Suggested fixes and features

Discussion in 'Brewer's Friend Announcements & Updates' started by Yooper, Oct 4, 2019.

  1. Yooper

    Yooper Administrator
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    We are reaching out to you to ask your input on what is not working as you would expect or what needs to be added to make the software work better for you.

    Please let us know what we can do to make Brewer's Friend the best choice for your brewing. What doesn't fit your brewday? What do you need to make it perfect software for you? What's not working for you? How's the display/print/etc?

    We would appreciate it if you'd share your thoughts and experiences with us as we prioritize the needs of our customers.

    If you don't want to share publicly, feel free to start a conversation via a message to me or @Josh (Brewer's Friend) and let us know what we can do to make your experience with us better.
     
  2. Mase

    Mase Well-Known Member

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    I think the most important thing to focus on is communication through the forums with any and all changes. Currently BF bulletizes a list of changes and posts in this forum section accordingly. What I am suggesting is to provide a more comprehensive explanation of the changes, including why the change(s) was/were made, how it works, and what “trickle down” effects we might see as we encounter the change.

    I think it was @Craigerrr that suggested a version/release number and date. I think that is a great idea as well (including revision date).

    For those who don’t frequent the forums until there’s a problem, I think a notification screen should pop up for any user that is used to a previous version of the software no matter how small the change is, to link them to the forum (or within the message) of the changes and a “why are you receiving this message”.

    You already know what feature I’ve been lobbying for, so I won’t bring that up at this time, as I’d rather see you folks doing what you are now first.

    Im rooting for you all!
     
  3. Balrog

    Balrog New Member

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    I like BF recipe calc, came here when BrewToad went away.
    Happy to help however and whenever @Yooper
     
  4. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    My most profound wish is a way to handle gravity and ABV calcs when adding fermentables after the boil. A pet peeve is when changing units, the software calculates conversion: I generally enter amounts then units, not units then amounts. Recipes should recalculate when changing profiles. I'm sure I'll think of more later.
     
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  5. Pricelessbrewing

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    Alright, you asked for it!

    Communication, changelog, and beta testing:

    Clearly document all changes, including layout adjustments and most importantly any changes to existing inputs or features. Test all changes in the beta group, with clear documentation, an updated change log after each revision, and testing each revision before pushing any update to the live site.

    Pricing tiers and groups:
    I see that creating a brewer group is limited to Premium Plus members. I personally don't see this as a wise move, especially given the large price difference. I don't see many homebrew clubs seeing that as a good return on investment, but the user stats will show that one way or another. Similarly trail members being unable to join a group will substantially limit how many users in a club will be able to join a group. If this feature is going to be built into a key difference from the competition, having it behind such a paywall will hamper those efforts substantially.

    Volume calculations:

    Honestly the biggest oversight/lacking feature is not anything complicated or some crazy new feature, but clear water volume calculations and equipment volume calculations in the recipe editor. IMO it’s a basic requirement of all brewing software, but it doesn’t really exist currently in BF. Partly because it’s just been set aside in favor of the brew sessions, and partly because the “quick water calculation” tool existed, however both are rather lacking . My current workflow is to memorize, and do the math by hand to set your mash steps, or go back and forth using multiple pages/tools to design your mash steps, which is cumbersome.

    I’d like a visible “total estimated/calculated” volume calculation (that 100% matches what’s in the brew session dashboard). I’d like the total mash volume to be visible (water volume + grain displacement, with optional thermal expansion coefficient applied). It’s a small addition and solves a relatively big problem.

    Showing the Calculated/estimated numbers at the bottom would be unintrusive and helpful by quickly showing how much water is remaining for the included equipment profile, and recipe. To go the extra mile, you could put a user setting to hard limit fir the water volumes to not exceed the total calculated required water volume. In the example above, if I turned on this restriction, I could not exceed 8.13 gallons without some sort of error feedback, an alert/popup or as simple as the text field having a red animated box shadow slowly flash around the textfield. This would force me to decrease the existing mash steps before being able to increase any of them. IMO highest priority. Small addition with large return on ease of user workflow.

