The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Site upgrade... coming soon

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Site upgrade... coming soon

I've been playing with the newest version of Drupal, the software that this site is running on, and I love it. So I'm thinking some time next week I'll upgrade the site to it. There will be an hour or so that the site is closed while I do the upgrade, but hopefully that'll be all the interruption. While I'm upgrading it I'm also going to swap some of the modules out a make a few changes.

Changes I have in mind includes easier image uploading (a constant issue here, I think I've found a module that will make it easier for most folks) and freetagging (I love metatagging, but I haven't done a very good job of making them useful here. I'm thinking I'll blow away the "Listings" and "Keywords" and replace them with freeform tags so you can categories the posts in the ways that make most sense to you). I may make a few other minor changes, but I think overall the user experience will be the same here.  Hopefully the screen for posting will be a bit less cluttered.

Suggestions, comments, concerns, please mention them.  I'll post again when I've figured out when I'm going to do the upgrade.

titus's picture
titus

Floyd:

When the site is upgraded, can you include a bit of instruction on the "free form tag" thing and how to use it, for those of us who aren't very computer/HTML etc savvy?

Thanks!

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Sure. It is pretty simple though: there is a text field labeled "tags". When you make a post, you can enter any set of phrases (tags) into it, like "bread artisan simple kidfriendly rustic vegan" and so on. Those terms can then be used to hop to similarly labeled posts.

Metatags are become more and more popular. Notice that the posts I made on YouTube include tags. A number of other sites, like del.icio.us and Live Journal also support tags. No HTML needed, and it lets the users choose the organization of the content rather than the site administrator. No, the current forums won't be going away, but with metatags on the content more interesting ways of navigating through the content may develop.

jm_chng's picture
jm_chng

One thing I would find useful is on the recent posts page, at the moment it tells you who started the thread but not who the last poster was. Also it would be nice if you could list the response by time perhaps as well as reply. At the moment I tend not to follow the whole thread. But that may be a good thing. : -)
Thank you Floyd for all you efforts. I know how hard it is. You do a good job. Jim

merrybaker's picture
merrybaker

Sounds great, Floyd!  One forum I use has a link that will "show unread posts since your last visit," and that's another feature you might want to add.  Thanks for all the work and time you put into this site.  

sewwhatsports's picture
sewwhatsports

I too agree with Merrybaker about the "show unread posts since your last visit" if possible.  I hate to hvae to backtrack and see where I left off.  It gets a little confusing for me at times and if available, this feature would be greatly appreciated.

I have made this site one of the few that I regularly check.  I appreciate all the behind the scenes work that you do to keep it running so well. Thanks so much!!

Rena in Delaware

CountryBoy's picture
CountryBoy

Floyd, thank you for such a magnificently designed site.  I have designed sites myself and know how hard it is to have not just the quick, intuitive, drill down architecture that keeps people tuned in but also to have the spirit of the participants join in the fun.  You have done the Best job of any site I have ever seen.  Like your recipes, you make the difficult look so simple.  Congratulations.  Also, the colors and photo layouts are excellent.  Did you check the book section where I suggested you write a book?

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Hey CountryBoy,

Thank you for the kind words. And, yes, I did see your comments about putting together a book. It is entirely possible down the road that we could bundle some of the site content up and turn it into a book. How to do that and cut in the community members who've contributed so much of the content would certainly be a concern of mine, but I'm sure a publisher could arrange a way to do that. I know O'Reilly does many books that are essentially community creations. Those are technical books but, still, the concept is the same.

For now my focus continues to be on keeping this site running well. In the past couple of months we really seem to have hit a new threshold: just about any time of day one can come to the and find three or four active discussions going on with new comments being added every couple of minutes. I love it, and I'm just trying to figure out what I can do to help steer people toward the great content folks here are posting. I'm not sure the navigation and content organization I have now (Lessons, Favorites, etc.) is doing it justice.

As I said in my very first post on the site, my goal has never been for this place to show off my baking. I always wanted it to become the kind of site I'd want to hang out on, which would be a place for enthused amateur bakers to help each other out. I think in the past couple of months it has really matured into such a place. That rocks.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

I didn't get around to the site upgrade this week. Too many other crazy things going on in my life right now (good, just crazy). I hope to get around to that soon and will post again before I do.

sphealey's picture
sphealey

I'll just add to the general thank-you here - this must be a tremendous amount of work.

 

Just one suggestion: it probably goes without saying, but be sure to back up the old design and data in such a way that it can be recovered into production if the upgrade turns out sub-optimally.

 

sPh

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Absolutely I'll make a backup. Upgrades like these are what I do for a living, so I have a lot of practice screwing things up and making other people pay for it experience upgrading software packages like this.

Joking aside, it is still the same software package. The majority of the changes are on the administration screens and in the code. Aside for an hour or so doing the upgrade, it shouldn't be too disruptive a change to the users.

