The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Take a sneak peek

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Take a sneak peek

As I mentioned three weeks ago, I've been working on upgrading this site to a newer version of the software it runs on. While I am doing that, I'm refreshing the user interface, trying to make the site cleaner and easier to use, and well adapted to mobile phones and tablets.

If you are one of those folks who likes to get "behind the scenes" and want to take it for a very preliminary spin, you can do so now by visiting sandbox.thefreshloaf.com.  You'll need to use the name "crust" and the password "crumb" to get to the site, then you should be able to login as usual using your account (assuming you've been a site member for at least three weeks, which is the last time I imported the site data).  

As you'll see, it is not done yet. If you click around you'll see some red error message and you'll find some things are missing.  But hopefully you'll notice some of the improvements too.  

A few notes:

  • If you can't find a page and want to, find the URL on the current site and copy and paste everything after the .com onto the URL on the new site.  There is a good chance it is there still, it just isn't easily discoverably in the new design yet.
  • The left rail is gone and useful items have been moved to the right rail.  There is still work to be done making sure everything important is in the right rail and in an intuitive order.
  • Forums topics weren't imported correctly, so if you try to create a new forum post I believe you'll run into issues there.  I am aware of how to fix this when I reimport the site content.
  • If you have the time, try logging in and making a fake blog post there.  Maybe post about your impressions of the new design.  Anything you post on the sandbox site will get thrown out the next time I refresh the database, so don't post anything hugely important there, but go ahead and try making a few test posts.  
  • If you do post, you'll note a few changes:  
    • For one, there is an "Image" field right at the top that makes it really easy to upload a single image that represents the story.  Once people start using that, I'll be able to do all kinds of cool things like auto-generate thumbnail images for the stories or make sure that those images get used when people post the stories to Facebook or Pinterest.
    • There is also a new "Media" button the right end of the editor toolbar button that allows you to upload images and use YouTube URLs to embed the videos.  Give it a shot.
  • You should still be able to upload images the way you could before too.   
  • None of the email related functionality (subscriptions, notifications, etc) is turned on there yet because I don't want to accidentally start sending people messages from the development version of the site too.  It will be there before the new site goes live.
  • Many ads are missing too.  Advertising is, I believe, a reasonable way of offseting the site's hosting and development costs and connecting vendors with potential customers is a legitimate part of the ecosystem created by a site like this. I want to keep doing that, but I do not want to make the ads any more intrusive than they are now and want to make sure that any ads display appropriately on the device they are being viewed on. Keeping the ads unobtrusive is tough because market pressures have been pushing for more intrusive ads that are less distinguishable from content ("sponsored posts" and such) for a while now.  I don't intend to go there, though it would be financially beneficial to do so.
  • Try it on a mobile device!  You'll see that it isn't perfect yet, but it is going to be a lot better than what we have now.
  • Oh yeah, take a look at your user profile (or mine, once you are logged in).  You'll see that your recent blog posts and bookmarks are there now.  I've made some changes to the way the bookmarking works too - it should be easier to find your favorite posts.  You can also add links to your other social media profiles on your profile page if you want to.  There is still more work for me to do here, but I'm really excited about these improvements and think it'll make it easier for community members to connect to one another both on TFL and elsewhere.    
  • Don't worry about performance (how quickly the pages load).  This week I set up a new, move powerful server and will deploy the new site there as soon as it is ready.  
  • For giggles, take a look and the homepage (or any page) on the new site on your desktop computer, then grab the edge of your browser window and make it narrower.  As you do so, notice how the elements of the page change to better fit the small viewport. Some will even disappear.  Pretty neat, isn't it? :^)

Let me know what you think!

Personally, I am really excited about the new version of the site and can't wait to get us there.  The toolset is so much better... it is going to make making further improvements to the site much, much easier.  

Alas, it is going to be a little while yet.  

