New feature: Theme Browser

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I've introduced a new feature which addresses the problem of quickly and easily browsing themes year-by-year. It's just about possible using the current search facility but it often requires too much use of the back button.

So, please take a look at the new Theme Browser and let me know what you think!

62 comments on this article

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By in United States,

Great idea huw! It looks like you got all the most popular themes in there, Good job!

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By in Netherlands,

Excellent! Great idea.

I have one little comment. When you click on a theme, the browser starts with the oldest sets. I would prefer the newest sets on top of the list. But that is just a minor detail.

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By in Philippines,

Nice update

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By in United States,

You should add city, too.

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By in Canada,

It works really well, good job!

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By in United States,

You forgot Power Miners, HUW! Can you put it on there? Sorry, but I couldn't find the right size of picture!

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By in Brunei Darussalam,

It says 10 themes on the top description, but there's only 9 to choose from. Is that deliberate?

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By in United Kingdom,

Glad you all like it...

@Novelty, it should say 9. I might also do City, and intended to originally, although I think Grahame and I need to go through the database and check whether sets are 'Town' or 'City' first. Not that it's particularly clear-cut.

Regardless of the links and graphics I have provided you can of course tweak the page URL and change the theme to anything you like. The page will have a broken graphic but it should still work.

@wadaltmon, there's no point doing power miners, there's only been one year of them, you can see them all by searching.

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By in United States,

I'm glad you did this, it makes it easier. Thank you so much for putting all specific years items on 1 page, so we don't have to go through 2 pages to see them all.
I really like this idea, and it will make it a lot easier to find things, especially since you have it split by theme and year.
Thank you!

kmvk83: Regardless of what kmvk83 says, I think it's great that you started with the oldest sets, then went to the newest.
Sev

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By in United Kingdom,

I guess it depends how long you've been collecting whether you want oldest or newest first :-)

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By in United States,

Nice Feature! It is totaly AWESOME!

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By in Bulgaria,

I also think it's great that you started with the oldest sets & longest running themes first. Marvellous idea, makes looking for sets a whole lot easier! Thanks Huw :)

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By in United Kingdom,

I've added Batman, City and Model Team.

I'll do three more and I think that will be enough so give me your suggestions!

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By in Bulgaria,

I couldn't help but notice that there are some sets missing from their respective categories... such as, for example, the 2003 train sets - 4511 and 4512 - which are nowhere to be found, neither under the Town, nor under the Trains category. Guess that's because they've originally been marked as "World City" sets, which is correct.. but then again they should also belong to the Trains section, right?

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By in United States,

Wow, that's handy.

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By in Poland,

Dude! I'll spend hours poring over this. Awesome! Hey, you could put a "Mining" category in, since Power Miners really is just a sequel to the classic Rock Raiders....

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By in United States,

Awesome! Try and add more when you get a chance.

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By in United States,

Nice update! that is so nice to see the sets in the years they were released in.

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By in United States,

I love it dude!

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By in United Kingdom,

@MetroiD, you're right they are currently under World City. Unfortunately after about 1996 the official allocation of themes through clear indication in catalogues etc. often disappeared so after that a lot of it is open to interpretation.

Are, for example, Knights' Kingdom sets part of the Castle theme or not? They were never labelled as such although both Peeron and Bricklink have them as a subtheme of Castle.

Mars Mission and Life On Mars are also difficult ones. Bricklink lists them under space but Peeron has them as their own themes, as we do.

We could discuss this for ever more and never reach a consensus of opinion. I guess we (Brickset admins) should ask ourselves if people are browing the Castle theme would they expect to see KK sets included. Personally I think the answer is yes.

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By in United States,

HUW how do i find the theme browser on the home page?

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By in United States,

YAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYY Wonderful

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By in United Kingdom,

It's not on the home page, yet...

I've just made it more generic: if the theme you're interested in isn't listed you can pick it from the list at the bottom.

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By in Bulgaria,

You're right Huw, that's more of a problem with LEGO denomination of sets & the themes they belonged to... they have gone through quite a few phases during these last 10+ years and I could only hope they're happy with the current setup of themes and are planning on building on the ones in existence right now, instead of starting new themes full of revamped old-styled sets. I mean, I absolutely understand the need to revisit and create a new set for example for the airport, the fire station or the train set. It's even perfectly plausible for the castle and pirates themes, although the latter got dropped due to no apparent reason... But why can't those new sets belong to the same old theme and just be a natural evolution of those?

Ah, but I digress :) My point was, I didn't mean to bash the theme browser; it's great :]]] And I fully approve of brickset's attempt to "generalise" themes wherever possible (i.e. by putting KK under the Castle theme)

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By in United States,

Life and Mars and Mars Mission are definitely Space themes. No, there's no direct story tie-in to the Space universe, but if that's the defining factor than Insectoids and UFO should also be listed as their own themes, and they aren't. I never understood why those were different.

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By in Canada,

Yay, new themes!

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By in United States,

I think that Rock Raiders should have its own theme.

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By in Australia,

Hey Huw. Might I suggest you add the little-known LEGO Model line in with the Model Team sets or the Town sets? Great work by the way.

