A clutch of site improvements went live on www.sf-encyclopedia.com last week. David Langford gives some details of them here, but omits to say that this new functionality is the result of a huge amount of his ingenuity and hard work. We all very much hope that this improves both the fun and the usefulness of browsing the SFE.
The major new changes fall into two groups. The first set are those shown in each entry:
- The “Next” and “Previous” buttons allow you to browse through the SFE in strictly alphabetical sequence – thus enabling you, should you so wish, to read the whole thing entry by entry as you could with the book.
- The “Incoming” button shows a list of the entries that link to the the entry now on show. So, for instance, if you’re browsing the “Aliens” theme entry, clicking “Incoming” will show you every entry (and there are a lot of them) referring to aliens. We’ve always said that one of the things that we work hardest on in the SFE is using links meaningfully: we hope this feature will enable some more of that to be visible to users. Incoming also identifies the contributors whose initials appear at the end of the entry, giving all names in full, and — although this feature still awaits more expert feedback — provides academics and students with suitable copy-and-paste text for bibliographic citations of the entry.
The second set of changes is accessed from the “Extras” panel in the right-hand margin.
- “Random” does what it says: takes you to a randomly chosen entry anywhere in the SFE. (At one point, we considered denoting this with Michael Moorcock’s Multiverse-arrows-pointing-everywhere Chaos sigil.)
- “Random new” also does the obvious, choosing from all full entries added since the second edition.
- “What’s new” begins by showing you the 100 most recently updated/added entries in the SFE. Having originally said that we were only going to add updates every month, we’ve found ourselves adding new material much more frequently than that. So this list changes quite often, usually weekly and sometimes even daily. You can also step back screen by screen through the currently more than 4200 such new entries, 100 at a time.
- The “Shop” button takes you to a page where you can set your preferences for our “affiliations”. Previously, if you were reading (say) the entry on Isaac Asimov and wanted to read one of his books, the relevant link in the checklist at the end of the entry would only take you to Amazon.co.uk. Now more vendors are available and still more can be added.
- The “SFE Facts” button gives you access to various factual goodies about the whole project: word counts, today’s anniversaries of sf births and deaths and a list of links to entries for the recently departed, FAQs, contact and donation details, and the like.
As ever, comments are very welcome – either here or on our comment form. In the meantime, uploads have taken the text to just over 3.7m words. The great work continues…