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Denise ([staff profile] denise) wrote in [site community profile] dw_biz2010-03-29 03:15 am

Desktop/mobile client brainstorm post

Many of our Google Summer of Code applicants have mentioned that they'd like to work on desktop or mobile clients. Since the application phase begins today, I thought I'd post an entry for people to mention what features and functions they consider essential in a desktop or mobile client. This will let our GSOC applicants see the thoughts of people who use the site regularly, so they can work those thoughts into their specs as they build their application.

So, this is a post for people to comment with:

* What features/functions do you consider essential in a desktop/mobile client?
* What features or things would you not want a desktop/mobile client to do?
* What are things you've loved and hated in clients you've used previously?

It's okay to answer separately for both desktop and mobile clients, since the two are only very loosely related. The more feedback you can give, the more it will help our GSOC student applicants as they design their application.
damned_colonial: Convicts in Sydney, being spoken to by a guard/soldier (Default)

Desktop client features

[personal profile] damned_colonial 2010-03-29 07:26 am (UTC)(link)

* supports multiple logins
* shows userpics (doesn't just give a dropdown, but shows you the picture itself)
* lets you save drafts (including metadata, not just the post body)
* supports posting templates (including metadata)


* too much WYSIWYG -- must allow me to type markup by hand
azurelunatic: A glittery black pin badge with a blue holographic star in the middle. (Default)

Re: Desktop client features

[personal profile] azurelunatic 2010-03-29 04:57 pm (UTC)(link)
Again with Semagic, I like being able to switch quickly between regular mode and WYSIWYG mode. (I used to post long chat logs private, with multiple <_< and similar emoticons which needed escaping. I suppose I could have done a search-and-replace-all, but I was being lazy.)

Re: Desktop client features

[personal profile] chrismm - 2010-03-30 06:47 (UTC) - Expand

I shall go for the dislikes.

[personal profile] abhishek0 2010-03-29 07:26 am (UTC)(link)
As to a number of any kind of software I have used and experienced, the thing which I dislike is complication. Simplicity of use is the best commodity. Too much fancy only makes it hard for the user, GUI and other features of an app must be as straightforward and to the point as they can be. I myself am interested in doing the desktop client thing and shall keep on checking out as to the views of others.
Bye :)
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[personal profile] azurelunatic 2010-03-29 07:28 am (UTC)(link)
I enjoy it when my client alerts me to new entries on my reading page, because that means I don't have to keep refreshing it in case there is new stuff.

I consider being able to set all of the assorted entry properties essential, even if I don't use some of the settings much (like location), as well as the ability to select a community to post to. It's also necessary to be able to edit previously posted entries.

I like it when the client is able to give me a list of my previously-used tags, although sometimes this does not work well as my tags list is large enough to possibly make a client behave unexpectedly.

I really liked Semagic.

I liked the ability to have multiple draft entry windows open at the same time that Log Jam had.
damned_colonial: Convicts in Sydney, being spoken to by a guard/soldier (Default)

[personal profile] damned_colonial 2010-03-29 07:29 am (UTC)(link)
Ooh, yeah, the tag thing is really useful/important.

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Polling the server

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[personal profile] azurelunatic 2010-03-29 07:32 am (UTC)(link)
Semagic's ability to view and manage friends, communities, and custom friends groups was nice. I used it more than the LiveJournal page, since the LiveJournal page was a nightmare.
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[personal profile] thedivinegoat 2010-03-29 08:06 am (UTC)(link)
This. I haven't used Semagic since I switched to Mac's two years ago, but I loved this function.

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mobile client ideas

[personal profile] damned_colonial 2010-03-29 07:37 am (UTC)(link)
I don't currently use a mobile client but I'm pondering what I would like from one if I did use it.

I'd like it to show my reading page with a mobile-friendly theme. Something creative, not just a scrolling webpage. I can imagine an iPhone interface that's like pages that you swipe through, one entry at a time, for instance.

I'd like to be able to get realtime alerts when someone I'm subscribed to posts something new. BUT because I'm subscribed to too many people, I'd actually like to be able to set that alert thingy to only alert when a certain reading filter has updates. That way I could make a reading filter called "mobile alerts" or something, and my phone would buzz when those people update. (Also, any alert thing should be able to be turned off during sleep hours, like Twitter does.)

