Tech Industry

Announcing a smarter, faster TechRepublic for 2013

TechRepublic has revealed its latest transformation, both inside and out. And, we've got several exciting new announcements to share.

microphone-announce-072013.jpg

Welcome to the new TechRepublic. As you can tell, we’ve been busy doing some house cleaning and redecorating. And, what you see on the outside is only part of the story. We’ve also rebuilt the foundation, reinforced the walls, and integrated some powerful new infrastructure that you’ll never see but that’s going to make this a much better place to visit.

So what does that mean for you?

It means that you’re going to find the new TechRepublic site is:

  • Simpler and less cluttered
  • Easier to navigate by topic
  • Aligned with the IT Buying Cycle
  • Readable on any device or screen size
  • Quicker and more responsive when loading pages

You’ll also notice:

  • Photo galleries now offer a full bleed display and much faster flipping through images
  • Email newsletters now adapt automatically to all screen sizes
  • The Resource Library has a much cleaner display and the topics match the rest of the site
  • We still have all the same great writers (you can find them under All Writers)
  • We still have the same great community of technology professionals and executives (you can find them under Community)

We have a new backend infrastructure that makes the site much more flexible and scalable. This new infrastructure enables us to handle larger amounts of traffic without blinking, launch new international editions like the Australian (2011) and United Kingdom (2012) editions we launched over the past two years, and eventually even launch editions of TechRepublic in foreign languages.

The new backend framework also gives us more power to launch exciting new features. In fact, we’ve got three big ones that we’re announcing today:

  1. “Long Feature” articles: We’re putting extra focus on quality and depth by launching a completely new page design for long articles. This provides an immersive reading experience by stripping almost everything off of the page so that you can focus on the words and images of our biggest and most profound stories. Look for the first ones in the coming weeks.
  2. “Special Feature” packages: One of our biggest challenges has always been that we publish so much content that it becomes difficult to find previously published stuff as well as valuable resources on the same subject. So, we are unveiling a new way of pulling together some of our best content into an attractive and user-friendly package. This will mirror the Special Feature packages we launched on our sister site ZDNet at the beginning of 2013. These will roll out on TechRepublic in August.
  3. TechRepublic Pro is now Tech Pro Research: Our premium product, TechRepublic Pro, has long been a valuable source of tools and insights for IT leaders. Now, we’re greatly expanding it and spinning it out into its own site as a joint venture between TechRepublic and ZDNet. It’s all grown up! Look for more exciting news and announcements about that in the weeks ahead.

Since TechRepublic first opened its doors on May 4, 1999, this site has been here every day to help executives and engineers and project managers and IT administrators do one of the most challenging jobs on the planet: Make wise business decisions about rapidly-changing technologies and make the world more efficient and productive than ever. Helping you do that remains our driving force today, just as it was in 1999 when we were one of dozens of IT sites competing for your attention.

That said, we know that change always brings discomfort and frustration. Because we exist at the intersection of three industries that are changing as quickly as any on the planet--media, IT, and the web--it forces us to continually adapt, evolve, and reinvent ourselves. In this environment, it’s never been more true that if you’re standing still then you’re going backward. So, as much as changes like the ones we’ve rolled out today will involve things that are a little uncomfortable for all us, it’s all part of the growth process. If you find things that are different or confusing or frustrating, let us know in this forum post where we’re collecting your feedback.

This new version of TechRepublic represents the largest set of changes we've made to the site since we launched 14 years ago. It's not just a new coat of paint. It's a fundamental rebuild of the backend, frontend, publishing system, and community, all aimed at providing you with a better experience, both today and in the years ahead. We'll be busy refining things and doing touch up work over the next few weeks to make sure everything looks and works great. 

Finally, if you’ll pardon our pride for a moment, we have to say that we have long felt a lot of gratitude about TechRepublic being one of the survivors of the Dot Com Boom. We’ve watched a lot of excellent competitors fade away or morph into something quite different. We’re grateful that you’ve given us the opportunity to stick around. The only reason we’re still here is because enough of you show up everyday and find what we do useful. Thank you!

About

Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the upcoming book, Follow the Geeks (bit.ly/ftgeeks).

96 comments
williama.willis
williama.willis

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CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

One year later.  A ghostly mining town, abandoned when the gold became too hard to extract.  There are run-down gas stations beside decaying motels, now bypassed by better roads. See the ancient amusement park, once state of the art but now faded and visited only by the nostalgic and tumbleweeds.  The pages of a rare first edition of "How to Kill a Web Community in One Easy Lesson" flutter in the wind.