    The next step would be to include mash thickness, I would do so by moving the Description entry to a new row and replacing Desc with a thickness input. Changes in user input of mash thickness and amount need to be link, so if I enter 6 gallons into the volume amount input field, then the mash thickness should be calculated, and vice versa if I enter 2.25 qt/lb then the volume amount should be calculated and changed.

    I’d PREFER the wort runoffs to be a mash step option in the recipe editor, wort drain volume after all mash steps and after sparging, but not strictly necessary as it would be adding another feature where IMO we should be focusing on fixing existing features and perfecting the basics. These volumes would of course necessitate a separate summation so it isn’t included in the water requirement calculations. Alternatively create a “boil process” section similar to mash guidelines section where you would have the heating steps (step time, step temp, step duration) in order to support raw ales, whirlpooling hop steps, boil steps/volumes and could have the run off volumes there to show that they add up to the preboil volume. Lowest priority.

    The mash guidelines buttons for calculate water volume is a good step in the right direction, however I don’t think the execution is that helpful. I would instead always display the calculated volume alongside mash and sparge at the bottom. Something like either of the two attached image, note that the alignment issues mentioned in another section were adjusted.

    mashsteps2.PNG

    Adding to the confusion is that if you have existing mash steps, and click the calculate water requirements button it adds the total calculate volume as a mash step, in the above example I went from 7 gal to 15.1 gal (note the different in significant figures as well, it should be to two sig figs IMO). This is counterproductive.


    Brewhouse/kettle efficiency and target fermentor/kettle. This is endlessly confusing and discussed repeatedly in multiple threads. If it’s going to continue as it stands, I think an animation needs to be added to draw attention to the change in the efficiency type. Alternatively, move the dropdown from target to the efficiency side. Mathematically target kettle/kettle (mash) efficiency is identical to just changing the efficiency type to kettle (mash) efficiency and using the postboil volume. Moving the target dropdown to efficiency increases clarity because the efficiency type is what is changing, removes confusion, and simplifies the UI since you’re combining two elements. Moderate priority.
     
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  6. Pricelessbrewing

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    More section:

    Change the table of calculated options on the left to a couple dropdowns for alternative formulas. There’s no need to see the calculated values of all for color/srm formulas at the same time. This will allow the more section to be shrunk down some and not eat up so much vertical space. Low priority.

    Make the recipe stats a sticky nav bar, so when you scroll below it then it stays at the top of the screen. This was a great recommendation by blue ball brewer @ https://www.brewersfriend.com/forum/threads/possible-change-to-recipe-editor.12045/ moderate priority

    Browsing recipes: When viewing an existing public recipe, I would change “copy” to “copy and edit”. It’s not exactly clear what you need to do to open the recipe in the editor. Low priority.

    In addition to everything I’ve stated previously regarding the last updates beta testing discussion thread reposted, and expanded slightly below.

    Creating/managing my groups:

    Love the homebrew group setting, where are you pulling the data from? I’d guess that it’s the AHA site but the homebrew group listings aren’t exactly data friendly directly from the site as it’s not formatted very well last I looked.

    I’d like the option that the groups have public/private settings similar to how facebook handles it. Public vs private, open vs closed vs invite only via link (permanent or temporary), with the group having an optional question for vetting members before an admin approves the member joining.

    For example above, I could not search, add, or otherwise request to join another users group without an invitation.

    Would be nice to invite members via a permanent link to join, or to be able to search brewers friend members like how “start a new conversation” works without knowing the other users email address. moderate priority

    This would also not change any existing user workflows or create confusion in existing recipes.

    “auto scale down:” There are different ways to scale recipes, a link to the formula being applied here would be beneficial or at the least an explanation on how this works. For example, is the grain bill % being held as a constant, or are specialty grains kept at a lb/gal consistent basis? Are ibus changed due to scaling of the hops? Is the grain bill readjusted slightly to keep SRM consistent?

