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Ask HN: Please review our placemarking site - Amidst (amid.st)
42 points by wooster on Apr 14, 2009 | hide | past | favorite | 38 comments

Here's some tips from on your mapping site, from a guy who's been there and is there :)

1. Don't spawn a new page for Google Directions. You can show directions on your site and your map:

directions = new GDirections(map, gel('directionsId')); ... directions.load("from:" + startLoc + " to:" + endLoc); })

2. You should use a little ajax to fetch waypoints on pan and zoom. For example, using YUI:

GMap2.prototype.getSurroundingData = function () { size = this.getSize() center = this.getCenter() var dataURL = '/get_quadrant/' + center.lat() + '/' + center.lng() + '/' + size.width + '/' + size.height + '/' + this.getZoom(); var cObj = YAHOO.util.Connect.asyncRequest('POST', dataURL, { success: function(o){ this.fetchQuadrantCallback(o)}, scope: this });

3. Use the new Google zoom control, instead of the old one you use: this.addControl(new GLargeMapControl3D(), topLeft);

4. Use a function to clear input boxes (such as your search box) when they are clicked:

function clearInitialValue() { this.value = ""; this.onclick = null this.style.color = "black"; }

I have other suggestions, and if you are interested email me at andrewljohnson [AT] trailbehind [dot] com.

All good suggestions, thanks. :)

My friend and I have been working on this site for a little over a year, and decided it was finally time to pull the trigger and go live. So, HN, you get to look at it first. :-)

The concept is basically "Delicious for places". It's a social placemarking app, meant to make it easier to keep track of the places you like, want to go, etc.

Rather than encouraging long-winded reviews of places, ala Yelp, we want to encourage people to just keep notes on places. Also, ala Delicious, we want to make it as easy as possible to get info into and out of the system via RSS feeds, an API, etc. An iPhone app is on the way.

Suggestions and feedback would be greatly appreciated. :-)

I was hoping something like this would come along. I'm always looking for new places around me and usually keep an eye on the Yelp reviews coming into EveryBlock (Not so much for the opinions they have about their experience, just that it's a new place to try).

Would be nice to set a default location for a little activity stream of my neighborhood so I can get an overview of what's new. It's nice to see what's happening in New York, but cafes, etc. are more dependent on location than Delicious bookmarks. A default location would also help when using the map; I have to click in three-or-four times to get to Los Angeles each time I want to add an existing place to my places.

(First off, Im not a big early adapter or regular web 2.0 site user. So some of these things may not be relevant if you are going for a tech savvy audience)

So immediately I think "Four Square". I see you arent, but that sounds like it'll be your biggest competitor. How you plan to get users on board? B2B? B2C?

Little things: 1) I like the map where I get to click on the bubbles of numbers to a point. But once I zoom in on San Francisco, its a little weird to still have bubbles over neighborhoods. At that point I'd rather just see a list of the top places on the bottom, with pointers ala Google that change as I scan through the list.

1.a) ah, and when I got too close, all the bubbles just go away. How do I actually find the places? I thought it would be through the map...

2) The white check is a little confusing for "I want to see it" Can it be a totally different icon?

3) Ah, was worried I would have to remember the address of the place I added. Love that you have ACCURATE suggestions. :)

4) Rating with the stars is a bit tricky. I love that you do %, but I was momentarily confused when it scanned back down even after I clicked.

5) Super easy to use, congrats. Your UI is clear and concise - I was able to post with ease.

6) Do you have a phone app? In the works? That seems like it would be your most important thing. I would never think to do this sitting at home, but I would definitely do it while just leaving a restaurant, or sitting in a park with friends.

1) Yup, looks like I need to tweak that a bit. Showing a list is a great idea.

1.a) Ah, that's probably a bug.

2) Good point.

3 & 5) Thanks :-)

4) Ah, right. I can see how that could be confusing.

6) We have an iPhone app in the works. The site was actually built as a backend for the iPhone app... We're both ex-Apple Cocoa programmers, so hopefully that will be our strong point. ;)

"Bookmark your favorite places, and explore places your friends like to find new favorites."

What? I think this line needs to be rewritten.

Your map is a little confusing for me. Clicking through to Texas shows me 32 places in Austin and 10 in San Antonio. I assumed this meant that there were no places listed in Dallas, but if you continue to click down, 2 show up. I probably wouldn't have gone that far if I wasn't exploring.

On the plus side, the design is great. There was just an article at the top of HN that mentioned being "Pixel Perfect" in web design. Your site is a good example of that.

"Bookmark your favorite places, and explore places your friends like to find new favorites."

Bookmark your favorite places. Explore and find new ones.

Bookmark your favorite places and find new favorites by exploring.

Bookmark your favorite places and find new ones by exploring.

Bookmark your favorite spots. Explore and find new ones.

Share your favorite spots. Explore and find new ones.

Wow, yeah, that is confusing. Seeing it out of context makes me wonder what I was thinking when I wrote that.

And thanks for the feedback on the map. It looks like I've got some work to do there.

As for the design, the credit goes to Metalab for doing a great job: http://www.metalabdesign.com/

Yeps - I also thought the map was a bit confusing to use. It was great until I got to the city level...then it was weird.

I didn't read the catch phrase, but totally agree with you. Thats a mouthful, and it makes me think too much. Something like "Share your favorite hangouts, and discover new ones through your friends." or "Find and mark the hottest hangouts in your hood" Heheh

Not sure why you got down-modded. I agree with you about the maps, and am trying to tweak the clustering algorithm to be a little smarter about which zoom level it's at, how many places are in an area, etc. Also, yeah, that wording on the front page is weird. Oops.

