Today's Updates

Discussion in 'Brewer's Friend Announcements' started by Josh (Brewer's Friend), Oct 3, 2019.

  1. Josh (Brewer's Friend)

    Josh (Brewer's Friend) Administrator
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    Hi everyone,

    I typically leave our communication here to Yooper as she's much better at this than I am, but in light of today's events with the release, I really want to discuss with everyone directly.

    Firstly, I want to explain what today's release contained as we haven't made that clear. For several months we've been preparing a set of features that we think enables professional breweries, clubs, and friends to collaborate more effectively. That includes things like recipe versioning so you can keep track of what's changed, to groups that can work on recipes/brews together, device notifications/alerts, etc. I absolutely understand these features aren't for everyone, but there are certainly groups and organizations that are excited for these.

    Obviously that was a massive undertaking and we've been iterating on it for a long time. When preparing a large set of changes like that, other things tend to creep in as you work on different areas of a product. For instance, as we made changes to support group ownership of recipes, we noticed that our table layouts were really inconsistent across the site, so we moved to a more modern and consistent layout. And of course as we added new features like the ones I mentioned, we had to shuffle things around to make them fit.

    So we end up with a release that contains a TON of things, from new features, to bug fixes, to UI changes etc. We tested a bunch internally and then opened it up to beta testing. We got some great feedback from our trusty group of beta testers, fixed some things in response to that, and released it last night.

    We were really excited to see everyone's feedback today, but it turns out we made a few mistakes.

    The biggest is that we didn't communicate effectively with you all on what we were doing. We thought that by running this by our beta testers that was a good representation of all of Brewer's Friend, but that's not a substitute for broad communication. And on top of that, we certainly could have beta tested for a longer period of time. We need to be better at keeping everyone in the loop.

    Secondly, and we've been doing this too much lately, we changed things too much to the point of confusion in what you're used to doing on the site. New features are great, but we can't keep changing existing things to support them in confusing ways.

    Thanks to all of your feedback today, we've received those messages loud and clear (and I know many of you have been saying these things for a long time, so my apologies it took us so long to hear it).

    Now here's what we're doing to fix this and hopefully win back your trust:

    1. We're working round the clock to fix any and all bugs, suggestions, etc. you're submitting. We've fixed many of them today and we'll continue to do so until things are perfect.

    2. We're going to reduce the frequency of changes to existing features, flows, and tools. We'll still be building new things, but we'll keep them independent from what exists now so people that are interested may use them, but we don't interrupt those who aren't.

    3. Going forward we'll shift much of effort from building new features to perfecting what exists and resolving all bugs.

    4. We'll work on our communication of releases, including what exactly is changing, both before and after release.


    I know many of you have expressed that you've hit your limit with changes like this, and I truly understand that. I sincerely apologize for this experience and any lost time you've spent trying to figure things out. I fully understand if we've lost your trust completely, but hopefully this at least explains what's been happening a bit more.

    Thanks for reading this far and as always, thanks for being a part of the Brewer's Friend community. Please continue to reach out to us via the forum and support and we'll do our best to address any and all concerns.

    Cheers,
    Josh
     
  2. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    Great ideah on slowing down the changes Josh. A bit of a relief now to come to terms with the changes made and how to effectively use them to make recipie formulation and brew day easier. I understand the sheer frustration from the majority of the forum users the recent changes seem to have overcomplicated the brewing process where everything was familiar.and easy to work with suddenly has become a convoluted process. Now will just need a little time to come to terms with the changes and work out how to best use the brewing platform to suit our needs.
    No one likes change but nothing ever moved forward without it.
    Gee I need a beer:confused::p!
     
  3. thunderwagn

    thunderwagn Well-Known Member

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    Ya know. I just made a big long comment back but ended up just deleting it because at this point it's pretty obvious it just doesn't matter. We've heard this apology before...almost verbatim. I think I'm done with the whole topic.
    I wish you the best in your new focus (groups) membership base. I guess those of us who've been paying for a long time now are taking a back seat. There's a new cash cow in town.
     
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  4. Pricelessbrewing

    Pricelessbrewing QA Software Tester
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    Thank you for the thorough response Josh.

    I'm hopeful that the users have been heard, and that more thorough testing and documentation will occur.

    If the below is carried through, then I believe that will be a large step in the right direction to incorporate the community better and avoid lashback from lack of communication/documentation, especially regarding changes to existing features and layout.