    In the group dashboard page (my groups/GroupName) there should be a tab (say between members, and inventory) that is for group recipes that lists all group recipes, style, abv, IBU, and recipe owner.


    Recipe editor:

    I think it would be better to have the author and the group setting be separate variables so you can still see who made the recipe even though it’s now part of the group. Wouldn't it make more sense to keep the author input field where it is, and either add a new field, or place a "share with groups" multiselect dropdown w/ checkboxes near the share recipe radio? Currently, there's a few issues I see, 1) Ownership and crediting. As it stands, if I share a recipe with a group, I am no longer the author. This is a big issue for some. 2) I can only share a recipe with one group. I know there will be some users that wish to share recipes with more than one group. Alternatively, perhaps move this function outside the recipe editor, and instead move it to the "My Recipes dashboard” as an option for “Bulk actions” High priority due to ownership of intellectual property.

    I see an animation was added to the post boil volume calc button. Good solution to the problem that’s already been discussed at length in other posts.

    The mash steps are also movable via clickable arrows. Personally I would move the arrow below the trash can, it will make each section smaller as currently the arrow is all by itself on a row and adding height to each step. Done, but needs to be documented.

    Several sections have hamburger menus added with links to relevant standalone calculators (mash guidelines, water chemistry, yeast, priming). Needs documentation.

    The layout of the mash guidelines section was redone, but spacing and alignment needs to be reviewed. Personally, I would translate the target temp/time to the right, add left padding to the start temp so it aligns with the type dropdown box, remove some padding from the right of Desc


    Inventory item:

    Validate the units available based on the type/form of the ingredient. IE Hops->Pellet should only show weight units, hop->extract should only show volume etc.

    New “My recipes” page.

    Love the versioning file system, I’ve been using hosting my recipe files on github and using the version history in a similar manner but this is much easier to read.

    However I would recommend disabling the default of checkbox for snapshots, as I doubt many of the non CS oriented will be familiar with the concept. I’d add a tooltip explanation as well and/or a link to the documentation for it (https://docs.brewersfriend.com/faq/brew-sessions#brewsessions1) which is not very thorough. Enabling snapshots by default will lead to many users thinking their recipes were deleted until they figure it out.
    The recipe folder structure is a great addition. I’d suggest the ability to make a bulk action of exporting the selected recipe files as well. Yes, an export recipes function exists but currently it only exports ALL user recipes and is not able to pick and choose.

    There’s a horizontal scroll bar for me at least on the div foldertablecontainer, just need to add an overflow-x: hidden; to .folderlist.recipelist .recipeitems.folderitems and it’ll take care of it unless you want to mess with the sizing again and use relative sizes instead of fixed max widths. High priority, Five second fix, there’s no reason this hasn’t been patched.

    Also the bulk actions div needs to be realigned. Looks like this was done.

    Searchable recipes for specific ingredients, lovely. Didn’t know that was there. Would make a suggestion that it automatically updates the search based on an event listener like onchange instead of solely listening for keypress of enter or when search is clicked. That way it will behave identically to searches for users on private messages, and ingredients in the recipe editor. Low priority for smoother UX.

    Side note not related to this update:

    I don’t see an option for IBU per gallons in either fermentables, custom, or in hops. This can be used for example to support blending finished beers, which is extremely common in pro settings, or prehopped wort. Low-medium priority, higher priority for pros, especially sour/funky brewers than homebrewers.

    pH would be nice too for those blending sour beers, although the math is not straightforward due to differences in gravity as well, there's a spreadsheet I have saved from milk the funk somewhere that has it if interested. Low priority.

    Question regarding the changelog, there’s an entry below, but I do not see any place where mash thickness can be set as an input parameter or a displayed calculation in the recipe editor. I did not explore the brew session logs.
    “Mash Guidelines water calc.
    Auto adjusts strike water with mash thickness change.”


    Alright, I think that's everything I've got right now.
     