SerrJ215
SerrJ215

So my discussions aren't back yet.

My favorites, stuff that I have referred back to and used for other projects gone.

Honestly I can't read the site more then 15 minutes without it hurting my eyes and I am almost exclusively on it via the android app.

Now it is September and these issues have still not been resolved, and there has been no mention on when they are going to be.

I am sorry this is not an upgrade. 

I have asked before and I will ask again. Please can go back to the old site I miss the useful parts of this site.

lastchip
lastchip

So here we are, three weeks of the new "super-site" and I'm still nowhere near seeing my full postings list (I've actually got one post!).

Not exactly a glowing indication of efficiency or indeed of proper, substantial testing prior to launch.

Perhaps someone said; "it's good enough"! I seem to remember someone else saying that and subsequently producing Millennium, Vista and 8.

I accept one has to have patience in such circumstances - but how much?


deepsand
deepsand

Aside from fewer 404s, and some of my contacts now showing on my Profile only (still show NONE under People), no signs of substantive progress.  

This thread continues neither shows under My Activity nor generate activity alert e-mails.

Seems that this forum platform does not now support BBC, which is a serious shortcoming.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I once read that it takes two weeks of repetition to establish a behavior as a habit.  Apparently that's about all it takes to break one, too.

DimBulb
DimBulb

Had to switch to Compatibility mode for IE10 to see toolbars and for 'editors picks' to work.  Probably should have beta tested a little longer. Sad when an IT site can't get it right.

widd11e
widd11e

Been  keeping up with articles on TechRepublic since 2001.  Sometimes change can go either way.  I am not sure how things will go, but you seem to be on target.   On PC the changes look good.  Can't say how it looks on my iPad or cellphone.  You have such a following because your crew is the best.  You shine above others in content, and you show you care in being meticulous on the presentation of it.  Just be sure you keep it up.  I have seen many fall because they did not keep their standards high.  I am sure you have seen a few take a dive also.  OK that is enough of that... get back to work.   j/k

deepsand
deepsand

I notice that I am not receiving e-mail alerts re. activity in this thread, even though I am both active in it and clicked on "Follow Conversation" - which, by the way, now seems to be inoperative.

Bug?  By design?  Reason unknown?

Jimmy S
Jimmy S

When ever I refresh this page I get the cookies notice, how do I tell it that I accept the use of cookies?

I have logged in and then click on "My Profile" to get the error message:

Nothing to see here folks

Oops! Looks like this page has been removed or no longer exists... *scratches head*

What has gone wrong?

Robiisan
Robiisan

So, I haven't had time to read oll 77 (at this point) comments, but do the problems with the new platformlook/feel/whatever also affect the access to all the previous articles and posts?  I have saved editions of nine or ten newsletters going back several years because the articles would remain useful, particularly in explaining concepts to my less tech-literate business partners.  Now all I get form any of the older editions is 404 errors.  Scratches head, indeed!  If all the stuff I've kept for reference in the past is gone, permanently, so am I because I'll never know when the next batch is going away.  It ain't worth the time to read it here and save it, only to have it lost.

deepsand
deepsand

Had time for a cigarette break while waiting for Profile page to load.  Finally got a 404.

Eventually got to Profile, only to find that just about everything there is FUBAR:

..1) People (formerly Contacts) is now empty.

..2) My Activity/Discussions show a paltry 38 Discussions out of 100s participated in over the years.  And, no matter which sub-page is viewed, shows only the same 15 threads, which are neither the 3 most recent or 3 oldest.ns

..3) My Activity/Questions shows only a single thread from 2007.

..4) My Biography is truncated to far fewer than the max. 2500 characters.

It's taken me over an hour and one-half just to review my Profile related.

I've been a member here for a little over 12 years.  In the early years this forum made great strides in both usability and functionality.  Sadly, the past few years saw it devolve into something that is barely usable.  As a a result, many of us old-timers simply stopped coming here.

I strongly suggest that you stop trying to roll your own, and, for the member area, get and use a real forum platform, one that actually works, such as vBulletin.

SerrJ215
SerrJ215

Okay, its been a few days, and I am still having the same issues. Look can we swap back to the old site for a while just so we can get some work done? Now that you have seen what the new site is like you can take it back to development, bang out these dents and we look at this week as a beta test?  Then lets say in September October, we can try this again?

