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Report from Engineering

Hey guys. So, we've been pretty busy.

Last night and today stability was our #1 priority. At this point we're pretty confident in the site. It should be faster than the old one, most noticeably on the big threads.

As for the 'usability' bugs, we've been reading the threads and agree with a lot of the suggestions and constructive criticism. Have you checked out the new My Chow? Just log in and head to http://www.chow.com/profile or view Tatum's at http://www.chow.com/profile/10008

Along with the My Chow stuff, we put names back into collapsed threads, fixed bugs, tweaked CSS, and have generally been trying to clean the site up today.

With the new backend and CSS/HTML we're able to make changes a lot quicker than we could before. For the techies in the crowd, we migrated from Rails 1.1.6 to Rails 1.2 and went from two backends to one. Cool stuff.

The big deal is, obviously, color. We're trying to push out a solution tonight: you'll have the ability to easily switch between the Chow red and a lighter Chowhound theme. The colors will be those of the previous Chowhound: white, tan, etc. We need to make sure it works in all the browsers and doesn't break the site, so just hold tight. If it's not tonight it will definitely be tomorrow. I attached a sneak peak, shhh.

Here's what's coming: better search, the return of your Chowhound questions (no data lost), better friends / tracking in My Chow, 'reply to' links in posts, fixed dates on posts, and tons of bug fixes. As fast as we can.

I gotta say, the Constructive Criticism topic (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/363308) and the Non-Hysterical Gripes topic (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/363193) are awesome. Thanks a lot for these. This is a really great community and we're trying to make everything easier for you guys.

We'll be checking in with updates as we push on over the next few weeks.

Engineering out.

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    1. You've done a great job fixing the essential problems promptly. There's a lot to love about this new site, and I look forward to seeing more improvements in the next few weeks. I'm particularly excited about the prospect of a new and improved search feature.

      Thanks Team!

      1. How are you guys beta testing these major site overhauls? Are you using any long-time Chowhound powerusers in your beta testing? It seems like if you were a lot of these problems could have been avoided.

        1 Reply
        1. re: extramsg

          Great point, and something we can do with some of our major new features. With our new setup, we can actually do this without a lot of duplicate work on our part. So expect preview beta testing going forward.

        2. Fast work. Worth a few days pain if the tradeoff is that you can whip new features out that fast.

          1. "My Chow" looks awesome. Big improvement over yesterday, but
            more importantly it's exactly what everyone has been asking for for
            the last six months. Nice work!

            1. Thanks for the cololur change - now at least I can look through the other changes without fear of migraine! Looks like the changes to my chow are going to solve some of my problems from yesterday. Thanks for the (very) prompt action but like others it would be good to know how the site was tested before release - or at least if something is going to be done about how it's tested for next time...

              2 Replies
              1. re: ali patts

                New changes will be more incremental. Expect to see lots of small changes weekly instead of massive changes bi-monthly. One of the advantages of the new code base is that we are freer (more free?) to be quick and nimble. And then, we'll be able to respond to feedback quickly as well.

                1. re: Engineering

                  As someone who is neither quick nor nimble I commend you!

              2. Thank you for the color change!

                1. Thanks for the color change and I am sure you will fix some of the minor glitches (i.e. drop down buttons) as they move up the list.

                  1. Absolutely brilliant on the ability to choose a color theme (for those who had to search as I did - look in the upper right-hand corner for two tiny tan and maroon boxes to switch.

                    Question - Can "Who's Talking" be given the option of a list of names vs. the icons? The icons do absolutely NOTHING for me (and I won't be using them, so to have a group of "little red people" without names is a waste - especially for super-long threads.

                    1. I have to say, as bad as the new implementation was, you've shown a strong willingness to listen to solid critiques and adapt appropriately. We'll see how far that goes but so far good on you, and good luck.

                      1. Hip hip hooray! Thank you so much for addressing the most pressing problems so quickly. I can now resume reading and posting about food, not about the board itself.


                        1. It's great that you've listened, thank you! This site does mean so much to all of us! One question: when I switched from red back to tan, it all got kind of cream-colored and then I couldn't see the tabs at the top for "Boards" and etc. I use Firefox, if that gives any help in figuring out why I don't see any of the navigation bars... Thanks!

