This writeup was last updated: June 16, 2009

E2 Explorer

Current Version: 0.9 beta
Download Location: http://www.surveytome.com/e2/e2explorer/

Note to Users: I welcome any feedback about this client both good or bad


Announcements!

  • September 3, 2008 - New version released. See the changelog below for details.
  • June 20, 2008 - New version released. See the changelog below for details.
  • May 2, 2008 - Officially announced the E2 Annex which has some tie-ins with the client.
    New version released! See the changelog at the bottom of the writeup for a list of new features, updates, and bug fixes. Remember, new releases are based on user feedback, so please /msg me with any questions, comments, or complaints.
  • April 2, 2008 - Public beta released! Please read the FAQ (below) if you have any questions or run into any problems. Most problems are the result of users not having the Microsoft .NET Framework installed.

Ever wish you could...

  • ...categorize your bookmarks into folders?
  • ...vote on or C! a writeup even when you don't have any votes/cools left?1
  • ...easily pick out your friends (or foes) in the chatterbox, other users list, or in writeups?
  • ...have the chatterbox refresh itself, or that you could scroll back and look at the conversation you missed?
  • ...quickly remove a message from the chatterbox display because someone decided to add a URL, and it made the display too wide?
  • ...fully customize the appearance of the E2 web site?
  • ...easily find out what writeup received a vote after you receive the "You gained/lost 1XP" message (or even better, know when you get a vote even when you don't gain/lose XP)?
  • ...have New Writeups, Cooled Writeups, Editor Cools, and the other nodelets refresh automatically without having to reload the page?
  • ...get lists of your writeups with the highest and lowest reputation/upvotes/downvotes/C!s?
  • ...get up-to-the-minute statistics such as merit, devotion, addiction, node-fu, total or average reputation/upvotes/downvotes/C!s?
  • ...easily soft link your writeups without individually clicking all of the hard links and pipe links in your writeups?
  • ...compose, edit, or save your writeups offline?
  • ...get a list of the writeups you have voted on or C!ed?
  • ...remember what messages you sent to who and when you sent them?
  • ...easily view all of your deleted writeups in one place?
  • ...track the statistics of other writeups and users?
  • ...open any node in a scratch pad (not just your own), or save any node to disk?
  • ...help reduce E2's server lag?

Well now you can!


E2 Explorer: What is it?

The E2 Explorer is a full featured e2 client. This client is more than just a node tracker or chatterbox client, it allows you to do much of what you can do directly from E2, but adds more features and a customizable interface.

Some of you might be familiar with my old client, the E2 Link and Logger Client. The E2 Explorer is much different than the E2LnL in that it focuses more on using the Everything2 web site rather than just generating statistics and talking in the catbox. Nearly everything the average noder can do on E2 can be done within the client - read nodes, view nodelets, vote, C!, bookmark, chat, etc. Most of the user interface is browser-based, so it is easy and intuitive to use.

Some of it's major features include:

  • Browser - browse E2 in a web browser-like interface. You can perform almost any action that you would from the E2 web site
  • Chatterbox Client - chat in the auto-refreshing chatterbox, and scroll back for as long as you have been online to catch up on any conversation you missed
  • Node Tracker (your writeups) - track changes to your writeups and session including: XP, merit, C!s, totals, averages, and more.
  • Node Tracker (other nodes and writeups) - track any other user, node, or writeup to see how it changes over time. Fun for tracking your friends' writeups, or to see how the C! you just gave someone changes their reputation and XP.
  • Soft Linker - automatically soft link a writeup or node (not just your own).
  • Homenode List Generator - create lists and statistics about your writeups for use on your homenode such as: writeups with highest/lowest reputations, writeups with most cools, writeups with the most/least upvotes, etc.
  • Nodegel Visualizer - create a graph of your writeup reputations over time for use on your homenode.
  • Offline Scratch Pad - Write and save nodes on your computer for later publishing

On a related note, this client optionally (and on a voluntary basis) helps to feed the E2 Statistics Project located at the newly created E2 Annex(http://www.surveytome.com/e2/stats/). Please consider contributing to this project if you find it interesting or useful.