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  7. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    I have a spreadsheet for my water calculations, I simply enter weight of grains, boil hops, and dry hops. This fermenter or kettle deal makes no sense to me. When I have time I will post up my spreadsheet, it works like a charm. I am still new to brewing, under two years, 31 batches, if I can develop an accurate water calculator, I see no reason why this site can't have an accurate, easy to understand water calculator.
    Here is my math for water, the reason I developed it this way is that I want to package X amount of beer, so I start there and work back. Values are US gallons, all values are math equations, except grains and hops.
    Total Water Volume 16.23
    Weight of Grains 22.05 variable
    Strike Water 7.99
    Grain Absorption 2.76
    MLT Dead Space 0.54
    First Runnings 4.70
    Sparge Water Volume 8.24
    Preboil Volume 12.94
    Boil Hops (oz) 8.50 variable
    Boil Hops Absorption 0.32
    Evaporation 1.00
    Kettle Deadspace 0.32
    Post Boil Volume 11.30
    Trub Loss 1.00
    Dry Hops (oz) 8.00 variable
    Dry Hop Absorption 0.30
    Batch Size 10.00
    In our recipe editor the batch size options are kettle, or fermenter, this makes no sense. Batch size is BATCH size, it is what I want to package. One batch has a crap ton of dry hops, the next one has none, that math has to change... In the above example I need to put 11.3 gallons into the fermenter. I will lose 1g to trub, and 0.30g to hop absorption. I can't account for this in my equipment profile, I have to work around it based on whatever I happen to be brewing.

    One other thing that makes no sense to me at all is the water chemistry calculator. It makes sense in theory, but it makes no sense to me that it is simply not just part of the recipe. Water agents are ingredients just as are grains, hops, and yeast.
    Have a look at brew father, their recipe builder incorporates water chemistry into the recipe, no nonsense with linking to a water profile, having to update the recipe after making adjustments. One other thing about going back to the recipe and, and clicking update, there is no confirmation that the recipe has been updated...
     
  8. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    The pre and post boil, and calculate function are a further complication to the water calculations, just takes what is already a work around, and throws another random value into the equation.
     
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  9. Pricelessbrewing

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    #9 Pricelessbrewing, Oct 5, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2019

    100% agreed. At the time I didn't like how any available software handled volumes, or efficiency, so I made my own as well. Google my name and you'll get my site, links are blocked until approved by a mod. The codes completely spaghetti as I had no idea what I was doing at the time, but it works exactly as intended and has every volume, gravity, and temp calculation you could ever need.

    I use Brun water for my chemistry as it's more accurate, so can't speak to that. In general I think integrating the other calculators into the recipe builder is a good thought but I would personally not want to approach it at this time as it would either have to be something like a pop-up window with an iframe to fake it temporarily, or would probably necessitate a complete layout rework of the recipe editor.

    Hop absorption and kettle losses to trub should really be a recipe variable, not kettle variable. Different grain bills produce different amounts of break material. Most people won't notice but it's there. low priority.

    Equipment page: unit options should be changeable. Medium priority. It's a simple thing but silly that it's the one place you can't change units.
     
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  10. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    Here now is the problem, we have all gone through our recipes and done our workarounds. Even if things get reverted back to 6-8 months ago, we will all need to undo our various workarounds to... oh I don't know, maybe just every single one of our recipes.
     
  11. Mark Farrall

    Mark Farrall Well-Known Member

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    Just a quickie while brewing.

    The brew log entries are defaulting to imperial units for voumes while my profile is set to metric.
     
  12. Mark Farrall

    Mark Farrall Well-Known Member

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    #12 Mark Farrall, Oct 5, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2019
    As I'm waiting to get to boil, thought i'd weigh in as well. While I'm not really upset by this change or many of the others, I think it's the surprises and lack of dialog that's causing a lot of the angst. Especialy for this change, as it really hasn't had as many problems as the noise it created but it came without fanfare and included a number of look and feel changes that made it look obviously different than previously.

