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It’s Finally Here!

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I can’t believe that I’m finally writing this.

About eight months ago, I had a crazy idea. I started sharing it with the staff and tried to explain just how amazing this new “thing” would be. They didn’t get it. I drew sketches of what it would look like. We held long IM chats as I tried to share how I imagined it all working. They still didn’t get it. Eventually, Clint started writing code, even though he wasn’t sure how it would all work. Lisa took my sketches and sloppy html mockups and started creating more elegant pages.

I remember when the lightbulbs started going off. As the project started to take shape and the first clumsy builds actually worked and were oh, so cool, we were all getting more excited.

This was going to be cooler than anything fans had ever imagined. The Lexicon staff took on the work with gusto…other projects were put on hold, pages were left out of date, there didn’t seem to be much posted on the What’s New, and eventually, we were all getting overwhelmed.

We needed help. In order to make it work, we needed people to start filling in the rich content that would make this thing so marvelous. One by one, some amazing and talented (and good looking) people came on board. We’d swear them to secrecy, then lift the curtain and let them see what we were working on. Every one of them was stunned by what they saw. I remember one person, as I showed her around, just kept typing “OMG OMG OMG”. Everyone was thrilled to help, to be part of what they knew was going to be one of the most amazing projects fandom has ever seen.

The work stretched on and on. (It’s still going on, in fact, and might never be completely finished.) Months went by. We started to worry if we’d be able to go live before book seven, which was our goal.

Then, a few weeks ago, a contest was announced called the Webware 100. This was a contest for the best Web 2.0 sites and services. I wanted to enter our project in that contest. How cool would that be to be recognized by CNET as a top web 2.0 reference site? We pulled everyone together and decided we would go for it. The deadline was May 7. Things went into high gear. The new page layout had to be made to work since the new project required it. We needed help files. We needed to set up a way for you all to create user accounts on this thing. And we had to decide which features we just couldn’t get operational in time. But we were determined to make it by May 7.

It was a near thing. For the past two days, we’ve been working almost non-stop to get things ready for unveiling in a public beta. At about 11 pm tonight, on the day before the deadline, Clint told me that it was live. We were ready to roll.

I really can’t believe I’m writing this. I can’t tell you how excited I am to announce that, through the amazing effort of a wonderful team, the Lexicon can present for your fandom pleasure…

THE CANON PORTKEY!

The what? What’s a “canon portkey”? I’ve written a short introduction which you can find here. I think it would be a good idea if you’d read that before you try it out to avoid some confusion. Then have at it! Play with it! Explore with it! Find out what it can do. Follow the links, wallow in the detail and the wonderfully rich information you can find. Try things, test things, and let us know how you like it. Feel free to give us feedback about what worked and what didn’t. Bear in mind, of course, that this is a beta build and some features are still being fine-tuned. Also, the data entry part of the project is still very much ongoing.

Clint provided some coding factoids in case you’re curious: There are 93 separate files that make the Portkey work. Over 7000 lines of code were written for this project. (That’s in addition to all of the stuff written for the timeline that was incorporated into the Portkey).

I need to express massive thanks to the people who have made this possible. It started out as a weird and wonderful idea of mine. Through the efforts of Clint, who coded the whole thing, and John, who entered all the synopses for all the novels, to Lisa who created the page layouts and Bel who manages the volunteers, the Portkey is everything I dreamed of and much, much more.

Here’s a full list of the wonderful people who have made this possible for you:

The Canon Portkey Team
Steve Vander Ark – creator and project manager
John Kearns – chapter synopses and massive data entry work
Lisa Waite Bunker – page layouts and design, technical advisor, project writer
Belinda Hobbs – team leader, project writer, creative advisor
Clint Hagen – just wrote all the code, that’s all!!!

Data Entry Team
Mike Ball, Martje Ross, Ruth Meyer, Elanor Isolda, David Stamm, Kimmy Blair, Naomi Boyer, Gina Anstey, Torill Gronhaug, and Meann Ortiz

Graphic artist: Camilla Engelby

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