, contacting others nearby might be much more useful, given the 3-month swim ;)
  2. Download-section/server. I have about 10 GB of aviation-related documents, tutorials and so on. I'd love to see a basic one for HBA too. I do realize this might be a legal nightmare. Many of the documents I have are downloaded from the web, but from people who might not have gotten permission. I think this is one of the most important future options of HBA. It's also one of the most troublesome and it's probably a legal nightmare. If anybody has some server-expertise in Linux I'm more than willing to listen, without loading Jake with the accompanying troubles. 100-500 GB and serious traffic is available if security has been taken care of.
Sorry for any spelling errors or worse that might occur above. My girlfriend just got confirmed her promotion (PHD in astronomy), but after the first sip I had to finish the Champagne :speechles
 

skeeter_ca

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Jun 29, 2005
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Location
Yucaipa, Ca
I like to read articles. If it is a topic i like i'll read it. It would attract more people that search the web for certain topics, which in turn could increase membership. Links would also help people looking for specific topics. People asking for help could be pointed to the proper article or link.

Blogs/Project logs could help people by giving one more avenue to document a project online. With it being customized by the user it could provide feedback from others or just be a log with no interaction from the viewers.

As for the look and feel. My old eyes prefer a white background with dark, black is best, letters. The trims and boarders being a nice color like contrasting blues, yellows, greens, browns, and reds. When bars are highlighted it should be in shades quite a bit darker than the normal ones so it can be easily recognized from the rest.
 

Jman

Site Developer
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Oct 22, 2002
Messages
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Location
Pacific NW, USA!
Nobody reads articles, even the EAA magazine is horribly read, web-based stuff is way worse.
I disagree with you but it will be interesting to see what others think.

Links without context aren't that interesting. People lacking the skill won't find them on this forum,
Depends on how it's set up. To me, a mechanism for a member to add their favorite links in its appropriate place in an organized database would be useful. One that you can browse based on category.

find 3 topics about my preferred design, compared to a limited database
My thought was more along the lines of a person new to the sport being able to find designs based on criteria such as performance, building materials, seats, etc... Others have done this, such as kitplanes magazine. You have to be a subscriber to use it though. You are right about the time commitment though.

How's the database arranged. Search and replace? Need a bit of code? I guess several people are able to help you out, given the specifics are known.
I think I have the fix for this, I just need to run it though the database. No worries.

Sometimes you can't input (using advanced reply) a phote in real size. Might be annoying if you're trying to "show" something, while it works just fine in quick reply.
I'll take a look at this. Once I get my head around it I'll post the bug here. Thanks.
 

skeeter_ca

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Yucaipa, Ca
Just relooked at the poll and it still just shows my vote. Is it the only one right now or is it not working properly?
 

etterre

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Aug 30, 2006
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313
Location
St. Louis, MO, USA
I guess I'm a crusty old fart at 36 - I really like HBA the way it is.:roll:

Like others, some way of changing the colors would be nice. The "arctic pallette" that we have currently is a little hard on my eyes... something more like white text on blue background or green text on black background would be easier for me. Kinda like the old Apple II and IIgs (yep, that's crusty)
So I voted for improved look/feel and member project blogs. I'm still not sure why I'd want a hanger at HBA, I've already got a bunch in my closet:gig:
 

jjbaker

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Jun 28, 2010
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Bangor, Maine
See feeds request.
Other than that, this site is neat.
I don't care for the internal blog stuff, and I don't see them used much on other vBulls.
Might be a good SEO tool, though, dunno.
 

WonderousMountain

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Apr 10, 2010
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Clatsop, Or
We're a pretty tough crowd.

Personally, I read every article someone links to, or posts. Of course some can be a little academic which I' not always up for, but on the other side some articles too briefly address a topic. The same can be said of a post.

So while I'd like to see an online library of aeronautical knowledge develop, there's the paradoxical dilemma that we start answering questions with links rather than words. I studied endless reams of scrolls and read lofty heavy text one after the other before finding this site, but I enjoy the stories and experience that comes with the information now. A part failure, or engineering stumpage has so much more soul when you realize it's made a real difference in someone's life.

Also before this site I had no idea how to design a flight experience into a plane. It was just a bunch of resolution of forces. You've made it as real as it an be until that maiden voyage, and I thank you all.

Wonderous Mountain
 

MadRocketScientist

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May 16, 2009
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Canterbury, New Zealand, Earth, Milky Way Galaxy.
I prefer threads to a blog or article format. That is one of the main reasons I made my CriCri thread open instead of a build thread. I find I also learn a lot when thing go out on a tangent or someone suggest an idea. Having said that I do read some articles if they are on the subject that I am researching at that time. Like the poster above I also tend to read articles if they are linked too as then they are relevant to what is being discussed at that time.

I also would like the colors of the text to stand out a little better, I find it hard to quickly look through the thread titles for interesting topics when browsing.

I would say to keep the forum focus as it is, as a well moderated, well behaved forum. But I also wont dissuade you from adding features as anything is worth a try.

Shannon.
 

PTAirco

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Corona CA
I think articles are a good idea as long as they are relevant and not simply rehashed content you can get anywhere. Most articles in magazines, even in specialist publications, tend to be dumbed down a little - we don't need that here. We can put up article that have enough meat on them to be useful without worrying about the lowest common intellect that might read them. If anyone has questions about the content, you can ask the author; now that is something you don't get from a magazine.

