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Changing SQLServerCentral - Initial Thoughts Expand / Collapse
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Posted Monday, August 5, 2013 3:39 PM


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Glen Cooper (8/5/2013)

But keep the advertising to an absolute minimum.



Always a battle, but I agree. I am looking to offer more advertising options to the marketing people, but limit their use, so that the same or less ads are used at any time.







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Post #1481106
Posted Monday, August 5, 2013 3:41 PM


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JaviLopez (8/5/2013)
Hi Steve. First of all thanks for the dedication you put on SSC. Your work is appreciated.
I'm a tester with ~6 years of experience and wanted to mention that although SQL has not been my foremost priority, the material in SSC that I've used has definitely helped me get on with the job in a very enjoyable, practical way.

My 2 cents on the site's design, structure: Please do not make an all-thorough change to your site. I think that the site's identity has to be maintained (or even enhanced) by the changes. Not only for your site, but for any other good entrepreneurship. Another good investment would be the ability to find stuff much faster and easier than before. Maybe organize stuff in some way according to topics / processes that more experienced DBAs / DB devs can determine should be grouped together (i.e. Get in one view some articles, videos, scripts, Stairways, books, etc. that are useful for i.e. data scraping from excel into a DB, etc).

Thanks again,


You are welcome and thanks for being a part of the community.

I agree with you on not making radical or wholesale changes. I have skipped all previous design ideas until now for that reason. I want the site to look familiar, but cleaner.

We are doing some work on search and organization behind the scenes. Those are slow, architectural, and code changes. However we wanted some design ideas before we touch too much code. most of the code is on hold, pending some outcomes from these articles.







Follow me on Twitter: @way0utwest

Forum Etiquette: How to post data/code on a forum to get the best help
Post #1481107
Posted Monday, August 5, 2013 6:45 PM


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I cannot speak for others but, despite its age, I've always thought that SSC was a very rich looking and colorful site (right down to the unique and colorful icons used) that was years ahead of other sites (and I still think that or I wouldn't be taking the time to write this post). I've seen many other sites and I think them comparatively ugly, somewhat difficult to navigate, and they follow the typical "dime-a-dozen" formatting, which SSC does not.

The meat and potatoes of SSC are its articles (Stairway series included!) and its forums. Those are also the things most in need of help but seem to always miss "making the list".

As I'm writing this post in the "Post Reply" window, I see a set of icons at the top that don't do the things that are available in other forums. Instead, I'm frequently relegated to using the IFCode shortcuts at the left which, by the way, take up valuable horizontal space. If the IFCode functionality could be moved to the Icons at the top of the window, as they are on most forums, I could even tolerate a bit of targeted and NON-MOVING advertising in that space. Swinging the smiley face bar up into the icons at the top would free up additional horizontal space without taking up more vertical space simply because there'd be more horizontal space for icons.

To continue on the forums, when I want to use a graphic to drive a point home, I first have to save the file on my harddisk, manually upload the graphic, right click on it's link marker, copy its URL, add the IFCode for an image, paste the URL into the IFCode, forget about previewing because that won't actually work, and then hope I did it all in time because of the bloody timeout built into the site. This has got to be annoying to new users/posters because it's certainly annoying to this old-timer.

These things aren't new faults. Again, I can't speak for anyone else, but I've made folks aware of these short comings both before and after the RedGate conversion. In fact, IIRC, we(Steve Jones and I) had several conversations about these forum problems as soon as the "great change" occurred long before RedGate came along. These same problems have been around for more than a decade. The only reason why I personally tolerate them is because of the people on these particular forums and the people behind the scenes, like Steve Jones.

Similar problems exist on the "Write For Us" pages. The preview falls well short of WYSIWYG and despite the supposed ability to do a "Word Paste", you still have to upload graphics and then manually position them because they all show up at the beginning of the edit space when you paste them. Since areas of code are converted to HTML, all leading spaces for formatting are lost and you have to delete the code, create a code window, and paste the new code in hoping all the while that something whacky doesn't happen to obliterate a paragraph, headings, or a graphic in the article.

