As some of you may know, we're currently in the process of rewriting Pedal Room in a much nicer framework/programming language. Just to give you guys an update, we estimate that we're about 70% done, and hope to release the new code within a couple weeks. Everything will look similar, but should be faster and have improvements here and there.
One thing that we're extremely excited about is our automated tests of the site. We've written almost as much automated testing code as we have application code. This means that every time we work on something new, we run our test suite. If we broke something, the test suite lets us know. This will prevent numerous bugs from slipping out to the site. Here's a breakdown of code that's been written so far: (warning - it's nerdy)
Stay tuned for updates and the new site infrastructure coming soon!
You know that feeling of riding your favorite bike? It's just a joy, and it makes you ride more and more. Sure, you can ride an old bike that doesn't quite fit right and get from point A to B, but it's not going to be as fun, and you won't ride as often.
The latter is how we've felt building Pedal Room lately. Right now, it's built in a programming language that's old and works fine, but isn't much fun to develop in. But recently, we've decided to rewrite the site in a newer, much-more-fun language that I've been using for years at my day job - Ruby on Rails. The rewriting process allows us to clean up code and build a more reliable version of the site, and the new language will make it easier and more fun to build more features for the site!
It's going to be awesome, and we can't wait to finish the rewrite and build out more features and improvements for the site. Stay tuned!
We tried our hardest to crank out our big feature we've been working on, but couldn't quite get it polished up enough to release it. Very soon though!
Ride safe and enjoy the holidays!
Maps on Member Profiles
We didn't get a chance to post until right now, but yesterday's improvement is hopefully helpful. We added maps to member profiles so that you can easily determine where someone is located at-a-glance. We'll let the screenshot do the talking.
If you guys really like this, we will make the maps better in the future. We could add nearby members to the map, make it interactive, etc. So let us know what you think!
More Bug Fixes
Sorry to keep with the not-so-visible improvements, but today was more bug fixes.
A couple items fixed today include a couple tiny layout fixes, a fix to further optimize external images, and added logging to keep track of more feature use throughout Pedal Room.
More exciting updates will be coming tomorrow! We promise!
Tonight's small improvement is not really small, but also not really visible.
We've been slaving away working on some infrastructure improvements, including modifying the database and working on a new backend to handle some upcoming features, like a marketplace! We've also added more logging so we can better respond to problems with the site, and found a few bugs that we'll be fixing in the coming days. Expect some cool new stuff soon!
Photo Sharing Options
Today we added some new photo sharing options. We'll let the screenshot below do the talking. Enjoy, and let us know what you think!
...was unfortunately missing a small improvement. We were pretty slammed with other Pedal Room work, a bike ride, and an awesome rock show, and couldn't find time to build anything out for the site. We're sorry!
But we'll make up for it today with more improvements to the site! Check back later today!
Today we were going to finish up image enhancements, but ran into some technical difficulties that need to be attended to and will take longer than planned. So instead we fixed several backend bugs.
These bugs all affect core components of the code (and one improves login/authentication security). Tomorrow the image sharing stuff will be online!
Image Sharing Enhancements Part 1
Today we laid the groundwork for enhanced image sharing. Our server can now dynamically create optimized photos for other sites to display. Here's a little example:
I have a bike, such as my Cannondale Track, on Pedal Room. I want to show off a photo of the bike somewhere - maybe a forum or a blog.
Starting tomorrow, you'll be able to find a photo on Pedal Room and get sharing options, including the raw photo URL, HTML, and BB code. The optimized image can then be displayed elsewhere, and it will indicate that it came from Pedal Room. Then others not only save time by loading an optimized image, but they can also can find their way to Pedal Room to find more bike photos and details.
It should be pretty cool, and we've done all the hard infrastructure work to support this already. Tomorrow we'll have the finished work done and on the site!
More Speed Improvements!
Today we made Pedal Room even faster!
Recently, we realized that some of our small thumbnail images are way bigger in file size than they should be. We were seeing 48x48 pixel images that should be around 2 kilobytes actually being as big as 67 kilobytes.
We figured out the problem almost instantly - we'd forgotten to strip color profiles and comments out of images as we sized them down to create thumbnail images.
So today we fixed the code to strip the extra data out of images when we resize them. From now on, all photos added to Pedal Room will be missing this extra data. This is good - the photos will load faster and will look the same as before. That solved part of the problem. However, this was only part of the problem - the existing images on the server still needed to be optimized.
So we wrote some scripts that run on the server and optimize existing images. Basically, the script converts all images, one-by-one. For each image, if the converted image has a 5% or greater reduction in filesize, we throw out the original and replace it with the optimized version.
