ShareEdmonton updated with support for blogs & news releases

shareedmontonToday I am very excited to share with you the latest release of ShareEdmonton, my ongoing effort to build a platform for finding, filtering, and sharing Edmonton-related content and information. When I launched the site back in 2009, I said: “I want to redefine local media and improve Edmonton by embracing the fact that communication is increasingly taking place online.” While I still haven’t achieved my complete vision for ShareEdmonton, today’s release is another big step in the right direction.

The first thing you’ll notice if you have been using ShareEdmonton for any length of time is the new design. I decided to embrace Twitter Bootstrap as the foundation for the website’s layout and styling, a decision I am extremely happy about. With Bootstrap, the site is responsive and mobile-friendly, lightweight, and standards-compliant. It should look great on an HD screen, a mobile phone, and everything in-between. Another UI-related change is that Google Maps has been replaced with Leaflet and Open Street Maps.

The majority of the work in this release was done behind-the-scenes. For instance, I completely revamped the the way ShareEdmonton imports data so that it is more automatic and much more reliable. Another big change is the underlying infrastructure – ShareEdmonton now runs completely on Windows Azure. This is the kind of thing that is transparent to the end user but means that I can spend far less time worrying about servers and much more time adding new features!

Speaking of new features, there are a bunch in the latest release:

  • Blogs! You can now use ShareEdmonton to keep up-to-date with local bloggers. More than 100 blogs and 10,000 posts have been indexed so far. I have focused on blogs that update fairly regularly, but I know there are many, many more that should be included. You can add blogs here. There are two primary views for blog posts: the visual view and the headline view (which shows posts from the last week).
  • News Releases! Similar to blogs, ShareEdmonton is now indexing news releases. There’s a lot of room to improve, but so far about 20 sources and a few thousand releases have been indexed, including every City of Edmonton news release since January 2009.
  • Event pages have been updated with the new visual view, similar to blogs and news releases. I think it’s a much more enjoyable way to browse what’s coming up. Also, you can now add your own calendars for ShareEdmonton to import automatically.
  • The weather page now supports watches and warnings. If Environment Canada has issued a watch or warning, you’ll see it across the top of the weather page, but you’ll also now see a notification icon on the toolbar across the top of the site, no matter what page you’re on.

There are also dozens and dozens of bug fixes, data updates, and other small improvements.

I’ll be writing more about some of these new features over the next week, but for now, take a look and let me know what you think!