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Welcome to Workspace!

By Jay Garmon Contributor ·
The following message was sent via e-mail to our latest group of TR Insiders. If you didn't receive the mail (lousy spam filters), you can review it here at your leisure. If you did receive the mail, you can skip directly to Workspace testing via the link at the bottom of this post.

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Greetings TR Insiders,

If you're receiving this mail, it means either you're a veteran TR Insider who has been recalled to active duty (Oz, Apotheon, HAL, good to see you), or a new recruit to the ranks of TechRepublic's most trusted and influential members. The TR Insiders have access to a private, for-your-eyes-only forum that will allow you to preview, critique, beta test, and directly shape TechRepublic's feature development. There's no obligation to participate, but if you do, there will be some tasty TR swag in your future (except for Maxwell Edison, who would rather work for free).

Participation involves testing Beta versions of TechRepublic features and giving us honest, helpful feedback. It also means keeping these features secret until they're ready for their world debut. In the meantime, you can talk smack about all things TechRepublic safely within the confines of the TR Insiders forum, located here.

It's been a while since TechRepublic has rolled out some new features and functionality for you to poke and prod, but we hope our latest effort will make it worth the wait. Our most recent creation, the TechRepublic Workspace, is currently in Beta.

The Workspace is designed to answer some of the most common requests and complaints we have received regarding a few of our new community features. "What do I do with Links?" and "Why should I update my Profile?" being some enduring classics of the genre. Workspace is where we pull it all together via four key components: Suggestions, History, Enhanced Links, and Projects.

Suggestions is a mix of TechRepublic content (including downloads, discussions, and blog posts) collected just for you based on the data expressed in your TechRepublic Profile. No longer will you need to search for TR content of interest to you. TechRepublic will find it for you.

History is a checklist of selected actions you've performed on TechRepublic, allowing you to backtrack and find interesting content you've already consumed and want to revisit.

Links is the lynchpin of the TR Workspace, allowing you to save and tag any of the Suggested or Historical content for future reference. You can now also mark selected Links as Private, preventing sensitive documents or content from being shared with the larger TechRepublic community.

Projects is where we kick it up a notch, allowing you to build a more narrowly focused version of your TechRepublic Workspace. Projects allow you to specify tags that will filter content for you. Would you like suggested content that relates only to VPN and security, rather than your entire list of Profile interests? Set it up as a Project and view only those results. You can also save content within the Projects via our Links feature. So if you find a great download that you want to mark and save for later, you can save it within your "VPN Security" Project so you can easily find and refer to it again.

We'd like to invite you to test Workspace and answer four questions for us via the TR Insiders forum:

What do you like about Workspace?
What do you hate about Workspace?
Would you use Workspace, and if so, what for?
What would you change about Workspace?

Yes, these are very specific questions, but feedback like, "I hate it," or "I love it," really doesn't help us refine and enhance the product.

And speaking of enhancements, we have big plans for the future of Workspace, like including content from around the Web and providing collaboration features that allow you to use Workspace as a group.

Please take some time over the next week to check out the Workspace. Create a project or two and post to the TRI discussion about your experience. We appreciate your time and effort in helping us make TechRepublic the best it can be.

Sincerely,
The TechRepublic Community Team
(Stephen Howard-Sarin, Pete Spande, Shawn Morton, Beth Blakely, Jay Garmon, Paul Cook, and Bryan Peabody)

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You can find Workspace here:
http://techrepublic.com.com/5265-6257-0.html

This conversation is currently closed to new comments.

136 total posts (Page 1 of 14)   01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05   Next
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OK Jay

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to Welcome to Workspace!

As I'm on the wrong side of the International Date Line I'm most likely one of the first to see this I'll have a play and get back to you with my thoughts.

After all who needs sleep? :^O

Well it's now 90 minutes latter and just pushing 1.30 AM local time and I like it very much. A nice interface, easy to navigate even if it did list a few of the questions that I asked in the TQ & A section a long time ago of course the ones that I'd prefer to forget so who rubbing my nose in it?

It's very easy to work around in without any problems should be an improvement particularly if the TQ & A Section is given a similar overhaul at the same time.

The only question that I've got is "Why is it necessary to update your User Profile?"

Anyway I'll have a play around and see if I can break it and let you know. If and what goes wrong.

Cheers

Col ]:)

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Like I always say...

by Jay Garmon Contributor In reply to OK Jay

If HAL can't break it, it can't be broke.

Honestly, we're still tuning this thing and have a list of revisions as long as my arm, but we wanted to get 1.0 in front of some trustworthy eyes (and Oz, too) before we got too far down the road. I'm curious to see if you break it in the same spots we do.

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Let the games begin

by DKlippert In reply to Welcome to Workspace!

I'm glad to see a forum devoted to polishing TechRepublic.

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Glad to have you in it

by Jay Garmon Contributor In reply to Let the games begin

It's a relief to know there are users who care enough to help us whip the site into shape. We can't let those mangy kids over at Slashdot have all the fun.

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I Like it

by DMambo In reply to Welcome to Workspace!

I like the projects page. I created a couple just to try it out and it seems pretty convenient. Why do we need to add a tag to everything? That just adds an extra bit of typing after adding a title and description.

It would be good if you could limit or toggle the display of the number of items such as Suggestions and History to 0, 5, 10 etc items on the page.

A general comment on the discussions, it would be nice to see a "Return to Top" or "Next New Post" button for some of the larger threads. Either that or frame the discussions so the text can be read while still seeing the location in the overall thread.

