Mashing up the InfoWorld explorer

I've tweaked the iwx half of the iws/iwx combo. Some changes respond to feedback (thanks!), others reflect an evolving sense of what I'm trying to accomplish. Here's an update.

The tagline (no pun intended) for iwx was originally metadata explorer, then tag explorer, now I've gone back to metadata explorer. Although dynamic filtering of tag sets is the most obvious thing that iwx does, it also filters along three other axes: article type, author, and date. As was clear from Phil Windley's comments, that wasn't discoverable enough. It still may not be, but I've labeled the four metadata columns as filters. I hope those labels, along with the toggle this labels that pop up when you hover over any value in these columns, will help clarify what's going on.

Greg Oros reminded me of the worst flaw in the original version of iwx. It reported months, not days, in the date column. "I would like to see the full date, if possible," Greg wrote. The reason I didn't originally report full dates was because filtering on an individual day wasn't useful, so I filtered by month instead. But of couse these strategies aren't mutually exclusive. It's perfectly feasible to report the day while filtering by month, and that's how it works now. Note that continuous filtering, a la Oliver Steele's (see this screencast), is another possibility. If someone wants to take a whack at it, please do (see below).

Expanding out to full dates also solved one of iwx's worst problems. The rows are sorted by date, but with date restricted to month only that was not very useful. Now all iwx views present a true reverse chronological timeline, which is a huge improvement.

The iwx dataset was originally based on InfoWorld-tagged articles. In iws, two tag sources are combined: InfoWorld articles, and my own blog entries. Now the latter are included in iwx as well, and that roughly doubled the size of the dataset.

There are still open issues on the data side. InfoWorld has twenty blogs now, and mine's the only one with tagged entries. It would be nice to include the others, and if at some point they're tagged, I will. I also need to ask our IT guys to provide me with a heads, decks, and leads feed for those blogs, so they can have expanding previews (in both iwx and iws) like the rest of the stuff does.

There are also a bunch of open UI issues. Dick Weisinger asked about searching for tags, as well as freetext. "If I know the tag name already," he writes, "I want to search for it." Now, there is an advanced way to accomplish this advanced task. In iwx (as in iws) the URL-line is fully composable, so you can just type, e.g.,

But that's a strategy only a geek would love. Should I offer tag search and text search side-by-side, a la Flickr? Probably, but I want to go slowly here because it's hard enough clarifying the relationship between iwx (navigation) and iws (search).

Like Phil Windley, Thomas Burg asked for "an alternative view based on tags (tagcloud), with faceted browsing afterwards." Although I don't think I'd find the combination of two unconstrained tag clouds very useful, you might, and it would be nice to provide the option. Again, however, there's the question about how to provide it in way that's discoverable but not overwhelming.

There are lots of experiments worth trying, and I'm not the only one who can try them. I'm delighted to report that there's already been one iwx mashup, courtesy of Mike Parsons. He scrapes the iwx metadata, and loads it into an AJAX application that does lightning-fast incremental search. Try it! It is, as we New Englanders say, wicked cool.

In order to make things easier for Mike, and to invite others to play along, I'm providing an XML dump of the iwx metadata at this URL:

Let's have some fun!

Former URL: