Freegle Tech Report 16-06-30
Freegle Tech Report June 2016 Posts 17418-17566 Members 105
Edward has once again spent his time working on FDv3, and there should be a very early beta of this in a couple of weeks. Because it is rewritten from the ground up, and we’re also running it in parallel to FDv1-2, then bugs are thrown up from time to time. As these can be specific to one type of device, browser, email client, or operating systems, we could do with more moderators on Tech who will report any faults and be prepared to ask members to allow Edward to use TeamViewer if they report an unusual problem.
Because of changes in how people use websites (they read less, they use phones more, and they are more impatient) the intention is to keep the new website as clean and uncluttered as possible, with fewer options and less text. This means that we are retiring some function which we added, but where it’s not been used by the majority of members.
Edward is hoping to switch over to FDv3 by mid-August. This is the start of things, not the end! It will initially provide fairly similar function to FDv2, but on the new platform, and with significant improvements for new members, to make it easier to offer or find items when you arrive for the first time.
Once that’s in place, we will:
- Analyse how people use it to improve how frequently people convert from visitors to active freeglers (the new site includes a lot of function under the covers for this).
- Add new features, such as the ability for members to edit their messages.
- Add the ability to host groups without having a Yahoo Group in the background.
The current mobile app will not work with FDv3. While it should be possible to “embed” the new FDv3 site within an app, there is a discussion on Tech as to whether it is necessary to have an app and whether the cost of doing is this sensible (more on this below). If we go ahead, there may be a period in which the app is not available. While there are some important advantages to having an app, there is a sense that apps are changing: 
Mobile app report
I've done a new minor release of the Freegle mobile app (only for Android so far) with these changes:
- Fix bug that stopped you adding a reuse outlet
- When report link clicked, add details to log
There is a "Report" link by every post and reply. Clicking this shows the contact page with details of the post/reply filled in on the Contact Local Group box. Some people are filling in the box below to provide feedback on the app which goes to support/geeks. If they do that, then we don't know the details. I've now added the details to the log which is sent with the feedback post so we have some clue as to what they are reporting. I'll do an Amazon and Apple release in due course.
New app version
Edward has suggested to me that we replace the current mobile app with his website code, tweaked as necessary to make it function as an app. He's asked me to quote a price for helping him do this.
Assuming that this could be made to work, this would allow us to have a consistent look and feel for both and only have one codebase to maintain for both (though the mobile app will necessarily lag slightly behind the website). Having an app would allow some things to be done better, eg notifications are possible/better which could be a significant advantage.
The estimate for last month was that we had 63K users of the website and only around 100 mobile app users. It's not clear yet what the cost would be to have an updated mobile app, so my thinking is that it's not worth it, ie we should save our precious funds to pay Ed for longer or to allow him add more features. If we ever got a new pot of money then we could consider doing a new app then.
Even if we go ahead with the new mobile version, there's a good chance that it won't be ready for when the new platform is released. So there may be a period when the current app does not work. I do have a means of putting up a message when people start the app. I can do a new release of the current version which picks up a flag from the server and displays a more prominent message and gives us more gracefully. Some people might be annoyed, but not that many. There is an option to unpublish the Android app and remove the iOS app from sale; I assume that we can then make them available for sale again, but I don't know for certain.
Stats at end of June 2016
Total downloads are 27,734. The average rating is 4.04 over 74 ratings.
There has been 1 in-app purchase this month (and 5 last month not 2 as previously reported).
The Android app is at at v0.81, the iOS app is on v0.80 and the Amazon app is on v0.79.
Q. A member had 2 replies to an offer and wants to reply to the first respondent but it isn't immediately clear which one came first. Could a time /date be squeezed in somewhere if more people find it useful?
Q.The time of my own message appears differently for both replies. I guess that is down to the recipient's email client? One shows time of 21:38 while the other message shows 08:41. And one has some random html characters - again my guess is from the recipient's email client. See screen print.
A.The posts and replies are in date order so the first ones are the latest ones. If the post or reply was "today" then it says eg "14:09 today". There should be room for a time on older dates as well so I'll look at adding this in.
The mailings have been moved over to FD3 which will cause some problems for groups not using modtools to synch for a couple of months. Not good but the old mailer was falling apart, and was causing even worse problems.
These new mailers did create some bugs, like a release of mail to members who had changed to no email, mailers bypassing filters and and problems with Windows Live users.
