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Future dev.to product concept: "Preview" button in index view

ben profile image Ben Halpern ・1 min read

I was going to post this as a private GitHub issue but then I realized it fits better here.

User Story

As a reader I might want to thumb through my home page and click a preview button, which would reveal the first ~ 15 lines of the post right there inline.

From there they can make the choice to read further, hit the SAVE button to add it to their reading list, or just move on.

The first bit of a post will typically let you know if you want to read further. It will also prime you to remember to come back a little better than just saving it.

Reddit has a similar feature with self-posts which just shows the whole content. It's a definitely useful but a bit brutish like most Reddit features.

Platforms that show the content as a "pop up" instead of a full new page achieve some similar ability to look at stuff without the context switch, but I think the inline preview does this a bit better.

The implementation of the proposed feature is pretty straightforward IMO, it's more a matter of whether it's the right direction. It's definitely the sort of thing that affects platform mechanics.

Feedback is super appreciated.

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Ben Halpern

@ben

A Canadian software developer who thinks he’s funny. He/Him.

Discussion

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I think this is a good idea.

Would it reveal the first paragraph or the post description and/or both?

What about a media post (just youtube or podcast embedded, for example)?

 

Probably just the first paragraph for reading. People have very different ideas of how to use the description field. A bit like how comments can lie but the code can't, being jumped right into the post body might be the best approach.

Embeds would probably show up, but we probably would not want an image to show up if it was purely for decoration, like this:

dev.to/kentcdodds/but-really-what-...

This isn't so much a native pattern on dev.to but shows up when people crosspost from Medium. I'm sure we could figure out how to display that right.

Might make sense to make all media need to be expanded, like:

Content content content

[YouTube embed - Click to expand]

Content content content

We actually should be using this pattern in more areas, as some embeds show up inconsistently on the notifications page. We could remedy this, but it is sort of whac-a-mole. If we only had one template be responsible for the various embeds things could be simplified.

 

Is the "description" field used, other than on Twitter posts? I'm always confused myself as what to write there, usually choosing some odd cross between the title and first sentence.

I don't think it's bad that people should be expected to have the first paragraphc function as an abstract/preview. That's fairly common across the web, and many services rely on it.

It's used in these boxes

Either way, the proposed feature would show enough of the article preview that if it didn't give an idea of what the post was all about, the author is being waayyyyy too clever.

I'm always for iterative evolution. Text only at first (if the content is embed-only, tell the reader that) and add more stuff in the coming iterations.

Good thoughts

 

I like this idea, it would become a lot easier to browse the feed.

This might belong elsewhere but it would be convenient if there were hotkeys to switch between EDIT/PREVIEW in the markdown editor. Maybe one for save as well.

 

Ah that's cool.

 

yes! This is why I use my tool linkmelater, I aggregate a bunch of links that might be interesting, save them for later, and then again weed out the ones that turn out to be not-my-thing later on by just skimming/reading the first few lines.

 

I like it!

But I must say, since you said the investment would be small, I would suggest doing it already and analyze the usage. If it's not that much adopted, pluck it out. :)

If you guys have Canary Release capabilities, even the better! Pick a set of active users and test it out.

 

That's a great idea. What I used to do is open dev.to in a new browser window, based on blog post titles, open the post in new tab. I don't jump in to read the blog immediately. I keep opening up the interesting posts(based on blog title) in new tabs. And I read the blog whenever I get time during the day.

There are days, where I have opened 10-20 blogs in new tabs as the post title seems interesting, but realized that the content wasn't what I expected later in the day.

This will be super helpful!!

 

YESSSS! A thousand times yes to this. 😅

 

I think that if we can choose the paragraph, it would be great, and if we don't then the first paragraph.

 

Yes please. Do it! Reddit has a chrome app that let's you do a ton of stuff similar to that. You can choose to expand or collapse all the posts so you can run through your timeline.