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Acorn Arcade forums: News and features: Maybe you should read drobe.co.uk, instead?
 

Maybe you should read drobe.co.uk, instead?

Posted by John Hoare on 04:21, 11/11/2008 | , ,
 
Drobe.co.uk screenshotAnyone reading this will have seen it by now, but just in case you gave up hope (but, erm, kept coming back to us for updates), Drobe has - after a few sparks of life recently - now relaunched.
 
There has been some criticism of the new design; visually, I think it looks great, but then I've always enjoyed websites that are clean and simple and uncluttered. My biggest complaints with the old design were that the masthead looked too busy, and there wasn't enough white space; both of these issues have now been addressed. (Although can we have the logo back in colour? Pretty please?)
 
The biggest advantage to the new site is with the outside links to other articles. Previously stuck in a sidebar to the right, they are now fully integrated into the main article listing - making them easier to see immediately, and also allowing comments. This clearly makes the site easier to run, and Chris Williams has made no bones about the fact that if the site was to return, it needed to take up less of his time. (Co-running a couple of websites myself, I fully sympathise.) This redesign solves that issue - now an interesting link can spark off a decent discussion rather than a full article, and the fact that a lively commenting community can fill in the gaps and make people come back to the site is vital when a site-runner is short on time. Moreover, there's also still room for full Drobe articles when time allows. A win all-round for everyone - or, at the very least, the best everyone was going to get in the current climate, as a return to numerous full-length updates from Drobe seems unlikely at this point.
 
I also personally like the disappearance of the comment and user ratings - I never found them especially helpful, and at times they almost felt like they were inviting trouble, rather than alleviating it. Maybe they'll come back in a future update - the launch article says some missing features are due back soon - but I really hope they don't.
 
Any bad things? Well, I can't say I like the linking of the headline of the launch article to an email address - I don't want my email client appearing unless I specifically want it to, and I don't really feel like having to check the browser status bar before clicking on every link. (I generally solve that issue on my websites by only linking email addresses to actual visible email addresses - but then I am a bit of a boring bastard.) Still, I don't expect this to be a major issue - most headlines will link to external articles or actual Drobe content, rather than email addresses.
 
A bigger disadvantage is the addition of threaded discussion. I've never liked it on websites, as I find it easier to follow all new comments on a discussion at the bottom of the page, rather than having to glance right through the list of comments. This is a personal dislike, though - many people love threaded discussion, and it does have its benefits too. It's certainly not something that would be easy to allow users to switch on and off - threaded discussion discourages the quoting of the previous comment, and so allowing users to switch it off would quickly render some comments unintelligable.
 
Still, overall, it's a great redesign. It would have been easy to give up on the site completely, or have unrealistic expectations of how much time you would actually be able to spend on the site to keep it running properly. The new look allows the site to be quickly updated, for commenters to keep the site interesting with new discussion - and also allows full articles to be posted as and when time allows. It's just great to have Drobe back again - hell, I haven't used RISC OS in ages, but I still drop in, because there's usually stuff worth reading there, external link or not.
 
And that bloody awful creased paper background has gone as well. Result.
 
On a TIB note, the irony is not lost on me that this is only the sixth article we've actually published on here this year. The idea of us being qualified to comment on how another site does is slightly laughable, admittedly. So feel free to laugh away - although we should have a fourth installment of our Building the Dream articles up soon.
 
  Maybe you should read drobe.co.uk, instead?
  monkeyson2 (15:55 11/11/2008)
  moss (16:28 11/11/2008)
  andypoole (16:41 11/11/2008)
  druck (13:34 13/11/2008)
    VincceH (15:11 13/11/2008)
      helpful (18:14 18/11/2008)
        monkeyson2 (18:24 18/11/2008)
          filecore (20:01 18/11/2008)
            andypoole (10:31 19/11/2008)
 
Phil Mellor Message #108743, posted by monkeyson2 at 15:55, 11/11/2008
monkeyson2Please don't let them make me be a monkey butler

Posts: 12380
Well, I can't say I like the linking of the headline of the launch article to an email address - I don't want my email client appearing unless I specifically want it to, and I don't really feel like having to check the browser status bar before clicking on every link
Yes, I think it's rather unintuitive to link to external sites or e-mail addresses from the article title. Instinctively I click on the article title to read the comments.

