Sidepodcast - All for F1 and F1 for all

Rebooting live comments and introducing Sidepodcast dashboard - The community conversation continues to evolve

Published by Mr. C

It feels like only yesterday that we launched new commenting functionality on the site, and now we're doing it all over again. Today sees the end of the road for our illustrious (and long standing) "Live Commenting... Live Thing" which has been superseded by the rather awesome Sidepodcast Dashboard.

Before we look at what's new, a short trip down memory lane may be in order.

Future reflections

Back in the summer of 2008, after quickly tiring of manually refreshing pages to check for new comments, we tentatively introduced a simple application that loaded fresh comments as they were posted. That solution turned out to be quite useful and soon became the de facto solution for commenting on this site.

Almost a year went by before we introduced a significant upgrade, this time offering more customisation and a cleaner layout. That upgrade has remained in place for well over a year but effectively was made obsolete by a separate set of enhancements to the site. As soon as every single thread on was "live enabled", few people went out of their way to comment from a specialised location.

That said, our visitor stats did indicate the live commenting page still saw quite a bit of use during Formula 1 race weekends when people looked for a sensible way to organise a lot of disparate information, from comments to text updates to tweets and more. That is why today we're repurposing the live commenting page as an all-in-solution for organising your content streams during races.

How cool is that? Customise your commenting experience with Sidepodcast Dashboard

In a future age

On the surface, things haven't changed all that much. It is still possible to join in with site discussion (or passively follow along if you prefer) and you can still arrange your page layout as you see fit. However, under the surface plenty of new things are worth looking at in more detail.

For the first time, it's now possible to save custom page layouts so you won't have to reorganise things each visit. We've added live tweets courtesy of our F1 Twitter List and generally improved usability across all areas. It's almost twice as fast as the page it replaces too.

We very much recommend using a modern browser to get the most from the dashboard, and just as our mobile commenting page is optimised for the oldest and slowest handsets, the dashboard is aimed at exactly the other end of the scale, where faster machines with large screens will benefit the most. If you have a super-modern browser, you'll also see the option to enable desktop popup "toast" notifications to ensure you never miss out on fresh content and updates.

Finally, we have a new and rather cute guard panda overseeing proceedings thanks to the fantastic talents of Emily. He probably needs a name though.

Sleeping panda is in charge while you're away

I see the future

Although today's announced update is a significant step up from what we offered before, we're not nearly done yet. Watch out for additional widget panels coming on stream in due course. A secondary goal in fact, is to provide a one-stop home for getting the most from Sidepodcast when races aren't in progress too. To that end look out for a dedicated podcast player, a notepad for saving your favourite comments, the option to track the latest F1 news all from one page, plus much more.

Did we mention plans to let you synchronise layouts and saved settings between your work and home machines too?

I think we've made a good start down the path of making what was the original live commenting page more relevant to the way we all watch F1 today. Features should get incrementally better and we promise not to leave it a whole year between updates next time.

Sidepodcast Dashboard - Don't follow F1 races without it.