Today we’ve rolled out an update to the category and search results page on all the Nexus sites and I’m quite excited about it. I think it’s really good, ergo if you don’t like it I’m going to be upset. So like it. Or else.
The general premise for this update was to have a single page from which you could find all the content people have added to the site quickly, easily, and seamlessly without the need for excessive page reloads or jumping between category selections, search pages, tag searches and so on. Now it’s all centralised in to one page with the ability to customise what you see and how you see things extremely quickly.
Lets start from the top of the new page and work our way down; beginning with featured files. Featured files are why, as a mod author, even if you don’t think your file has any chance of becoming a “hot file” (or it’s past the time cut off for your file to be eligible) you should still create a hot file image for your files. Every 10 minutes every category will get a new “Featured file”. It looks a lot like the hot files on the front page of the Nexus sites but the difference is every file is eligible to be a featured file. Our server-side script will iterate through all the files in your file category to ensure that every file has absolutely equal exposure; your file cannot be a featured file again until all the other files in its category have also been featured. And only files that have a featured image created for them are eligible to be selected, so if you haven’t setup a featured image for your files yet you need to do so by going to your images and creating a “hot file” image. This isn’t the same as a “background” image, so if you don’t like the background image system or don’t want to use it then the two are separate; you can have one without the other.
There are infact two “featured file” lists; one for the category your file is in and one for the “all categories” selection which shows when the user is browsing all the files on the site. So that means your file gets the chance to be featured two times per rotation of the file database.
As a user if you’re not a massive fan of the featured file system or if you don’t use it and would rather gain some more height space for your mod browsing then you can click the green “Hide features” tab button which will hide the features section for you. If you’re logged in then the site will remember your preference so if you leave the page and come back later the featured file section will still be hidden. If you’d like to see the featured file again all you need to do is click the “Show features” button and back it comes. And once again, the site remembers your choice.
We also understand that you might like to see some of the files that were recently featured on the site that you missed and that’s what the “Recent features” button is for. Click it and you’ll be taken to a page that shows you the past 20 files that were featured in this category, so just over 3 hours of featured file backlog you can catch up on per category.
Moving on you’ll notice we’ve split content between “Files”, “File news” and “File images”. The files tab contains information specific to files. Your bread and butter file search results.
The file news tab will display news articles that authors have written for their files. We added the articles system to files about 10 months or so ago and it’s been used well by mod authors. Not only does it allow you to keep your users updated with your progress, thoughts and opinions and gain valuable feedback but it’s also a great way to increase exposure for your files. We’ll no doubt revisit the system in the not too distant future so you can subscribe to your favourite mod authors and be kept up-to-date with what they’re writing about. So I’d recommend making use of this system wherever possible.
The file images tab is an additional feature we’ve added to the sites that allows you to browse mod image galleries without having to go to the mod page itself. Click a mod in the file images tab and you’ll be presented with a pop-out box with a slide-show gallery script so you can scroll through all the images that have been uploaded for the file. If you’re one of those mod users who likes to look at mods before you read about them and download them then this feature is for you.
Whether you’re on the file tab, file news tab or the file images tab the results you see are all affected by the filters you choose to the right of the results. If you’re currently looking at files in the Armour category, if you switch to the file news or file images tabs you’ll only see news or images for files in that category.
When browsing your file results you’ll notice that we’ve gone back to providing you with two ways of showing you results; block view and flat view. Nexus veterans will remember that before we updated our site design we originally had these two separate views but changed to flat view so that we could focus our time more easily on supporting one format. Now we’ve got two dedicated web programmers for the sites we can go back to supporting both methods, and the method you choose is totally up to you. You can quickly change the view mode by clicking the green “View” tab. Just like the “hide features” button the site will remember your viewing preference if you’re logged in. We’ve also upped the number of results per page from 10 to 30 to better fill the space made available through these changes.
And lastly we come to the new search, sorting and filtering options that allow you to drill-down into the database to find exactly what you’re looking for. Situated to the right of the file results are all the options you’ll need to find what you want, including the ability to search by file name, words in the description, author/upload name and sort your results by all the previously available parameters plus one more; the random parameter. Much asked for over the years the “Random” sort by filter will show you a random selection of mods using the other variables you’ve selected. So you can search for random armour mods that have images uploaded and aren’t tagged as skimpy or anime. Easily. Click the button again and you’ll get another random set of mods.
We’ve included quick attribute filters for files that have images uploaded, files that are considered NMM compatible (because the author hasn’t turned off the NMM compatibility switch for his files) and adult files, and because everything is done seamlessly through AJAX rather than new page calls you can quickly turn these features off and on without a page reload. The filters you select will be saved as you move between categories and even into search results so you don’t have to constantly click the same filters each time you run a search.
Finally, we’ve also added the three main saved preferences in to your member area preferences section so you can edit them at any time; these preferences are whether you want to see featured files, your default view between flat or block mode and the default sort by order for any file searches or categories you view (e.g. most endorsed first, or most recent first).
As per my recent blog post
this new page will form the backbone of a centralised Nexus and our attempts to make finding mods as easy as possible. We’ll add an extra parameter to the filters on this page for the game you want to be browsing making it be extremely easy to look through, for example, the latest New Vegas mods and then quickly jump to see the latest Fallout 3 mods without having to go through a load of different mouse clicks to get there.
We’ve tried our hardest to optimise the code as well as we can to get the best server performance out of it but we’re not going to know how it’ll affect performance for sure until we actually put this live on the sites and see what effect it has. The worry is, because everything is done without page reloads it makes it very easy for you to press a lot of things quickly and send lots of requests to the server. We don’t know how the servers will hold-up until we actually apply the code so we’ll be monitoring how the servers cope throughout the weekend and if things get bad and we think it’s because of this new code we’ll revert back and wait until we’ve transitioned over to the new database cluster. Once again, I’m told that’s any day now. Either way you’ll have some time to try it out and let us know what you think.