Spring releases at Plow

Good Plow people,

We’ve been hard at work over the last few months making Plow faster, more robust and easier to use. Here is a quick update on changes that have been recently deployed in production.

Release 1.11

We focussed on a series of usability improvements, including keyword page performance and refining endorsing, commenting, and following other users. We also eliminated the email confirmation step in registration.

  • Item page: added a ‘+’ feature to the keyword widget, allowing you to easily endorse an item for any existing keyword with a click of the mouse.
  • Major performance improvements on keyword page.
  • When you are invited, you automatically follow the user that invited you.
  • When you follow someone, the followed person will receive a notification email
  • Improved registration process removing verification step.
  • Comment improvements: Significantly expanded the presentation area to support more developed commentary and matched the type area with the presentation area to avoid portions of a comment being hidden from view.
  • Comment improvement: added line breaks.
  • Adding search keywords by aliases.
  • Bug squish: fixed a logic error that lead to changes in email notification preferences not being properly recognized.
  • Bug squish: fixed an issue with the favorite button that lead to inconsistent responses.
  • Bug squish: comment notification emails were arriving in multiples.

Release 1.12

This release came on the heels of a very successful Plow Nation event in San Francisco where the community gave us a treasure trove of constructive feedback. We implemented a series of simple touches to address low hanging fruit and then implemented a significant overhaul in how the application understands the difference between your ‘read’ and ‘unread’ items. We then built this ‘read/unread’ understanding into the application. Your digest emails have hopefully become much more focussed as a result and in forthcoming releases you’ll see additional changes on the keyword page and elsewhere based on user feedback.

  • From Plow Nation 2: Account: form cleanup in the email notifications area. Clarified the meaning of specific notification types.
  • From Plow Nation 2: Fix typo “Suggest and item” — two places in the reference section.
  • From Plow Nation 2: Item Pages; adding keyword; make “adding keyword” widget copy on articles match seeding widget copy.
  • From Plow Nation 2: Item Page; move and re-color the ‘Report as Inappropriate’ button (now black and on the lower right of page to reflect it’s relative unimportance).
  • From Plow Nation 2: Item Page; keyword endorsement widget; change “Keywords for all users” to “Endorsements”, change “Add Keywords” to “Edit Endorsements”.
  • From Plow Nation 2: Item page; bump the font size of the keyword pills 2–4 pts to increase the visibility of the ‘+’ button.
  • From Plow Nation 2: Comments; get rid of “Commented” in the item page timeline of events.
  • From Plow Nation 2: Comments; Change comment button to “Post”.
  • From Plow Nation 2: Registration guidance text updated for clarity.
  • Read/Unread enhancements: Articles become “Read” for a user when the item page is viewed.
  • Read/Unread enhancements: Articles submitted (‘seeded’) by a user are marked “Read” by default.
  • Read/Unread enhancements: “Notified” comments are not eligible for email digests.
  • Read/Unread enhancements: Comments previously sent by daily/weekly digest or comment notification email should be marked “notified”.
  • Read/Unread enhancements: Read articles are not eligible for the new item sections of daily/weekly digest emails (“People you follow”, ‘Best unread articles in your followed topics’) and potential other future notifications. Read articles remain eligible for comment notifications.
  • Read/Unread enhancements: Articles sent in notification emails should not include previously “notified” articles, except for ‘Comments on items you posted,’ provided that there have been new, unnotified comments on the article.
  • Read/Unread enhancements: Comments submitted by the user should be marked “notified” for that user.
  • Read/Unread enhancements: When a user follows a keyword, articles with a positive (non-zero) item score for that keyword that were posted more than 21 days ago are marked notified. This should prevent a backlog of old articles creeping into the notification pool for a user. In addition, on a one time basis, all articles more than 21 days old will be marked notified for all users to clear out the current notification pool.
  • Item page: re-incorporated an undo favorite option.
  • Tuned JVM GC Settings.

Release 1.13

We opened up the app to non-registered users for the first time. Now you can share links to item pages outside of the application! We also updated the logic of the ‘New’ section in keyword pages to pull from past items in the event that no items have been seeded in the last 24 hours.

  • Opened up app to public visitors: non-logged in people can now see item pages, keyword pages, user profile pages (still need to login to endorse, comment, etc.)
  • Extended login session to 30 days.
  • Increased user invitation count — now 20 up front, 20 more after first seed.
  • Added search in any point of the string functionality for keywords.
  • From Plow Nation 2: Search: Changed order of search results to keywords, articles, then users.
  • Adjusted ‘New’ category of keyword pages to pull older items as necessary up to 30 days out.

Next up … we’re adding social login functionality to help you connect with folks you already know in other services. And we’re working on a series of other substantial improvements while beginning to assemble a new UI and UX for the beta launch.