Also articles might cover the questions we get all the time better than a FAQ section.

Despite the best search engines there is still a ton of useful but undiscovered information out there and we all have some in our heads, on our bookshelves or in ancient magazines. Not everything is easily available on the net. I for one, have some nice aircraft engineering books from the 1920s, 30s and 40s, which you simply don't find everywhere. Long out of print and copyright ( I would think) and would make great articles - too often people try to re-invent the wheel and information like this can be incredibly useful.

Build threads are more interesting than static blogs, I agree. I hardly even look at my own since these don't seem to generate much response or questions, unlike a "live' thread.
 

Jman

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If anyone has questions about the content, you can ask the author; now that is something you don't get from a magazine.
The Articles will have have the ability to be commented on and discussed. I too think that is what helps this type of forum to stand out is the ability to hear differing views and ask the smart guys questions. I tried it once with kitplanes magazine and it just sat there staring at me like I was crazy....

As for the blogs, yes, they will be interactive as well. They will come up in the new posts search and you will have the ability to comment and discuss each individual blog post instead of the blog as a whole. This feature will only be active if the author allows comments on his blog. I could have it going today if I wanted but I want to have it customized to what a builder would want. Hours, $, drawing number, etc...
 

orion

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* Articles – Categorized member submitted Article section. This could morph into an online magazine of sorts later down the road.
The article section is not a bad idea however implementation might be a bit of work. In order to be really useful, the articles might be listed in a similar form as they are on the NACA and NASA Technical Servers. Each article would have available its title and a short abstract so that searching through a library could go quicker. Would also help if they were all in the same format. Ideally the articles would be listed in an index by subject matter, and searchable by subject and/or key word. An option would be to search titles only, or the whole text.

* Links – Categorized member submitted website Links Section. These will have thumbnails of the front page of the destination link.
Could have some use but sometimes just a link does not provide enough information. Also, too many links and the pages just get to be a pain to search through. But this could be one source of advertising revenue - the ads would be links but would be listed only on that page, not anywhere else on the board. Maybe a simpler form of this: EAA Aviators Marketplace

* Blogs / Project Log – Each member could have their own blog to chronicle either the aircraft build or aviation adventures. Ideally I'd like to see this customized and similar to functionality with expercraft.
Not sure what the difference is between a closed thread and a blog. I like the thread format - really love the one with the Cri-Cri build. I think it might be best to be careful not to turn this into something that's so "busy" that it becomes a bit cumbersome to dig though. I of course don't know if the blogs or similar would detract but at this point I think it's nice that access is easy and subject matter is easily found. No extraneous distractions.

* My Hangar – A place to showcase your stable of airplanes.
How is this different from photo albums?

* Re-organized forum areas – Split some forums and combine others into organized and logical categories.
Strongly agree - I think the design/technology section needs to be divided up into logical subheadings. I've been trying to keep it clean and on subject but it contains so much at this point that a search for any particular thread is very cumbersome.

* Experimental aircraft database – Searchable database of homebuilt airplanes. This has been done before but it can be done better….maybe.
It has been done before but not in the format that most folks ask questions. Would be interesting to include searchable features like power level/engines, cost to build, time to build, materials, space required, etc.

* Improve the overall look the look and feel of the website.
Quite frankly, I really like the current clean look. True, it might be a hair on the antiseptic side but the focus is easily discerned as being the discussions, not anything peripheral. The clear and direct "black on white" looks professional and presents the site and discussions cleanly with no distractions. Buttons and pull-down menus are easily found and accessed, so I'm not sure what kind of improvements people are after. I think something like a dark color background with white text would be quite undesirable.

* Home page for HBA – A homepage to showcase new articles, popular threads, industry news, etc…
Maybe - could be a quick reference for showing site changes and things like rules, and index of subject matter, etc. But then it's an extra page that one needs to go through to get to the boards.

* Downloads Database - Added at the suggestion of Autoreply. Like it points out, it could be a legal nightmare.
Could not only be a legal nightmare but also risky from the standpoint of quality. If we're talking a download site for things like design spreadsheets, there is no knowing whether the data presented is useful or erroneous. In the end there could be just as much useless junk as useful material. Going through it all to assure quality material might be a full time job in itself.

* Member Map - Also added at the suggestion of Autoreply. Great way to connect with other members.
Could be interesting. Maybe a world chart with a point for each member so we can see the distribution of membership.
 

Topaz

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I suppose I mis-read or misunderstood the nature of "Article." I was assuming that the "Directory of Articles" would be a directory to the FAQ series now developing. A directory of those really would be useful, especially for the newcomer.

Just don't call it "FAQ". For some reason, people just seem to ignore those. (Ironic, huh?) Call it "Knowledgebase", or "Best Practices Topics" or something similar.

With regard to the visual appearance item, I'm of the opinion that the site could be made more readable with a simple color palette change. Nothing drastic - I'm with Orion that text meant for reading needs to be black-on-white. Rather, some work on the post-heading bars, sidebars, etc. in terms of color may actually enhance the readability of the site by highlighting the main text stream as a more-defined column, amongst other things.
 

Rom

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Oct 30, 2006
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Medina, Ohio
I voted for "Improve the overall look the look and feel of the website" not so much to change the format or layout, that part is perfect. As many have pointed out, some of the older eyes have difficulty reading through the contrast or color. The "Classic" version was easier for me to read. Providing several different color/contrast selections would be a good move.
 
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