I'd like to be able to mark entries to read later, or to comment later. In an ideal world, I could mark something as "comment on this later" and then when I got back to a real computer, I could comment using a real keyboard.

If I click through a cut tag or to read comments on a post or something, when I come back, I want it to remember where I was.

I'd like it to work offline or semi-offline (like when I'm in the subway). That is, it would be great if it could pull down a good chunk of my reading page for me to read, and buffer it, so that I don't get stalled if I'm going through a tunnel.

I'd like it to have support for my Network and for the "Latest Things" page for when I've read all my subscriptions and the bus is REALLY LATE.

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Re: mobile client ideas

[personal profile] orbitaldiamonds 2010-05-20 07:25 am (UTC)(link)
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[personal profile] sally_maria 2010-03-29 09:00 am (UTC)(link)
I loved Semagic - it was the internet thing I missed most when I switched to Linux.

So, obviously the thing I'd want most is for it to be cross-platform. :-)

Apart from that, I liked the ability to pick friends, pre-existing tags and icons from drop-down lists, and the way you can mix your own coding with its buttons for basic journal markup - both Bold, Italic etc and the DW specific ones. It's not that I don't know the code for inserting an image, but it's still quicker to get the computer to do it for you.

Being able to automatically insert what music you are listening to is fun as well.

I want previews to show cuts in place, so you can see what the post will look like both on your friends' reading pages and once they've clicked through.

The ability to post to communities you are a member of was also very useful.

I don't care that much about the circle management options - I don't object, but I probably wouldn't use them.

maewyn: a peeling wooden sign on a brick wall; text: "commit ~no~ nuisance" (commit no nuisance)

[personal profile] maewyn 2010-03-29 04:31 pm (UTC)(link)
Seconding the love for a cross-platform client! In Mac/Ubuntu flavors, please.

I'm using LogJam now (on the Ubuntu machine; I don't use a Mac client), and mostly it could benefit from a DW terminology update. I can streamline it to show only the box where I'm typing the entry, the box for the subject, the mood dropdown, the icon dropdown (though I'd like to be able to see the icon itself, not just the name), and the Post Entry button. That's 90% of what I want a posting client to be like.

I liked Semagic, but I heart the simplicity of my LogJam setup.

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[personal profile] rho 2010-03-29 09:11 am (UTC)(link)
The most important thing for me in a desktop client is that it doesn't suffer from bloat. By this I mean:

1. It shouldn't eat any noticeable amount of system resources.
2. It should load more or less instantly.
3. It should be simple to use.

Essentially, I want a client to be able to sit there open in the background while I'm doing something else, and then be able to navigate to it and start writing an entry more quickly than I could if I went to the update page. Given that I can get to the update page within three clicks and one page load, this means a client has to be sleek and fast for it to be worth my while.
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[personal profile] vass 2010-03-29 09:15 am (UTC)(link)
Cross-platform is good. My desktop runs Linux and my netbook runs XP, and I'd like something that would work on both.

I have a few friends I could probably tempt from LJ to DW if there was a really good iPhone client.

I too really liked Semagic. And I liked LogJam too.

I agree with [personal profile] damned_colonial about too much WYSIWYG being bad.
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desktop client

[personal profile] allchildren 2010-03-29 11:29 am (UTC)(link)
Above all: WORKS FOR MAC.

I loved Semagic, I like XJournal a lot. iJournal is faily and its failures (like random fuckery of html) are probably worth evaluating. I still compose all my DW entries in XJournal and copypasta the results in DW's box, in fact. My perfect client would include:

- simple unflashy interface
- good html preview that shows dw-specific tags and indicates cuts, preferably that updates as I update the text box
- shortcut buttons for link, dw &lj user markup, italics, underline, bold (but not wysiwyg)
- customizable shortcuts/macros
- multiple saved drafts
- ability to switch between accts & post in comms
- ability to edit last entry, including in communities if the last post is yours or if you're a mod
- autodetect music
- poll builder maybe?
- icon manager thingy perhaps?

