2009 has been a fantastic year for Brickset so I thought I'd do a quick recap of the new features added this year, and also what you can look forward to in 2010.
January: During the latter half of 2008 I rewrote the site from scratch and launched it at the very end of 2008. The upgrade added loads of new features but also provided a stable base on which to build more. The Theme Browser was the first new feature of the year which makes it much easier to view all sets in a particular theme, by year or subtheme. Next up was the My Friends page which allows you to mark Brickset users as friends and keep track of their collection and reviews. This was Brickset's first attempt at 'social networking': I think it's been a success and a useful feature so maybe it's an area that can be enhanced in the future.
February: Perhaps the most significant enhancement of the year was the addition of minifig data from BrickLink. As well as showing minifig counts in search results, the actual minifigs themselves are shown when viewing set detail pages. A Minifig Browser was also added to make it easy to see all minfigs in sets from a particular theme, subtheme or year of release.
March: Following on from progress in February, it was a small step to combine minifigs in set data with your set collection to highlight the minifigs you own when viewing minifig lists, and to generate a list of your entire minifig collection grouped by theme. I also added the ability to mark minfigs as wanted and also to record your loose minifig collection.
May: I added an often requested feature: the ability to add notes against sets, both those you own and those you don't.
June: Integration with other sites was the theme in June: Import from Lugnet, Export to Peeron, enhancements to the export of your set list, and the exporting of your minifig wanted list as an XML file for importing to BrickLink. With help from Fly Guy, the Brickset page on Facebook was set up. I also started Tweeting.
August: After adding all those new features I thought I'd take stock and ask you, the site users, what you thought of it, and how it could be improved. I ran a survey which received around 1500 responses and provided some excellent feedback.
September: A common theme in the survey comments was that you thought the site's news was too UK-centric. So I recruited news correspondents from the US, Canada and Australia to improve news coverage in those countries.
October: The last new feature of the year was the addition of BrickLists which allow users to compile lists of otherwise unrelated sets and share them with other users. I think these have been a success, there are over 900 of them now, although there is probably room for improvement still, to help sort the useful ones from the not so useful.
November and December: Traffic increased to ridiculous levels during the run up to the holiday season so I left the site well alone!
So, what's in store for 2010?
- In the next few weeks I will be adding a feature which I am particularly excited about which will enhance the site's usefulness considerably.
- Traffic to the site has increased so much that it will shortly be rehosted onto its own dedicated server: this will improve flexibility and also enhance performance. It will cost a lot more, but thanks to the revenue generated when you click through to LEGOshop.com, eBay and Amazon, the site will continue to remain self-financing.
- We will be adding vastly improved images of 1970s and some 1980s sets. I won't tell you where these are coming from just yet: you'll find out in due course.
- I'm also planning to give the site a 'lick of paint' and update its design slightly. Don't worry though, it will remain as easy on the eye and easy to use as it is now!
So not only have you some fantastic new LEGO to look forward to in 2010 but also some great enhancements to your favourite LEGO site!
Finally, I'd like to thank the people who make this site what it is:
- Main database administrators Grahame and Bluemoose
- Moderators Martin and Dr. Sinister
- News correspondents Jkool, danjc, MinifigHQ, Shima55, Brickapolis and CrzyLCF
- Dan at BrickLink for the use of BrickLink's data
- Eric at Northstar (our web host) who has provided a rock solid web server and database
- Rene at 1000Steine for hosting the set images
- Finally, you, for visiting, for writing reviews, comments and BrickLists and generally making this a friendly place and a pleasure to run.
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