I would concentrate on a mobile strategy. It is probably very difficult to get anyone to placemark anything without some kind of mobile integration. Additionally, you might want to consider adding incentives for placemarking via gaming mechanics. Or perhaps ride the geocaching trend. There are a few iPhone apps that you can use for brainstorming (for instance, check out GoWalla).

Thanks! The site was actually built as the backend for an iPhone app we're working on, so we definitely agree..

Out of curiosity, why the long wait before launch?

Some combination of it not being our only project and not yet feeling like we'd achieved that "quantum of utility" Paul Graham talks about.

I haven't logged in to explore it yet, but the front page is nice and uncluttered. I do have one critique:

Tighten up your front page to really make it stand out.

I viewed it through a 20" iMac, so I've got plenty of screen real estate. First time visitors shouldn't have to scroll to get to the bottom bar and the /places/all resource is hidden below the scroll as well.

Love the nice clean interface, couple of points:

1. Definitely go mobile

2. Detect my location and immediately show me stuff nearby (there was a geolocation database on HN recently)

3. You're making me zoom in too much with those nice aggregated bubbles, at some point I just got tired

4. Socialight built a nice community, but they don't seem like they're going anywhere (incidentally they're based in NY too!) - they do some good things, like mobile strategy but the interface is hard.

5. Don't force the sign up before someone adds content, let them add content and then ask them to sign up or provide an anonymous nickname

6. Placemarking and location based services is a massive but very hard and less understood market, keep innovating and develop based on feedback - community is very important!

Re 5:

We did this on our new startup, and had a few complaints we are dealing with now. Just to make sure you avoid them:

1) if you redirect them to a signup page, make it SUPER CLEAR that their post/content wasn't deleted, that it is being stored until they register.

2) give them an alert as they are writing that they will need to be logged in to actually add it.

We had users complain that it wasn't clear that logging in would add their post, that they were afraid all that work had been deleted and it made them not want to continue. That wasn't the case, so we just had to add a little note, but still.

(We're also working now on just a lil ajax box that floats up above the post asking you to login, so you can see that your post is still there...)

Re 2

You could also use the google maps geolocation feature. You could implement that in 10 minutes. I agree it would help a lot, I clicked around for two minutes or so and couldn't navigate the site to non-clustered content near me in that time.

Here's how we do geolocation:

GMap2.prototype.displayHomeMap = function(geo_locate) { if (geo_locate && google.loader.ClientLocation != null && google.loader.ClientLocation.latitude != 0) { center = [google.loader.ClientLocation.latitude,google.loader.ClientLocation.longitude] zoom = 6 } else { center = [39.25, -96.6669]; //center of the US zoom = 4; } this.updateMap(this.baseMap.nodes, null, center, zoom, null) }

Thanks for the ideas! Especially #5, which triggered a discussion between us on how to do this the best...

So having taken a quick look through the site, here is my feedback:

1) Great look and feel, very nice and clean.

2) Process is simple

3) Not a fan of the single percentile fine-grained rating. At the finest I'd do half stars, but really I spent a good 10 seconds trying to rate my favorite comedy place 100% and could only get 99%. So I'd say roll it back to 5 stars or just half stars.

4) A small pet peeve: Just put the USA at the top of the country list. Your greatest majority of users are going to be from there.

5) Copyright is out of date, it says 2008 in the footer.

And to be honest I'm not sure why I'd use this over Yelp right now. I understand your separation, one is for reviews and long-winded info, but I mean even with an iphone app I don't really see any added value for myself.

Ah, yeah, all good points. The 100% thing is definitely a bug, and the USA thing is annoying, I agree.

Nice design. I suggest using Twitter to mark the most talk about/popular places. Then those who want to go rate it themselves will add to what the crowd has said.

If this can be done efficiently using Twitter search then the data is automated and makes your site more interesting because content is indirectly being created via Twitter.

Good and simple UI. I would use it.

Bug: I created an account and clicked on 'settings' in the top right, and my email address displayed in the "city" field.

Also, both the city and the password fields had a green background initially, but once I clicked in them the green went away.

Also, the "Upload New Place Photos" page doesn't have a back button.

Thanks, I'll try to figure out what's causing those problems.

I had an error trying to signup for the site. Here is the traceback posted on dpaste.com - http://dpaste.com/33427/plain/

It ended up that I was registered fine, but I still saw the error rather than be redirected.

Ouch. Thanks for the error report. Should be fixed now. :)

Try to make it easier to rate a place. Seemed like there was at least one extra step there. Also, go with a 1-5 star system with halves in between.

When looking at the "all places" map, it would be nice if I could enter a location and zoom to it. Cool concept, I like it.

Good job.

Don't know if it's been said but I get an error message (from Mal the duck) when I click on the link to your blog.

Are you using a geospatial database?

Yup, PostGIS. Also using GeoDjango.

Then your stack is exactly like our stack: www.trailbehind.com

We're more focused on hiking and indexing existing information on the net.

It's cool to see other developers ideas in this space.

Very nice. Looking forward to the iPhone app.

One issue: on the 3rd most zoomed level no markers show up.

Good idea, though when I tried to sign up I got an error page titled:

KeyError at /signup ...

Wow, that's really weird. I'll try to figure it out.

Edit: Figured it out, I hope. It should be fixed now. :)

isnt this same as plazes ? or am i missing something ?

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