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News & Info: WIPS 2.5 Nearing Completion

As we hit the middle of October, it looks like our big overhaul of the WIPS package and its user interface is nearing completion. I'm pretty excited about it too. Some improvements to WIPS are being done - we are completely overhauling the image handling system so it will seem like we gave it a massive injection of steroids. An automatic system for generating AvantGo and WAP content is being added, and the table builder is becoming much more elegant.

But the big news from my side of things is the UI. I've never really been happy with WIPS' current UI. It's fine for what it does and does have some intuitiveness, but there's far too many clicks at times, and the interface matches the look of our old site (and old corporate identity). The logo doesn't even match any more.

The new look takes a lot of different (and frankly, bold) approaches. First we moved to a new front page that is loosely modeled after Microsoft Outlook's "Today" page. Next, we redesigned most of the buttons, positioning and placement of all the form elements on most pages. We restructured how information is presented to our WIPS clients, and made it a lot more easy to quickly create content. And of course, the whole look of WIPS closely matches the look of our current website, and our current corporate id products.

Now if our chief programmer was writing this, he would be talking about other stuff - like all the sweat and tears that went into retooling the engine underneath and then marrying it to the complex designs I've been feeding him. But hey, I'm the design geek, he's the technical wiz.

The first site to get the new WIPS engine should be my long planned vaporware, a site called CoffeeGeek is a "community site" in that it will serve information, opinions, reviews, and intereactivity to the coffee and espresso community online. CoffeeGeek was designed from the ground up to be almost completely self-contained and alive. Once launched, I will not have to do anything to the site (hopefully) other than writing my own column. The site will feature 6 to 8 regular columnists, and everytime one of them writes a new article, the whole site goes electric with the news, and auto updates various pages. When a new review is written by a site visitor, the same thing happens - the front page gets updated, various listing pages reflect the changes, etc. But there's so much more to the site than just that. I can't wait till it launches.

-- Mark Prince, Creative Director and resident WebMotif Rant and Raver.

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