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Tagging drives suggestions

by Jay Garmon Contributor In reply to I Like it

The keywords you use to tag your Project dictates what items will be suggested in that project. The keywords you list in your Profile will dictate what you are offered in the main suggestions. Tagged Projects let you focus on narrower topics, ratehr than the whole gamut of your Interests and Technologies.

The Suggestions display preferences is an interesting idea. I'll pass that along to engineering to see how much of a bear that might be.

As far as the Discussions view goes, that entire page is slated for a major redesign early next year, and a Next New Post option is definitely on the short list of likely new features. If you have any other strong opinions about the Discussion page redesign, feel free to start a new thread in the Insiders forum and we'll get the discussion going now.

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Yes, Next NEW would be huge!!!

by Surflover In reply to I Like it

and a more persistent status of what you'd already read would be nice too...

Some of the posts I started would lose the status of the posts I'd read when I'd get back to them (espescially if it had been a few days since it had been addedto, like the "major innovations" one...), and I'd have to guess what I'd read and not... (and some were fairly long and consumed a lot of time looking at posts I'd already seen)

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First Impressions

by CharlieSpencer In reply to Welcome to Workspace!

The layout is cleaner and easier to read. Unfortunately, I don't see much else to get excited about.

I'm not sure what the purpose of Projects is. It looks like a text file. I've already got Word, Notepad, Wordpad, Outlook Notes, and OneNote and a blog if I wanted them too. What's the advantage of another place to capture text data?

Most of the Workplace page is taken up with Suggestions and History, topics that have their own tabs. Why duplicate them here?

Suggestions looks a whole heck of a lot like the New Discussions page.

History looks like a cross between My Discussions and My Links with a face lift. I never used Links, since I don't know what the advantage is over just adding the URL as a Favorite or Bookmark.

Will the new features eventually replace the old ones they apparently duplicate, or will they be additions?

What would I use Workspace for? Probably nothing, but maybe I'm missing something here. I'm sure my fellow members will explain it to me.

I'd love to see a way to drop topics from the My Discussions page. I dislike having an ancient discussion reappear on the list when someone posts "Me too" six weeks after everyone else has abandoned the topic. I'd really love to see an option to spell check something before I post it.

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Great questions...here are the answers

by Jay Garmon Contributor In reply to First Impressions

"I'm not sure what the purpose of Projects is. It looks like a text file... What's the advantage of another place to capture text data?"

Projects is intended to be a place to organize your Web-based research, so that it's always accessible from any Web browser. You can assign any saved Link to a project, and also have the project suggest new links to you. It's sort of like a Web-surfing secretary that helps you keep track of certain subjects. Later, we're going to add collaboration tools so you can open up Projects to multiple members.

"Most of the Workplace page is taken up with Suggestions and History, topics that have their own tabs. Why duplicate them here?"

The layout needs work, we agree. The Workspace is intended to be a dashboard of the other new components, but the design probably doesn't communicate that very well. The Suggestions and History on Workspace are abbreviated--showing only the latest/best stuff--while the Tabs show a complete view of both lists.

"History looks like a cross between My Discussions and My Links with a face lift."
History doesn't track all your site activity yet--we have some cookie issues to resolve--so your results are probably a little unsatisfying right now. In the future, History should allow you to backtrack to any item you read or downloaded at TR and, a little further down the road, any third-party content that TR suggested to you. Not to worry though, you will be able to shut off the tracking at any time by logging out.

"I never used Links, since I don't know what the advantage is over just adding the URL as a Favorite or Bookmark."
Two reasons. One, so the Favorites aren't locked up in any one browser on any one machine. Links can be reached from anywhere with a Net connection. Two, we're going to start using Linking behavior to evaluate Web content, so if large numbers of TR members save a Link, the implied value will be made visible and will factor into the Suggestions algorithm.

"Will the new features eventually replace the old ones they apparently duplicate, or will they be additions?"
A little of both. For the last eyar, we've rolled out several new Community features and let them soak. We learned a lot from that, and Workspace is where we take that knowledge and use it to *integrate* the new features into the site, rather just jam them onto the list of features, like we did with Blogs. I know that doesn't precisely answer the question, but the honest answer is that we don't know yet. Some features will be replaced, some won't, but everything will center on Workspace. Which feature falls in which camp will largely be determined by you guys.

"I'd love to see a way to drop topics from the My Discussions page. I dislike having an ancient discussion reappear on the list when someone posts 'Me too' six weeks after everyone else has abandoned the topic. I'd really love to see an option to spell check something before I post it."

This goes along with our Discussion Page redesign scheduled for early next year. We plan to make managing your subscribed discussions much easier, and you are far from the first person to ask for a spell check (Hi, Oz). We should definitely start a separate thread on that redesign so we can get all these ideas into the conversation.

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I'll have to take a second look

by CharlieSpencer In reply to Great questions...here ar ...

Based on your replies and appy's post, there's more going on here than I'm comprehending. I'm still not sure how these pieces are fitting together. I've never worked with a collaboration tool, so I'm not getting that aspect of Projects.

Would I seem too ignorant if I asked for some screenshots or examples of how this all ties in together? Am I the only one who can't figure out how to come up with relevant, meaningful tags? How about a system of anti-tags, words that when specified cause a topic to be rejected / blacked out / not appear?

Is there a way to switch a project from Private to Public, or is that choice locked in after creating the new project? How do I access someone else's Public project?

If linking activity is going to be a driver of future content, is there any way to speed up the process? I frequently bookmark articles but only tried Links back when I first joined. I found the process to be too slow. I usually only visit TR from work and don't take advantage of the multiple machine aspect, but I'd hate to lose the opportunity to provide indirect feedback to the suggestions process.

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