The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

TFL upgrade coming (very) soon

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Floydm's picture
Floydm

TFL upgrade coming (very) soon

As I've mentioned previously, I've been working for the past few months to upgrade TFL to a new version of the content management system it runs on, Drupal.  I'm also redesigning the interface a bit, mainly so it works better on tablets and phones.  

The new version of the site is close, really close, to being ready. The gap in projects I carved out for my recent vacation is quickly closing too, so I'd like to make the switch to the new version of the site soon and work out the remaining kinks once we're on the new system. It'd be a shame for this opportunity to make the switch pass and the upgrade not happen for another 6-8 months.

The new version of the site can now be found at: http://upgrade.thefreshloaf.com

This is a new server with more horsepower and better caching than the existing system.  I'll crank it up even higher before the new site goes live, so we should have fewer performance problems and less lag than we do now.

As before, if you want to log in and tinker around with test version of the new site, be my guest.  I'll be refreshing the database there again before the new site goes live for real, so anything you post there today will be disappear soon.  

Some of the site features like the email features are disabled because I don't want to accidentally spam folks while I'm working on the new site.  But it should be pretty much functional.

For the switch over, I'm thinking... next week?  Maybe Tuesday?  I'm going to continue tuning things the next few days, but the sooner we make the move the better, IMO.   

Of course I'll be backing everything up before the move so should anything go awry we can roll back to where we are before the switch, but I hope and expect it'll be a big step forward, that it'll work better for all of us and be easier for new folks to learn how to use, than the current site.   

Please give a shout, folks, share your feedback on the new site and let me know if you see any reason I shouldn't try to move this forward next week.  Otherwise, I'll try to do the flip and then make myself as available as I can to help folks learn the ins and outs of the new system or fix any issues that we didn't discover until after the switch.  

If I can do the switch on Tuesday, my hope would be that by the end of the week most (if not all) of the functionality would be restored and everyone could blog and chat as normal.  Fingers crossed, knock on wood, and all that. :)  

Cheers,

-Floyd

Comments

Netvet007's picture
Netvet007

I just now popped over for a quick peek.  What a nice layout.  I do almost all my surfing on my iPad and the new look is great for that.  How awesome that you were able to do all this work,  I love this site and really have learned a lot.  I'll be here even more now.  Good luck with the switchover.  Thanks for all you do!

Lisa

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Thanks, Lisa.

Toad.de.b's picture
Toad.de.b

Enthusiastically approve of the new look, Floyd.  I'm all for sans serif wherever possible.  Of course I'll miss the old place.  For a while at least.  Really like the way you display previous blog entries from the current screen's blogger down the side.  Very handy.

One functional upgrade I'd love to see is an "Advanced Search" feature.  The current search tool is pretty basic and can be frustratingly inefficient.  Don't know if your software offers something fancier, to refine searches based on dates or booleans or authors.  As the archive grows, perhaps so should the search engine's capabilities.

But otherwise, THANKS for keeping this place so wonderfully functional and welcoming.  My favorite place on the www, hands down.

Tom

Floydm's picture
Floydm

The new version of the site has a different search that I think will be a bit better and, yes, includes some advanced search features for logged in users.  If that is still inadequate I've been thinking of setting up an Apache Solr based searched, which is supposed to be really good.  I just didn't want to bite off too many new things at once right now.

cranbo's picture
cranbo

Hi Floyd,

Feel free to cut over whenever, I'm sure the bugs will get worked out either way. No reason to wait. 

One thing I did find a bit odd/confusing, for example: 

http://upgrade.thefreshloaf.com/blog/cranbo

Dates of the blog posts are just listed by time (date is not shown)...date shows up fine once you click through to a particular post. 

Also looks like blockquotes aren't rendering correctly, compare: 

http://upgrade.thefreshloaf.com/comment/252065#comment-252065

with

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/32975/first-attempt-making-baguette-poolish-didnt-come-out-too-well#comment-252065

 

 

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Thanks for spotting those, Cranbo.  I fixed the date issue (though will have to remember to again after the database refresh) and will add some styling to blockquotes ASAP.

-F

lumos's picture
lumos

Glad i popped in today and found this post. Thank you for your hard work, as always, Floyd.

