Questionnaire Responses

Questionnaire Responses

Hi guys,

first of all thanks a lot to all of you who took the time to fill in the questionnaire and sent me their feedback. I replied to all of you and I would like to now talk about some of the commonly asked questions.

Many of you suggested interesting features. Sometimes they cannot be done because it is technically not possible (for example one of you asked if Meteotemplate could be used as a desktop application – this is not possible, web applications work completely differently and none of the existing code could be used for that), in other cases they were interesting points and so I added them on my to-do list.

It is sometimes difficult or rather impossible to please all. I sometimes get completely contradicting opinions about how things should be done – just to give you an example again, one of you asked for more options for setting up the homepage. Then I got another suggestion I should decide more things myself so that the setup page is shorter and simpler. In such case I just have to decide one or the other.

Very often I also have the problem that adding one feature would mean removing a different one. Again examples – adding drag&drop feature to setting up the homepage layout – this is explained in detail below. Another example is possibility to use blue color for min temperatures, red for maximum (and similar suggestions). This again is a problem because people often don´t realize that many people use for example the blue/red color scheme and it would not look good on their site, even though if you in particular use a different color, it is ok. And theoretically, I could make it so that for red/blue color scheme it does not apply, but… but don’t forget there is also the feature where the visitors of your site can change the theme themselves via a cookie, so to do this you would also have to disable this feature in the main settings – and so we have the same problem – we are disabling features to enable different ones.

If I were to say one thing/topic that I will concentrate on the most based on all the responses, it is customization. Even though you already have very wide possibilities of setting up the template, obviously there is still potential for more.  Some of you might argue that making the settings page too long is not good, but I have to disagree with that because you can always just leave everything to default and just click “Save” – and this will have the same effect as if I chose all this myself and didn´t include it in the settings (the default is what I would use). So including it means people who are ok with default can set it up very quickly, but people who want to customize it more have the option to do so.

Below is a list of commonly asked things and my explanation why it is problematic.

I want to emphasize that the points below are only the things where it is not possible, which however does not mean I rejected all your suggestions of course 😀 Many of them I added on my to-do list and sooner or later you will hopefully see them implemented in the template, though for some things I will still have to figure out how exactly it will work or how to do it.

Visitor counter

This is a common question. Using a visitor counter is something you really should try to avoid. Why? First, it slows down your page, some people will have this blocked by different scripts –but most importantly – visit counters are something I call „the internet of the 90s“. They were very popular in the past, but today, every professional will tell you you should never include this. Knowing how many people visit your site, which pages, how long, where they are from – that all is absolutely essential  to know – but it is essential to know for you – the webmaster! Not the user! This is why Meteotemplate has integrated Google Analytics, which gives you very detailed reports about everything. There are dozens of reasons why you should however not show it directly on the page (not to mention that let´s be realistic – our sites will not have millions of views and so is it really something you want to show to your users? And sometimes I also see people with visit counters which show over 30 people online nonstop – which obviously just means their counter is unable to filter out bots. Other “internet of the 90s” things include animated GIFs allover the place, as many colors as possible, fonts with 3D effects, large shadows and animations. If you absolutely want it, you can of course add it yourself, but I would highly recommend you don´t do it (just google it and read about why in detail) and keep your website professional looking and looking as a website from the 21st century 🙂

Improved wiki/instructions

It is difficult for a developer to write the wiki because I have to try think like a “normal user”, which does not always have to be accurate. I might explain things which are obvious and likewise I might skip things I think are easy and they are not. I always welcome any suggestions as to what exactly should be changed. The best would be to make a video tutorial, but that is impossible because screen capturing is very demanding and my laptop is absolutely unable to do such thing so this is not an option and I have to rely on examples in the wiki and text.

Plugins in mobile version

The mobile section includes those pages, which were (and were possible) optimized for small screens. Some pages simply can´t. Your template is not like an “average website” – it has lots of graphs, maps etc., things that cannot be simply cut in half and placed on a new line. And if you make the graphs/maps too small, they are also useless. I therefore only included those pages that form the core of your template – current conditions, forecasts etc.

