Meredith: How would you describe the challenges that we currently have with the site?Andrew: The current site, that code base is over 8 years old, which is an eternity in website time!There are probably no websites that people use today that are using code anywhere near that old. We’ve tried tweaking the search algorithm but really there need to be even bigger changes.
That makes a very, very hard application to maintain. The old code base was complex enough that any big improvements would have taken us many, many times longer than it would on a new code base. A: Well, for example, in the current site, the information that we have about a current user is stored in probably 200 separate data fields, at minimum, spread across over a dozen tables. Taking all of that information and completely changing the way we store it in order to make this transition is part of the difficulty.
Previously we had sort of added more and more and more features onto it, but we hadn’t ever really taken a hard look at the core and said, “what’s going to let us improve or invest in the real core of this site? In the new system it’s stored in probably eight fields in one table. In my experience, Couch Surfing had this history of making new features: “Here’s a very complex tool.
Part of the point is to make this much easier to work with. We will now provide you with lots of text and video to teach you how to use this tool! The hardest thing is to be like, I’m going to express my thoughts very clearly, and in a few words. It’s the same in code, it’s a very similar process.
” One of the big things we’re trying to do now is work really hard to give people simpler tools. It’s the old trope: it takes much more time to design something that’s simple than something that’s complex. We’re trying to work very hard to make something simple.
I immediately reassure them that they’re not offending me.
I know it, the engineers know it, we all know it: we have a problematic website.
A couple of months ago, the engineering team began working on a completely new code base for the website.
I sat down with our head of Engineering, Andrew Geweke, to talk about why and what it means for the community.
You probably know the old quote, some famous author wrote to somebody else and said, “I’m so sorry that I wrote you such a long letter, I didn’t have the time to write a shorter one.” [Ed. M: So once we’re running on the new code, what kind of benefits are members going to see?