I’m really thrilled to be able to announce the soft launch of SuggestRSS v1.0! If you happened to check out the site in its first incarnation, you may have thought it was neat, but you also must have thought id had a ways to go; it did.
Due to scalability issues, I was forced to take the site offline nearly eight months ago. I wish I could say that I’ve been working on it consistently since then, but that’s not the case. Instead, I took the experience for what it was worth in an educational sense, and let it sit for a short while. The project was always on my mind, but the limiting factor was actually limited experience.
I’ve worked with MySQL before. I’d be willing to wager that it would be quite uncommon to find a Web designer who hasn’t at least toyed around with the basics. When so much of our world revolves around a technology, it’s hard to keep your hands off.
What better way to learn?
Before writing the original release of SuggestRSS, my experience with MySQL was fairly limited. I understood the concepts for the most part, but advanced queries were out of my league. I wrote the first version by the seat of my pants and quickly realized the site wasn’t ready for prime time when it couldn’t scale past the initial user push.
I’ve heard a few designers mention it before, and I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels that sometimes the best way to learn something is to commit to a project outside your comfort zone. The first version of SuggestRSS was definitely outside my comfort zone, and I loved every minute of it.
It was really thrilling to me to have something I spent a significant amount of time on come crashing down within 72 hours of use. The knowledge I gained while writing the application the first time allowed me to instantly identify the multiple bottlenecks in the system. The downside, however, was my not having the knowledge to resolve the issues at hand.
Hit the books
I now had a detrimentally resource hogging application with what I see as quite a bit of potential, so I started researching how the heck I could make it work. I had a number of chats with my Overit Media cronies (lookin’ at you JR, Scott) and they offered some really useful suggestions that definitely got me thinking about what changes should be made, and fast.
With that jumpstart, a number of epiphanies quickly followed. You know, the ones that should have been in place from the get-go. Once the major bottleneck had been overcome, I instantly became determined to relaunch SuggestRSS. My only regret is it taking over six months for that inspiration to strike.
The latest SuggestRSS
The SuggestRSS you see today is a product of a couple moths work (I really wish I kept track of the hours, personal curiosity) and lots of reading. The underlying concept is the same: find some new feeds based on the feeds you currently subscribe to.
The biggest difference by far with version 1.0, besides the design, is that you now have the ability to ignore any suggestion you’d like. Many users the first time around said that while the suggestions made sense, they were mostly sites purposely ignored due to lack of interest or personal preference. You can now bring that omission to your SuggestRSS results.
I’d really like to first see how this version scales. Pending any major disasters, I’ve got a boatload of small features and changes I’d like to make over time, but the biggest effort will be put into the suggestion algorithm itself. I’d really like to take as many factors into account as possible in an effort to focus on what I like to call targeted outliers, just so the site can point you in some directions that might otherwise go unnoticed.
I hope you take a minute to check out the new and (vastly) improved SuggestRSS! For the time being, I’ll be making any announcements or answering questions primarily through @SuggestRSS so certainly give a quick follow if you’re interested in any further updates coming down the pipe!
As a side note, with this soft launch I’ll again be able to focus on finishing a few of these articles and getting back on a more strict Monday By Noon schedule. Thanks so much for bearing with me while it’s been slightly quiet around here, I appreciate it.