Latest new features – Summer 2017

Lots of new smaller features have gone live in recent months:

Thumbs up: You can now thumb-up (or 'like') a posting. It's a useful and quick way of showing approval to what someone else has written. You can hover your mouse over the thumb and see who has liked it. Thumbs-up is also installed on each issue - replacing the old voting system.

Hashtags to link posts together: You can link disparate messages from around the site together by using hashtags. This works in basically the same way to other sites like Facebook. Just prefix a word with a hash sign (#) and it will turn into a link to a page showing all the other messages containing that hashtag. This is specific to each group. So, for instance, members of Placeford Cycling Campaign could mark items that could go into their newsletter just by writing #newsletter in a post. There's also an index of all hashtags for each group.

Planning applications: Thanks to PlanIt, with whom we have been working, planning applications from some 78% of councils around the country are now coming through to Cyclescape, via your My Cyclescape page. This gives you easy access to development proposals in your areas, usually within a few days of them being posted on your council's website. If you know about an existing development, you can now paste its number into the search box to get to it quickly.

Revamp for setting locations you're interested in: We've completely reworked the way you specify what areas you're interested in. Now you can type in an area, e.g. your local council ward, and the system will come up with a set of suggested areas you might like to follow. This means you don't have to know how to read a map (and then draw on it) to set it - now you can search by name. We've got groups, constituencies and wards all loaded. You can also plan a cycle journey to get an A-B route you want to monitor, e.g. so that you get told about issues along your way to work that other people have reported. The new interface also show you how many issues the areas you've selected would match - so you know whether you'll get more than you can handle. We'll have a blog post about this soon, and will be making further improvements to it, as there are some rough edges still.

You can see the full list of changes (available via the 'What's new' link at the bottom of all pages of the site).

Now that we've got these in place, we'll be starting soon (subject to funding) on a long-awaited major revamp of the layout of the site, moving things around to make everything much clearer, as we know that new users are still confused by how to subscribe to things.

Polden-Puckham Charitable FoundationThis work has been possible kindly thanks to grant support from the Polden-Puckham Charitable Foundation. Thanks also to Nikolai and other contributors who have made these improvements possible.

New features live

Various new features have been made live on Cyclescape recently:

Direct messages: You can now direct message another person (i.e. a private thread between two people). To use this, click on someone's name (e.g. in a discussion thread listing), and that takes you to their profile page. You will then see a green 'Send private message' button. This creates a discussion thread like any other, except it's just between you and the other person. Such discussions will be listed on the 'My Cyclescape' overview page like any other, and there is also now a Mail icon in the top-right (which we will soon make 'light up' when you have a message).

CycleStreets Photomap integration: You can now add to the thread discussion a photo direct from the CycleStreets Photomap, using the 'CycleStreets photo' button, alongside existing options like Text, Photo, etc. Click on 'CycleStreets photo', then find the image (the geographical starting point will use the issue's location), click the green button to choose the image, and that will pre-fill the caption, which you can adjust. Scroll down and submit. Also, each issue page now has options to see both collisions and CycleStreets Photos.

Leader of a discussion: You can now set yourself as the 'Thread leader', to indicate that you will take responsibility for ensuring a discussion moves forward. This is helpful so that people have a clear contact point if a discussion is going nowhere rather than resulting in useful activity like letter-writing or press work. Click the new 'Thread leader' option in the reply area. You can give a brief additional note if you want, before pressing submit. This will add a message to the thread noting that you have become thread leader. The thread leader will be indicated on the right sidebar. This feature will see further user interface developments, but we've added the main mechanics now.

Membership link: The Committee members in a group now gets an additional 'Membership' link in the main menu, giving an easier link to the membership list.

Planning application improvements: Last year, we added planning applications to your 'My Cyclescape' page. Over the summer we've fixed various bugs relating to planning application processing. We identified a scenario where a failure in processing a particular application (e.g. if it were somehow incorrect with a missing field for instance) in some cases could cause the import not to complete. If you become aware of a planning application number and it does not appear in a search, please report the number and Local Authority on this bug report page and we can check further.  Planning application integration is now live for around 55% of the country, thanks to PlanIt. Over-long subject lines for planning applications are now avoided, and there are numerous other bugfixes.

Tag cloud: There is a new tag cloud on the Tags page in the main menu. This gives an entry point into common themes. It's not the most earth-shattering improvement, but we hope you like it anyway, as we needed a way into the tags listings.

Library items now are geographical: Adding a Library item now enables a geographical area to be added. We will gradually enforce this once a complete reworking of the area-setting workflow has been done.

Library listings: The library is now paginated. This is one of a number of long-needed improvements to the Library, which had been left in prototyped state for many years, but we're now starting to prioritise this a bit more.

Spam filtering: Various admin controls have been added.

Twitter sharing buttons: A button to 'Tweet this' has been added on each issue page.

We've gone HTTPS: For your further improved privacy, all traffic to the site is now HTTPS (i.e. encrypted). Previously, just password login pages were HTTPS. Any HTTP links will redirect to HTTPS automatically.

Leaflet.js: We've completed a major change 'under the hood' which is to replace our map framework from OpenLayers 2 to Leaflet.js. Now that this is in place, this unlocks a major interface change that we're planning.

Developer API: A fledgling developer API is now documented. London Cycling Campaign are using this to create a map of current consultations in London, thanks to work by Camden Cyclists. More will be added in future. Let us know if you have any particular requests for the API.

Lots of other little bugfixes! We welcome any suggestions via the feedback link at the top of any Cyclescape page, or via our Github issues page, which is read directly by the development team.

This work has been possible kindly thanks to grant support from the Polden-Puckham Charitable Foundation. Thanks also to Nikolai and other developers who have made these improvements possible.

Filtering planning applications

We recently added a feature where planning applications in your area are automatically pulled into Cyclescape, so that new developments which affect cyclists can be turned into issues easily.

We knew this would need some tuning, and a common request has been to filter out tree works, advertisement applications, and similar applications that are almost never of relevance to cycling.

So we've added a feature to filter out planning applications on an area-by-area basis.

For instance, in this listing, the first application is useful and has been converted to an issue, but the second issue is a tree works application and so ideally shouldn't have appeared in the list at all. So ideally we should aim to filter out this type of application for the area listed:

Planning filtering

For instance, in Cambridge all the tree works applications like 13/046/TTCA end in /TTCA , so we've added that as a filter.

Because each Local Authority area has its own web-based planning application system (though some use the same backend), the filters currently have to be defined as patterns to exclude.

Please look through the applications and see if you can spot the patterns for your area, and let us know via the feedback link at the top of any Cyclescape page.

(We plan to make this directly editable by groups directly soon.)