The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Another update to the sandbox site

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Another update to the sandbox site

I've just updated the sandbox (development) version of this site.  If you are so inclined, take a peek!  Username crust, password crumb to get to the site.

For a recap of changes, read my previous post.  Since then I've refreshed the database, worked on the side rail, and put considerable energy into making the mobile and tablet versions work right.  There are still adjustments to make, but it definitely is useable on Android and iOS devices now and a much better experience than what we have now.

Hey!  Check out the Maple Oatmeal Bread recipe featured on the sandbox homepage.  I am using a new module called Recipe that provides a more structured recipe format. It has some neat features like being able to scale the recipe up and down.  If you try it, let me know what you think.  In the past I've steered away from recipe organizers because I didn't want this site to become "just another recipe archive", but at this point our community is well enough established that it won't be threatened by having a section where people can quickly store or look up recipes.  The community will still be front and center.

Also, thank you to the folks who gave me feedback on the previous revision of the sandbox site.  It was very helpful.  What items I couldn't act on have still be noted and I still hope to address them. 

The timeline for the migration to the new version of the site remains unchanged: next week we're heading to Poland to visit my wife's family, so I won't be able to move this foward further until after Easter.  It is getting pretty close to ready though, I think, so I'm hopeful that a week or two after I get back I'll be able to port the site over.  I have a new, faster server with more memory all set up waiting for it.  

There are certain to be some bumps in the switch over, things I didn't think to test before hand, but the sooner we're over to the new version the sooner I can focus all of my attention on the same tool everyone else here is using. I'm looking forward to being responsive to your needs again rather than responding to feature requests with something like "Yeah, well... Uh... that'll be fixed in the next version." ;^)

Finally, the softest sell ever.  

This migration is a lot of work.  I've been turning down client work to carve out the time to work on it.  I think it is going to be really good and, after the initial suprises, folks here will really like it.  I know that today I prefer working on that version of the site to this one. 

In the past, folks here have mentioned that they'd be happy to pay for a membership to The Fresh Loaf or have some other way of making donations to support the site.  So when I started work on this redesign, I looked into various website membership models.  I also thought about a very-leaky paywall, something like "if you view more than 100 posts in a day, you get a little nag message that says "Wow, you really like this site!  Would you consider supporting it?"  Ultimately I wasn't happy with the dynamic either one would set up here, either "members vs. non-members" or "Floyd as the administrator who gets to decide how much access to content everyone gets."  Neither felt right.  So rather than impose a new funding/membership model, I simply set up a donation page on WePay and would gladly accept your support.  You can get to it here.  

I will pass the hat again later, perhaps after the new version of the site is live, so if you'd prefer to wait and see what we end up with before deciding whether you want to chip in, I totally understand.  As I said, this is intended to be a very soft sell, not a full blown pledge drive.  

Regardless, thanks for making this a great community to work for.  I hope the upgrade will bring the technology up to a level of usefulness and simplicity the community deserves!

Cheers,

-Floyd

Comments

hungryscholar's picture
hungryscholar

and I think there's a lot of potential for recipes on a bread-centric site that are missing on the YARA (yet another recipe archive) sites. I added a recipe to play around with it. And before I could stop myself thought of a number of niceties that it would be swell to have:

I really like the option to convert units that the KA recipes now has. Had I my druthers I would like the option to have larger quantities in g and yet have smaller quantities remain in Tablespoons and 1/8 teaspoons and such. One thing I would definitely add is % hydration and baker's % for other ingredients. Of course I can calculate them, but it really helps me be able to size up a recipe if I can see these numbers. Of course that requires measurement by weight. I also wouldn't mind being able to note time for different stages as well.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Nods.  Thank you for the suggestion.

RobynNZ's picture
RobynNZ

Hi Floyd

Thank you for making it so easy to contribute financially. I hope you get a really positive response.

