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changes next exitAs discussed a few weeks ago, your friendly neighborhood Cubs blog was badly in need of an overhaul behind the scenes. The framework upon which the site is built is five years old, has been hacked together over the years by an amateur (moi), and is no longer supported in a way that is guaranteed to keep working as the Internet (and the site’s software) changes around it.

In other words, we have for a little while been operating under the risk that, on any given day, the site could break in a relatively irretrievable way. Obviously, that cannot continue.

So, I had to make some very significant changes behind the scenes to the site’s functionality, while still trying my best to preserve what you like about this place. Later tonight and tomorrow, you will start to see some differences in the site. Here’s the rundown in advance, for people who hate change:

  • Yeah, the site will look a little different. In terms of website variance, it’s actually really, really similar. But, as we are all creatures of habit, it’ll take a little time for you to get used to. Try to give it a few days before you reject it entirely. I did the best I could to replicate the look and aesthetic of the current iteration.
  • Part of the difference you’ll notice (or maybe you won’t) is that there’s a lot less “stuff” on the home page. Mostly, that means those listed category things at the bottom of the page are now gone. I got the sense that nobody actually used those much, so I instead added pagination to the main blog (i.e., once you get to the end of the posts on the home page, you can just go back to the “next” page). If you want to navigate by categories (Rumors, News, Analysis, Minor Leagues, etc.), you’ll still be able to find the categories in a number of places.
  • But with difference comes good stuff: finally, a mobile site. The single most requested feature in the history of BN, and something that probably should have been around three years ago, is finally here. When you visit BN on your phone, it should be formatted to maximize your reading experience. As far as mobile sites go, I think it’s pretty clean, easy, and nice-looking. Whatever step back there is on the desktop site should be more than offset by the dramatic step forward on mobile.
  • The second most requested feature was an improved commenting experience – easier to follow, edit ability, more features, have “profiles”, etc. Well, the way to do that is to implement a third-party commenting system like Disqus (which you may recognize from, for example, MLBTR). So … we’re going to start using Disqus. There will be a learning curve, and you will have to register separately with Disqus to comment (or sign in via a social network, which is actually really nice for convenience and interconnectivity). But the features, man. It really is a fantastic system, and it overlaps communities (i.e., if you comment over at MLBTR, you’ll be able to access that comment/conversation from your profile here at BN). Once you get used to it, I think you’ll really be glad we changed. But, yeah, you’ll have to get used to it. So will I.
  • There’s also a BN Twitter stream in the sidebar, which was requested by a large number of you. I had no idea you would want that, so I’m glad I asked. In retrospect, duh.
  • Ads: Yup, there are still ads. With the new site, I’ve opted for fewer total ads, but in more prominent placements. At first, you’re going to be all like, “Ah! Ads in my face!” But you’ll get used to it, and the reduced total number of ads should improve your overall site experience. The thing about putting them in more prominent places … well, that’s kind of the point of ads. Companies pay to have you see them. And that’s what keeps the site free for you to use. So, please see them from time to time. (And if you use an ad blocker, please consider not using it on BN. You get to read for free, and all I ask is that you look at a McDonald’s cheeseburger from time to time. Thank you.)
  • After the site’s changes kick in, if you observe any problems – glitches, things not loading, pictures askew, mobile not working properly, etc. – please don’t hesitate to let me know. I’ve tested this thing as much as I can, but I don’t have every device/browser, and there were also some features I couldn’t turn on until we actually went live.
  • One known issue: on older posts (including this one), threaded comments will get messed up on mobile. It’s an issue that is fixed with Disqus, but, since Disqus is kicking in only for new posts (after this one), you will notice it on all old posts. I hope to have it fixed, but it’s a low priority item, since old posts/discussions get buried in about a day.
  • TonyP

    I do not see a home link to take you back to the list of articles??? I’m I just not seeing it or it isn’t there?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Where did you used to look for it? I just click on the BN logo at the top of the page to get back home.

      If there was somewhere else, though, please describe it to me.

      • TonyP

        There was a home link under the title of the article. I didn’t know you could use the logo for that… That will work just fine for me.

  • Cubbie Tim

    Looks good Brett.

  • Cubbie Tim

    I’m a Cubs fan who lives in St. Louis & hearing by buddies give me shit when Wood gave up a 2 out, 2 strike, 2 RBI to they’re pitcher who has not had a hit all year was heart breaking. God I gotta get outa st. Louis. I hate it

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Forgive the stray reply. Have to test something.

    • CubFanBob

      You mean Hammel not wood right ?

  • college_of_coaches

    Looks good Brett!

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

    OK, I’m calling it a night. Most of the bones have been implemented (I’ve been working on them for weeks, but there was a step-by-step process of actually implementing them tonight – took me much longer than expected). There are still many tweaks needed, but this is the gist.

    I’ll be back at tweaking tomorrow, in addition to normal writing.

    Also: Disqus comments start tomorrow. I really think you guys are going to be happy about that once you get used to the system.

