Beta Testing by Jacob Silvia
Sooooooo, it's a little bit past Boxing Day.
But we now have a working beta available. You may see it here: beta.whatcharacter.com.
Not everything has been migrated over, but the beta has core functionality. If you discover an error, please send us a link to the page in question.
We put a lot of effort into making the site look great and new, and hope that we can complete the migration in a month or so (so we can make sure everything works like it should). Once that's done, we'll resume our rolling out of new features.
Why did this take so long?
You might be asking that question. The main reason is because it was, essentially, a complete re-write. The only commonality between the current codebase and the beta is the underlying database. Beyond that, it's using a newer version of the front end and back end frameworks.
Because of that, we were able to take advantage of some neat new features, but the downside was we needed to rewrite the neat old features.
In the end, we hope to have a wonderful product that is useful, but also presents the information in an aesthetic (but not too distracting) layout.
Thanks for reading!
An Update by Jacob Silvia
So, it's almost been a whole year since we last blogged. What's been going on?
Well, nothing that you've been seeing. See, we're currently reworking the front and back end of the site. It's looking pretty awesome, but we want to make sure its fully polished before we release it to the wild.
Our goal is to leverage the latest versions of our front- and backend technology, but also to improve the end user experience (whether you're here for information, recommendations, or are an editor).
When can you expect this amazing new version? Well, let's target it for a Christmas, possibly Boxing Day, hopefully not Twelfth Night (but, hey, we are a literary site) release.
Once NaNoWriMo is over, we'll devote all hands to dropping a hot new release by the end of the year.
Happy Thanksgiving by Jacob Silvia
In a few days, the people of the United States will get together to celebrate Thanksgiving. Too much turkey, gravy, stuffing, and cranberry sauce will be consumed. And then, when everybody least expects it, someone will demand to know for what everybody else is thankful.
When it's your turn, you may bring up the following:
First, We did a little touchup for the info boxes. Where this is most noticible are in ordered Work-to-Work relationships (such as episodes of Television Series, such as Red Dwarf). Just look at that. Cool, huh?
Second, If that's not good enough, well, you'll also notice there is a grey signpost button at the top of Work pages. Clicking that will show you WhatRecs, which are our attempts at providing amazing and awesome recommendations. However, this technology is in its larval stages, so you'll see some weird things as it gradually makes its metamorphosis into a beautiful butterfly.
If you like that (or if you hate it), we want to hear. Use the Feedback link at the bottom to tell us what you think. We want to know!
That being said, we hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and have plenty for which to be thankful.
Happy Halloween by Jacob Silvia
It's the end of October, a day many celebrate as Halloween. As per the tradition of the day, we've decided to give some treats (and hopefully few tricks).
So, here's a summary of what we've added this month (next month will be much quieter, as we'll all be working on NaNoWriMo).
You can now see past Characters/People/Works of the day. Click the calendar icon next to the label on the home page to see this in action.
We restructured our "Popularity" metric (as seen on Top 10 Characters) to take media type into account. Basically, it weighs the relevance of that character in relation to the format of the works in which they appear (e.g., it would take a character a full season of television appearances to equal a fil appearance).
People can now have more than one nationality. Go figure.
Character appearances are now grouped by character. So if a character appears multiple times in a single work (useful for visual media in which a character has an "old" and "young" incarnation), all those appearances will be grouped. This is like how contributions have been working.
People can now be assigned a role for a country (e.g., President of a country).
As well, several bug fixes. Huzzah.
If you discover a new bug, please feel free to let us know. You can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or use the Feedback link at the bottom of the page. If you have questions or comments regarding the site, please feel free to send them to email@example.com, or (again) use the Feedback link at the bottom of the page.
Our New API by Jacob Silvia
We've always wanted to have an API. "What's an API?" you might ask. Well, an API, or Application Protocol Interface, is a sort of standard that says "If you ask me questions in a particular format, I'll answer them in a particular format."
Our API currently is only for characters, but we will definitely expand it to include Works and Places (as with everything in WhatCharacter, we start with characters, and work our way out).
If you would like to see the API specification, please check out the API page. It requires a user account and and API key. Since registration is currently closed, you can request a user account by filling out the form on the registration page, and once you're in, you can request an API key from your user account page.
In the meantime, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to use the Feedback link at the bottom of the page, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Comments (On the Horizon) by Jacob Silvia
It's July. Or at least that's what my calendar tells me. That means that WhatCharacter.com is approaching its first anniversary1. Wow!