But mainly that it works on a Mac and doesn't poop out or do weird shit for no reason, that is all I really care about.
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Re: desktop client

[personal profile] pne 2010-03-29 11:59 am (UTC)(link)
good html preview that shows dw-specific tags and indicates cuts

Yes, this: it should show both "cut" and "uncut" forms of the entry (e.g. by showing the cut form by default, and clicking on any cut-tag will show you the uncut version).

It should also render poll code so that you can see what it looks like (this basically falls under "dw-specific tags", but e.g. Semagic didn't support poll code at first).

Re: desktop client

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Re: desktop client

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Re: desktop client

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[personal profile] princess 2010-03-29 12:27 pm (UTC)(link)
Let me add to the chorus of "works for Mac!"
norabombay: (Default)

[personal profile] norabombay 2010-03-29 12:27 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm seeking mobile support:

I use a Palm Treo Pro, running windows mobile. Not an iphone. So something not iphone only would be awesome.

1. A layout that works well with a palm- largely this means that it is a single column and wrap text, rather than forcing side scrolling.

2. Really good autosave. I've got a bad habit of killing a post by mistake when I was trying to answer a call or check email.

Ideally, a mobile ap would be really stripped down
finch: (Default)

[personal profile] finch 2010-03-29 02:12 pm (UTC)(link)
As somebody with a Palm Centro running Palm OS, I'm pretty sure I'm not ever getting an ap. But it would be nice. ;)

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[personal profile] green_knight 2010-03-29 12:37 pm (UTC)(link)
I use Phoenix as my posting client (and would love DW to release the specificiations for the handling of friends/custom groups so that people could implement it; that feature is 'no longer supported' says your server and I'd love to see it restored because right now, none of the desktop clients support posting to custom groups - I looked in the FAQ but could find no pointers.)

Anyway, Phoenix does the following:

- multiple windows
- saving each post individually (though it doesn't save metadata, that should be added)
- entry window fully customisable (a coloured background lets me see which user I'm logged in at - that's a vital feature!)
- easy support for tags and customisable tags

Something I'd like to see better implemented would be the ability to change the settings for the reading/access list, including filters and custom colours.

Because of the way things work (people don't quote in threaded comments, which is a Good Thing) I am having a hard time imagining a reading client, but a feed of new posts (custom colour, poster, subject and first couple of lines, # of comments, comment link) would be a good thing, too - instead of having to hit refresh all the time, only new posts would be fetched, and you could see what's going on even without the time to keep up with your reading list properly.

If ^H When you implement an icon management system, that ought to be part of the desktop client, as well as better tag managing abilities. (Going through the webpage drives me nuts. I want to be able to click on a tag, see the first lines of the associated posts, and edit tags right from where I am.)

And I want this client to be available to a broad userbase, which means it needs to be available for a number of platforms. (This is a longer post I'm planning to make to [site community profile] dw_suggestionsso I shall curb the rant about how users of older computers and non-Windows operating systems are marginalised). I'm only starting in Mac development, so I'd be happy to join a team of people porting software, but I probably won't be too much use ;-)

Oh, yeah: I'm *really* excited at the thought of getting a fully functional desktop client! DW gets better all the time.
fiorelina: butterfly (Butterfly)

[personal profile] fiorelina 2010-03-29 12:54 pm (UTC)(link)
For mobile clients:

- posting and editing entries
- reading page and reading filters viewability
- reading and posting comments
- messaging
- maybe subscriptions and access list editing
( I don't see a need to upload userpics or change the look of the journal or profile in a mobile client)

I stopped using desktop clients. I liked Semagic's functions, though the spartan design put me off.
naraht: (Default)

[personal profile] naraht 2010-03-29 01:39 pm (UTC)(link)
"Works for Mac" is definitely first on my list too. :)
allen: (explosiverunes)

[personal profile] allen 2010-03-29 02:59 pm (UTC)(link)
Disclaimer: I've never used a desktop client, and don't have a need for a mobile client.