CountryBoy's picture
CountryBoy

Floyd when you mentioned: "In the past couple of months we really seem to have hit a new threshold" you possibly alluded to something that is very apparent in the site and that is the very unique sense of community and warmth of the people posting.  I set up a forum for my town (about 20K people) but the negative postings really ruined it for everyone else.  My sense of the internet bulletin boards is that this board is in a very delicate stage that could change very easily and quickly.  I don't know how much you have to screen out of the negative, but I do enjoy the community spirit here and hope it lasts as long as possible. My experience is internet bulletin boards like book stores and restaurants are very special "places" that can go down hill quickly.  My sense is that with increasing size there will be increasing risk. My wish is that the community you have started just keeps rolling..

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Agreed that BBs can fall apart quickly.

My feeling is that there are plenty of other BBs where you can go be an opinionated jerk, a snob, mean to new bakers, and so on. I see no reason to tolerate that kind of behavior here. I've occasionally had to step in when there have been spammers or when someone has started getting nasty, but overall I've been blessed w/ having attracted a really cool group of people with a similar spirit, trying to help one another regardless of one another's level. So I've had to do very little policing. I wouldn't hesitate to do so more if it became necessary to keep things civil here, but hopefully it won't.

sylvstr540's picture
sylvstr540

Floyd your site is wonderful!!  I would be lost without it, so thank you for all of your hard work!!

Maria

sadears's picture
sadears

Floydm,

 

I agree you have done a wonderful job with this site.

 

My suggestion is to add a Recipe section.  Often in a post, a person will post a recipe, be it for a bread product or starter.  I find I get confused (go figure) trying to locate a recipe I had seen previously.  It would be nice to have a section to go to, where the person posting can say something along the lines of "I posted x recipe in the recipe section..."

 

Steph

grepstar's picture
grepstar

Steph,

 

I think the addition of tagging will make it much easier to search for recipes. Good luck, Floyd! 

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Yeah, adding a recipe section seems like an obvious thing to do, but once you start looking into it is actually fairly hard to do.

 

So many of the great recipes here are found in comments to threads that begin on other topics. In other places the real value isn't in the recipe itself, since everyone knows that French Bread is 60-2-2, but in the conversation and commentary. It seems like quite a bit of editing would be required to put together a decent recipe section. So far neither I nor anyone else has gone back and edited much of the content here. I'm not sure it'd be right for me to edit people's content without their approval (aside from fixing typos and helping with mark-up, which I do regularly).

 

So... In the short term, I'm hoping better tagging will help the community organize the information into meaningful, navigable content clusters. At some point in time it may make sense for us to do more editing to the existing content or collaboratively reshape it into a new document (I'm imagining doing something almost like a baking book in wiki form). Who knows. 

sadears's picture
sadears

Floydm,

 

I didn't mean for you to move stuff into the recipe section.  Just for the future, instead of posting the recipe into a post, put it in an easily accessable/memorable location.

 

Steph

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Right. And I think freetagging will help us do that. Just add a tag "recipe" and whoop, it'll be in the recipe list. Add "sourdough" as a tag and boom, it'll be in the sourdough list.

The wiki-style online book idea is growing on me too though. That is what the Drupal handbook is. Basically we'd agree on a general structure and then let a bunch of site users (basically anyone who was interested and had been registered for a while and shown they can be trusted) edit the pages and fill in the details. Any of us could contribute where we were knowledgeable and we'd have a forum where we could discuss any controversy that came up (I could also keep a revision log just in case someone went ballistic and we had to back out the changes). This wouldn't replace the current site forums or discussion, but I bet it could augment the value of this site to new bakers considerably.

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

Floyd - all your ideas sound great, and this site is already fabulous as everyone has already stated. The tags sound like they will really be helpful. You mentioned emacs in another post - wow, that was a blast from the past, must be over 10 years since I've fired up an emacs session for HTML... my how things have changed, and I admit I forget a lot of HTML now and am no longer up on the latest web technology other than as a user these days, so I don't feel I can comment well on the upgrade, but I look forward to whatever you present to us.

 

But it is nice to know someone still uses emacs...and I thought my husband was in the dark ages for continuing to keep his resume in VI rather than word :)

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

to my husband that this site has exploded since I first signed on. I would check "recent posts" daily. Usually..there would be a couple. Now, every day there are at least 20 -25. To top it off, quality people, for the most part. Occasionally a "know-it-all".  Kudos to you, the peeps on this site!! I very much enjoy being able to learn and the experience of "kneading each other". Thank you very much.

pseudobaker's picture
pseudobaker

I'm involved in another forum that has turned nasty.  I've only been here a few days, but I'm THRILLED to have found you.  Not only are there other bread geeks like me, but people post helpful and encouraging feedback to even the smallest question.  Thanks, all!