The new site looks smarter but still feels 'at home'  with the familiar colour scheme. Lovely. :)

Noticed some members' profile pics are different from their real ones, but am I right in thinking it'll be changed to correct ones before the site is opened officially next week ? (Or maybe you can - personally I think you should -  ask each members to change it back to his/her PIC to original one by him/herself to make your workload a little lighter.)

 

Floydm's picture
Floydm

I'm hoping most user pictures will come over cleanly, but if not, yes, folks should be able to upload a new photo quite easily when they edit their profile.

isand66's picture
isand66

Floyd, I think the new site is going to be great and nice modernization for sure.

I would really love if you can give us the ability to see how many visitors read our blog posts.  It's nice to see if your posts are being read as sometimes people don't comment and it would be great to know that at least people are reading them.

Other than that I think this will be great improvement.  I like the condensed descriptions on the posts so you don't have to scroll down to the end of each post and think that works great as well.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Nods, the traffic numbers would be interesting to see.  In the past I haven't had the horsepower to record and tabulate that on every page load.  Now the site probably will, but the new caching mechanism is actually going to interfere with that.  As far as the server will be concerned, every anonymous user who views a particular page for 2 or 3 hours is only going to count as one page load. So.... yeah, let me think about that a bit and try to figure out if there is a good way of providing those numbers in the new environment.

Toad.de.b's picture
Toad.de.b

One other area of TFL in which I, as well as others I presume, would appreciate seeing an upgrade is the personal profiles options.  I've never found the 'tools' info to be especially useful. But what bakers (and enthusiasts of other pastimes) increasingly learn from nowadays are online videos and tutorials. I'd like to see the option of entering links to one's top 1, 2, 3...5, whatever, online videos with the option of noting why these were chosen, what skills or insights one finally gained from viewing them. 

Same could go for 'Favorite Other Bread/Food Sites' with possibility of entering links to them. 
Finally, it would be great if you could then keep a tally on the homepage of 'Favorite Videos' and 'Favorite Sites' from those most often listed in the profiles by users. 
I realize these are not the type of basic look-and-feel upgrades you're engaged in now. But perhaps some useful funtionality for a future tweak. 
Tom
Floydm's picture
Floydm

Agreed, those are all good.  

On the new site I'm dropping the Tools and Links from the navigation, because I agree, I don't maintain them and they are pretty useless.  

Yes about the profiles and listings.  Did you log in and check out the new profile pages?  You'll see that I've made them quite a bit more useful by doing things like listing folks recent blog posts and letting them link to their profiles on other social media.  I hope that is just the beginning though, that we'll continue to add and remove sections to the profiles so that they'll become much more meaningful and useful.  

(When I started this site most folks were still extremely guarded about their identities online.  These days most of us have some kind of presence online, either personal or professional, right?  On a site like Facebook or LinkedIn or Twitter or Pinterest?  My goal is to make it so that people can connect to and augment their online presence here if they want to, but if someone wants to remain just a screen name here that should be OK too.)

I don't know if you noticed that one of the blocks on the new homepage is "Most Bookmarked" posts, so, yes, you and I are thinking along the same lines about getting more personalized and dynamic listings up there.  Again, I didn't want to put in place changes that were too radical right now, but I definitely think that is the right direction to head and that the new platform, Drupal 7, will make it much easier to add those kinds of things than the version we're on right now.

-Floyd 

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Hi Floyd,

Yikes.  I am not a computer savvy person so change is a bit scary for me.  Took me awhile to learn how to navigate here and I know I haven't learned it all yet.

I did go to the new page and I was able to log on which was a huge relief.  My avatar is different but I see lumos already mentioned that and that all will change when you do the switch.  

I was able to go to my acct. page too which I really rely on so it was nice that it is so clearly marked.  

While change always makes my anxiety meter tick a bit faster I have learned it is the name of the game and, now-a-days it happens much more rapidly than I am comfortable with.  I really appreciate how you kept the site very similar.  I know it will take time for me to get comfortable with it but I don't think it will take as long as it did when I first joined up.  You have kept it very user friendly.  

Thanks for all the hours and thought you have put into this.  I know you were having thoughts of selling last year....I, for one, am glad that you didn't.  This site has meant so much to me and I don't think I am alone in that regards.  Just another HUGE thanks for all of yourself that you pour into this site!!!!