Please?

ibmtech
ibmtech

What happened to all of 'My Favourites'? All the pages I had saved for ongoing and future reference now appear to be no longer available and reads zero favourites.  The site has become extremely slow and a lot of pages just never come up (icon spins forever).  As well, some pages just come up blank.

Sometimes it's wiser to follow the old adage of, "if it ain't broken, don't fix it".

PeterM42
PeterM42

YUP - the new site is SERIOUSLY SLOW on a PC and just does not work on my Android (Samsung Galaxy II)

PeterM42
PeterM42

Either page loads on Android are S L O W!!! or it;s not working on Android.

Vandy-SJ
Vandy-SJ

Thank you Jason! Well done TechRepublic! Multi-device compatible, Yes!

medfordmel
medfordmel

Thank you for a great site, featuring great content from great contributors.  That's what's kept us coming back for more.

aniekanabasi
aniekanabasi

GREAT! KEEP IT UP!! I like the new look and layout. I will try my smartphone to see if I can download articles in the new format. The old one was extremely difficult. Thanks again.

rlcohen
rlcohen

Is this face-lift the reason why  I haven't seen any TR newsletters in my Inbox for several days?


diagnostix
diagnostix

the design looks a bit plain in my opinion, but overall, liked the topic way of organizing your stories

by the way, that 'Don't miss our latest updates' box in the right side of the page, doesn't seem to realized i'm already logged in. I get a pop-up asking me to register with the site again. Given that I'm already registered, I expect that box to be smarter.

chrisbedford
chrisbedford

Well on the plus side (there had to be, even if only a little one): At least I can post comments using FireFox. It was more than a little annoying having to copy-paste the URL into IE or Chrome (I forget which one worked - it was only one of them) to be able to post. Yayyyyy...

Now how about highlighting the new posts, like you used to do before the last 'revamp"? I get an email to say there have been new posts in a conversation I'm following, and the headings are listed, but when I click the link I have to scroll through the entire thing looking for the new ones. You can do a page search in your browser, by switching back to the email, copying the post headline, and then switching back to the browser, Ctrl-F and paste... but that is very very tedious and if the conversation goes into a 2nd or third page it means doing the search that many times - I usually give up after a couple of tries.

And on that topic, it seems posts no longer have headlines. Why not?

Oh. I take back that part about being able to post from Firefox. It worked earlier, but now I'm getting the rotating circle of death at bottom right (over the scroll down button on the scroll bar) and the "Post comment" green button doesn't do anything. Posted this using Chrome. 

So, improvements? Not so much.

dogknees
dogknees

If I go to My Stuff, there are only 2 Discussion items and they're from last year or older. Where are all my items from the last 12 months?

Looking at a Discussion thread, I only see 3 responses despite it saying there are 17. There doesn't appear to be a More button or anything like it.

Can't seem to see any indication of who made the last comment in the Discussions list. This is a very useful feature.

Very slow to load. A couple of minutes for Community. Also several more clicks to get to a lot of stuff. This is not better organisation, it's worse organisation.

Can't believe that strange limitations of the new "resolved question" options. If I answer as a clarification, the asker would then have to ask me to post it again as a top level item before they could award me. Even if they do, posting the same content twice is inefficient and dumb. A simple option for them to move my clarification to the top level so they could award would be nice.

I'm curious how much testing was done before the release. One would assume on a site like this, you would be making sure you do things properly. Any realistic load test would show up the slowness. Some solid pounding or a few dozens users would find the bugs where things don't appear.

All in all, not a great example of a professional IT development process.

techrepublic@
techrepublic@

Very slow and I'm on a fast machine with a fast 120 Mbps connection.

Firebug reports 118 requests (seriously?!), 1 minute 20 seconds loading and 1MiB download. You need to fix this. These load times just won't do.

Ghostery reports 18 trackers/advertising/analytic/whatever. All that explains much of the slowness.

As for the new design, simpler just for the sake of simpler is not good. Having no indication (underline, different colour)  when something is clickable is bad design. Borders help separate content and make reading easier. Uniform colour backgrounds make it difficult for the eyes to focus. Colour gradients, even if subtle, help.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

As long as I don't get those bloomin' "This post contains words and phrases consistent with spam" squawks, I'll be happy to comment. That was getting extremely frustrating--especially since real spam was being ignored.