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By in United States,

One suggestion, I think you should have one for Indiana Jones. It's in it's 3rd year I think...
EDIT: Sorry, it's in it's 2nd year.
Sev

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By in Hong Kong,

Love it. Thanks Huw

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By in Finland,

Great addition!

It's already good enough if for the moment you keep it simplified, so that Mars Mission go together with all other space themes. Maybe later you may want to create subthemes.

Is there really a reason to keep City and Town separate? It's the same theme, just renamed.

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By in Bulgaria,

Hey Huw, this is great! The new feature is very useful!! Great work, the entire site is great!

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By in United States,

Huw, this is very handy, thanks a bunch for adding it.

Can I make another suggestion? So far, from my experience, the biggest value in this feature is the ability to page through the years of a theme once you are on the page with the resulting sets listed by year. In acknowledgement of that, is it possible to add that same type of paging to the regular "browse tab" search results page also? That is to say, if a browse-search contains both a theme and a year (or even just a year only), you could add the same by-year-paging control to the top of the page. Right now, all you get at the top of the page is a summary of your search terms seperated by semicolons.

You could even take this a step further and allow each of the individual search terms to be changed on the fly. Basically, instead of having the terms just listed as static text at the top of the results page, you could make them each drop-downs (or other appropriate control) and then any parameter in the current seach could be changed. You could even include controls for parameters that weren't part of the original search, such as including subtheme (maybe defaulting to a choice of "all") even if that was not originally specified. The overall effect of this would be to greatly simplify browsing sets no matter what criterion you wished to browse on since you would never have to return to the original browse tab. And you would also never have to use the back button after clicking on the links in the "Narrow your search" side bar.

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By in United Kingdom,

@mkoesel, excellent suggestions, thank you.

When you click on a theme name in the browse tab or in the search results (or the new theme browser list, they are the same) it does a search for that theme using the general search page. It would probably make more sense for those links to lead to the theme browser instead which I think would do as you request.

I'm liking the drop-down suggestion, that should be easy enough, I'll see if I can do something without cluttering or bloating the page or slowing down the database queries.

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By in United Kingdom,

Thanks very much for this new feature Huw. The old one was very confusing with the 2 different lists and the back buttion being used more in those 2 minutes than in a whole day. :D

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By in United States,

good job
its a lot better than the current 1

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By in United Kingdom,

Excellent - really like it.
Will you add subthemes in the box on the right in time as well as the years?
The drop-down suggestion by mkoesel is also good.

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By in Canada,

I agree with the subthemes suggestion, and good idea sorting everything by year.

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By in Australia,

FANTASTIC!!! This has made it so much easier to work out the gaps in my collections and keep track of things.
Thank you so much!

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By in United States,

cool but you forgot some sets in batman

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By in United Kingdom,

I've made a few changes in response to comments, as always LMKWYT...

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By in United Kingdom,

Looking at the Harry Potter sets, http://www.brickset.com/browse/themes/?theme=Harry%20Potter, I see we have no subthemes for these. I'd like to set them to align with the movies.

Could someone more expert in HP sets than I send me an email with this information?

Thanks

huw[at]brickset[dot]com

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By in United Kingdom,

Now with the subthemes! Even better. Cheers Huw.

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By in United States,

I think that the new theme browser is awesome. It makes it a lot easier to browse the different themes.

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By in United States,

Huw:

I will send you an email right away.

jonbuddy

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By in United States,

ok ... the theme browser is cool and all, but I MUCH prefer the old browsing method as the default.

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By in United States,

ITS OK. Good job.

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By in Colombia,

Huw, excellent addition to your web page, I also noticed that it works in the my sets part, now I can check that I have selected all the set that I own with this feature, before it was so difficult

Congratulations for your web page, I always use it.

One suggestion, probably a little bit difficult!, Could you put images of the mini figures of each set in the page?

Thank you

Federico

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By in Turkey,

It's a really great idea Huw. And I think it could be better if the themes start at 2009 when you click them. Most people look for the new sets but not the old ones and it takes once less click to reach them that way.

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By in United States,

I checked it out. Nice work Huw.

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By in United States,

How will the thing where you select a theme you want (that isn't there already) work? I mean, how will you get the message? By the way, think that in the summer you should put Spongebob Squarepants on there, too.

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By in Australia,

Fantastic, thanks for all your hard work on making a great site even better.

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By in United States,

Wow awesome feature!!! That's going to be my main Lego-related bookmark!

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By in United States,

Awesome. It's an excellent addition to the site. Thanks for all your work and dedication.

edit:
After going through it more, I have some suggestions. Having the back and forward links for the years at the bottom of the page would be nice, too, so one doesn't have to scroll back to the top to go to the next year. Also, a way to skip years, similar to the normal browsing when there's multiple pages, would be nice, too.

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By in United States,

Mars Mission and Life on Mars oare it's own theme! Only if it's a Mars Theme.. :( You should put Mars Mission on theme browser.

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By in United Kingdom,

@iabstract, I've added prev/next year links to the bottom as requested. You can use the side menu to skip years.

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By in United States,

Heh, I noticed the side menu after I posted my comment. Thanks for adding the year to the bottom, though. You rock.

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