Requirements

To use this client you will need the following:


Features

General Features and Browser Interface

  • Easy to use browser-like interface
  • Supports multiple users/usernames
  • Customizable interface using skins (i.e., style sheets)
  • Multi-threaded
  • Automatically checks for updated versions
  • Displays nodelets including: new writeups, cooled writeups, editor cools, session information, other users, available rooms (all, not just outside, noder's nursery, and political assylum), chatterbox, and message inbox. Nodelets are auto-refreshed as appropriate (i.e., if there haven't been and new writeups for a while, the new writeups nodelet will refresh less frequently).
  • Lets you cast/queue votes and C!s even when you have spent your daily allotment. You can then submit them later.
  • (Nearly) instant notification of upvotes and downvotes (including what writeup received the vote), XP changes, level changes, cools, and new messages.
  • (Nearly) instant notification of stat updates including merit, devotion, addition, totals, and averages.
  • Toolbars for all node types including:
    • e2node - open my writeup, save, track, bookmark, add to favorites, soft link, and create writeup
    • writeup - open, save, track, soft link, vote, cool, bookmark, add to favorites, msg author, and mark author as friend/foe
    • superdoc - open, save, track, bookmark, and add to favorites
    • room - bookmark, add to favorites, visit
    • user - bookmark, add to favorites, or track
    • usergroup - bookmark, add to favorites, track
  • Allows you to mark users as Friends or Foes and highlights these users as appropriate to that you can easily pick them out in writeups, other users, and the chatterbox.
  • Allows you to add writeups to your "Favorites" which is basically an offline bookmark that can be grouped into folders.
  • Pipe Links and external links are distinguishable from normal Hard Links.

Node Tracker (Your Writeups), Nodegel Graph, and Homenode Lists

  • Node tracker tracks changes to your writeups over any period of time that you have been using the client. It will tell you changes in reputation, upvotes, downvotes, and C!s as well as listing the past or present status of your writeups.
  • Nodegel Graph displays your writeups by reputation over time in a graph that can be pasted onto your homenode.
  • Homenode lists are generated that can be pasted into your homenode including:
    • General User Statistics - including Minimum, Maximum, Total, and Averages for Reputation, Upvotes, Downvotes, Total Votes, and Cools; XP; Merit; Devotion; Addiction; Karma, and more.
    • Top X Writeups With The Highest Reputation
    • Top X Writeups With The Lowest Reputation
    • Top X Writeups With The Most Upvotes
    • Top X Writeups With The Least Upvotes
    • Top X Writeups With The Most Downvotes
    • Top X Writeups With The Least Downvotes
    • Top X Writeups With The Most Total Votes
    • Top X Writeups With The Least Total Votes
    • Top X Writeups With The Highest Upvote Percentage
    • Top X Writeups With The Highest Downvote Percentage
    • Top X Cooled Writeups With The Highest Reputation
    • Top X Cooled Writeups With The Lowest Reputation
    • Top X Non-Cooled Writeups With The Highest Reputation
    • Top X Writeups With The Most Cools
  • List of users you have give a C! to
  • List of users that have given a C! to you

Node Tracker (Other Writeups)

  • Track any node, writeup, or user and see how their stats change over time

Chatterbox Client

  • Auto-refreshes chatterbox content
  • Auto-refreshes Message Inbox
  • Auto-refreshes Other Users
  • Other Users are sortable by various options
  • Stores any number of messages so that you can scroll back and read things you missed
  • Saves your outgoing messages
  • Allows you to clear a message from the chatterbox (in cases where someone keeps repeating themselves, or adds a long message that made the display too wide)
  • Large, multi-line talk box
  • Utilized the "Friends" and "Foes" list to appropriately display messages for users.
  • Easily /msg, visit the homenode, add to friend/foes by clicking on someone's name
  • View, delete, or archive messages in your Message Inbox
  • Access the complete list of chatterbox commands (NOTE: not all commands can be used by all users)
  • View other users and what room they are in - see a friend in another room, just click to join them
  • Saves a transcript of recent chatter

Scratch Pad

  • Create, edit, and preview writeups either online or offline
  • Save copies to disk, or publish them directly to E2
  • Create Nodeshells
  • Customizable fonts and sizes
  • Soft link your writeups before or after you publish them
  • Supports all the new writeup types

Skinable

  • The browser interface is fully customizable through the use of "skins". Users with knowledge of CSS can easily edit or create new skins.
  • I would love to hear from anyone who is good with CSS who is willing to create new skins for the client. You will receive full credit for them.