DSmith1204
DSmith1204

This all looks fine and good, but as secretary of the local Computer Club, I am always looking for new messages in Adobe PDF format that I can download and send to current members, or put in the notebooks of future new members of the Club. Under the present format, I have jno direct access to the newest articles, nor do I know where to find the older ones. With the exception of the monthly rundowwn of Microsoft patches, which I always get by clicking a link in a Newsletter. Please, please, put in a "newest" category with maybe 10 articles, as you have done in the past.

MTsyko
MTsyko

What, no Linux/OpenSource categories? MicroCrap but no Linux, although the server world is dominated by it.

Mistake?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Somehow, I just know this is all part of Jason's grand scheme to force me onto Twitter.  He's decided that's important enough to bring TR to its cyber-knees just so I'll have to look elsewhere for entertainment between support calls.


Now, let's see if the emoticons still work:   :-D


Edited: and of course they don't...

tcavadias
tcavadias moderator Staff

@lastchip The full posting is still being worked on - the issue is that we are now using a third-party for commenting (LiveFyre) for commenting that is not within the forums, so we are building in the ability to pull that content so it will display in your profile as it did previously. Once completed, all your comments will be listed.

tcavadias
tcavadias moderator Staff

@deepsand LiveFyre offers it's own formatting, which you can use by clicking on the "pencil" icon to pen the formatting menu, then click on one or more of the icons to select your choices (click again to deselect the choices)


As for contacts displaying in your people's tab, that is forth coming (it will display "newly" added contacts, it is the previously added ones that are missing, for now you can see them all on your main profile page.

lozzags
lozzags moderator

@Robiisan Are you still getting 404 errors from the newsletters you've saved? If so could you please let me know a sample URL that is failing? 

jasonhiner
jasonhiner moderator

@deepsand It's true. The Forums are having all kinds of performance at the moment and we're working through some major bugs (especially around My Activity/Discussions) as you mentioned. We actually are using a forum platform now and no longer using our own hand-built one. In the past, we had to build our own because none of the third party platforms were very good at handling the kind of scale that TR had (millions of unique users per month). However, they've gotten much better. Nevertheless, when you roll out something like this and it has to talk with all of your other systems as well as your cache, it's super complicated and difficult to replicate in a test environment. We apologize. It will get better, but it's going to take us a little longer to iron out all the kinks. 

jasonhiner
jasonhiner moderator

@JSerrago@lanternslight.us I hear you, believe me. And, I know that you're making that suggestion in a construction way and I appreciate that. However, we've just rolled out some fixes that have improved page loads and general site stability and so I think we're over the hump. Comments and forums are still going to be a little slow -- we have some refining and bug fixes still going on. But, I think you'll find the rest of the site is settling down and becoming much more usable. And, of course, we're going to keep working hard to improve things.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner moderator

@ibmtech My Favorites will be back. That's a bug. The slowness is a caching problem that we are resolving. Sorry for the inconvenience. We're working through the issues and will have things back to normal soon. In fact, we're confident that it's going to be easier to use and more responsive once we work out the kinks.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner moderator

@PeterM42 That's a short-term issue. It's a caching issue that we're resolving. Hang in there. It will load much faster soon.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner moderator

@rlcohen Yes, TechRepublic was in maintenance mode on Monday and Tuesday while we flipped the switch from the old site to the new site.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I've been seeing that too.  Sometimes when I'm logged in, I'll click on a  link and the resulting page loads but I've been logged out.  I'm still logged in on the originating page, just not on the new one.

But I've been seeing that before the change, so I don't know if it's my browsers.

mudpuppy1
mudpuppy1

@chrisbedford Not sure I like the new look, it's too plain and more difficult to view (gray on white?). I had to use IE to post this, none of the other browsers I have work. Firefox just jumps to the top when I click on sign in. Got it to work once in Pale Moon, then it quit. Chrome just goes into the "Circle of Death" thing. So much for smarter. The jury is still out on faster. I can't resize the comment box anymore either. I tried that and the whole comment just disappeared. The cursor disappears randomly too.

I had several tabs open to articles I wanted to come back to. They no longer work. Now I have to search for them. Also not smart.

It seems like they went overboard trying to make the site work on portable devices. I don't know, I don't have one and don't plan on getting one until the need arises (if it ever does) and data plans come down from the stratosphere pricewise.