Here's what to look forward to this month:
Have you ever wanted to engage in discussion about a particular book or literary character? Heck, how about on a person's contribution to a work? Anything?
Well, that's basically what we're working on.
At first, it will be member's only.2 And then we'll eventually roll out a more anonymous option (with some level of validation).
How does that sound? You could tell us if we had the feature now, but right now, just send us feedback by clicking the Feedback link in the footer, or by sending us an email at email@example.com.
New Layout (Of Sorts) by Jacob Silvia
You may have noticed that the website looks slightly different. This is because we're gradually moving towards a somewhat new layout style. Over the next few weeks, you'll see gradual changes, and hopefully it'll settle somewhere nice. :)
Let us know what you think by using the Feedback link below.
Feedback by Jacob Silvia
Have you ever wanted to send us feedback on a particular page, but didn't want to fill out that form on Google we used to use?
Well, you're in luck. Now you can send us feedback through our own site! Just click the Feedback link below on any page, provide your comments, and if you want to, your email address (which will only be used to ask you questions about your feedback, if unclear, and to notify you when its done, and any other necessary communication. WE WON'T USE IT FOR SPAMMY OR COMMERCIAL PURPOSES! WE PROMISE!
So, if you see that we got something wrong, or are missing something important, please let us know.
We look forward to hearing from you!
New Blog by Jacob Silvia
As you may have noticed, I just changed the blog a bit. If you're following the RSS feed, you'll want to update it.
This move was made to better integrate the services WhatCharacter will offer in the future. Right now, there is no way to post comments. As nobody has posted comments to past blog entries, I don't think that this will be a major impact right now.
In the meantime, if you have something to say, use the Feedback link at the bottom of the page or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Quick Update by Jacob Silvia
Things are moving along. I hope to have something official released at the beginning of the new year. Keep watching!
What is WhatCharacter.com? by Jacob Silvia
As I mentioned in my previous post, WhatCharacter is meant to fill a void on the internet. Allow me to explain.
If you do a Google search for
[imdb for books] you're presented with a series of Q&A posts of people asking the same thing. They want a site that provides the same level of information as IMDb. However, the usual slew of answers falls short of (at least, what I'd expect of) being "the IMDb for books."
They mention LibraryThing (a site I love and use regularly), Goodreads (a site I have an account for, but never use, as it's not as good as LibraryThing for how I use such sites), and Shelfari (I never got into this one, so I can't speak to it).
While LibraryThing comes the closest, it fails hard in one great respect: Characters. Or, really, most of what they call "Common Knowledge." The problem is, it's just text (albeit with some special rules to govern stuff in parenthesis). When entering characters, there's no way to inherently link "Anakin Skywalker" to "Darth Vader", or "Leia Organa" with "Leia Solo" (or even "Leia Skywalker", spoiler alert). Characters there are only keyed by their name on the site, so there's no way to indicate that "Count Olaf" is "Graaf Olaf" in the Netherlands. And even worse, there's no way to distinguish between "Alice (in Wonderland)" with "Alice (and Bob)".
WhatCharacter.com aims to solve this problem by providing a database-driven website with individual pages for each literary character we catalog. This is a work in progress, but will eventually include all manner of biographical information for each character, including their birth/death dates, their relationships, their appearances in different fictional works, headshots (from book covers, illustrations, and films) and even a list of actors who have portrayed them on film or on radio.
Okay. So, you might be wondering, what's the difference between this, and say, all of Wikia? Well, a few things:
- It's curated, so the data has a lower chance of losing integrity, and
- it's structured, so it's easier to provide things like an API without wrapping it around a scraper and hoping for the best.
WhatCharacter wants to provide a navigable directory of literary characters, and eventually other things that are represented in literature, such as places, events, species, and artifacts. And it wants to provide this under an easy to adopt API so it can easily be integrated with the sites I mentioned above.
If you'd like to contact me for more information, please email me at email@example.com.
Coming Soon by Jacob Silvia
WhatCharacter is a project I've been mulling around in my brain for a while. It's my answer to something I think is missing from the Internet. Something not provided by IMDb, LibraryThing, Goodreads or Shelfari (and I don't mean partial or complete ownership by Amazon).
I'm in the final stages of finishing up an initial release. I hope to have something up by August 1. Closer to that time, I might just write a post describing what exactly it is.
Please follow this blog for updates. If you would like to contact me for more information, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.