     
  5. Yooper

    Yooper Administrator
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    It DOES matter. And we do want to hear your comments. I understand if you don't wish to discuss it any longer, but it was through your comments (and a few others) that you shared with me earlier that brought us to this place. I took your comments to Josh, and we all took it to heart.
    If you would want to take the time and give us those comments, either here or through a message to us, we definitely do want to hear it.
     
  6. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Josh, your follow-up to that email really needs to be flawless. You're losing old timers and what's more, if potential newcomers are reading these comments about the updates, you're losing new members as well. I guess I started using Brewer's Friend not long after Larry published it. For a long time it was stable. It did what it needed to do, it helped brewers - people who know the brewing process and in some cases the math behind the software - brew beer. Granted the audience and the technology has changed since the Dark Ages but the process is the same.

    If I may offer a suggestion, separate the professional and the homebrew versions. There is so much that is important to professional brewers that is not of interest to us, efficiency comes to mind. That way we can continue to have our "clean", easy-to-use software and the big guys can do what they need to do with theirs.
     
  7. Josh (Brewer's Friend)

    Josh (Brewer's Friend) Administrator
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    Thanks so much for taking the time to share this. You hit the nail on the head with the challenge facing us in supporting all walks of brewing life from extract all the way up to big breweries at the same time. I really like your suggestion of keeping those features as separate as possible from our existing experience and I’m currently directing our developers to do just that. To be honest I’m not positive that we can 100% split the experiences from each other since they share so much of the brewing process but we’re doing our best to isolate those Pro/Brewery tools such that the existing users don’t ever have to see it if not interested.

    I’m really pushing us all to learn from this and do our best to prioritize minimizing disruption to you all going forward. As many of you have said very well, it should be about brewing beer, not learning new software every few weeks.

    Again I really appreciate you taking the time to share feedback and especially your patience through all this.
     
  8. BOB357

    BOB357 Well-Known Member

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    One of the big drawbacks of a web based program is that a user can't stand pat and ignore "upgrades" . Have you ever considered a version that can be downloaded? This would allow users to decide whether they are satisfied with the current version, or would like to download the upgrade. A reasonable description of any upgrade would be required so users could make an informed decision.

    I seriously considered switching from BeerSmith to Brewers Friend last year but, luckily chose not to for this very reason.
     
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  9. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    Bloody great Ideah bob! The trial.version would help the user determine if that's the program for them...
     
  10. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    I would reiterate the seperating out pro and home versions is probably a good idea. I know everything is going to the whole "Agile rapid release schedule" method these days but even though I work in that world I'm not a fan of it.

    Consistency of experience matters a lot and it's really suffered.
     
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  11. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    Home Brewers Friend - For the home brewer

    Pro Brewers Friend - For everyone else

    Sorry, but I have already moved on, finding Brewfather very user friendly and intuitive.

    Having said that, I am staying here for the community, and the forum. I will however let my membership lapse in the spring.

    As I have committed elsewhere I won't comment any further on the brewing software here. I hope you guys can figure it out.
     
  12. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    I brewed yesterday with a new recipie created post BF apocalypse:p and hit my numbers.
    yes the interface is different.
    yes there some stupid things that I feel don't belong and some that are needed (like a better Brew Timer actually used the timer and didn't even beep but i was using two devices on the same brew day).
    But overall that's all I want recipie predictability and for me yesterday gave me a lot of reassurance that what I plug into the software is what I'm seeing going into the fermentor.
     
  13. ACBEV

    ACBEV Active Member

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    My honest feedback to this long winded painful process is... You can't keep everyone happy all the time. Especially if you keep adding stuff that most brewers don't need or want and you run the risk putting new brewers off, due to the mind bending complexity.

    You need to have different versions... A free version, a standard version and a pro version...I suspect if you had a clean easy to use standard version you would keep 99.99% of users happy. I also suspect the audience for a pro version is very small.

    I have a suspicion that the people driving this endless process are in group think mode and don't really take account of outside advice or feedback.

    I still use BF for some recipe stuff, mainly for comparison to Beersmith and my own Excel program I've created. At one time I was very happy with the user friendly, easy to use BF,
     
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  14. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    The complexity of Beersmith is why I went to Brewers Friend to start with as the learning curve on it was like a brick wall. Same with Bru'n Water, I have never once got it to not complain about my ions being out of balance.
     
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