So, once again, us laptop/desktop users are being sacrificed in favor of portables. I wonder if they tested this before roll-out.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Agreed regarding highlighting the new / unread post.  This was done it the past by using a 'NEW' flag two versions back, and by bolding previously unread messages in Collapsed view in the last version.  (That's another difference; 'Collapsed' view seems to have gone MIA.)

Also, the Date / Time stamps on each post are in light gray on white.  Seriously?  They're unreadable.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Geez, you got excuses?  I never saw those.  The only way I knew when I tripped the filter is when my post didn't appear even after repeated attempts.  Then I'd have to try it one paragraph at a time until I located the offensive phrase.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner moderator

@CharlieSpencer Ha, I gave up on that quest many moons ago! 

Apologies for the forums issues. We're really focused on making TR community faster and more efficient to use, so of course at launch we're having a bunch of performance issues and bugs that are causing things to display incorrectly. I'm sure we've also done some things that are illogical and we'll count on all of you to point them out so that we can fix them, as always. :-)

During the next 24 hours, we will jump in and respond to some more of the specific issues you all have raised. As you can imagine, we're all still running around with our hair on fire as we work on fixes and cleanup.

deepsand
deepsand

@tcavadias @deepsand  

In re. LiveFrye's formatting functions, that's a mighty slim list.  Any chance of getting support for full set of BBC?

In re. Contacts, presumably you speak of those that one has "followed."  What of those which show who has "followed" you, as had been previously displayed?

Additionally, what of thread activity e-mail alerts, which, as noted in my post of 23 JUL, are not being received?

deepsand
deepsand

@jasonhiner @deepsand  

Hello, Jason; long time since we last conversed.

If you don't mind my asking, what forum platform did you migrate to?

Also, are the missing Profile related data recoverable?

 

Mehul Bhai
Mehul Bhai

@jasonhiner

"What happened to all of 'My Favourites'? All the pages I had saved for ongoing and future reference now appear to be no longer available and reads zero favourites." as ibmtech says.

This is still not solved

SerrJ215
SerrJ215

"jasonhiner moderator5ptsJul 19, 2013 @ibmtech My Favorites will be back."  I would like to ask, when sir?  Also I am not finding the new format to be very engaging. I use to spend a while on TR going from article to article. Now, I am having a hard time finding what I want to read, and I am not wanting to stay for long.

I am having an better time using the mobile app then the main site.

JJFitz
JJFitz

Well, at least the mobile web view works on my android.

So far win 7, win 8, ie 8, 9 & 10 and chrome combinations are painfully slow.

dogknees
dogknees

@jasonhiner @CharlieSpencer 

Jason, Why no real load testing? Why inflict it on the community? We're not being paid to test your code. And I can't see an indication of it being a Beta, or really an Alpha version.

mudpuppy1
mudpuppy1

@jasonhiner @dogknees Now I'm being told my comment period (or something to that effect) time has expired even though the edit thing says I have 4 minutes. More bugs, I guess.

mudpuppy1
mudpuppy1

@jasonhiner @dogknees Oh, one more thing: I have this same page open in Firefox. The comments I add in IE are not showing up in Firefox after I refresh the page. Not even when I close the tab and reopen it from the link in the e-mail.

And, why does it show I'm replying to dognees and jasonhiner. Nothing against dogknees, but my reply is directed at Jason.

Also, there is a noticeable delay when I use the arrow keys to position the cursor where I want to mak an edit and when it actually moves/shows up.

I suspect many of these issues will be ironed out over the next few days. I understand that such a massive rebuild will not go off without a hitch. I just hope the Firefox issues get addressed.

mudpuppy1
mudpuppy1

@jasonhiner @dogknees It would be really nice if you could get it to work in Firefox again. Having to use IE just for TR is not good. Thanks for listening. I would really hate to abandon TR over this as I find your (TR's) articles to be very valuable and helpful. I have been around since 1999 or so. I wouldn't have stuck around if I didn't find this site to be useful.

And what's with the time limit on edits? Sometimes I don't see a need to edit until much later.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner moderator

@dogknees We have been testing for over a month, including lots of load testing. The honest truth is that it's still just really hard to load test a site that gets millions of visitors a month. But, the primary problem is that we're having some caching issues and we've discovered that some of our queries need to be designed more efficiently. Once we sort out these issues, the community features are going to be much faster than before. Sorry for the Alpha/Beta feel of the site for now though. I know it's frustrating.

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