Thanks for keeping my brain functional too.  'They' say that new mental challenges do that :-O

Take Care,

Janet

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Thanks, Janet.

The new version shouldn't be too different.  It is, after all, the same software it'll run on, just an updated version.  And I'll be available on the site and via email to help answer any questions folks have.

-Floyd

hanseata's picture
hanseata

I like the cleaner new layout, and the new features that others mentioned already. Floyd, I really appreciate how dedicated you are to maintaining and updating TFL, obviously a labor of love!

Karin

 

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Thanks, Karin!

leftypg's picture
leftypg

Floyd,

I am one who thinks that you and the TFL site are real treasures to those of us who enjoy home baking.  I look forward to using your new format next week.  I am trying to spend as much time there as possible in order to be up to speed when you switch over.  I don't know how much change is possible before then, but these are some observations which became instantly apparent.

After logging in, there seems to be no acknowledgement that you are , in fact, logged in.

The type style , even though it seems larger, appears 'dim' or 'pale' --much more difficult to read  Nothing seems to stand out!

Title, contributor, time and date don't seem to stand out as much as the 'old site' ---It all seems to be washed out density, making any searching more taxing on the eyes

It was nice to see a separation of the contributors name from the title of the forums on the home page, but I don't see a 'time/date' stamp, which makes it easier to find newer material to browse.

I hope these observations will be received knowing that I tried (real hard) to resist "The Compulsion To Edit" which is part of our DNA--Especially so since the invention of White Out and the Delete Key.


lefty

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Hi lefty,

Thanks for your comments!  A bit of feedback on your feedback.

After logging in, there seems to be no acknowledgement that you are , in fact, logged in.

Yeah... there wasn't on the homepage, but there was inside the site.  I just add a little bit to the homepage to acknowledge it too.  I still would like to style it up a bit, but at least the functionality is there now. 

The type style , even though it seems larger, appears 'dim' or 'pale' --much more difficult to read  Nothing seems to stand out!

Some is dimmer and paler, some is bigger and darker.  I'm shooting for rather than everything shouting, the conversation and who is speaking being most obvious but the supplimental info still being there but fading into the background a bit.  Disqus, one of the most popular commenting tools for websites, does this a lot and I really like it.

Title, contributor, time and date don't seem to stand out as much as the 'old site' ---It all seems to be washed out density, making any searching more taxing on the eyes

Titles stand out, but time and date don't stand out as much.  

Your experience is definitely going to vary depending on your device and screen size.  IMO the current site is murder on the eyes on small screens, like iPhones and iPads, because *everything* is serifed, dark, and jam packed close together.  The looser, lighter layout is a lot easier to read on small, crisp screens, and hopefully not too much less legible on laptops and desktop displays.

It was nice to see a separation of the contributors name from the title of the forums on the home page, but I don't see a 'time/date' stamp, which makes it easier to find newer material to browse.

Time and date do show up on the home page on big browsers (over 1000 pixels wide or so).  As your screen gets narrower less critical stuff, like time and date, drop out.

-F

KMIAA's picture
KMIAA

looks great!  Just took a quick peek but will be checking it out fully later on tonight!

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Thanks!

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Floyd.

Can you provide a way to print individual replies within a topic? For example, some one may respond to the OP with a technique, recipe, equipment source, etc. that I would like to print. Now, I cut and paste it into an editor for saving or printing. It would be nice to just print the message.

I like the feel of the upgrade site.

David

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Thanks, David.

Being able to print (or bookmark) a particularly good comment would be useful. Let me stew on that: I'm not finding any module that will do that out of the box, but I'm sure I could put something together.  Probably not before the switch, but once we're settled on the new platform.

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

A huge thank you for all the work you put into this site. We are all in your debt.

I do hope you'll keep the current link labeled "Recent Posts"  in the new version. I go there after signing in because I like the tabluar format. it makes it easy to catch up on new posts (and new replies to old posts). Just hoping it doesn't disappear since I find it so useful....

Floydm's picture
Floydm

/posts is still there and actually shows more posts than currently.  And is paginated.  I think that is what mean and, yes, it'll still be there.

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

thanks! So glad it will be ported over.

I love that the new site will be more friendly for smart phones and tablets. Looks good on my Samsung tab2 7" tablet.