From my perspective, there's not a whole lot that desktop clients can do that couldn't be done with a modern AJAX web UI. I mean, it's good to have multiple options, but at the same time if someone were focusing on making a nicer, easier-to-use UI, I'd just assume have them help out on the main web UI than write a new one as a client.

That having been said, 'not a whole lot' doesn't mean nothing. Things that I would like to see in a desktop client:

* Offline posting/draft support. Not that I post all that often, but that's an area that, for obvious reasons, would be better supported by a client.
* Offline reading support. It would be wonderful to have a client that would automatically pull down all new items on my reading page for me to look at later. Especially if it also automatically loaded comments and content behind cut tags.
* Integrated Reading page/Friends list page for multiple sites. Bonus if it includes non-LJcode sites like Twitter and Facebook. (Yes, there are plans to do this on DW, but a client implementation could probably be even nicer.)
* Integration with other applications. IM clients, for instance.

Mobile clients are a different story, since there are a lot of things you could do to optimize for a touchscreen interface. That's the type of thing that I'd be looking for there, if I were in that market: ease-of-use features that couldn't be done just in a web browser with a better mobile page implementation.
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[personal profile] green_knight 2010-03-30 02:09 pm (UTC)(link)
From my perspective, there's not a whole lot that desktop clients can do that couldn't be done with a modern AJAX web UI

- Working offline (extremely important for me)
- Not browser-dependent
- saving individual posts as documents on my own computer
- easier customisation (colour scheme, fonts, custom tags - and all without a) need for more server space and b) increasing network traffic)

And don't underestimate the impact of different UIs for different people's needs. There isn't a single, however fantastic, UI that works for everybody, and the features I love might be the ones you hate - so offering flexibility is an excellent thing indeed.

existence: from (*DEATH takes out his BALL-POINT SCYTHE)

[personal profile] existence 2010-03-29 03:57 pm (UTC)(link)
Throwing in a vote for multiple logins/account, and being able to switch them on the fly quickly: this, more then anything is the functionality I miss from Semagic when I switched from a Windows machine to a Mac. (Being hidden away in a menubar is not the same as being able to just check it/switch in the right hand corner for me. Also the fact that I could add new accounts for it to remember from the login screen I found to be less awkward mentally x a lot.)

Also, while backup abilities aren't strictly necessary and probably can be done by the user from the other backup for LJlike software, I did like having that feature built in XJounrnal. It's nice to be able to go "...oh, right, backup time!" and just be able to go to the menu and do it while you remember if you have my goldfish like shortterm memory.
existence: from (the many faces of a hardboiled dick)


[personal profile] existence 2010-03-29 03:58 pm (UTC)(link)
--and obviously, I mean backups performed on not-the-mobile version of the client.
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[personal profile] kareila 2010-03-29 04:52 pm (UTC)(link)
I gave up on desktop clients a long time ago because they would inevitably crash and eat long draft posts. I haven't had that problem using the update page since autosaving was implemented.

As for mobile clients, I enjoyed using for iPhone before I moved to DW. It downloaded userpics and tag lists, and it supported my most important mobile feature, which is offline composition of posts. Like LJ/DW, it only supported saving one draft at a time, but it was easy to use.
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[personal profile] zvi 2010-03-29 05:54 pm (UTC)(link)
Most of my needs have been mentioned here, but I will reiterate for posterity:

1) Works with Linux (and I personally prefer gtk apps to KDE, but I can hold my nose for KDE.)

2) Has a synced list of tags

3) Supports community crossposting (so I can say that whenever I post to [community profile] examplecomm it should also post to [ profile] examplecomm.

4) If it supports multiple drafts, it would be pretty spectacularly awesome if those drafts could be hooked in with the website based draft system.

5) Reading list/reading filter checking
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[personal profile] noxie 2010-03-30 09:45 am (UTC)(link)
3) Supports community crossposting (so I can say that whenever I post to [profile] examplecomm it should also post to [ profile] examplecomm.

+1 That would be awesome!
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[personal profile] delight 2010-03-29 06:24 pm (UTC)(link)
What everyone else said plus as far as a mobile app goes, "works for Palm Pre." I'm really very sick of the fact that companies making "touchscreen phone apps" only release them for iPhone. There are lots of Pre users and Blackberry Storm users who would also like apps.