Most bugs should now be fixed but we are still looking for members or mods who are having trouble, and who are willing to do a TeamViewer session with Edward.
Q & A
- Q.I'm not able to send a reply to a members' post, I get an error message saying that it has failed. Please can you investigate?
A I'm reasonably hopeful that my recent fixes will have resolved this. You could let him know and ask him to tell us if that's false.
- Q. Just had a member report his message wont send and when I looked at the screenshot it showed they had not entered a location but no message to that effect.
A It was supposed to flag that up to the user, but was bugged. Should be fixed now.
- Q. Why do some emails come from the bounce@ direct.ilovefreegle.org? A mod on a group I am helping on has emailed me to say she had five replies from that email so offered the item to someone she thought had a valid email address.
A We can't send a mail to C that looks like it comes from B, because of the DMARC issue which means that looks like a forgery. Which it is, of course. So we send a mail to C from bounce@, but with a Reply-To address set to B. That means that when the original poster receives the email at C and replies, it will go to B. There's a difficulty in allowing people to hide their email address (which we want to do) and having emails which don't come from offputting addresses. FDv3 (new platform) invents a more plausible looking email than bounce@, which may help with this.
- Q. A member is complaining she is unable to post a taken for some trellis she offered yesterday. When she looks at the drop down menu in My Posts on FD, all that is listed is a post she made three months ago and she said she had problems posting a received at the time for that.
A It was found that she had logged in with a different email to the one she posted from. There will be a fix in FD3 that will spot and combine memberships.
- Q. I rejected an event notification as we do not allow these on our main group. However the event shows on a Community Event Roundup that has been sent out to all members.
A They are auto approved just now, but rejecting via the verification email should remove it. I will look into it.
- Q. I have had three reports on two groups of messages failing to send replies to posts. I have asked all three to allow you to do a teamviewer in the hope one of them will. I'll let you know if any of them agree.
A I had one example recently which was an attempt to reply to the TV spammer. See which message it was.
- Mailings were moved over from FD v2 to FD v3 (the new platform which ModTools is part of). This means that until FD v2 is retired and users are on FD v3, the system is kind of split, which means it relies on syncing.
- FDv1-2 have 11 message categories - Domestic Appliances, Pet-related, Office & Home Office, Miscellaneous, Children & Baby, Clothing, DIY, Furniture, Garden, Household, Leisure & Entertainment. These are not widely used. The current plan is not to expose categories to end-users but to try to link posts to specific items in the server, so that we can use it for reporting. In time, but not initially, to also improve our search so that if you search for 'sofa' it finds 'couch' etc.
- In FD v2 you can filter posts by distance. Looking in the database, only 4% of people have changed this value from the default. therefore don't intend to keep this function in the new platform .
- For the new platform, there will be a number of pieces of configuration for individual groups to customise how things look. There are some settings like that in FDv1-2, but they're a bit unstructured and haven't aged well, so they're a bit all over the place at the moment.
*Two things I am likely to have are a profile picture (a small square image) and a cover picture (a larger banner image). Fairly soon, you will see ModTools gently prompt you for groups which need a profile picture, so that we can get these in place and start using them for the What's New emails, and other places in code being developed.
Someone reported a security certificate error when viewing a What's New mail - is anyone seeing that? Contact Edward if you are.
Q. For a few days now I've left a spam message pending on a couple of groups to remind me to check that the spammer has actually been removed by either FD or Modtools, but the confirmed spammers are still there. I've also discovered that they have additional accounts on each group with slightly differing email addresses. So my question is this; Does either FD or Modtools still remove confirmed spammers?
A Yes, it does still happen. The notification mails don't often get through to the owner address, but I see them occasionally. It's rather a complex system at the moment because of the split between ModTools, FD, and Yahoo. If you give me some details of the spammer, then I can have a look at this case, in case there's a bug.
Q. I got a a copy of the mail that was sent, by Jean Quinn from support, and am dealing with it. However this notification is essentially blank and so if of no use. I presume that a copy of the email was supposed to be included and indeed is showing in the message header? A There are two boxes to put the message in and the HTML box was probably left blank. I'll make the tool send a text-only message in these cases.
Q Some time ago in my FD settings, I unselected the option for snaply members to join. I don't know what the prospective member would see when trying but the fact is they are still able to join.
A Andrew picked up the settings from Direct automatically I think. He is not very responsive to us these days, but you could try mailing him. As he is not co-operating, his app will probably no longer work when we move to FD3