The Orion's Arm Universe Project Forums

Data Panels
We're doing a lot of redesigns and revisions in how we present EG information lately (and that's a good thing!).

One of the issues we've kicked around from time to time over the years is coming up with a set of common Data Panel designs for the various parts of the EG that use data panels. We have been (and still are) all over the map on this and this possibly detracts from our presentation of the EG as a single unified 'book' that is presumably written to some single editorial standard.

Past efforts to come up with a common data panel standard (meaning all data panels discussing a given subject - empires, systems, worlds, whatever look the same and cover the same topics) never managed to get off the ground. But I figure it's been quite a few years and maybe some fresh eyes looking at the issue will pay dividends.

So - thoughts on this?

I agree that some sort of data panel template is a good idea. In my planet/system articles, I'm already using a 'template', though it's rather unrefined. I'd like to see a 'better' data panel, with good balance between inclusivity and compactness.

Another, perhaps not related, currently the data panel for Corona is some sort of a mix between data of the planet and data of the polity which controls the planet. I wonder if I should put the data about the polity in another panel...
There are quite a few shortcomings with the current data panel application, however. There are quite a few non-alphanumeric symbols which can't be used inside the data panel, such as + or ~; and it does not allow repetition in the entry label field, so you can't list the same qualities twice without starting a new panel. But I can generally find a way round these problems.

Just a reminder that using the data panel system may not result in a panel that looks exactly how you might imagine it.
We can make as many data panels as you like, and sometimes it is better to do so.
Speaking in general terms, my main goal in bringing this up is to try to develop a single consistent data panel design for Empires, another for Systems, and another for Worlds. Right now, the content that is contained in our data panels in these different areas can vary wildly and even where there is consistency in content, the order it is presented in can vary from example to example.

There is also the issue of what some of the content in a DP is telling a reader - Things like 'metapsychology' often come across (to me anyway) as vague and sometimes feel like they were copy/pasted across multiple articles. It's not even clear what 'metapsychology' means. Also, given the scale of the empires, do concepts like 'architecture' as a category even make sense? So, along with improving consistency, I would suggest that we look at what subjects are covered (or not covered as the case may be) and potentially make some additions and subtractions.

Re the technical limitations of the data panels - This sounds like something we should bring up with Trond. I would presume that implementing the site redesign takes precedence over this (but let me know if I'm wrong), but the issues can't be fixed if we don't bring them up. I know that for me the data panel creation is very challenging. Which may simply be a matter of not having much experience with it, or be a factor in the tool itself. Steve (and other Editors if you've worked with the DP tool) what are your thoughts on this?

In terms of LOE, once we come up with a solid design for each type of data panel, I would suggest that a blank 'template copy' of each be stored to the CMS so that it can just be copy/pasted into whatever article needs it and then filled in. This will (hopefully) be much easier than handcrafting a new one each time it's needed.


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