It’s been a long while since our last Alpha Test update. In the meantime, invites started to pour out generously, we got more testers, more feedback – and more things to do. Our task board now looks like a hedgehog after a stroll through the “post-it” factory. That’s why, even if you haven’t heard from us in a while, don’t worry! We’re still here, hard at work, pumped up and excited. We just didn’t have time to bring things up to speed, hence – the article you’re reading now.
First of all, thanks for all the great work you’ve done testing the alpha version. So far we received over 200 feedback messages from our alpha users. And while some of you wrote just to say you like the system (thanks!), and some wrote just to say “adsfasdf”, the vast majority of e-mails contained valuable ideas and bug reports.
Please remember, that the fact we haven’t fixed your specific issue yet doesn’t mean we ignored it. We rarely fix bugs one by one our live version. We generally roll many fixes into a single system update. If you reported something three weeks ago, and it’s still not fixed, please don’t worry! There was no major system update since then. The next one should be coming shortly.
And to prove we listen, here’s a quick list of some popular suggestions – and what we’re doing about them.
1) Tags and topics
Some people asked us to allow grouping sources or tagging pages. We definitely agree! We’re working on a great system of topics, that should solve this – and much more. Unfortunately, just like all awesome things, it’s bound to take some time, so I wouldn’t expect it in the next update.
2) Tutorial pop-ups
A minor, but annoying issue. Many testers reported, that on some screens and resolutions the tutorial pop-ups are going off-screen. This, of course, is a bug, not a planned feature. We’re currently working on making tutorial smarter and leaner at the same time.
3) Easy browsing
Several testers wanted to be able to browse freely, or asked us for a dedicated browsing bar. We’ll be addressing this VERY soon. We’re currently integrating a full URL entry bar into our page view pop-up. What it means, is that you’ll be able to browse through StormDriver just like with your regular browser. First implementation of the browsing bar will be quite simple, but bells and whistles, like auto-complete and search, are also on the roadmap.
4) Feed grouping
Again, a popular request. Many of you have noticed duplicates or similar evens occupying a lot of your precious screen real estate. Making all the feeds nicer is one of the highest priority tasks we have now. Let’s just say we really started to appreciate the amount of work Facebook and Google did to make their feeds feel right. Our feeds, unfortunately, are much more complicated, due to real-time and location-based philosophy of the system.
A compete feed re-vamp is currently underway. Once it lands on live serve, both your global and your sources stream should work much smarter, grouping similar events and avoiding duplicates.
5) Various typos
6) Incompatible pages
We’re aware there are some pages, that won’t display properly in StormDriver. We also know the system won’t accept some URL’s. Some pages we really like are among those affected, so trust me if I say we’d love to fix that ASAP.
Browsing through StormDriver server is more complicated than it seems, and even though we’ve built one of the most polished proxy back-ends ever, there is still much to be done. We could really use whole a dedicated page compatibility team during the open beta stage, but for now, we have to do with what we have.
We’re trying to implement some general fixes, and we try to work on some specific cases individually. If you have a page you’d like to see working, please send us a message using the feedback form. We’ll prioritize stuff that’s important to our users or popular.
7) Random crashes.
This is bound to happen from time to time. We didn’t call it “alpha” without reason, you know
8 ) Multinational pages showing in UK or IE version
Just like some of our inquisitive testers guessed, StormDriver is currently deployed on a server in Ireland. And yes, that means people from US are greeted with the UK version of Huffington Post. The same goes for IGN and some other location-specific sites. You see, our StormDriver browsing server is seen by most sites as a very hyperactive user, that’s sitting somewhere in Ireland, clicking 100 pages a minute between spis of Guiness. We’re going to tackle the problem from both sides – we want to improve the way StormDriver handles region-specific sites, and we’re also going to deploy in more geographical locations once the system grows enough.
9) But what about MY bug?
Again, if you’re issue is not on this list, it doesn’t mean we ignore it. It would be hard to contain everything we got from those 200 e-mails in a single article, but you can be sure we read everything and we talked through every single piece of feedback.
The next steps
As you can see, there are lots and lots of issues to fix. But we’re not only doing bug fixing at the moment. In fact, bug fixes are not even our top priority. What we want first, is to nail down basics, to make StormDriver simple, fun, addictive and easy to learn.We need a great proof of concept.
Currently, our top priority is to simplify the system. That was what a lot of users have asked for, and that’s what a lot of VC’s and experts suggested. We even found a great way to do this – we’ll just… add a brand new functionality. No worries though, it will replace two existing ones, so in the end the system should become leaner and easier to learn. We’re really proud of this solution, and we hope you’ll like it too.
We’re going to reveal this functionality soon, so watch this space!
But the mystery functionality is not the only thing we’re planning to surprise you with. We’re also preparing something big – just as big as the alpha launch, if not bigger. And no, I’m not talking only about the beta version.
Soon you’ll see. In the meantime, if you have’nt tested StormDriver yet, be sure to sing-up here, while the Alpha lasts! We want to see your feedback. Next stop: five hundred messages!