Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Pacific NW Portal "Marine Green" Update (Version 3.5) Launched

An "indispensable resource".

A "powerhouse for progressive perspectives and opinions".

The "beginning of an answer to conservative news networks."

These are all phrases that have been used to describe Pacific Northwest Portal during its almost nine months of existence.

Launched on January 31st, 2005, Pacific Northwest Portal overnight became NPI's premier property and has never given up that status. It was created to serve and unify the regional progressive blogosphere - and that's just what it has done.

Throughout the last nine months, the site has changed - over and over and over again - with each set of improvements propelling the site forward, based on reader feedback. We've grown by leaps and bounds during recent seasons.

Today, we are pleased to release the most comprehensive set of updates to Pacific Northwest Portal since the launch of "True Blue" on July 20th, 2005. July's True Blue launch was so successful in solving so many of the site's problems that we have been able to move to a more relaxed schedule for working on additional upgrades.

The "Marine Green" Update (Version 3.5) is a package of improvements designed to bring True Blue (Version 3.0) to the next level. As in previous upgrades, this update is again based on reader feedback and suggestions from the community. It has been in the works since early September.

So, without any further blather, here's the release notes, or a comprehensive description of all the changes in the Marine Green Update:

  1. Clickable Blog Titles. This improvement is entirely reader-driven. Numerous visitors and syndicate members have suggested to us that it would be very nice if they could go straight to a blog's home or front page instead of having to click on a specific post to get to the blog. So, we have introduced Clickable Blog Titles. Clicking on the blue heading bar above the site's feed will take you directly to that blog. On a related note, since we were replacing all the blog headings with new high quality graphics, we went ahead and replaced all the other blue heading titles on our website as well. Now the Portal looks more clean and professional!
  2. Redesigned Navbar. We've improved the flashy navbar we introduced last July with True Blue. The improved navbar has more links. You can now reach eight different pages from it. Take a look for yourself when you get to the bottom of this post.
  3. Now Representing Alaska! Yes, you heard us right. The Marine Green Update introduces our first round of support for the state of Alaska. You can now find links to progressive Alaska bloggers (yes, they do exist) from our Regional Blogs directory. Posts from these bloggers will appear on our Highlights page (more on that below). You can also find major Alaska media outlets listed in our Northwest Media directory. Progressive Alaskans, take heart - you now have a home on the Web.
  4. Local Newsfeeds. We're still fine-tuning this new feature, so bear with us, but we think it's working well enough to release it. You can find this feature on the Expanded state pages (Washington and Oregon). The local newsfeeds replace the state newswire which had previously been carried over from the front page. Each newsfeed displays one recent story of relevance to major communities within the state. Washington's local newsfeeds are Seattle, Spokane, Yakima, and Vancouver. Oregon's local newsfeeds are Portland, Eugene, Salem, and Bend.
  5. Completely Revamped Highlights section. The Highlights page has been a bit of a bother since its debut. We've had a struggle with figuring out a regular updating schedule for it and deciding what content it should have. We have finally figured out a solution that we think will prompt you to visit the Highlights section often. Here's the details:
    1. Today in the Pacific Northwest. This section takes up the left side of the page, and is divided into three subsections: Washington, Oregon, and Idaho/Alaska. Each subsection carries the latest eight blog posts (by state) from progressive blogs in our directory. Blogs that we already syndicate are excluded. This means you can now keep tabs on what more local bloggers are writing about. We think that's pretty nifty! So even if you're not a syndicate member, your posts can still get exposure on Pacific Northwest Portal.
    2. National Blog Headlines. This section takes up most of the right side of the page. It carries the latest four headlines from four prominent national blogs - Talking Points Memo, Crooks & Liars, MyDD, and - Daily Kos. But that's not all. As you know, Daily Kos is, without a doubt, the titanic anchorweight of the national progressive blogosphere - and many Pacific Northwest bloggers post there often. Thanks to some help from Markos, we are now able to pull the latest diaries written by Portal bloggers right onto the Highlights page, at the top of the National Blog Headlines section. What does this mean? If you're a Pacific Northwest Portal blogger, it means that your diary will automatically appear on our Highlights page after you post it to Kos. So now, you can not only track local blogs from our website, but also track local bloggers posting their diaries on Daily Kos! This is one innovation that we are truly excited about, and we hope you'll get great use out of it.
    3. Other Highlights sections. Moving down the right side of the page, you'll also see our special content archive, with links to past content such as the gubernatorial election challenge coverage. You'll also see our new "NW Blogs of the Month" feature, where we take four under the radar progressive blogs and highlight them (after all, it is the Highlights page). And, lastly, you'll see our notes about tracking the regional pulse of the blogosphere.
  6. New Resources section. We're pleased to unveil our new Resources section. The Resources section provides convenient and established access to two of our major directories - the Democratic Party Directory and the Northwest Media Directory. Follow the new Resources link from the navbar to reach these two pages. Below the directory links is our new Community Center, divided into three subsections. The "Join the Community" subsection provides tips to progressive activists who are thinking of starting their own blog. The "Become Active" section has an events guide, links to a few major technologically savvy progressive organizations, and an overview of regional Drinking Liberally chapters. The "Useful Information" subsection has research links for bloggers, including legal assistance, blog search engines, finding your state legislative/House/Senate district, voting and public finance records, and a media research/analysis center.
  7. Regional Blogs Directory Update. The "Blogs & Websites" directory is no more. It's now the Regional Blogs Directory, with a total of 184 progressive blogs. We've added about two dozen new blogs, including four blogs from Alaska. Some of the sites we had listed as "websites" are now properly listed as blogs and have stayed on this page. The rest of the "websites" have moved to the NPI Links & Media page, which is almost like a fourth Portal directory, except it's really part of NPI's website.
  8. About Us Upgrade. We made some minor changes to the About Us page to make it easier to read. We also updated the Site History and Site Map. Finally, we have released a new link button, seen below, which anyone can use to link to Pacific Northwest Portal from their own website. (Syndicate members should use the "Syndicated" buttons to link to the Portal instead of this one).
Pacific Northwest Portal

That is about the extent of the changes in the Marine Green Update. So what do you think? Leave a comment in this thread or visit our Feedback page to send us your thoughts. As we said before, this site is driven by you - the readers! Thanks for your continued support.

<< Home