Regarding the sandbox. Thank you for all the work you are putting in, lots of what I have looked at looks great. I hesitate to comment as I make so little contribution here, but do check in most days. Please forgive me if I am commenting on something that is still on your to do list. 

I find the site-wide "Latest Comments" currently accessed through the  "More Recent Comments" link on the home page to be a marvellous way to keep up with this busy site. In the current version of the site-wide "latest comments", I can easily see the subject heading for the comment, the name of the commenter, the time since comment made, and the forum/blog topic commented on written out in full. Of course it depends on how active things have been, but today I can quickly scan comments left over the last 4 days. When I am logged on the last opened comment is highlighted so I can find it quickly. It's great.

In the beta version, because a full comment (albiet it weird, see below)  is visible when I click through on the 'more' link under the home page  "Recent Comments" , I am assuming the listings on the home page under the title "Recent Comments" will now be the only summary listing and will include all the comments made site-wide.

On that basis, I wish to comment as follows:

1. For me, there are not enough comments showing. I want to be able to scan at least 24 hours worth of comments if not 2 or 3 days worth, as I can with the current system.

2. I would prefer to be able to see the entire name of the forum/blog topic on which the comment is being made. Often there are similar threads active, I would like to be able to distinguish between threads more easily, by seeing the full topic.

3. I would rather that a different colour or font be used for the commenter's name than that used for  the name of the forum/blog topic on which the comment is being made. I like being able to clearly see the name of the commenter, as on very busy days I will home in on specific people's comments only, as a means of keeping up. As it is in sandbox, it is very hard to scan quickly, because the commenter's name blends with the topic heading.

4. I like being able to see how long it was since the comment was made.

 

When it comes to the  'more' link under Recent Comments, I cannot made head nor tail of the presentation in this sandbox version.   I would not use this section if it were to remain in the format I see in sandbox.    It is currently my favourite area on the site so I am really hoping it is an area on which you are still working .......... 

Looking forward to hearing about your trip to Europe.

Regards, Robyn

 

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Thank you for the feedback, Robyn.  Those two screens ("Recent Posts" and "Recent Comments") were indeed on my to-do list but had slid down a bit.  I agree that just the title/thread/author/time view or something else that simple and scanable is the way to go there.  I'll see if I can fix those screens up today. 

One other thing to mention is that which fields you see on the homepage depends on how big your screen is.  If you are on a desktop computer with a big screen, you should see comment title, author, thread, time.  If your screen is smaller (you can reproduce this by making your browser skinny), the time column will drop out.  I'm still working on getting these right and making sure the most important/useful columns are always visible, so hearing what info people find most useful is quite helpful.

-F

Floydm's picture
Floydm

The "Recent Comments" and "Recent Posts" pages are now there and basically match the homepage display.  Thank you for calling my attention to those two.

-Floyd

RobynNZ's picture
RobynNZ

Goodmorning Floyd

Thank you. Not only are all the comments on my ' favourite page' there but at the bottom links to more than 2ooo pages of comments......there'll be no need to wonder how to catch up. 

Mostly I use a 13" laptop. In the current version I can see all the columns, but not in the sand box version. The fact that the time has disappeared doesn't matter, but I would like to be able to see the thread info in full. And to be able to distinguish the commenter name from the thread info,  hopefully with the contrast to the background being stronger. I do like the clean look, but for me it is a bit too much 'white' not enough info, no doubt it looks wonderful on a big screen. I did try dragging the area wider, but that doesn't seem possible.

I'd be curious to know what size screen most people active here use when on TFL. Can you tell, or do you just see browser info?

In recent months there has been a survey pop up from time to time on lower right screen asking for feedback to help improve TFL. I filled it in a couple of times, but got annoyed with some of the to-my-eyes completely irrelevant questions and wondered why it kept reappearing when I had already filled it in. A day or two ago it popped up again, knowing you were working on this project, rather than ignoring it as I have been doing, I thought I'll respond. Well the first question after sex and age was something along the lines of 'is your hair straight or curly', grrr, I didn't continue. Have you been using such survey or is it spam? 