Other Features

  • Automatically downloads and displays your node heaven and node angels and their content for you to review.
  • Vote or C! writeups even when you don't have any votes or C!s (even if you are still level 1). Your votes and C!s will be saved until you have some to spend. If you decide to always save your votes instead of submitting them immediately, you can save them up until you have enough to spend your full daily votes and get the full XP bonus.
  • Votes are automatically saved so that you can go back and view them later. If you visit a writeup that you have voted on in the past, this information is saved as well.
  • View reputation/vote information for writeups (if you have voted on them) when you do a User Search on another user (E2 does not display this information).
  • Soft link a writeup, or all the writeups in a node automatically
  • Numerous customizable settings

Where to Get It, and What you Get

You can download the client from http://www.surveytome.com/e2/e2explorer/

The download is a self-extracting executable which contains the following:

  • E2Explorer.exe - the executable that runs the program. This is the file that you will double-click to start the client.
  • E2ExplorerDB.mdb - a Microsoft Access database. You do not need Access installed to use this program.
  • Skins Folder - this folder contains a stylesheet and several images used for the user interface

Technical Information

The entire application was coded in C#, and requires the Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 (or higher) to run. Database connectivity is achieved with ODBC. While I referrenced my old client when creating this, nearly everything is re-written from scratch since this was such a huge change. The information that the client uses comes mainly from E2's XML Tickers or the xmltrue interfaces.

The database was created with Microsoft Access 2003. While Access has its limitations, I chose it because it requires no additional distributables or installations for it to work. If you have a copy of Microsoft Access, you are welcome to check out the structure of the database, but please note that I will not help you fix anything if you change the schema, or add, edit, or delete data manually. If you break it, just download a new copy.

Supported Node Types


Questions, Comments, Suggestions, Complaints...

...bugs, corrections, requests, RFEs, money, secrets, and anything else can be sent to me. Feedback (especially constructive criticism) is highly appreciated. If it is short, feel free to /msg me. Anything long can be emailed to "bestsellers AT consultant DOT com". If you are interested in helping with the documentation or in creating skins, images, or icons, please contact me as well.


Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions and their answers. Please note that most of the questions I receive are answered in this writeup or in the Help File, so please consult both of them first. To ask a question of your own, see the heading above for contact information.

This is, by far, the most commonly asked question:
Q. Why am I getting the error, "The dynamic link library mscoree.dll could not be found in the specified path..."?
A. You will receive this error if you have not installed the Microsoft .NET Framework. Please read the Requirements section above for information on how to install the framework.

Q. Can I view the source code?
A. I have not yet decided to release the source code. If I do, I will link to it from the download location (see above). Regardless, I would be glad to answer any questions on my algorithms, or general questions on how it all works.

Q. Will you add/change/improve Feature X?
A. Possibly. Maybe. There's still a lot that can be done with this application. I do take suggestions and feature requests, but I do all of this in my free time, so don't expect an immediate turn-around. I will most likely place a higher priority on the most common RFEs, so please provide feedback!

Q. Will you notify me when you release a new version or a patch?
A. The short answer: Yes. However, unless we are working closely together on a specific problem, I probably will not notify you directly. The application automatically checks for updates every time you log in with a connection to the Internet. In other words, I will notify you through the application itself. You are also free to visit this writeup at any time to see the current version and changelog.

Q. Why does your client sometimes work very fast, and sometimes very slow?
A. Whenever the E2 web site is experiencing a lag, the client will experience the same lag. You are free to log into a different E2 server (if you happen to know of the others) to try and alleviate the problem.

See Known Issues below for additional information.


Who uses the E2 Explorer Client?

The following people have contacted me to let me know that they use my client and/or have some of its output displayed on their homenodes (/msg me to get your name added).

As of the last time I looked, these users have output generated by the client on their homenodes.

