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Vanderbilt Exploration

The Exploration@Vanderbilt website makes powerful use of many of the most cutting edge technologies for media and information delivery to the web, and is in many ways a test bed of next generation web interfaces. The user experience is highly dynamic and customizable, as special features for manipulating the size (zoom function) and layout (widescreen function) of the screen, along with movable and resizable media objects, give rarely before seen viewing options to the end-user. The ability to resize images, with little or no loss of resolution, is a new advancement in web graphics that Digital Dog has pioneered on this website. The ability to create additional space via the browser with one click of the mouse is another advanced feature that will become more commonplace as web developers begin to utilize the latest generation of browsers and programming.

One of the first of its kind, Exploration features a web-based visual Flash CMS -- powered by a combination of Actionscript, JavaScript, XML, and PHP, with a MySQL database back-end that empowers the client to manage their complete Flash website. From complete word-processor style text formatting options to visual story architecture-mapping tools to advanced media embedding, the Flash CMS contains unrivaled functionality and puts the power of Flash publishing in the hands of the client.

Digital Dog Inc. has been a part of the Exploration web team since it’s inception five years ago and continues to play an integral part in the ongoing development of advanced user interface concepts, content delivery systems and Flash-based animation.

All aspects of latest stories shown on homepage -- images, headlines, and captions -- are adminable by the client. A unique special feature of the website is a zoom function that increases and decreases the size of the entire page without the end-user having to change their monitor resolution. The site also includes galleries, site awards, contacts, and a text only version that are all adminable by the client through a web-based visual Flash CMS.

All aspects of a story -- text, media, and story structure (called story map) --  are adminable by the client. A unique feature of the website is a widescreen function intended for users with widescreen monitors or who use dual monitors. This is particularly useful with the movable story map and media viewer panes, such as the large picture of the frog shown, so they can be dragged off to the right side while the user continues to read the story. These media viewer panes are not limited to just images, as video and animations are often used.

Web-based visual Flash CMS. The interface shown is used for adding new stories to the story index. All of the pertinent information about the story such as headline, author, and date, along with other relevant data such as summary, category, color scheme, and metadata, can be added. The user is also able to toggle the story as ready for publish by checking LIVE or just choose to save for further editing.

The interface of the Flash CMS is for building the pages of the story itself. As shown, the user can choose media items to embed in the text by selecting a thumbnail image and media item from a resource library and entering a caption and credit. Also, the user has many HTML formatting options available to them for manipulating the story text. The preview option will allow the user to see the story as it would appear on the website before they save it.


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