StemQ - 4th Progress Report

in utopian-io •  18 days ago

Repository

https://github.com/irelandscape/quearn
Most development is currently taking place on the develop branch.

Introduction

This post is a new status update on the progress of StemQ, a Questions and Answers application for the Steem blockchain and targeting S.TE.M topics (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

Screenshot_2018-10-03_09-59-22.png

Note that from now on the future progress reports will emphasize focus on all updates related to StemQ rather than Quearn.
Ultimately StemQ is the name of the application that everyday users will know about, while Quearn is the name of the underlying software powering StemQ.
For this reason, it makes sense to promote as much as possible StemQ to the general public rather than the underlying technology which is of concern to app developers.

What is StemQ?

StemQ is a new STEM Q&A application running on the Quearn engine.

Quearn enables Q&A applications, giving them a set of features comparable to Quora and other similar sites but without obtrusive advertisements and banners.
Quearn makes use of the Steem blockchain to store content and reward contributors with cryptocurrency.

Expanding the StemQ / Quearn Community

The last 10 days have seen fantastic developments into our little community.

Several new members have joined the Quearn Discord server which is now showing some healthy signs of life after being quiet for too long.

@driplo has shown a keen interest in supporting the project, providing the first draft of what is now the

Quearn logo

[Credit by @driplo]

@driplo is now an official moderator of the Discord server.

@ziapase and @ristianti have kindly offered to translate previous Quearn (formerly known as SteemQA) progress reports into Indonesian.

@nothingismagick has provided very valuable feedback and advice regarding the Quearn software, and continues to provide support and ideas for the yet-to-be StemQ logo.

Several other users have joined the Discord server. Too many to name in this post but I am grateful for their interest in the project.

First Beta Release

I am now slowly approaching completion of the feature set required for a first StemQ beta release!

With this in mind I am aiming for StemQ to go online around early November.

At that point, StemQ will have a small but functional set of features allowing people to contribute through question/answer posting, commenting and upvoting.
Basic moderation capability will also be functional.

I am slowly working on a Help & Guidelines page which will clearly indicate the objectives of the application, the scope of questions admissible along with other useful information related to Steem in general and new account creation specifically.

Looking for a New StemQ Logo!

Much discussion has been ongoing about a new logo for StemQ on the Discord server.

It is pretty clear that coming up with a new logo that fits the themes of the application is not an easy task.

This new logo should still look good when resized to 50x50 pixels and superimposed on a black or white background.

Currently I am leaning towards the idea of an abstract logo with simple but strong shapes, rather than trying to fit all four concepts of STEM and a hint of Q&A into one single image.

At the end of the day I think people will come to associate any logo with a specific application as long as it stands out and has clean strong shapes.

Should you have any idea for this new logo, please let us know on the Discord server. But please bear in mind that I am only able to provide a very small Steem reward for the selected author.

Non-Software Tasks under Consideration

Of course the success of StemQ will not be solely determined by the application itself.

If StemQ is to flourish and be adopted by a wide community of users it must successfully expand its contributor base, provide quality curation, adequate rewarding and attract the attention of qualified individuals with suitable background in various scientific areas.

To this end myself and those supporting the project will attempt to get in touch with like-minded communities (such as steemstem.io), curation guilds and specific individuals used to participate in scientific content on Steem or elsewhere.

This will be an ongoing activity which I hope will bring credibility to StemQ.

I will now review the new features and improvements implemented since the last progress update.

Development Update

I decided to take a change of direction shortly after the previous progress update.

While I initially intended to start working on searching capability using django-haystack, I came to realize that this feature could take a while to complete.

One complication with indexing blogs on the back-end server is that usually the content itself is stored in the same database as the indexed keywords.

However the Quearn backend database doesn't store the textual content of questions and answers.
Instead it only stores the meta-data required to organize the posts in a meaningful way in the application user interface.

At the same time I also realized that an obvious missing feature was that, as of yet, it was not possible to browse questions by topics.

It became clear that adding some browsing capability to the app would be an easier and quicker task to accomplish. I then decided that this feature should take priority.

With this in mind I set out to work on a new "Topics" page.

Topics Page

As its name suggests, the new Topics page allows users to navigate questions by topics.
By default the topics page shows a summary of all questions across all topics:

Screenshot_2018-10-03_10-00-43.png

The user can order questions by decreasing chronological order (the default), net upvotes or most wanted answers:
Screenshot_2018-10-03_10-02-14.png

The user can also narrow down questions by selecting topics and sub-topics:
Screenshot_2018-10-03_10-03-03.png

Cleaner Comments

Comments appearance has been improved.
Borders and dropped shadows have been removed. This along with buttons being given a flat appearance contribute to making the display less busy and easier to read:

Screenshot_2018-10-02_15-04-42.png

Flat Buttons and More Actions Popup

At the time of the previous progress report all buttons were shown within each question card.
As a result each card looked overcrowded.

To correct this I looked at how SteemPeak had solved the problem and followed their look and feel. Not only do I like the appearance of SteemPeak but following the overall appearance of keye elements would also help SteemPeak users to feel in familiar territory while using StemQ.

Only key action buttons are now shown and less essential actions can now be reached by clicking the "More" dotted button.
Buttons have also been given a flat design to give the card a clean and light appearance.

Screenshot_2018-09-20_10-09-25.png
before

Screenshot_2018-10-02_15-19-20.png
after

Inviting Unauthenticated Users to Sign In or Sign Up.

Guest users attempting to use a feature that requires authentication are now presented with a small dialog inviting them to login or sign up for a Steem acount. Note that the Sign up link doesn't work yet.

Screenshot_2018-10-03_09-44-38.png

Bugs Fixed

Various bugs have been fixed, including:

  • Wrong tag displayed for a question
  • Various rending issues fixed
  • User now sent back to previous page after editing or submitting new post, rather than being redirected to the home page.
  • Temporary workaround for bug introduced in latest Steemconnect SDK

Resources

Series Backlinks

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This is an excellent update. I'm glad to see the decision to focus on StemQ. It seems like a much better defined end-product, with a greater chance of success. The post was detailed, well written, and well illustrated.

However, you don't seem to have closed the center tag after the new Quearn logo, making much of the post harder to read. This is an easy one to fix, of course.

As to the StemQ logo, have you considered making a Utopian task request for graphics? This is a thing we support, and it could help with your issue of only being able to offer a modest reward. Look in the guidelines under "tasks" for the relevant information.

Your contribution has been evaluated according to Utopian policies and guidelines, as well as a predefined set of questions pertaining to the category.

To view those questions and the relevant answers related to your post, click here.


Need help? Write a ticket on https://support.utopian.io/.
Chat with us on Discord.
[utopian-moderator]

·

Hi @didic,

I missed the rendering issue with the

tag but I can confirm that I definitely closed that tag.
So it is for sure a bug with the markdown renderer used on this site, though of course I should have noticed it straight away.
Anyway, I've removed the
tag all together to avoid any issue.

Your suggestion to have a look at the Utopian task requests is definitely a good one.
I'll have a look at it very shortly.

Thanks!

·

Thank you for your review, @didic!

So far this week you've reviewed 17 contributions. Keep up the good work!

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