[personal profile] swaldman 2010-03-29 07:56 pm (UTC)(link)
Two things needed for mobiles:

1. A good mobile website that works in modern smartphone browsers (webkit, fennec, etc). BUT don't remove the current low-tech one.

2. Apps for popular smartphones. These must allow offline use, with a local cache - at least for posting, ideally for reading - because this is the only real advantage they will offer over a well-designed web-based solution. And PLEASE not just for iPhone. Personally I've love a Pre app, but there are plenty of Blackberry users out there too. What else... Maemo?

Ideally 1 & 2 would be merged, but until we have smartphones that support HTML (or google gears), we'll have to live without that ;-)
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[personal profile] hatman 2010-03-29 10:39 pm (UTC)(link)
Posting from Kindle. First day the mobile site has worked for it. I must object to the idea of replacing the "low tech" interface. A mobile site needs to be stripped down. That's kind of the point of having one.

Also need to make sure that all buttons have alt text for those who disable images to streamline browsing. Forget where I had trouble with that earlier. I miss tabs.

One thing I'd like added is crossposting support. Client side that just means a couple of tickboxes. Right? Major site feature. Tags would be more involved I think. And they could always be edited in later.

Otherwise, I can log in, read, post, comment. All the basic essentials with no frills. Perfect.

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[personal profile] instantramen 2010-03-29 07:57 pm (UTC)(link)
I've mostly used Semagic and DeepestSender to post to DW, and while DeepestSender is convenient for quick posting I prefer Semagic and its more extensive functionality. However! I'm planning to switch to a Mac ASAP so the very most important thing about any client is that it would have to be cross-platform. Other things that are either must-haves or strongly desired:

  • Extensive macro support: Semagic gives me a lot of room to set up my own macros, including letting me override the shortcut keys for the <b> and <i> tags with macros to use <strong> and <em>.

  • Easy access to and manipulation of all available posting options (music, security, comments, et cetera).

  • Preview both cut and uncut versions of a post. Neither of my current clients let me preview the cut version, which is annoying.

  • If possible, preview in my style. This could get complicated in combination with previewing cut versions of posts if you choose to display entry pages in the site style, but it would be nifty and a more accurate preview.

  • Post to communities.

  • Option to update time automatically.

  • Save multiple drafts.

  • Hide and rearrange elements. Example: in Semagic I'd like to be able to remove a bunch of buttons I never use for one reason or another and put all the reduced toolbars on one line, but it won't let me.

  • Minimize use of system resources. I want to be able to leave the client running in the background while I do other things on the computer between moments of entry-editing.

  • Easy to find, view, and edit my previous entries, including in communities I belong to.

  • Persistent settings for things like whether you want to edit in WYSIWYG/partial HTML/full HTML.

  • Write drafts offline with cached info (tags, icons, journal style for previews).

For the time being, I have no need for a mobile client, so no input there. Items are in the order I thought of them rather than importance.
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[personal profile] runpunkrun 2010-03-29 09:37 pm (UTC)(link)
Yay! I've been hoping Dreamwidth would develop its own desktop client. I've been using Semagic for years now and I'm currently sticking with version and really happy with it, though I imagine Dreamwidth will eventually come up with awesome things that Semagic won't support.

Things I like in a desktop client:

*Ability to save drafts with actual file names, not just as "draft"
*html mode that shows raw code
*formatting buttons that make quick work of HTML markup and site-specific code
*user-defined macros
*having menus with all my icons, tags, moods, etc.
*quick link button that turns URL on clipboard into HTML-formatted link
*ability to view and modify filters
*ability to post to communities
*ability to crosspost to LJ

I like a lot of control over the applications I use (customization is key!), and I prefer them to have a small footprint. Basically for this I want a simple program that lets me compose posts, save them, post them, Oh! and edit them after I've posted.
sky: (Default)

[personal profile] sky 2010-03-30 03:35 am (UTC)(link)
I want an iPhone/iPod touch client so bad! My biggest thing is just it would be nice to see aesthetically pleasing mobile-formatted entry pages, with user icons, that made it easy to comment. Ability to search the site/interests/tags and integration with Read it Later + Instapaper would be wonderful. Also, LANDSCAPE SUPPORT.

