CODENAME “COSMOS” – Release Plan and Feature Outline
COSMOS is an ambitious project and as such is many things to many people. Though the description "social networking tool" is fitting, "EVE away from EVE" is much closer to our long-term vision. In order to be a bit more concrete, I thought I'd give you a quick run-down of what exactly we expect COSMOS will be in its first of many incarnations, and how the pieces fit into the bigger picture.
On the core feature list we have: home, profiles, improved contact list and an improved mail system. Both the improved contact list and the mail system will also be made available in-game, finally giving a much needed overhaul to the arcane and archaic in-game mail system.
Before I go into more detail on the features themselves I wanted to tell you about our revised release plan.
Dominion: The first iteration of the all new in-game mail system along with all the back-end wizardry to make it work.
Post-Dominion (Likely early in 2010): The first iteration of the COSMOS web application, with all the features outlined below plus the Calendar.
We think that this delay for the web application is the right move because we have always had our sights set on the long game for COSMOS. The first release, while crammed with good stuff, was always intended to lay the basis for the ground-breaking innovations to come. Rushing COSMOS out with less polish didn´t make sense in this context, we want to impress from day one. CCPOveur will have a lot more to say about this in his FanFest presentation and there will be chance for discussion and feedback in the COSMOS roundtable also planned for FanFest.
Another positive of this approach is that we now expect to be able to get the Calendar into the first COSMOS web release. Personally this is one of the COSMOS features I am most excited about, it´s going to make scheduling corp and alliance ops a lot easier. Add to that the new mail system, corp status updates and the future release of integrated corp and alliance forums and COSMOS will significantly reduce management overheads for all corps and alliances.
The asynchronous release is made possible because COSMOS is a web application and is not as interwoven with the EVE Client as most of our other features. This will make it possible for us to continue to release smaller batches of COSMOS features outside of major TQ releases in the future, when it makes sense to do so.
Now onto the features themselves:
Initially COSMOS will have a status update system similar to that in Facebook for sharing messages with your friends. The feeds section of COSMOS aggregates all the status updates of your friends and colleagues and allows you to organize the feeds. Later extensions of COSMOS will hook into this system for other types of feeds you can subscribe to, such as news and blogs. All these feeds will be displayed in Home.
Profiles in COSMOS are the equivalent of character show info in-game, including bio, corporation history and other relevant information. Additionally, the profile includes the status update feed for the character. When viewing your own profile, you will also have access to limited character sheet info. Initially this will only include trained skills and the training queue, but it will expand in the future.
Contacts is an extension of the current in-game buddy list that supports two-way friendship connections. When adding a person to the contact list, you have the option whether to silently add the person to a ''Watchlist'' (which has no relation to the fleet Watchlist!), or send a friend request. In addition to formally recognizing each other, adding someone as a friend gives them access to more information about you than would otherwise be accessible, such as status updates and what friends you have.
In order to keep the current functionality from the in-game buddy list, enemies or neutral acquaintances can be silently added to the "Watchlist" section of the contact list. Doing so does not require the added person's permission nor does it notify the added person - as with the in-game buddy list, anyone can be added to the Watchlist regardless of whether they want to or not. The Watchlist functions just like the buddy list, i.e. it allows you to see the online status of the person, but it does not grant any permissions you would not otherwise have.
The notion of ''labels'' (private tags) is used throughout COSMOS to classify and control content. In a sense, labels are your view of the content. In the contact section of COSMOS, contacts can be assigned labels, allowing you to group your contacts. Each label is represented Gmail style with a corresponding folder, containing all contacts with that label. Creating a new label and assigning it to one or more contacts creates a new folder in the contact list. Contacts can be moved between folders by swapping one label for another.
The privacy settings define what information and how much of it you expose and to whom. In the initial release of COSMOS, the privacy settings are most likely going to be hardwired, but the intention is to implement a system that gives you full control. The privacy settings will be implemented as a role based access control system, using labels for assigning roles to persons in your contact list. Every permission in the privacy settings (e.g. "may view my profile") has an associated list of labels that define who are granted that permission: The permission is granted to a given user if the user has any of the listed labels.
Access to labeled content that you own (such as, in future releases, videos) can also be granted based on the label. The general access policy, which applies to all content of that type, can be extended with clauses for content with specific labels. For instance, if you have uploaded some videos labeled "awesome", then you can change your privacy settings to only allow your "awesome" contacts to view the "awesome" videos, while in general allowing everyone to view the rest of your videos.
Down the line, the plan is to use a similar system for security settings for corporations and alliances. The policies would be augmented with optional side conditions for their use, e.g. requiring a vote within some member group or approval of higher ranking members, such that separation of duties can be implemented for sensitive permissions.
The mail system is implemented similarly to Gmail, using labels to organize mail just as for contacts. The first release will have simple hardcoded rules for labeling corporation mail etc. With later releases, the functionality will be extended to custom mail rules and archiving.