Trying Visual Status Indicators for TRU Writer

It’s exciting to see some applications of the SPLOT TRU Writer tool. TRU English prof Ken Simpson has two sections of his courses using instances made for each class:


We are set to let another group of computer science students manage another site aimed at being on online journal for undergraduate research. And I’ve done yet another for a TRU academic research journal. I understand why meta data aficionados and catalogers like Open Journal Systems, but the systems always feel onerous and the way papers are presented look… so much like paper.

TRU Writer was the second SPLOT I worked on and really set the stage for the others. I’ve written a number of posts on it, but what we are doing is giving access to people to write WordPress content without having them to learn the innards of WordPress- they compose in a form that allows them to select header images, compose with the rich text editor, add tags/categories and other information.

This also means writers need not make accounts, and they can credit themselves in whatever direct or indirect means they choose. Goodbye FIPPA problems.

They first time they click to save a draft, what the code does is create the written work as a Draft. Once saved as a draft, they can preview via a link that opens in a new window, they can then edit, save draft again. All the work is saved, each time.

The final “submit” button does not publish it (unless the admin for the site allows direct publishing); the status gets changed to “In Review” and is not visible on the public site until an editor or admin user publishes it.

I’ve seen a number of times where someone does a few rounds, but never submits that last time. Maybe they thought they were done. Maybe they changed their mind (oh, in that case I need a delete button?).

So I sat down the other day to try a few more visual indicators, and adding a status message to the top right and bottom right of the form. The first view has a blue-background, and a status of “not saved”.

write new

If any error checks are triggered, the background changes to annoying pink, as does the status indicate there are problems (“Form input error” so friendly).


If the draft passes the error test, then we change to a green background, and the status indicates the time of the last save and a count of how many iterations have been done (rounds of saving drafts):


writer status 2

The colors may not be optimal and can easily be changed (I will probably match the colors in the alert boxes), I am just curious if this helps at all.

Give it a go? (access code is “tru writer”) (tricky, eh?)

The other question that comes up is that once it is submitted, the author can no longer edit. That’s what happens when there are no logins. How can we let you edit it? One way might be is to allow someone to put their own key phrase (like a password) that would unlock it. Of course if they forget that, well there’s no way we can send your password without asking you for contact info.

I’ve thought too that I could generate a unique URL with a hashed code in it, that if entered later would bring the writing back into the form. This would mean the writer has to know to save some cryptical URL.

This is doable, but is it necessary?

But it’s a SPLOT? S is for Small (or sometimes Simple). This is not intended to be a full blogging tool, the idea is to do the writing outside of it, and come prepared to publish in a single session.

Simple. Simple. Simple.

About cogdog

I bark about and play with technology and web stuff. Harmless. I have my shots.

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