Perhaps Drobe should follow the OS News style - a brief paragraph with the external link embedded in the text. (Although, unlike OS News, I think the article title should link to the page including comments).

Other than that, I think the new design is fab. Much better use of white space, decent sized fonts, and it's dead quick.

On a TIB note, the irony is not lost on me that this is only the sixth article we've actually published on here this year.
Don't worry, we'll have the traditional "Merry Christmas" paragraph soon! That'll keep us going until March. wink
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
John Hoare Message #108748, posted by moss at 16:28, 11/11/2008, in reply to message #108743

Posts: 9346
The headlines linking to external sites I wasn't sure of at first, but I got used to it VERY quickly - it just takes a small adjustment in my head and I don't have a problem with it. It's just email addresses I don't like - I don't want my mail client booting up unexpectedly.

But yeah, I love the rest of the design. Pretty much every issue I had with the old site has been fixed.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Andrew Poole Message #108752, posted by andypoole at 16:41, 11/11/2008, in reply to message #108743

Posts: 5552
On a TIB note, the irony is not lost on me that this is only the sixth article we've actually published on here this year.
Don't worry, we'll have the traditional "Merry Christmas" paragraph soon! That'll keep us going until March. wink
Surely the obligatory "Happy New Year" one comes before then wink

Andy.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
David J. Ruck Message #108771, posted by druck at 13:34, 13/11/2008, in reply to message #108743
Member
Posts: 8
The article should be "Maybe you should read the Iconbar instead".

The new drobe is awful, visually unappetising (a sea of grey with no pictures), minimal content (off site links rather than any new articles), and difficult to follow (threaded comments which you have to scrutinise a tiny data stamp to find out which are new).

I left the dead drobe in a tab on my work machine's browser for 6 months hoping it would come back, but where as the old site could sit proudly alongside BBC News, the new one wont be.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
VinceH Message #108772, posted by VincceH at 15:11, 13/11/2008, in reply to message #108771
VincceH
Lowering the tone since the dawn of time

Posts: 1583
The new drobe is awful, visually unappetising (a sea of grey with no pictures),
I don't think it's awful - it's just that we're not used to its new look. However, I must admit that when I first saw the beta version it did put me in mind of the sort of page you get which contains just textual click-through adverts - eg the default error page on my sites (which I haven't changed) or what some hosts might serve up if the customer hasn't yet uploaded any 'real' pages.

minimal content (off site links rather than any new articles),
It appears they've taken the smaller news snippets (which were top right on the old Drobe, and linked offsite) and integrated them with the main headlines - and in doing so gave you the ability to comment on the smaller items. I'd call that an improvement, TBH.

and difficult to follow (threaded comments which you have to scrutinise a tiny data stamp to find out which are new).
I definitely agree that's a bit of a pain. I like the Icon Bar (maybe you've heard of it wink) method of threading. Works quite well.

Overall, although I'm not keen on the threading and the layout/colours, I do think it's improved: It's quicker and it allows commenting on smaller news icons - and if it's easier for Chris to update then that has to be a good thing.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Bryan Hogan Message #108794, posted by helpful at 18:14, 18/11/2008, in reply to message #108772
Member
Posts: 187
Has no one else noticed that Drobe now has an option to view the comments un-threaded in date order, like it used to be?

And it's had 18 updates in 3 days, what's a bit of grey to worry about amongst all that newsy goodness big smile
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Phil Mellor Message #108795, posted by monkeyson2 at 18:24, 18/11/2008, in reply to message #108794
monkeyson2Please don't let them make me be a monkey butler

Posts: 12380
Has no one else noticed that Drobe now has an option to view the comments un-threaded in date order, like it used to be?
Yes - very useful.

And it's had 18 updates in 3 days, what's a bit of grey to worry about amongst all that newsy goodness smile
There's less grey now too - the banner is in colour! smile
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Jason Togneri Message #108796, posted by filecore at 20:01, 18/11/2008, in reply to message #108795

Posts: 3867
Yeah, update your damn screenshots, TIB people.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Andrew Poole Message #108802, posted by andypoole at 10:31, 19/11/2008, in reply to message #108796

Posts: 5552
Yeah, update your damn screenshots, TIB people.
Why? The screenshot is right for the date/time it was published tongue
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 

Acorn Arcade forums: News and features: Maybe you should read drobe.co.uk, instead?