Plugin Considerations

When designing/writing software, or I suppose any kind of engineering for that matter, there is always a tension between features and complexity.  I really want this Simple Series WordPress plugin to be simple and easy to use.  But, as I use it more and more I find there are some possible features that I wouldn’t mind having.

For example, my DrawBot series is at 43 posts at this moment.  The problem is that each post, no matter how short, now has an entire screen-length’s worth of a list for the series. 1  Now, there are several possible ways to handle this:

  • I suppose when I’m looking to design a UI, the most important things to focus on is what would the user expect to see and happen.  It certainly makes sense for there to be a uniform series list in every post.  But, it seems slightly inelegant to have it that way for every single post when you’re looking at an entire page.
  • I could modify the plugin so that it would only create a list once per page, rather than once per post.  I suppose subsequent instances could then provide a single link to the series list in the initial post.  I think this would be non-intuitive as a person navigated the page.
  • I could modify the plugin so that it only showed the current post plus X posts before and after where X is some arbitrary number I choose.  (Although, I’d probably make it user specifiable).  I’d have to dig into some fancy scmancy CSS to define a different start-number for the HTML ordered list, but this isn’t a huge problem.  Ideally, it would say there are Y prior posts and Z subsequent posts as well.  Then again, it is really helpful (at least to me) to be able to click back up or down through a series list.

Perhaps the optimal result is something in between?

  • On a page consisting of a single post, the entire list should be displayed.
  • On a page consisting of multiple posts, the subsequent lists should be truncated in some meaningful fashion.  Perhaps the last and subsequent X posts, with a little sentence indicating Y more prior posts and Z more subsequent posts.  When you click on the “Y more prior posts” it could take you to the first instance of the series list on that page and when you click on the “Z more subsequent posts” it could take you to the next post listed in the series on the first instance of the series list on that page. 2
  • Sadly, this system would not really change much for the RSS feed readers.
  1. I can’t even imagine how much text is devoted to just the series list on those DrawBot posts in your RSS feed. []
  2. Um.  This sounded a lot clearer in my head as I typed it than it probably reads. []

One Response to “Plugin Considerations”

  1. MTO says:

    I like the idea of just having the last few and the next few in the list, but I think that being able to jump to the start and end of the thread quickly isimportant as well.

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