I also understand the color and cost of money and understood that working on a forum wasn't necessarily the best way to spend money. Heh... then I see money being spent on a fixed width and all too narrow newsletter, unimaginative and monochromatic icons, and the promise of more "look" changes but there's no time to even fix the bloody timeout problem or embed the IFCodes in a couple of icons? Yes, like I said, different color of money but if RedGate really wants to continue making "friends" (potential customers) through a couple (SSC and ST) of what I think are the world's best SQL forums, my suggestion would be to change the color of some of that money and start fixing the existing and creating missing functionality instead of messing around with a look that appears to have been and continues to be ahead of it's time.

If Developer time is mostly out of the question, what happened to the "test" forum that some of us took a look at a couple of months ago? That seemed to have all of the missing functionality in it and a whole lot more. If that didn't pan out or cost too much, would it really hurt to spend some money on Developers or Consultants?

And then there's "search" on this site. 'Nuff said there.

As to picking a model for a "new look" goes... anyone that publishes a website about a "new look" with a picture of those prison-cell-looking orange doors on top to bottom window offices (just add the bars for the full effect) like Microsoft did should take a serious look at the difference in the definitions of the words "different" and "attractive".

So here's to the meat and potatoes of SSC. I hope that RedGate understands that we don't need to paint the rock solid, slate covered barn when there's sick cattle in the barn and rotting potatoes in the field. They need to spend the paint money on fixing things.

Of course, it's not my show. I'm just another (albeit, more vocal) user of the site.

Ok... I'm done. All I have to do is remember to copy this post first so that when the site tells me I took too long to hit "Post Reply", I don't lose it all and can repost it.


--Jeff Moden
"RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for "Row-By-Agonizing-Row".

First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
Stop thinking about what you want to do to a row... think, instead, of what you want to do to a column."

(play on words) "Just because you CAN do something in T-SQL, doesn't mean you SHOULDN'T." --22 Aug 2013

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Post #1481129
Posted Tuesday, August 6, 2013 2:00 AM
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Perhaps SQL types aren't quite as impressed by presentation as some sectors of the IT population. Rather like engineers (are we data engineers?), we look at function first every time. Like many, I HATE the Windows 8 'look'. It looks like a step back fifteen or twenty years.

Ok, SSC has been around for a while and needs to keep its eye on where the goalposts are this week, but let's make sure the look and feel don't detract from usability.

Perhaps the answer would be to ditch some 'user experience' resources and take on more coders, and just change the colours a little to keep the aesthetes happy
Post #1481199
Posted Tuesday, August 6, 2013 9:13 AM
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I agree...
Plus these comments...

The only 'official' wording I have seen from SSC management to explain the newsletter changes is that the design is old and needs updating.
What I see is the newsletter changes clearly seem to be an effort to offer a mobile device version of the content.

Has anyone (at SSC) defined what they want to the newsletter to accomplish?
It's called a requirement definition.
If the primary requirement is to deliver the newsletter content to mobile devices then say so and implement the changes with that rationale.
IMHO...I think that is a short sighted mistake

I use this site for work stuff.
I open the newsletter to primarily follow the URL links to other (more detailed) content.
The links in the newsletter take you to web sites that are not always (or rarely) mobile device friendly.
I read the editorial (because it's insightful) and then pick which things (links) I'll go deeper on.
So what's the point of reading it on a mobile device.

When I leave my desk (i.e. computer) I am not thinking " I am going to go sit in the lunch area to read the SSC newsletter on my mobile device"
I go to socialize, talk, exchange ideas and network.
I am not looking to replace all my 'no computer in front of my face' time with 'have another device in front of face' time.
I know a lot of people these days are becoming 'self-absorbed' with their mobile device (at the expense of old fashioned socializing)... I am trying to not become one of those people.