Edit: And if it's possible to have push notifications when my read list has updated, that would be fantastically amazing.
Edited 2010-03-30 06:07 (UTC)
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[personal profile] kyrielle 2010-03-30 05:04 am (UTC)(link)
No diced-up interfaces. For LJ, I like Semagic, except for the diced-up interface. A Windows app that looks like one big form should act like one big form, to wit, I should be able to tab through ALL THE FIELDS without having to make with the mouse clickies to get between parts of it. If there are multiple tabs, ctrl-tab should work to move between them. Shortcuts should work (Semagic has one underline that, yannow, looks all elegant but alt-whatever-it-is DOESN'T WORK). Been a while since I used Semagic - I use the web interface on DW directly since Semagic doesn't play nice with all the new features here.

Must let me accomplish the following tasks when writing a post (for mobile or desktop clients): select mood, icon (userpic), title, text, tags (for the love of little green apples, let me see my tags list if I want to, but do NOT auto-complete in any way that is hard to make it stop auto-completing if it's wrong), and security, including custom securities; post to a community or to my own journal; adjust comment settings (screening, who can comment, ip logging, etc); and for DW, adjust cross-posting settings. For the userpic, I prefer to select only from keywords, but I'd suggest both the option to use keywords and the option to view and select by images be supported.

For desktop clients, it's nice if it will let me save drafts and load them later to post. That's not as critical given plans for scheduled posts here, but then the flip side is one scheduled posts are available here, the clients (desktop and mobile) should be able to handle them. So if the client is written before that happens, it'd be nice if it was easily extensible in that area.

Configurable UI is good (ie, I never use location, so drop it from the form), if it can keep the ability to move through the form freely.

Ability to browse and edit my past posts (with all options supported for a new post, other than scheduling, supported in editing) is highly desirable.

I do not care if it alerts me to new posts on my friends page, displays posts from my friends page, allows me to view private messages on the site, allows me to view comment notifications, or channels the ghost of my apocryphal great-aunt Edna. I DO mind if it has any alert I don't care about that I can't beat into submission without the use of a mallet. Pop-up birthday alerts: Do. Not. Want. Annoying incessant flashing because there are now eleventy bajillion new posts on my friends page because someone started a recipe-a-thon: do. not. want. (Don't mind if it can do those things, as long as my copy of it can be made to not do them.)

For mobile, I'd dearly like an iPhone app, but I realize that's probably a long stretch. I do not want a little hover-over number in the lower right covering anything at all (see the lack of desire for flashy alerts). Again, as long as I can turn it off (and do not have to summon an elder god to do so), I don't mind if the feature is supported, I just don't want to see it.

Not for my sake, but I'd also suggest anyone interested in working on this review general accessability concepts - there's probably a lot to be done in terms of accessability that could make it easier/better/shinier.

ETA: Must allow me to enter the raw code. WYSIWYG is fine but I do not want to use it personally. Both options would probably be ideal for maximum users. Ability to edit reading/access lists, and filters thereof, would be nice but not critical.
Edited (too many jumbled ideas tumbling about) 2010-03-30 05:08 (UTC)

[personal profile] i_xerxes 2010-03-30 08:27 pm (UTC)(link)
Just to clarify for my own understanding, when you say the "hover-over number in the lower right", do you mean the numbers in the red circles symbolizing alerts that often appear in the upper right hand corner of icons (ex. the App Store has this when an update exists for an application you own)?

(no subject)

[personal profile] kyrielle - 2010-03-31 18:09 (UTC) - Expand
quiara: (Default)

[personal profile] quiara 2010-03-30 06:26 am (UTC)(link)
Oh, please, someone make an iPhone client! (Would be lovely if it supported multiple accounts on LJ and DW-type platforms.)

My DW journal has lain dormant because lately I so often only get to post via phone, so LJ it is. I *miss* DW!
lefthandmade: (stare)

[personal profile] lefthandmade 2010-03-31 03:46 am (UTC)(link)
yes, this!!

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