    One of the big fixes for stopping the surprises is some sort of regular cadence to new features and bug fixes. Say monthly? It's a great practice for stopping the underdeveloped features hitting production as you know you'll have an opportunity fairly soon to implement it, rather than wedging a whole bunch of only just finished development pieces into a bigger release because you're not sure when your next release is going to happen. Of course there's still a need for emergency fixes, but that's all that should go in out of the regular schedule.

    Then it comes down to improving the dialog between the BF people and the users. Things like pages showing what's in the queue, what's in the next release and what's sitting at the bottom, never likely to be implemented Then some sort of way to comment and upvote various bugs or features. They're just a few ideas and show my development focus, so will only cover part of the picture.

    And even with those updates it'll still only help with the people who are active in the forums or development testing. It's for the other users (the overwhelming majority) that change management needs to kick in. A change should have an announcement link in the site header, not just the forum pages. This can go to what's changed and the reasons why (if it's needed). Or if it's a particularly big change, maybe prior notice of the change and and invitation to get involved via the beta site.

    Edit: or another way of saying it is that I think the most important thing is to change your process so that there's better engagement, visibility and dialog. Then the individual fixes and features matter much less as they'll just be in the queue getting the attention they deserve.
     
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  13. thunderwagn

    thunderwagn Well-Known Member

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    #13 thunderwagn, Oct 5, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2019
    Agreed. I've never liked how BF handled water, volumes, or efficiency. It has never made much sense to me and to this day, I still use your software and find it understandable, and accurate.

    In my honest opinion, I think BF is missing the mark here on where they're placing focus. The groups price is way to high imo and I think your base will be pretty limited there. I think you'd be better served with addressing or placing more focus on the BIAB crowd. I think you'd see a better return focusing on BIAB vs Groups.
     
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  14. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    The more I think about the recipe editor, the more I think that you need to start over. Adjustments, and amendments, will just create unexpected consequences. Start from scratch, make it simple, make it work. Have a cross section of people (experience wise) prove it out over a good long period of time (in a beta site).
     
  15. jdotk

    jdotk New Member

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    The recent interface changes make using the recipe editor / brew sessions nearly unusable on a iPhone. Everything takes up too much screen space so you can’t get an overall view of even a section anymore (malt/hops/etc) without having to scroll.

    I use the site probably 90% of the time from my phone, so a good mobile experience is probably the most important thing to me.
     
  16. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Used the Brew Log for the first time since the last update: The avatar is unnecessary or, if to remain, far too large. I like the buttons (Edit and Delete); however, the text is very small for the field size. I'd shrink the fields. No major complaints otherwise, as long as the brew log would wrap text if I decided to print a session. Lots of wasted space - the poster above got it right.
     
  17. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Recipe View isn't all that bad, lots of wasted space due to white space and that avatar everyone is complaining about (me, too!). I don't see why you went to green text and I had to click on the little eyeball to know what it did; otherwise, I like the buttons in this iteration. To the recipe editor: The green and red buttons are quite bright! But now it's obvious they are buttons, not bad. It's much cleaner without the avatar, can we remove them from all the pages except forums and messages? Back on the recipes page, lots of snapshots showing up. Clutters up things - as I mentioned, I'd rather see a single recipe with changes either on or off, controlled by a toggle. How do I lose those snapshots in my basic recipe list? And how do I get back to seeing all of the recipes on one page. Pagination doesn't help here.
     
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  18. jdotk

    jdotk New Member

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    Ah man... I just looked at my inventory on my phone. I used to be able to see so much more at a glance. Was making it not be in rows like before intentional?
     

    Attached Files:

  19. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    I noticed that too, was there some kind of feature that was added to the inventory section? Or was it just a visual change?
     
  20. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    Another nuisance with this is that when select My Inventory, or My Recipes, etc from the menu, you get this
    Screenshot_20191007-100208.png
    Screenshot_20191004-222028.png
     
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