I can see this is a huge task. Thank you as always for such a wonderful site.

Cheers Robyn

 

 

Floydm's picture
Floydm

I can see, in aggregate, what size screen people are using.  It is pretty interesting, actually.

#1 is a standard PC screen resolution, but #2 is the tall and skinny iPad in portrait mode resolution. #3 is a PC again, then #4 is an iPhone or iPod resolution.  After that the rest of the top 10 are fairly large with standard dimensions, but you can really see how iPhones and iPads have thrown designers and developers a curveball.

That survey isn't from me, it's from one of the ad networks.  I haven't been able to figure out which one.  My apologies for it: if I can figure out where it is coming from, I will request that it no longer be served on my site. 

-Floyd

RobynNZ's picture
RobynNZ

Hi again

That is indeed an interesting summary. As it's based on visits, people like me who pop in and out all day will screw the results of course. My display is on 1280 x 800, the group with screens equal or smaller is the smallest PC block but generalising this shows approx a third greater than 1280 (32.94%), a quarter unknown (23.8%), a fifth 1280 or less (21.85%) and a fifth(21.42%) using mobile devices. Please keep the small screen PC users in mind as you work on the update, esp as the current format works.

I've bought a Nexus 7 in Japan which I will pick up when I go there next month, have played with TFL on one  and found the current version easy to use. Next time I'm in the city and have access to one, I'll try out the sandbox android version.

Survey, understood, will ignore. Maybe put up a sticky suggesting others do so too......

Cheers

Floydm's picture
Floydm

For certain, small screen PC users are not forgotten, but I need to balance their desire to "scrunch as much as possible in very little space" with mobile and tablet users need to "make things easy to click with a finger or a thumb."  

For example, the current front page sections for "Recent Forum Posts" and "Latest Comments" are almost impossible to click on with your finger on a phone or tablet, which is more like a quarter of traffic, probably more since phones like the Galaxy 3S have a high pixel count because of super dense screens, but they don't make it any easy to click on teeny scrunched together links. So I'm loosening things up a bit, while trying to provide as much useful information as possible at all times.  It is tough to balance!

PeterS's picture
PeterS

Hi Floyd,

I noticed the survey, too, and even clicked on it once (despite myself...). Curious about what it was, so I googled "crowd science" and noticed the following among the hits. This was posted on a forum where someone noticed similar behavior to what we are seeing here. My suggestion would be to contact Crowd Science (the contact info below is dated and may no longer be valid) and ask them to block thefreshloaf.com on their servers--especially since the "surveys" don't seem to have anything to do with baking. 

Regards,

Peter

We were commissioned by an ad network to run this questionnaire on your site. I've turned off recruitment on your site in the meantime. Could you please provide an email address or contact me via email at kate.robinson@crowdscience.com where I can provide you with more detail on this? 

Thanks! 

Kate Robinson 
Research Analyst 
Crowd Science, Inc. 

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Thanks Peter.  I will do that.

-Floyd

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

a complete Word document with pictures and spreadsheets embedded it?    This is by far the most important thing for me Floyd. 

Happy Double Web Site Sitting !

Floydm's picture
Floydm

I'm guessing not.  

The new site will run the newest available version of the editor I have installed here, TinyMCE. It claims to have some ability to handle paste from Word but how extensive it is, particularly for Word's more advanced formatting features, I couldn't say.  Were it easy to improve the situation, I would do so, but Microsoft has long gone out of its way to make things not work well unless you run (purchase) their entire technology stack -- OS, apps, web server, .NET -- which I do not. 

So... hopefully the new version of the site will be a more compatible with Word than what I'm running now, but I wouldn't hold my breath. :^/

-F

Floydm's picture
Floydm

This chart is pretty stunning too.  Over 60% of visitors in the past month are using WebKit based browsers (Safari, Chrome, the Android browser), with IE and Firefox each slightly under 20%.  That is a huge shift from what people were using to visit this site a few years ago.

