Since the YUI Library was released under an open-source BSD licence in February, we’ve gotten a lot of questions about YUI. One of the questions we’ve fielded more than any other, though, is also one of the best and most relevant: Who at Yahoo! is putting this stuff out into production? The answer is that almost everyone at Yahoo! is using YUI to some degree, including some of our most highly trafficked and high-profile sites. There are some notable exceptions — the Yahoo! Mail Beta and the new Yahoo! Photos, for example, are projects that started before YUI was available and work their DHTML magic using solutions crafted by their own engineering teams. But, increasingly, what we’re seeing is that most new projects at Yahoo! are relying on YUI to serve as a foundation.
Inspired by our own Dustin Diaz‘s recent post (“15 Things You Can Do with Yahoo UI“) on the new frontend-developer journal Vitamin, we wanted to share with you ten things Yahoo! is already doing with YUI. This list isn’t exhaustive, nor does it suggest that these are the ten most important implementations; rather, these are ten that represent some of the breadth and depth with which YUI is being used within the Yahoo! family.
Yahoo’s Front Page redesign, recently out of preview and available at http://www.yahoo.com, uses YUI extensively in its Personal Assistant module toward the top right corner of the page. Event Utility is used to listen for mouse events when interacting with the module; Connection Manager retrieves data on demand from the Personal Assistant’s six services; and the Animation Utility powers the smooth transitions as you move from module to module.
My Yahoo! was one of the first major consumer sites to embrace RSS and allow users to fully experience the "Come To Me" web — the web in which information you care about, whether from Yahoo! or from any site with an RSS feed, is aggregated and arranged to your liking. In January, arranging that information got a whole lot easier when My Yahoo!’s developers gave the site a major infusion of YUI — Event Utility, Connection Manager, Drag and Drop Utility, Animation Utility, and the Dom Collection. The result: A personalized portal in which you can drag your content modules around on the page to reorder them. Note the use of the Animation Utility to soften the transition when you drop a module in a new location.
No picture is provided for this example, because the only way to fully appreciate the responsiveness of this Search interface is to experience it yourself. AllTheWeb’s LiveSearch provides an alternative interface to the Yahoo! Search platform and drives intense XHR-mediated traffic via Connection Manager, exploring the deep integration of client- and server-side application logic. (Note: This implementation imposes some browser restrictions at present; these restrictions are not intrinsic to YUI Library code, which is designed to work in all A-Grade browsers.)
Yahoo! Tech is the first major Yahoo! product launched in the YUI era, and it takes full advantage of the library. One of the more unique uses of YUI on Tech is its implementation of a configurable content width control. This feature allows you to show and hide the secondary content column on the fly, and it employs the Animation Utility to gradualize the transition for good measure — an innovative approach to handling the variety of screen sizes and browser viewport sizes with which users view Tech’s content-rich pages.
Yahoo! Finance takes advantage of one of the newer components of the YUI Library, the CSS Reset, Fonts and Grids packages. Try visiting Finance and zooming your text size — notice that the page’s wireframe zooms right along with the text, keeping the integrity of the design intact at the larger size. This is just one benefit of these infrastructure CSS components that provide a stable, flexible, and future-friendly foundation for your web site.
Drag and Drop implementations can be complicated, but some of the best implementations are quite simple. When you click on a Y!Q contextual search link on any site that implements it (like Yahoo! News, or even many non-Yahoo sites via the Y!Q API), a small window pops up with search results for the linked term. That window can be moved around using a simple implementation of the YUI Drag and Drop Utility, allowing you to position it on the page as desired, out of the way of anything it may be obscuring.
Yahoo! Sports designers wanted to do something special for the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, something that would make it easier to navigate to check on the action for individual athletes, sports and countries. So they took the YUI AutoComplete Control and put it to work, developing a slick navigator that augments directory-style navigation with something much faster and more powerful. Typing a few characters in the search box and arrowing to your selection allows you to get to your destination in world-record time.
Yahoo! News takes the ticker idea to a new plateau with its smooth-scrolling SuperTicker. This module, which promotes major features toward the top of the main News page, overloads a
<div> horizontally and uses the YUI Animation Utility‘s Scroll subclass to slide the content back and forth — automatically via a timer or as a navigation control when the user clicks on the arrows at the module’s lower corners.
Yahoo! Health has its own take on the horizontally-scrolling ticker, employing YUI components including the Slider Control and the Animation Utility to provide a Health Expert Advice module loaded with content in a compact space. Note the highly customized implementation of the Slider Control along the bottom of the module.
The YUI Calendar Control makes date-selection a snap. The Yahoo! Groups implementation of this is a nice one. Go to the Advanced Search page in the Messages section of one of your groups, and use the select menu for Dates to search for messages between two dates. The standard interaction model presents itself — three select menus for each date (month, day, and year), requiring six mouse clicks (or three long click-and-holds) to choose each date. But a single click on the calendar icon next to the select menus summons up the Calendar Control, and another click selects your date, giving you the same result with one-third as many clicks. Sometimes it’s the little things that matter most.
These are just ten examples of how Yahoo! is deploying the YUI Library today. These projects, and the dozens of others we’re tracking, leverage the a la carte nature of YUI, a characteristic that is allowing properties to enrich their interfaces gradually and incrementally. There are exciting things afoot in frontend engineering at Yahoo! beyond just YUI — see Yahoo! Finance’s new Flash-based charting for one example — but YUI is playing an important role in the evolution of theYahoo! product family.