    • Medicos

      Good Nite Brett—This weekend we’re going to take 3 straight from Brewers. New layout looks great. Nice Job.

  • TWC

    Something about the scale seems off, Ace. It looks like I’ve got screen magnification on. Dropping it down a couple of notches helps tons.

    • sunshine and rainbows

      I agree. Everything seems a little too big.

  • themessageboard

    I hate this Brett.

    Your site looks dumb.

    I hope it chokes and dies!

    I’m kidding, HA HA. Please take me back, we could be besties again.

    Why didn’t you at least say goodbye to me in your comments. Did I hurt you that much?

    I HATE YOU AND YOUR FACE!

    [img]http://www.sonsofivy.com/forum/public/style_emoticons/default/rallyrapp.gif[/img]

    • themessageboard

      OH COMEON!

      • TWC

        Nice try, Joe.

        • themessageboard

          Ya…well…you’re a hippy that noone likes!

          • TWC

            I’d down vote this x100 if only the Disqus system was in place.

            • themessageboard

              Well then…when that system is in place, I shall UP vote this X100!

  • BlameHendry

    Like the layout when it loads properly (on Firefox in Windows) but it’s kinda screwed up on Safari for Mac (actually I think it’s screwed up for any browser on Mac)

    • themessageboard

      Sounds like a Mac problem.

      BAZINGA!

      • TWC

        It may be — I’m viewing on my MacBook (Safari) and that’s where I notice the scale issues.

        Although IIRC, Ace is a Mac guy, so I’d think that he’d be doing his testing on that…. I’ll check via Firefox, Opera, and Chrome at the office tomorrow.

        • themessageboard

          It looks horribly out of scale on my PC running Chrome.

        • themessageboard

          but it looks like it was supposed to be this way. Everything seems to fit in the page.

      • Mike F

        Mac has no problems. I am on safari and unlike windows all is simple and well……

        • themessageboard

          Mmm, all is simple and well on my Windows PC as well.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Define “screwed up.”

      • Tommy

        Looks great on my iMac, Brett! Using Safari here.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        By which I mean, I need specifics (browser, what looks wrong, etc.). Everything I’m able to check looks OK on my end (but it’s a Mac/iPhone).

  • Mike F

    good job as always Brett.

    You’re great.

  • Internet Random

    Big.

  • Featherstone

    Changes to the establishment *grumble grumble*

  • http://www.survivingthalia.com Mike Taylor

    I don’t see a link to the message boards. Maybe you’ll post it when it’s ready.

    • FFP

      Hah!

      I mean, Larf.

      (weird aspect ratio-fit-scaling of pics on a droid seems to have gone away when I logged in)

      • FFP

        Nope. Still s t r e t c h e d pics as article headers.

  • mudge

    Given the state of the Cubs, I propose that we only discuss the minor leagues, the draft and functional updates to the site itself for the remainder of 2014 season.

  • Funn Dave

    “your friendly neighborhood Cubs blog….”

    I approve…..

  • Funn Dave

    Also, I see people are concerned about the size of the content. I kinda like it a bit bigger.

  • Chris M

    Updates are looking good.

  • Chris

    This site has changed…. #firetheo

    • Chris

      But in all reality.. diggin’ the changes.

  • walterj

    I’m not one who is much for changes , but this is good . Good job Brett .

  • cubsfan08

    Looks good dude – I think it will take everyone a few days to get used to the cleaner / larger font that is in use but it is much easier to follow that way.

    All shows up nicely on my end, using chrome on a chromebook

    Noticed the mobile issues in comments last night and glad you addressed that as I momentarily panicked.

    • cubsfan08

      Oh – and thanks for keeping the RSS feed intact (or however I’m supposed to describe that). Easier for me to get my learn on

  • http://www.bleachernation.com/ Brett Taylor

    Thanks for all of the feedback. I’m implementing the Disqus comment system this morning. One kink I’m seeing is that it blocks the old comments on old posts. I haven’t figured out a work-around yet, so it’s possible – warning – that those comments will be hidden going forward. Of course, that only matters for a day or so, because we’ll start filling the comments on new posts with Disqus comments.

    • DarthHater

      Is it possible that, going forward, some users will choose to continue to comment without using Disqus? If so, will their comments be visible to Disqus users? Or is the current kink blocking all non-Disqus comments, including new ones?

      • http://www.bleachernation.com/ Brett Taylor

        The current kink is blocking everything except Disqus comments. That’s not a huge issue, though, because from this post forward, it was supposed to be that way. That is to say, there shouldn’t be an option on new posts (Soler forward) to use the old commenting system.

        • DarthHater

          Ahh. OK. Thanks.

          • PolarBear25

            Not sure if I’m missing something, but my phone never offered me the option for a mobile site. How would I figure out if I’m using the mobile version or just a condensed version of the actual webpage?

            • http://www.bleachernation.com/ Brett Taylor

              Strictly speaking, the mobile version is just a condensed version of the full page (with some stuff taken away, and repositioned).

