New year, new interface: The E Club+ is mobile!

12/30/2013

A while ago, we introduced +Mobile for The E Club+, a small link on the bottom of each page that led users to the beta mobile site. Unfortunately, it didn't work too well: half the content couldn't be viewed, the login functionality didn't work too well, and the site looked ugly overall. So we phased +Mobile out for the time being, waiting for when The E Club+'s host, Wall.fm, would release a mobile interface like it said. Finally, a few days ago, +Mobile was re-introduced.

This time, we're getting the mobile interface right. Now, only mobile (specifically smartphone) users can access +Mobile automatically for a more seamless site all around. Since +Mobile was built for the platform, it and all of its features work perfectly in the new interface. In short, The E Club+ members now have a clean, good-looking interface if they choose to view it on mobile devices.

We are still testing and improving this interface, but for now, it works very well and can be accessed automatically by going to http://plus.theeclub.info on smartphones. I am happy to say that both of The E Club's social networks now have mobile interfaces.

I hope you enjoy The E Club+'s new +Mobile feature!

Updates on the ClubIt! Platform

8/08/2013

Cross-posted on The E Club World Blog.

Today, I am very happy to announce the release of quite a few new updates on the ClubIt! Platform. But before I get to that, here's what the ClubIt! Platform is all about and how it started.

History

When The E Club Social was first started, it needed a sharing button like all of the major social networks have. So, the ClubIt! Button ("ClubIt!", short for "Share this on The E Club", was going to be another name for The E Club Share) was born. It allowed members of The E Club Social to share websites or pages on The E Club Social's News Bank. Soon, we realized this technology was very basic and had to be upgraded. The E Club then partnered with the social sharing service AddThis, which began the ClubIt! Platform and the idea that the ClubIt! Button could replace all sharing buttons, such as Facebook's Like button, because the ClubIt! Button allowed anyone to share content on just about any social network. AddThis worked well for a while, until the platform became so important that we needed to customize the sharing menu (we designed and still design the buttons), which wasn't possible with AddThis. So, we found a new partner: AddToAny, an innovative social bookmarking platform.

The E Club quickly adopted AddToAny as the new base of the "ClubIt! OS", which powers the buttons and their innovative sharing menus. Instead of AddThis, which provided limited ways to brand its technology, AddToAny provided many ways to customize the sharing menu (and, of course, the button itself), and it even encouraged the customization of the sharing menu with CSS. Plus, we were even able to add options to share to The E Club Social and The E Club+ to the button. But there was one problem - the CSS and JavaScript we added to improve the button's design and functionality was just added on to the code of each individual button, so it was very hard to synchronize all of them when we released a new update.

Finally, we found a solution to this problem, and in September 2012, we released the new ClubIt! Button, where the CSS and JavaScript codes we added to the button were put in two files hosted by The E Club. The sharing menu also had The E Club's minimalist designs running alongside its latest technologies.

Since then, the ClubIt! Button code could be found on The E Club+ since it's our latest social network, and ClubIt! is a social sharing button. But today, we have an update that changes that.

What's new

Since writing the "Exploring JavaScript" article on WebAspire, The E Club's web design & technology blog, I learned a little more about JavaScript. Not much, but enough to write basic web applications. Yesterday, we took that one step further when we began writing the ClubIt! Button Designer - a dynamic HTML (DHTML) document we wrote in Notepad, the basic Windows text editor. Originally, we planned to have the Designer be on The E Club+'s ClubIt! Buttons page via iframe, but when it glitched, we decided to have it be its own standalone page. Now, you can get the code for a web-based ClubIt! Button, copied to your device's clipboard, in two clicks. We will be integrating ClubIt! for Blogger and WordPress.com in the future.

With this innovation comes another: The ClubIt! Button's sharing menu has been slightly redesigned. Each button is now equipped with the latest technologies, as well as awesome new designs. For example, there are two tabs at the top of each sharing menu: Share and Email. The Share tab lets you pick a service to share a website with, and the Email tab lets you select your e-mail client so you can e-mail the link of a site to someone else. Before, even if you were on the Share tab, the Email tab was wider. That doesn't make sense! Now, the menu detects which tab you're in and makes the button for that tab bigger - CSS3 transitions included. The menu also has an awesome new icon for the Email tab; before, it was an envelope, now it's an "@" sign with a completely transparent background.

And one more thing - two awesome new button designs are now available for websites at the Designer - Square Button Reloaded and Metal Square Button. Square Button Reloaded is inspired by The E Club Family's minimalist designs (a thin green plus sign and a thin gray border), and the ClubIt! text is in Open Sans. Metal Square Button is inspired by app designs such as that of iCloud. It has an intriguing metal background with dark gray text. The new buttons are now available for use on websites at the ClubIt! Button Designer.

We hope you enjoy these updates to the ClubIt! Platform.

Innovations in Video Chat Technology

5/18/2013

Cross-posted on The E Club World Blog.

When The E Club Social was just a few weeks old, The E Club partnered with OpenTok, an open-source video chat provider, to create a video chat service. It was, and still is, called VideoResort, and 20 people can chat at a time. That's more people per session than Facebook's video chat service and Google+ Hangouts can have combined.

When The E Club+ was created, the same technology (and name) was passed on from The E Club Social, and +VideoResort was created. It was exactly the same as The E Club Social's VideoResort. Now, since we believe video chat is the future of social networking, we took the OpenTok technology behind +VideoResort, modified it so that it looked more like The E Club+, and made it easily accessible for all members of The E Club+ using an overlay. A basically-new service needs a new name, so we renamed it +LiveChat.

We are still testing the new design of +LiveChat (hosting it on The E Club might possibly have some technical difficulties), and if we have to, we'll revert the +LiveChat screen to the old design that VideoResort uses. Besides the design, there is no difference between the modified +LiveChat and the original VideoResort screens. Either way, members of The E Club+ can now instantly access free, instant video chat with no plugins required.

We have invested a lot of time in the OpenTok platform because video chat is changing the way people share online. Many social networks already have video chat, but The E Club Social's and The E Club+'s allow up to 20 people to chat at a time. And this is just the beginning. We are already looking at ways to further integrate video chat technology throughout The E Club Family, and we're starting to add +LiveChat WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communications), which provides browser-based, high quality web communications, to +LiveChat for Google Chrome users (where WebRTC is stable).

We are looking forward to what we can do with +LiveChat technology, and we hope you enjoy it too.

Update: The +LiveChat interface has been reverted back to the original interface due to stability issues.