If the changes to the newsletter have been deployed with a 'one size will fit all' thinking then that's wrong.
This is IT folks.
We don't have to settle for a 'one size' solution.
That's what makes IT so dam fun and exciting!
When will these newly minted`user experience (UX) experts' suggest a solution like... 'Why don't we have two offerings, a mobile version and more fully functional high fidelity desktop version'
My more recent experience with `user experience (UX) experts`is that they are usually fixated on finding a 'holy grail' UX that they can point to as 'their' creation.
UX experts generally don't do any 'deep' coding so more complex multi-format delivery solutions are not part of their service offering.
These types of solutions often require coders and maybe even some infrastructure configuration changes. Given that the UX experts can't do this they generally offer up what they can do... which is pump out a 'prettied' up version of the same solution and sell it as more user friendly and easier to use.



Post #1481395
Posted Tuesday, August 6, 2013 9:52 AM


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Jeff Moden (8/5/2013)
I cannot speak for others but, despite its age, I've always thought that SSC was a very rich looking and colorful site (right down to the unique and colorful icons used) that was years ahead of other sites (and I still think that or I wouldn't be taking the time to write this post). I've seen many other sites and I think them comparatively ugly, somewhat difficult to navigate, and they follow the typical "dime-a-dozen" formatting, which SSC does not.
....


good comments, and I'll try to address some of those over time (you're slightly ahead of me here). I agree with lots of what you've said, but most of these are development resources, which are in short supply.







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Post #1481416
Posted Tuesday, August 6, 2013 10:05 AM


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gregsoc (8/6/2013)
I agree...
Plus these comments...

The only 'official' wording I have seen from SSC management to explain the newsletter changes is that the design is old and needs updating.


You haven't read closely. I have posted that we have gotten lots of complaints and concerns over the years. The design, IMHO, isn't very good. Two menus (top and side), three in places, inconsistent design, verbiage that isn't clear and doesn't attract attention, and more.



What I see is the newsletter changes clearly seem to be an effort to offer a mobile device version of the content.
[quote]

That's fair, and there is some of that. I have a piece today that talks about


[quote]
Has anyone (at SSC) defined what they want to the newsletter to accomplish?
It's called a requirement definition.


The newsletter is built to accomplish a few things. One, grow the site. Two, deliver information, but primarily to interest users in visiting the site. Three, advertising. That's why it's free. Four, minimize the people that don't find value in the newsletter and unsubscribe.


I use this site for work stuff.
...



As do others ,but don't make the mistake of thinking the way you work is the way many/most/all/some others works.



This is IT folks.
We don't have to settle for a 'one size' solution.
...

Very true, but we often do have to settle in the short term. Resources as in short supply.







Follow me on Twitter: @way0utwest

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Post #1481424
Posted Tuesday, August 6, 2013 12:30 PM
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If there were one thing I'd love to have (back), it's publishing all of the previous day's questions (Database Pros Who Need Your Help) in the daily newsletter. I don't know how those questions are selected for inclusion, but I gave up reading the questions when the rules changed several years ago. Not that this was any great loss to the community, but I soon realized I was reading a lot of the same stuff over again, and missing questions of interest.

I also agree with the respondent who talked about the difficulty of figuring out which forum to post in. Maybe you could get rid of the different forum for each SQL version, and have people get in the habit of including which version they're using.

That said, this is the best site I've found for SQL topics and questions.

Thanks,
Mattie



Post #1481491
Posted Tuesday, August 6, 2013 12:31 PM


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When you roll out the redesign, please please please do not have a separate mobile site. Or if you do, don't automatically force mobile users to that site. They are almost always so compromised that they are almost useless, and I have to jump through hoops to use the regular desktop version on my phone.

Hakim Ali
www.sqlzen.com
Post #1481492
Posted Tuesday, August 6, 2013 1:04 PM


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Post removed for being way too sarcastic.
Post #1481509
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