First off, it is tax season, and with multiple employers in multiple countries and residency in two countries this year, this year they are going to be a doozy.  Fortunately we are in touch with tax professionals in both countries who'll help us file everything properly.

Following that, my family and I are heading to Poland to visit family very soon.  We've not been there in over 10 years and are very excited about it.  I will continue to check on The Fresh Loaf while I'm there, but I don't plan on coding while I am travelling.

Realistically, I won't be able to put much more energy into the site upgrade until after Easter.  In the best case scenario, an updated version of the site would go live in mid-to-late April, more likely would be May or June.  The date will depend on how much further I take it before switching over and how much other work I have lined up when I get back. But I wanted to put this out there now so you could all see what's been consuming much of my energy this past month - it is happening and will be happening soon!

-Floyd

Comments

cranbo's picture
cranbo

Floyd, it looks great. Some bugs to work out, but definitely moving in a good direction. 

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

Thanks for the sneak peek, Floyd. Had a look and I think it's coming along nicely. (By the way, the new design of the user profile is pretty great. Nice, clean, and organized---just how it should be!)

Thanks again.

Zita

yy's picture
yy

Looks great, Floyd! I'm a big fan of the clean look. Maybe it's just the way the site is rendering on my browser, but I don't see a search bar yet. Personally, I'd like to see the search field prominentely displayed on the home page. Members have have already contributed so much great material to TFL that the site feels like a baking database in addition to a forum, so a search bar would help draw people to the rich content they don't see from the front page. Thanks for all your work, and best of luck this tax season!

JOHN01473's picture
JOHN01473

Floyd,

liking the look of the new site - easy to get around.

like the most book marked list.

i created a blog entry and and a forum topic.

i edited the posts and added a string of @@@@@@@@@@@

there seems to be bleed over the screen.

the past from word worked but the text size changed from my original in word Arial 12 to smaller.

i did not see the spellchecker symbol - found this good on existing site.

let me know if you need any more testing

John01473

BobS's picture
BobS

Hi Floyd,

It looks much better on my iPhone. Couple of things you might want to think about:

  • Use more of the horizontal screen real estate on replies; they are currently shifted to the right quite a bit due to the avatar being on the right of the text box. Consider using the entire width of the mobile screen for text
  • Consider allowing font size changes on mobile devices

Thanks for all your work.

Bob

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Thanks for the feedback, all.  It is very helpful to hear what catches your eye.  

@bakingbadly Thanks!

@yy I agree about making sure search (and login) are easy to find everywhere, including the homepage.  I don't know if you noticed but I actually trimmed down the list of items in the top nav, thinking that putting the search bar there would be more useful.  Getting it in there is at the top of my to-do list.

@John01473 Thanks for the test posts.  I'll take a look and see if I can figure out how to force the long @@@ strings to wrap.  Adding the Spellchecker back is also on my to-do, and I'll look at what my options are for font sizing.  I do want to continue to force a fairly consistent type style though: I've been in forums that became totally unreadable once people figured out they could change type styles, sizes, and colors and they went crazy with it.

@BobS Yes, using space wisely and making sure the type is legible on iPhone is absolutely critical and something I still need to fine tune.  Yesterday I did some tuning for Android; iOS is still on my to-do list.

-F

KMIAA's picture
KMIAA

I'm going to check it out now.  Was able to log on.  Am sure all will be great.

KMIAA's picture
KMIAA

I get this message when clicking on Forum.  I thought I would let you know.  Don't know if everyone gets that message or not.

Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in forum_menu_local_tasks_alter() (line 175 of /var/www/html/tfl-d7/modules/forum/forum.module

 

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Yup, that is that message I mentioned because of an error during the forum import.  It should be addressed in the next import.

-Floyd 

Ruralidle's picture
Ruralidle

The new site looks good and I am looking forward to it going live but - in the meantime - enjoy your vacation in Poland!

isand66's picture
isand66

Love it so far!  Look forward to using it when you are done and ready for your new launch.

Thanks for giving us a sneak peak.

Ian