            • Chris Schwab

              Most new WordPress themes are “Responsive” meaning they automatically adjust to screen size, meaning that the desktop version and mobile versions are sort of packaged in one but what you see is based on screen size.

        • ssckelley

          What is the Disqus follow feature? I had the option to stalk/follow Darth…which I did of course, and you, but no one else.

          • DarthHater

            Welcome, my young apprentice.

            • DarthHater

              Hey, the new system does not repeatedly indent each level of replies. Hooray!

      • ssckelley

        I was forced to either sign up for Disqus or login with Facebook or Twitter in order to comment. It appears the old comment feature is gone.

    • Chris Schwab

      “hidden going forward”??? How will we ever verify a certain someone’s “predictions” and “reports”?

      • Coop

        I am 100% certain this will never be an issue.

  • DarthHater

    First official image test:

    • DarthHater

      Brett, I just posted an animated gif, but it does not appear to be animating. Not sure this is necessarily a bad thing, but FYI. :-D

      • http://www.bleachernation.com/ Brett Taylor

        Appears that it was embedded as a JPG. I haven’t played around with Disqus’s image process. We’re all learning on the fly!

        • ssckelley

          OMG without Darth meme’s this site is screwed!!!!!

          • DarthHater

            Not to worry. Most memes aren’t animated. But it would be a shame to lose the dead-horse-beating image. :-P

            • ssckelley

              Or to lose that one of Brett…..gotta find more uses for that one. :D

        • DarthHater

          The new image function is directing me to post the image from my computer, rather than from a URL. So I had to download the image to my Mac and then post it. Not sure if this is causing the issue. Sometimes the Mac seems to do things I don’t fully understand. I’ll try again from my PC at work later and see if the result is any different.

          • DarthHater

            Brett, image test from work PC using IE again posted animated gif as a jpeg. Humor emergency alert!

  • DarthHater

    All the recent comments just disappeared from the main page for me.

    • DarthHater

      I’m still not getting any recent comments in the recent comment column. This makes it hard to keep up with conversation.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com/ Brett Taylor

        Ditto. Something broke.

  • Chris Schwab

    Initial reactions. This is a big improvement and much needed. I love the cleaner new tagline/banner. I love the fact that comments are cleaner and easier to follow. Great job, Brett–and thank you!

    There are a couple of minor suggestions I’d make. You can take them for what they’re worth, which is probably very little :)

    1) The header images (the ivy and the BN logo with tag line) don’t quite seem to mesh. I think the site design is so flat that the photo just seems out of place. And on mobile, the banner doesn’t quite stretch across the screen, which makes it feel unbalanced.

    2) The color of links… I think it’s more than personal preference, but I could be wrong. It feels a little faint and hard to read and not quite in line with everything else. Why not use #093653 that is the background color for the menu bar and lead story?) I just think it’d be easier on the eyes and cleaner.

    3) And then, I feel disturbed by the vertical banner to the left of the lead story. Just feels like it uncenters my brain :) It might be worth experimenting with it on the right side of the image. And it might be worth me just getting used to it :)

    Again, congrats, great job. I appreciate that you listen to your fans in making some of these changes, and I appreciate the hard work you put in that we reap the benefits of on a daily basis. Keep doing what you’re doing. The site looks great!

  • kgd

    Overall the site looks great. I especially like the mobile version.

    One thing to point out, on my PC everything is condensed into the middle of the screen with two huge white spaces on either side which makes it feel cluttered. Any plans to do something with that white space?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com/ Brett Taylor

      What browser are you using? Do you know what your viewport setting is? It should fill out the page pretty well, with only a little bit of white on either side (it’s not designed to go edge to edge, though).

      • kgd

        Firefox, 1510×812 is my current viewport size

        • http://www.bleachernation.com/ Brett Taylor

          That might be the issue (not that it’s an “issue”) – that’s a really wide viewport size, and the size is only built to be so wide. So you might see more white space than most folks.

          • kgd

            Got it. It doesn’t detract from the experience, it was just something I thought was odd. Again, a thousand thanks for the mobile version. Keep up the excellent work.

  • Justin Jabs

    I dig the changes, Brett. Social media integration in Disqus is nice, I’m interested in what else there is to off in the form of comments. Mobile responsive site looks great, ad placement looks just fine as well. Well done!

  • Miggy80

    Fancy Pants!

  • DarthHater

    Meme test:

  • Myles

    It is perhaps that I’m using Chrome, but it is really offputting, having the newest story be centered on the top of the page (with a ton of whitespace on the left of it), and having every other article be left-aligned.

    • Myles

      Oh….. I turned off adblock for this page, and there are ADS there. Gotcha. I guess the bonus (in your case) is that it looks so silly without adblock that you just might as well have ads on anyways (and I always meant to whitelist BN anyway).

  • DarthHater

    Second animated gif test:

  • Myles

    Next up: The Post Categories drop-down menu is extended too far, up to the border of the Site Categories tab (this is on the bottom of the page.

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