Saturday, December 1st, 2007

NASA Relaunches 5.0 with Prototype and

Category: Prototype, Scriptaculous, Showcase

NASA has relaunched their site tonight as NASA 5.0, in celebration of their 50th anniversary next year. It is the beginning of many web 2.0 features to come for NASA.

Sep Seyedi of Critical Mass told us that “of interest to you is the fact that the new interface fully uses the and prototype Javascript frameworks for its implementation. It was a pretty challenging implementation but got through it.”

The new site features:

  • Transitions: Lots of animations in drop downs and trees
  • Accordion: Rollover news items
  • New topic based navigation
  • Calendar component
  • Tag cloud (now that IS Web 2.0
  • Bookmarking: My NASA and support for Digg,, and more
  • Comments and polls throughout
  • Polls
  • Image gallery

NASA 5.0

Posted by Dion Almaer at 2:00 am

4.1 rating from 45 votes


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I’m seeing a big empty black background (with stars) on the homepage, nothing else…

Comment by Dustin Diaz — December 1, 2007

What’s interesting is what this new redesign degrades to without Javascript enabled. This new site obviously relies so heavily on Javascript that when it is disabled the site is pretty much how it would be with CSS disabled too (pretty much the bare minimum and possibly not usable at all).

Have a look yourself. I wonder what everyone else thinks about how much you can depend on users having Javascript enabled nowadays, and how much you can compromise the design and functionality in situations when it is disabled.

Comment by MichaelWaterfall — December 1, 2007

Dustin: Works for me.. Perhaps the browser sniffing JavaScript doesn’t like your user-agent string. Not really the prettiest code you can hope to be greeted by upon viewing source.

Comment by paulannesley — December 1, 2007

It’s a cool site, although very bandwidth heavy. A lot of school kids may come to look at the site on networks that struggle with the weight. Also they defined their markup with an XSLT DOCTYPE; I’m not sure why…

Comment by WillPeavy — December 1, 2007

I really like the calendar component. Does anyone know where to get this from or was it custom written?

Comment by JoeAD — December 1, 2007

Some notes:

1) During development, the site was prototyped as straight semantic XHTML with a strict XHTML 1.0 DOCTYPE, and that is still the ideal goal.

2) The js/no-js split is a requirement that we (the js/html/css team) could not control due to time and integration constraints. Over time I hope we can work this out.

3) The calendar component was custom written and uses hCalendar markup for its data.

4) The development teams for this project were separated at a distance so there are many initial quirks in both the CSS and markup, but these will hopefully be worked out soon.

Comment by Maad416 — December 1, 2007

IMHO, it needs a lot of work:

1) Takes way too long to load a page — about 10 seconds for me. They could probably easily speed this up by using fewer tags.
2) I really dislike the “accordion feature” where a different topic is displayed by hovering rather than clicking on a headline — I lose the topic I’m interested in if I scroll down and the cursor happens to slide over a different headline.
3) The page layout is very cluttered. Difficult to find items of interest on a laptop.
4) Why does clicking on a popup from the calendar take me to a new page?

Comment by Joe12345 — December 1, 2007

It’s a pretty nice site :)

My only major issue is with the delay on the top menu. I get a 1/2 second delay on the menu responsiveness. Feels like it’s lethargic.

Comment by Ian — December 1, 2007

Site scores a 29 on YSlow. 47 external JS files on the homepage.

Comment by scott379 — December 1, 2007

The top menu is incredibly slow, otherwise a very nice job. This is how these fancy animations etc. should be used. Sure, there are a couple of small things, but nothing that big.

Comment by Jani — December 2, 2007

A counterargument to web 2.0. Fodder for the naysayers. A demonstration, yet again, of a money-sodden client getting suckered by hustlers with an accordion.

Prototype, scriptaculous, leading web design into another black hole, just like flash did. Unthinking developers who let technology lead design. Who think FX are somehow all that matters. I’m embarassed for the state of 2.0.

Comment by jimbob — December 2, 2007

full disclosure – I’ve never worked on a site even close to something on this scale. Still, feedback may be useful…

I’m not impressed. Too much on the front page and doesn’t seem organized.

I also agree that most special effects here hinder the user experience either because they’re slow or because they don’t perform as expected(onmouseover instead of onclick).

The page is heavy and takes a long time to load(6+ seconds for me – MacBook Pro – ff 2.0 – DSL conection). Front page is 3* the size of yahoo’s, 5* the size of ebay’s, and 2* the size of cbssportsline. Just a couple of fairly heavy sites of the top of my head. Perhaps more important than the size is that nothing seems to have been done to optimize – optimization 101 ignored/missed – e.g. .js is not minified.

Comment by Eric — December 3, 2007

I like it. I think it’s a solid site.

Comment by Richard Kimber — December 5, 2007

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