As we’ve gone live with Parts.io and started to introduce it to more people than our early group of alpha testers, we’ve been getting great feedback. There have been some detailed comments left on our community site, letting us know what is working and what isn’t. We’re also hearing from some of you on social media, which adds to our list of proposed improvements and what we’re doing well so far. All of these things give us the feeling that we’re at least on the right track for making a search engine/experience that will be beneficial to electronics designers. But there are some that simply ask, “Why would I register for parts.io, something I’ve never had to register for in the past?” A fair question. While we are looking at opening the search part of the website to the public, we think there are some exciting features coming up that will encourage people to register for the site.
- Community — Our discourse forum at Community.Parts.io is tied to our registration for the search site. Part of this is logistical (having one sign-in is better than two), but another part of this is as Parts.io grows services to the user, we want to make sure you’re participating under a single identity. The real benefit is interacting with your fellow users. We have users discussing new features they’d like to see and we have been answering users’ questions while they are trying to find components.
- List and BOM sharing – Currently users can add components to lists of parts that they create. Our plan for the future is to add the ability to share these lists with others. Doing so means you’ll need a unique account. Nothing would be worse that curating a list of parts you think are awesome and then not finding it the next time you visit the site. We also plan to work with BOMs in the near future, tying part searches to an existing BOM. This will help engineers get their jobs done faster.
- Recommendations — We’re not exactly fans of the term, “big data”; alas, that is part of what we are good at. As we continue to see more and more searches over time, we will be teasing out trends (and again, writing about those trends here). We also will be able to recognize user preferences. As you search for a certain type of microcontroller, we can begin to recommend new parts you may not have seen before, simply based upon the types of parts you search for over time; alternately as you search for a string of parts, we can recommend components that might be a good fit for your system. Buying a micro? Maybe you need a linear regulator. Buying a high speed ADC? You might need a funnel amp to feed in the signal. Nothing is worse than getting a box full of components for a build, only to realize you forgot to order a necessary oscillator or inductor. All of these things are meant as ways of helping you get your creation into the world faster and easier and ultimately to help you do your job better.
- Customization — As we recommend new parts to you and as you get deeper into the Parts.io search experience, you may find things you’d like to tweak or improve or customize the actual UI experience. You can already do that right now in certain ways, such as hiding the columns of the search results; however, this feature does not “remember” from one search to the next. In the future, we are planning to allow this customization of views to be part of your profile. If you want to always hide particular search terms or parts types or vendors, we will allow that as well. We continue to try and find the best search experience for most people, but eventually we know that having some customization will help users get their jobs done quicker.
Ultimately, we hope all users will decide to become a part of our community and share their insight while using the search engine and tools that surround it. Remember, if you join now, you can have a significant impact on the features and functions of the site. Perhaps you’ve had a feature you always wanted or needed but couldn’t get any sites to listen to you. We’re listening!