DogDaze, E2D2, in10se, RPGeek

As of the last time I looked, these users do not have output generated by the client on their homenodes, but have reported that they use it for other purposes.

Aerobe, Ancientsnow, Apollyon, archiewood, Arviragus, AspieDad, Augustine, BookReader, chappyzoodle, cruxfau, darl, DTal, etgar, fidomaster, GhettoAardvark, golFUR, graceness, joshuarat, katherine, krenseby, lostneuron, mad girls love song, Mortuorum Dialogi, npecom, Oolong, passport, rp, Senso, shaogo, sirspens, StrawberryFrog, tWD, Two Sheds, vandewal, Venkman, waverider37, wertperch, Wntrmute, wordnerd


User Comments

Below are some selected user comments regarding the client. Be forewarned - anything you say, can and will be used against you in this writeup.

  • in10se says I love to talk to myself. And my client is better than a kick to the groin. Really! Give it a try!
  • mad girls love song says E2 Explorer is great. i can't tell you how awesome it is to be able to save things i want to vote on for when i have more votes.
  • fidomaster says This is brilliant - it really catches e2 up to the rest of the Internet. I've been wishing for this kind of functionality since I started lurking e2 almost five years ago. Kudos.
  • Bitriot says Damn, dude, you're a wizard
  • Apollyon says This is unfathomably good. for about three or four minutes I just stared agog at the home page. well done.
  • wertperch says This thing is GOOD
  • Apollyon says You deserve a medal for your efforts here, really. I'm thinking the E2 equivalent of a military cross.
  • Send me your comments!

Known Issues

Known problems with the client will be listed here. I will work on fixing bugs, or requesting that edev add patches to E2.

  • Random Nodes has not been coded yet.
  • Some characters might display strangely due to character encoding issues. Typically this happens when a noder creates their writeups in a word processing program and then copies and pastes it into E2. I will work on specific issues as they are reported.
  • Send me any bugs you have found. Remember, this is beta software!

Thanks

Thanks to the following for inspiration and ideas from projects they have created for the E2 community:
cow of doom, dann, fuzzie, JeffMagnus, N-Wing, Pyrogenic, Simpleton (e2interface gave me so many ideas), and wick

Thanks also go to golFur who was my original beta tester


ChangeLog

This lists changes since the release of the public beta. Older changes can be found at the E2 Annex.

Version 0.9.20080903

  • significantly decreased node load times
  • decreased the number of requests to E2 by improving cachinggetblanknodes()
  • bug fix: If a writeup was deleted before cached votes for that writeup were submitted, the cached votes could not be removed
  • can view list of unvoted writeups (Voting and C!s->Voting Ideas)
  • upvotes and downvotes were being overwritten improperly in certain cases
  • fixed bug in Super Soft Linker

Version 0.9.20080620

  • Ability to delete friends and foes
  • Improved DB/memory caching features
  • Added an easter egg
  • Updated welcome page
  • Numerous optimizations and bug fixes

Version 0.9.20080502

  • Identifies all writeups you have voted on (takes time depending on the number of votes you have spent - see Voting Oracle)
  • New welcome page
  • Streamlined some of the background processes
  • Fixed a minor bug with one of the homenode lists: 'total votes' was displaying 'total downvotes'
  • Added code to better handle Nothing Found, Permission Denied, and Findings: nodes in the node cache
  • Added support for node_id searching.
  • Better support for the E2 Node Statistics Project
  • Various optimizations and bug fixes
  • Send me your comments and suggestions to help make this client better

Version 0.9.20080408

  • Added proxy support to the login screen
  • Added a Back button to the browser
  • Added link to the chatterbox client from the chatterbox nodelet and message inbox nodelet
  • Added the ability to choose a new theme
  • Fixed bug in configurations where theme was not displayed, so if changes were saved, the stylesheet was removed. This problem would correct itself if you logged out, and logged back in, but it was annoying.
  • Minor interface changes
  • Fixed a minor issue with calculating estimated statistics in the User Search interface (dealt with cached node values)

1 Okay, technically you can't vote on or cool something if you don't have any votes or cools left, but the client will save your votes and cools and allow you to submit them later. That way you don't forget all those great writeups by the next day.

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