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: brownie

                            Yes, functionality for Firefox should be a standard procedure as many more tech-savvy folks refuse to use IE when they can use Firefox instead, due to the greater security of the latter.

                            1. re: brownie

                              Brownie, Were you visiting a particular page when the navigation disappeared? We can't seem to replicate this problem.

                              1. re: Engineering

                                no, and thank you for replying to me! Every time i change any page at all over to tan, the navigation tabs become almost invisible. I can see the arrows, but if I didn't know from the red version that "Boards" was 2nd from the left, I'd have almost no idea it was there!

                                1. re: brownie

                                  also, just noticed this: I was trying to do a search in Manhattan and the red theme came up first (despite my having switched it from red to tan) and the words were maroon, which made it very difficult to read them. Switching, yet again, back to tan, the words became invisible. Seems like the same problem i'm having in the overall switch, but in this case, all words went invisible, whereas when i just make the switch at first, only the Nav. Tabs go invisible.

                                  1. re: brownie

                                    When I just switched to tan I had the same problem with the tabs, but when I ran my mouse over the area they popped back up.

                                    1. re: brownie

                                      The same thing is happening to me.

                                  1. re: welle

                                    Yes, and not just for emotional/nostalgic reasons. I can't access anything chow.com related from work due to an "entertainment" filter, but I can access Chowhound stuff. That I should be working from work is another issue entirely.

                                  2. Please add name of Board to hotposts!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Sarah

                                      Yes, please do! Otherwise, the changes are great.

                                    2. I'm so happy I've got tears in my eyes!

                                      1. Thank you for listening to our gripes........good job guys!

                                        1. One note: I'm very glad that usernames and dates have been added to collapsed threads (instead of the first line), but now the ability to expand just one collapsed comment is gone (and it was there yesterday), and I find that really valuable in long threads that I've contributed to.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: JasmineG

                                            just click on the name of the poster on the collapsed post and it will open

                                            1. re: jfood

                                              Yes, but you can't close it after expanding that individual (or several individual) posts.

                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                unfortunately only a one way street i think

                                                1. re: jfood

                                                  Used to be able to expand/collapse individual posts at will; hopefully it will be added back.

                                          2. Nice job, all. Big improvement over yesterday.

                                            1. Thank you. I do appreciate your hard work and the fact that you are listening to the community.

                                              1. Thank you for listening to our concerns, and reacting to them. And especially for the ability to change the background color.

                                                1. Can you get it back to where the read posts are a different color, in the Hot Posts and Latest Posts boards. Also, Hot Posts should have board designations,as Latest Posts does. This is addressed to Engineering.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. What everyone else is saying....thanks so much for responding so quickly to the major concerns of background color and MyChow. Next time a major change is going to happen, please post a note at the top of ALL the boards (is that what a "sticky note" is?) alerting us a week or two in advance. I know I am already mostly recovered from the big shock of yesterday.
                                                    I'll bet that most of the engineering team didn't get much sleep last night. I hope you are able to make up for that tonight: you all deserve it!
                                                    Thanks so very much, p.j.

                                                    1. Thanks for the theme change. To me, that was the one thing that would prevent me from using the site.

                                                      1. Engineering,

                                                        Would it be possible to make the posts under "my CHOW" and "posts" appear in chronological order according to the most recent post? I'm not sure if that makes sense to you at all, I'm finding difficulty explaining it.
                                                        Basically, I'd like the posts to show up like on normal boards. Right now, they're kind of willy-nilly, so I have to scroll through all the topics I've posted in to find new responses. I'd like if the topics with new responses could be at the top?
                                                        Wow, that took a lot of words to express a simple concept.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                          1. re: Engineering

                                                            Thank you. I'm glad you could understand what I was saying. I was starting to confuse myself!

                                                        1. I would like to add my thanks, and commend you for listening to the folks who use this site!

                                                          1. Great work, congratulations, thank you!

                                                            1. I'm not sure if it's been requested here, but could you also make the my CHOW posts sort by "Last Post"? It would be nice if all threads that have had recent posts would bubble up to the top of the list.