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Ask HN: Review my Startup - Preceden (preceden.com)
28 points by matt1 on Feb 10, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 46 comments



I really like the design. Good choice for the logo, looks great.

I really think the Timeline editing page could use some Ajax/Dialogs. Instead of going to a new page for "Add Event" and "Add Layer", I think a dialog box popping up with the form in there would be great.

The top padding on your buttons seems to be off. I'm using FireFox 3.5.7 and the text seems to be down by about 5 pixels too many. I changed padding-top from 15 to 10 and height from 30 to 35 to get the button on the right in this screenshot: http://imgur.com/FouGq The one on the left is the original that you have now.

When scrolling through the timeline it would be nice to see if there are any events to the left or right. Maybe even stop scrolling if there are no more events back that far. I kept scrolling back to the 1800s on one timeline because I didn't know I'd already seen everything :P

The yellow helper text at the top is really good for helping me get started. I like that you've put thought into blankstate pages.

I am also curious how you'll monetize this. Any ideas?

I was looking at your FAQ page and noticed this line: "This FAQ page is a work in progress. Chances are if you have a question, others have it too. On that note, please email us if anything is unclear". I'd like to completely selfishly point out my FAQ app, BreezyFAQ.com that would let you manage these easier. There's an "Ask a Question" form on the FAQ page and any asked questions get put into a queue that you can answer, and/or add to your FAQ page.


Great feedback.

Regarding the logo, I used CrowdSpring to run a design contest. In total, it costed $230. I'm really happy with it. I originally was leaning towards a different one, but HN helped set me straight (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1059075).

I just fixed the centering issue--it should render correctly now across all browsers. Thank you.

I think I will add some sort of note or maybe color the years differently when there is nothing before or after the area you're scrolling. It confused a few other folks too.

I ran a bunch of tests using FeedbackArmy, which sits on top of Mechanical Turk, and found a lot of people were confused when they got to the dashboard. I added those instructions, which improved the successfully-added-event conversion rate a lot. It's easy to forget that what's clear to you as the creator is not clear to new visitors.

Monetization TBD.

BreezyFAQ seems really useful. I might just roll my own to allow greater customization, but you're absolutely right in that it could be a lot better.

Appreciate your thoughtful feedback. Let me know if you ever need any testing for your projects.


This looks VERY nice. My only question that I don't see an immediate answer to is whether or not these timelines are embeddable from another site?


Not yet -- this is a minimum viable product of sorts. Once I get the kinks worked out, that's one of the first things I want to do.


+1 to being able to embed. That would be a really nice feature to have and would build awareness for what you're working on. Every time someone embedded a timeline in their blog (or wherever) it would be free advertising.

Looks great, good luck!


That's awesome , it should fairly become popular. I've tried something like this a while ago based on an opensource calendar system, a kind of Win-project for normal folk, I just at some point set the project on standby but this is awesome. Just leave it as simple as it is, maybe an api and allow people to embed, that'll be fine.


I see you went with my favorite icon choice! looks good.


He's referencing this:

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1059075

And yeah, it was a great choice.


Definitely a cool little webapp, and I can see it being more popular as an embeddable widget.

Head scratcher how to monetize, because I don't see your website being a hangout so you can't go with ad supported, and I don't know if it is useful enough to pay for.

You could sell it to evite, meetup etc. maybe. Or some type of project planning community for Gantt charts.


Imagine a timeline for every major event that ever happened in the history of the universe. I wonder if that would be valuable? :)


I'm not sure if you've done this, but I'm interested in some of the details on your venture.

1. What technologies are you using?

2. How long did it take you to code?

3. Is this your full time gig or just a side project that you hope takes off?

4. Do you plan to do any additional marketing/advertising?

5. What are some of the results from your split testing?


Briefly:

1. Ruby on Rails/Heroku/jQuery

2. 3 months. See http://preceden.com/timelines/5-preceden

3. Nights and weekends

4. I'm using AdWords at the moment, not necessarily because I'm hoping it will bring in a lot of users, mostly because I want to learn about AdWords.

5. Too early to tell; just started and haven't received enough traffic for the results to be meaningful.

I have a blog (see profile) and I'll write extensively about these things over the coming weeks.


Thank you for the responses. I look forward to reading more details on your blog.


A couple of questions:

-The time-line on the front page seems to mark major life events. Why would I need a web site to remember when I got married or was in college?

-In hindsight, it's easy to see what events were important (at any level of granularity) but much more difficult as things are happening. How do I know when something is sufficiently important to put it on a timeline?

-What useful information are users supposed to be able to glean from this type of presentation of the data they enter? The example on the front page should show events that are interrelated and the copy should draw interesting conclusions from this. Right now, it seems like each time-line is totally orthogonal, which I can't really figure out the value of.


Hey, good questions:

- You might not be interested in making an biographical timeline for yourself, but consider making for your father or grandfather. If you're like me, you probably don't have a good idea of what they were doing and where they were when they were young. With these timelines, you can get a much better idea of how the events in their lives ultimately led to you.

- And that's just biographical timelines. I'd like to see someone do a Y Combinator timeline, where companies are along the side and the spans of time represent their existence. It's very flexible and I think there's dozens of use cases.

- The level of detail depends on what you want to discover.

- Visualizing time is very hard. For example, imagine a timeline of World War II. There were a lot of moving pieces and simply by reading a block of text, it's not easy to get a feel for how they all relate to each other in time. Timelines, and especially these timelines, make it much easier. My hope is that people will build and discover timelines that make them go "Ah, I get it now."


