new features

The Great Feedback Overhaul of 2016

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

I hope you're all enjoying time with your families and don't notice this announcement for a few days, but I finished something last night and am really excited to share it with you guys today.

For the last couple weeks I've been chipping away at a huge overhaul to the feedback system to improve the consistency and speed of the interface throughout the app. I pushed that change to the server this morning, so it's now live and available for you to play with. Here's a quick before and after comparison:

Before and After comparison of the Feedback Manager

And here's everything new:

Here are the detailed release notes in text form:

Feedback is Feedback is Feedback

Now the feedback UI is the same no matter where you view it:

  • You can mark feedback at the end of a chapter and in the feedback manager.
  • You can reply to feedback at the end of a chapter and in the feedback manager.
  • You can see the nice colors on your labels at the end of a chapter and in the feedback manager.

Performance Improvements

  • The Feedback Manager is now much faster for large sets of Feedback.
  • The Feedback Manager searches now update the URL so you can bookmark a specific search and come back to it
  • The filters in the Feedback Manager are now collapsible, and the will remember whether you left them open or closed (this helps on mobile)
  • Under the hood, the feedback editor is all new. Where there were previously several different UI components built at different times for different reasons, there's now one unified component that works the same in every context.
  • Lots of other miscelaneous old junk was cleaned out under the hood

UI Improvements

  • The UI is now slightly more compact and consistent. I tried hard to make it use the screen more efficiently, without making things over crowded. This is accomplished largely by moving some elements to show only on hover or only when you click to expand, and by carefully tightening up the whitespace in certain areas where there was too much.

Glitch Fixes

  • Backspacing when you're leaving feedback in Chrome no longer creates that ridiculous large text. This is caused by a bug that affects Chrome and Safari, not a BetaBooks bug, but I was able to implement a workaround that prevents it from happening. This improves the writing experience on feedback and in Group Messages.

Minor Improvements

  • There's now a "Skip to Feedback" link for authors at the top of the Chapter page.



I hope you guys enjoy the new and improved feedback tools. It was a lot of work to get this done. According to GitHub (the tool we use to store our source code) the change looks like this:

That means +1,352 lines of new code, -758 lines of removed code.

I've mentioned before that programming is a lot like writing a book. A good parallel for understanding the two is to convert Lines of Code (or LOC) to Word Count. Roughly 1 LOC = 10-20 words. Let's just keep it simple and say this latest update to the app was about +13,520 new words and -7,580 old words. I'm hoping that for all the writers in our audience that's an entertaining comparison :)

And now it's time for me to log off and go spend Thanksgiving with my family like a normal person!

Cheers, everyone!