-F

BobS's picture
BobS

Looks pretty  good on my iPad. Still some 'wasted' screen real estate in comment responses, but I know you are working on it.

I bet the geeks among us would like some technical details on the TFL implementation and deployment, if you are comfortable sharing them.

 

b

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Sure.  What sort of details are you interested in? I can start with an overview.

I'm moving the site from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7.  The theme is being rewritten as an Omega sub-theme, which is what is delivering the device adaptive-ness.  Hosting is moving from dedicated hardware to a VPS, which should improve performance and reliability and will let me scale up quickly under high traffic.  It is still running a standard CentOS LAMP stack, though I am also trying to put Varnish front side caching in place too to improve performance.  

What else? I'm using SASS for the CSS and use git for revision control.  Custom coding (PHP) has so far been minimal; if anything, I'm removing custom code to rebuild functionality like the homepage and profiles using Drupal modules like Views and Panels.  Layouts are largely managed with Display Suite rather than .tpl files, which is how I've done it previously.  

In general, "conforming to industry best practices" rather than just "hacking together something that works" is a major goal of mine here.  There are a few reasons for that, a selfish one being that I'm a freelancer now and need to show folks what I am capable of, but also for the more generous reason that getting this site up-to-date and in line with current development practices will allow me to better respond to community needs going forward.  

Let me know if you have other questions.

-Floyd

gary.turner's picture
gary.turner

How odd. I've looked at SASS and Less and other attempts to prettify or simplify writing css, but have never seen any advantage. To me, css is too straight forward to be tricking it up. Of course, I've been writing css since the turn of the century — remember the IE/Netscape war? With Phoenix 0.5,  came a standards compliant nirvana and the start of the war on IE. Maybe I'm just suffering from Old Man Syndrome.

cheers,

gary

Floydm's picture
Floydm

I go back to Mosaic too, so I'm an old man by internet standards too.

I've used both Less and SASS.  I like SASS better.  There are some cool features like mixins (variables) that I've barely used, but the main thing I like about it is being able to nest the selectors or have selectors that are additive).  I don't think it really prettifies the CSS, but it means your CSS ends up looking a lot more like the DOM you conceive of than than standard CSS does.  It is pretty nice and very programmer friendly.

-Floyd

BobS's picture
BobS

That all makes sense. 

What piqued my interest was that you said the current site was running on one server. That did not sound like such a good idea.  But you knew that :) Scaling should be a lot easier. Varnish looks like it would take the heat off too.

No memcached?

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Varnish + APC + a VPS that I can quickly scale up should be adequate but, yes, memcached is another possibility.  I'm more of a front end guy than a system/networking guy these days, so I'm trying to not stray too far out of my comfort zone. ;^) 

-Floyd

BobS's picture
BobS

Vanish may be enough.

Did you mean a *single* VPS that you can scale *up* quickly, or are you thinking scale *out*?

I'm trying to make baguettes; thats way out of *my* comfort zone.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

I'd start with "up" then go "out" if necessary.  Either way, I'm talking about throwing many times the hardware and memory at the site than what it is running now, so short of Oprah becoming an avid bread baker I think we'll be in good shape.

Ruralidle's picture
Ruralidle

When I choose the "Forum" option from the top menu I am presented with a blank main part of the screen and the forum detail is offset so far right that I have to scroll to it.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

What browser/platform are you looking at it with?

Ruralidle's picture
Ruralidle

I am using Windows 7 SP1 and Firefox 19.0.2 - but it displays fine if I use Chrome.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Thanks, Ruralidle.  I'll check it out.

-F

madmoravian's picture
madmoravian

I tried to go to the donation page and, due to my company's blocking of twitter and facebook, it would not load.  My smartphone loaded it just fine though.