Your last example is exactly the type of thing that should be on your front page (see the end of my third question above). If you're trying to show how the service would be useful, present a time-line of something that would be difficult to understand or appreciate if presented another way. Most people (I assume) are pretty intimately familiar with their personal time-line.


I'm waiting for someone to build it so I can feature it on the front page. In time...


i don't know...i just entered my own and....it's strangely fun to look at. once.

unless you could automatically gather this information from facebook? that'd be sweet.

i do think the biggest add is the framework, both embeddable (after creation through a choice of gui and api) and as a js library. i think you'll be hard pressed for folks to pay for this, but you can likely cover costs by asking for donations. this looks more to me like something that you'll eventually open source and use as mad cred on your resume. i'm already thinking, hey this guy/gal is cool. what's he going to work on next? maybe it'd be fun to work together.

then again, what do i, a developer, know about business. maybe you can charge for the embed stuff, especially the non-dev create pathway. developers are just not likely to pay for this....unless there was a super awesome premium ui capable or automatic detection<---but see i'd rather use your api with my own auto detection. would love to do a beta with you.


Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase. Martin Luther King, Jr

It's very early, and I plan to work on this for the long haul, so we'll see.


Awesome! But the "length of time" displayed is always "NaNy NaNm NaNd" (Chromium for Linux).


Fixed -- thanks.


I see that in Chromium on Linux, but I do NOT see it with Chrome on Windows 7.


I see the same NaNy on Chrome 4, Windows 7.

It's an excellent idea, good work!


I don't see any prices. How much will this cost, and what structure are you using? Freemium?


Free for now, likely some sort of freemium model in the future depending on how things go. It's too early to say for sure.


This looks great. I can see this being used as a new resume format.


Sweet, can I use this to build a resume?


You can use it for whatever you want.*

* Assuming its legal.


One slight correction: on the FAQ for "What is Preceden", your answer includes the word "let's", which should be "lets".

Also, on "Are They Private", you use the word "this'll", which I get as vernacular, but isn't a recognized conjunction in any of the dictionaries I checked.


Got it. Thanks.


Looks awesome! I need to be able to zoom in/out though. It would make for awesome Gantt charts.


Eventually the dates will be dynamic, so you can base the start of one event on the start or end of another event, which opens up a lot of possibilities.


I've been looking for a timeline app over the last few days, but something with an API.


API down the road for sure.


chrome, mac 10.5 : i wish i could scroll horizontally using my macbook's mousepad (two fingers moving horizontally). i assume this doesn't work with a mouse wheel either, but i'm not sure. the click-and-drag method is less good, plus whenever my mouse leaves the square, unclicking does nothing...


also, it would be great if i could edit each event right on the timeline. that is, i want a single page for quick edits. the form could be below the timeline, activated whenever i click on an event or layer. whatever. if things take to long to edit to make right, this will waste too much time.

ps - i do like it. always a pleasure playing with data viz.

API? would love to incorporate this in my own time tracking projects.


Don't worry about it. Your feedback is perfect. The fact you're thinking about these types of things is a really good thing.

A few other folks have mentioned editing right on the timeline too. My question in response is: how often are you going to be editing an event? If the answer is not often, I think that the clutter that will result from integrating it directly into the timeline will outweigh the benefits from being able to edit it a bit quicker. That being said, it may be possible to do it in a clean, simple way that doesn't confuse people.

API -- in the future, definitely.


true, but what happened to me was that i was off by a bit on my times and i wanted to change that.... and then i had to change all four events. what if i wanted to go back and change colors for everything. you know, being a nerd i want everything to be exact and meaningful ;-) it's not a big deal, but you do want to reduce activation energy as much as possible for your users.

also, i wanted to see the times of events already up there to help me enter new event times.

i only know this is important because i went from using project management tools like xplanner http://www.xplanner.org/ to pivotal tracker pivotaltracker.com/ i had to use the xplanner, etc tools for a few months to realize how much they sucked. i immediately loved pivotal tracker, wrote rave reviews, and recommended it to all my friends (i even got my sister using it for thesis writing, which isn't a dev project management use at all). one big win for PT is putting the view and editing all on a single page. i didn't realize how great that was until i used it. might not be right for you, and you definitely have to work out how to make it not confusing.


i wanted to see the times of events already up there to help me enter new event times.

I want the same thing. I was waiting for someone else to validate it. Thank you.

I'm not sure if its a good or a bad thing, but I haven't played with any other timeline software yet. I'll check those out, note the strengths, and go from there. Appreciate it.


Thanks, that's a good idea. I'll see what I can do.


cool. i'm really digging this tool.

more usability requests:

* automatic scale adjustment, or at least continuous or more fine grained scale adjustment. i'd like to see all events at once...somewhere between years and decades.

* reordering of events, or automatically ordering based on start times. this only matters when i view a large time scale and the titles don't fit on the bars, thus the events from a single layer cause the events to be laid out on different rows. i suppose abbreviating the titles so they do fit in the bars would be another solution.


Someone else recommended a "fit" zoom level, which would place them all on your screen at once at just the right resolution. I think it's a good idea too.

Reordering events so that you can change the order they are rendered might be possible. Again, I worry about feature creep, since I don't know if this is something that will matter to a lot of people.


Interesting, I've always assumed the long form of "Jen" was spelled "Jennifer" rather than "Jeniffer".


I've seen it both ways, but I changed it just for you.


<3


Looks great!




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