For every one of the thousands of thumbnail images we optimized, we reduced file size by an average of 62.7%. For the tiny 48x48 pixel images on the site (the ones you see on the home page in the random photos area for example), we saved 28.7 megabytes. Massive savings were also made elsewhere, including in the regular thumbnails.
This translates into faster load times, and reduced server load and hosting costs. Win win!
Making Pedal Room Faster
Today's small improvement was making Pedal Room a bit faster.
First and foremost, we now load random photos on the home page (and browse bikes page) after the rest of the page has finished loading. This makes the rest of the page load faster than normal, while images take about as long as before to load.
We still have a lot we can and will do to make Pedal Room faster! Tomorrow we may do more speed improvements, or maybe something different. Stay tuned!
Friends of Pedal Room
We finally got around to writing our Friends of Pedal Room page. These are sites we really enjoy, with people who run them who we've chatted with at some point or another. There are tons more, and this list will grow in the next couple days. Enjoy!
Slightly Improved Navigation + Some Thoughts
Today was a pretty simple update. We simply added a link on the "BIKES" menu at the top of the page to add a bike to Pedal Room. This makes it easier for new visitors to figure out how to add their bike, and allows logged in members to easily add additional bikes.
We've been tweaking navigation here and there because small changes to navigation can have big affects.
We've also been analyzing our stats on the site, and we've found some interesting patterns.
Member Browsing/Searching is not used very much. Member browsing and searching accounts for less than one percent (0.7% to be exact). Because of this, we're considering removing the "MEMBERS" bar from the top navigation to clean things up a bit and make one thing clear - Pedal Room is all about bikes. We would of course have member profiles and a member map, but that stuff would be a bit harder to get to. What do you guys think about this?
The Member Map is also not used much at all. Last month, map-related page views accounted for 0.18% of site traffic. Is this something you guys would like to see improved? Maybe it would be better if we showed primarily bikes instead of members on the map? Let us know what you want to see on the map.
Bike Search is used frequently. This is good to see. Because it's used frequently, we plan on improving it in the near future.
Thoughts? Let us hear them!
New About Page!
Today's improvement is pretty small. We simply updated the About page on the site. It used to be unfinished - now there's at least a little bit of content there.
Wanna be part of the Pedal Room team? Let's talk!
Fourteen Days 'til Christmas!
With fourteen days left until Christmas, we've managed to release a small improvement every day for the past few days.
Today will be no different, though our improvement today is quite small. We simply added links from our browse bikes and browse members pages to each page's respective advanced search form. This way it'll be a bit easier to navigate and find members or bikes.
Stay tuned! We're not sure what we're releasing tomorrow but we'll think of something fun!
P.S. Don't miss hyakumangoku's sweet Anchor track bike. Friggin' awesome bike!
Starting today, it's going to be a lot easier for new members to add their bikes to Pedal Room.
Instead of going through the full registration form, they can now skip directly to the add a bike form. If they're not logged in, they simply provide a username and email when they're adding their bike and we'll create an account for them.
Hopefully this will encourage more people to join and add their bikes since it's a lot less work to create an account and add a bike now. Pedal Room should then grow faster! Everybody wins!
Today's Small Improvement: Bug Fixes
Today we simply fixed a few small things.
- Spacing fixed between "Your Bike Stats" and the "More" sections when viewing your own bike(s)
- Fixed a bug that allowed you to add your own bikes as favorites
- Implemented faster page tracking (every page should load a little bit faster)
Stay tuned! Better improvements coming tomorrow!
Daily Small Improvements 'til Christmas!
From now until Christmas, we'll be releasing at least one small (or maybe not-so-small) improvement daily. Think of it as the (eight-day-late) Pedal Room advent calendar.
Today's release is sharing links for bikes. Now when you see a bike you like, you can easily share via Facebook or Twitter. Hope you guys find this useful!
Planning for the Future
Over the long weekend, we had the opportunity to think and sketch out future ideas for Pedal Room. Here's a little taste of what we're considering doing.
We plan to build out a very simple marketplace where you can sell bikes and bike parts. It's gonna be sweet!
Coomer's already playing with the alpha version of the new Pedal Room mobile app on his iPhone. It will allow you to quickly and easily see what's going on in Pedal Room land. There will also be cool features like finding people and bikes near you. In a new city and looking for people to ride with? Just click the "find nearby" button and contact some nearby cyclists!
Even Better Bike/Member Search
We'll also be rolling out some sweet new search features that will make finding others even easier!
We want to make it easier to share bikes with the world! Quick access to share URLs, Twitter and Facebook integration, etc.
That's not it, but that's what we're thinking right now. What do you think? Let us know!