Saturday, December 13, 2008

Visual Book Designer Released

Today I've finally released the next version of my Visual Book Designer gadget. It's a visual outlining tool for designing new books and manipulating existing books. This isn't a major release in that the basic architecture and operation of the gadget hasn't changed in any significant way. However, a number of new features have been added. Here's a brief list:
  • Added support for collections. You can create a collection (personal or public) from your new book outline, or you can load the TOC of an existing book and create a collection from that.
  • Added AJAX automation, although right now it's for admins only because it's like a beta test and could be very disruptive. You click the Create link, and the gadget will automatically create all the pages in your outline using any text you've specified.
  • Simplified adding subpages and page headings, so you don't have to use an edit box. Just click the [ + ] link to add a new subpage or heading to the outline.
  • Smoothed out the interface a little.

Here's an image of the current interface. Basically, you just click on anything you want to change, input the new values, and save them. I've put in a lot of effort to make this user-friendly and interactive, so I would love to hear about any feedback that people have with this. Maybe I'll post a short tutorial about how to use the tool in the next few days. Eventually, I would like this, or something like it, to be featured prominently as a tool to help our users make new books. There's a long way to go before this is ready for always-on deployment, but it's a decent tool to use right now. Check it out and let me know what you think.

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