The fact you can choose the homepage layout also means I cannot use libraries such as Bootstrap – in such case I would have to decide the layout myself, I would be able to set the scaling for various screen sizes, but you would lose the possibility to choose the homepage layout.

There is one more thing that I need to emphasize – “mobile version” does in no way mean this is the page you should look at if you use a smartphone or a tablet. This should rather be called “small screen version”. Today´s smartphones and tablets will most likely be absolutely ok with displaying the “desktop version” just fine, so you can of course use that and in the Main settings you can specify, what screen size will be the threshold for displaying either mobile or desktop. The mobile version will then only be displayed to people with smartphones with very small screens where if I included the plugins in the mobile version, the pages would be unusable anyway.

Using plugin as a block and vice versa

Definitely not. They are completely different scripts with different purpose. Block is a small “widget” for your homepage. It must be compact, and must not be too demanding because you are loading many of them on a single page. Plugin on the other hand, often consists of several separate pages and shows lot of information and is included in your menu.

Additional parameters in alldata table

This is a problem. The alldata table includes the default parameters – those that everyone has (with the exception of solar, which is optional). Some people then also have other sensors – but not all and most importantly – the sensors and their combination they have is very diverse. This means that the table would have to be made particularly for you, with the parameters/sensors you measure/have. The scripts which then use the data in the alldata table, need to know what those parameters mean to use the right units, axis scaling, min/max on graphs, decimal places, icons etc etc. And – you must not forget that every single extra column will make a difference to the loading times. So theoretically you could add extra columns, but it would slow down your page. The page would still work fine, but you won´t see the data on the website because the template does not know what you added, what it is, how to treat and display this.

Translations not perfect

Yes I am aware of this. Unfortunately there probably is no way of solving this problem. The reason is that every single language is slightly different. The template is primarily made for English, it can be translated, but because the translation is done word by word (or sometimes phrase by phrase), it will sometimes need different word order, different word endings etc., depending on language used. Really the only way to solve this would be making a separate script for every language. Given there is now over 25 languages I am sure you understand this is absolutely not realistic for me to do 25 scripts for everything, not to mention the fact that I do not speak all those languages to know how to program the other version. I try my best to make it at least understandable, but perfect translation is only something companies like Microsoft with their Windows can afford…

Automating update/installing of blocks/plugins/template

Very common question. Theoretically yes, this is technically possible, but there is one fundamental problem. The problem is that sometimes people have all sorts of permissions in different folders. What this means is that there would be three possible scenarios:

  • update process would proceed flawlessly
  • update process will fail completely -> you would need to do the update manually just like you do now

Those two are ok, but it is the third one that makes this impossible. The third one is the case where only some files are updated in some folders. This would lead to a total mess and incompatible scripts, the site would most likely not work at all and it would be very difficult to then revert it back because you wouldn´t even know what exactly was updated/changed etc.

Another problem with this is that for some reason, some people cannot access my site. It could be either problem on their end (provider´s firewall) or my end, I really don´t know, but I know that some people cannot load the latest block versions etc. And with regards to auto-updates, people often copy files into incorrect folders and if this script was then executed from an incorrect location, it could have severe consequences on the functionality of the entire page.

Drag & drop for homepage layout

Yes it would and in fact that’s what I wanted to do initially. Unfortunately, I soon realized a problem. This would work perfectly fine for normal blocks, but what about multiple blocks and menu blocks – how would that work – it wouldn’t… So we again have the same problem – because I gave you more possibilities and more features, it also means there are now things that cannot be done. I can now choose – discontinue multiple and menu blocks and implement drag&drop functionality, or leave it as it is…. I think more people would prefer the current state because it takes more time, but the result is better. The other option would mean some things would not be possible and there won´t be any extra features, it would only be slightly less time consuming and easier.  I still think that best solution to this would be a video tutorial, but that is not an option because of my slow laptop.

Once again, thanks to all of you who sent me feedback and I will definitely implement some of it in the future (or at least I will try 🙂 I will also try to add even more customization options for the already existing content. Given there is now over 415 of you and given my limited time and HW, I cannot always guarantee when things will be made available, but I will do my best and what is within my possibilities.





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