1.2 Gwulo.com - new features | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

1.2 Gwulo.com - new features

Later in 2021, I plan to spend time adding new features to the site. Here are some of my early ideas. I'll also welcome your input - please leave a comment below with your thoughts.

NB These are just ideas. I can guarantee not all of them will be implemented!

A. Better ways to navigate lots of content

Back in 2010 there just over 4,000 pages on Gwulo. We ended 2020 with over 44,000 pages. Are there ways to make it easier for visitors to find what they want?

A.1 Filters on maps?

The map of Central is good in that it shows how many Places we've documented, but it's very crowded. Could we add filters to let the viewer narrow down what they'd like to see? eg by year?

A.2 Find photos by location

On facebook recently I saw a question along the lines "Does anyone have any photos of Cameron Road in the 1950s?". Yes we do, but to see them we have to go to the map, click on the markers for Places along Cameron Road, visit each Place in turn and look at their photos. Could we have a map where when we click on a Place we see all the photos immediately, without leaving the map? Or drag to outline an area we're interested in, and see all photos we have of Places withing the outline?

B. Improve tagging

B.1 Allow users to add tags to other user's content

You might post a photo and tag it tram, but I might spot a rat bin on a lamp post and want to tag it rat bin as well. Can that be done?

B.2 See whether the Synonyms module helps avoid the problem of having multiple tags for one meaning

We allow users to create their tags. This often means we end up with multiple tags for a single meaning, eg: 2nd world war, Second World War, WW2, wwii, WWII, etc. Can the Synonyms module help avoid this?

C Help users follow their interests by tailoring what they are shown

C.1 Follow everything

This is the way the site currently works, with the What's new page showing everything that has been added to the site. For many readers that means they see a lot of pages they aren't interested in. e.g. when I look at the "What's new" page now, it shows a mix of posts with several about family history, several about ruined military buildings, and several that are a mix of other topics. I guess that most of the "family history" readers aren't interested in the military ruins, and vice versa.

C.2 Set up a fixed number of broad interests

Could we group content by some broad interests, eg:

  • Military
  • Family history
  • Shipping
  • Buildings
  • Photos
  • Other

Would users prefer to see a "What's new" for one of those topics than for everything? (There would still be the "everything" option for those who prefer it.)

Who would assign the content to the groups?

How would content be added to multiple groups?

C.3 Or use tags?

Then show a "What's new" by tag, eg show a what's new for all content that's been tagged pillbox, or tram. or ...

C.4 Or set up individual interests?

I'd somehow flag what pages I'm interested in, and then see a what's new page for them?

C.5 Send alerts of what's new?

So as well as having the "what's new" page that readers can visit, send email summaries of what's new to them on a regular basis. eg a weekly summary of what's been added to the site that matches one of the groups / tags / flagged pages mentioned above.

D Place improvements

D.1 Show what's nearby a Place

I'll often be looking at a Place, and want to see what other Places we have that are nearby. We could show the other Places nearby as another layer on the map, or display a link that takes you to the main map of Places, centred on the current Place.

D.2 Show overlay maps when creating a Place

So when positioning the marker for a map, we can display the overlaid scanned paper maps.

D.3 Allow Places to be connected to Streets

@Klaus: If you want to find places along a street, one feature could be to create streets that are linked to all places along them. So in the same way we have Person "is member of" Organisation, we'd have Place "is situated on" Street.

E. Other map improvements

E.1 Draw a map that can be embedded in a page / comment

We used to have this (https://gwulo.com/How-to-draw-your-own-maps), but it hasn't worked since 2014!

For a simple "share a location" could we use the current maps but with a crosshair displayed?

E.2 Centre map on current GPS location

So if you're hiking, you can centre the Gwulo map on your current location to see if there are any Places nearby.

F. Other

F.1 Show a thumbnail of this Place

Each Place page currently shows a list of photos that the building appears in. The photos often show several buildings, so it takes a while for me to work out one we're talking about. It'd be helpful to show a single thumbnail that shows just that building.

F.2 Show a thumbnail of this Person

Ditto for Person pages

F.3 Show the thumbnail on the map of Places

So when I click on a marker the pop-up shows both the name of the Place and its thumbnail.

F.4 Show a thumbnail of the whole image in the what's new lists

Where photos are displayed in the "What's new", it currently just shows the name of the photo. It would be helpful to see a thumbnail of it as well.

F.5 Show a thumbnail of the whole image in the search results

@philk: A search containing images would be helpful if it returned the actual images rather than just the title. That way it is easier to glance through the results to see if it is relevant rather than having to go into each item to look.

G. Person improvements

G.1 Add place of death

@eurasian_david: From a family history POV, under 'People create' having an option of a death place would be useful since a lot of individuals move a lot during their lifetime. You have birthplace, why not death place as well?

G.2 Show relations in groups and in order

Currently the list of relations (parents, children, etc) are displayed in no particular order. Make it clearer by displaying them in groups and in time order, so parents, siblings, spouse, then children.


D1 would be a useful feature. If somehow the reader can define 'nearby' to vary their search interest that would be great too. Say you are at a particular location. Within a radius of 50metres you would have named hyperlinks to the various nodes within gwulo that will take you to the webpages of these places. Radius of 100m, 200m, 500m, 1km, 2km etc. i.e. these places are located in radius between 0-50m; 51-100m; 100m-200m etc. Hong Kong is very small geographically so the calibrated distances will need to be thought out. If standing in a place in Central, there will be tons of things within a certain defined radius as opposed to somewhere in a remote village in the NT for the same radius. 

Also from a family history POV, under 'People create' having an option of a death place would be useful since a lot of individuals move a lot during their lifetime. You have birthplace, why not death place as well? Easily added on atm. 

I have always thought that a search containing, or restricted to, images would be helpful if it returned the actual images rather than just the title. That way it is easier to glance through the results to see if it is relevant rather than having to go into each item to look.

There are a couple of ideas that I would see as improvements.

A.2 Find photos by location - If you want to find places along a street, one feature could be to create streets that are linked to all places along. Of course, this would mean that many streets have to be created, but that could be done step by step. 

B.2 Similar tags that are synonymous make it difficult to create "collections" (e.g. aerial photographs). When you type in a tag, the website makes proposals, but not always. A Synonyms module might help.

D.2  Show overlay maps when creating a Place  -  I sometimes would like to have this feature, for example when creating a place for a pier that has gone due to reclamation and where a wide road is today. Set the marker and create the place, then view it using an older map. If it's not correct, move the marker and check again. It sometimes needs a couple of tries.

F.1 Show a thumbnail of this Place - That would be an excellent addition. Sometimes I'm lost when I see e.g. a row of houses at the old praya with places added, but which building is which?

@eurasian_david I doubt I'll add an option for radius, at least to start with. The user can easily zoom in or out if they want to change the radius of the search.

Good idea about the death place - it will be interesting to show the movements of people who lived in Hong Kong then moved overseas. I've added it as G.1, and also added a new G.2.

@phil if you use the image search in the sidebar (Directory > Images & photos > View, or https://gwulo.com/view-atoms), that shows thumbnails of results.

It'll be good to show thumbnails in the general search too. I've added that as F.5

@Klaus thanks for the feedback on which suggested new features you will use. It's good to hear that, to help prioritise the work. I also like the idea of linking Places and Streets, and have added it as D.3

Thank you all for your replies and ideas. If any other ideas come to mind, please leave a comment below.

It is not possible to create nor edit events, this would be an excellent feature on the "atom page".