A New URL, and Lightening Up March 31st, 2017

The Beer Cellar is sporting a new, swankier URL. You can now find the site at https://cellar.beer. I've been sitting on this domain for a while, and coupled with the work detailed below, I figured it was time to make it live. The old URL will redirect automatically, so no worries about updating existing links. I think the new address is pretty cool, if you don't mind my saying so!

On a related note, I've changed the official Twitter account for The Beer Cellar to match the new URL. While existing followers won't need to do anything, in the future you can find and follow me at @CellarDotBeer.

In addition, and in anticipation of upcoming work around trading features, I decided to refactor the site's styling in SCSS. I took the opportunity to make some changes, and the result is a new aesthetic for The Beer Cellar. Things have gotten a bit lighter, less rounded, and a little more modern, but the site should still feel very familiar for existing users. If anything looks off or isn't rendering properly, please refresh your browser to ensure you're seeing the latest changes. Some screenshots of the new look are available below.

      

The mobile site is still using the same look introduced in v2.0, but I'm planning to take a styling pass there as well. I'll make another announcement when those updates launch.

As always, if you have any questions, suggestions, or issues, please don't hesitate to get in touch with me. You can contact me by email at josh@cellar.beer, on Twitter at @CellarDotBeer, or via in-site message. Santé!

As the Reserved Instance leases were up for both the EC2 and RDS pieces of the site, I wanted to do some testing in other environments. After a bit of looking around, I decided to give Linode a shot, and The Beer Cellar has now been migrated to one of their servers.

On the user end, if I did everything correctly, no one should notice a thing. In fact, loading speeds may actually be measurably quicker for some users, as the database—the primary bottleneck for those with large cellars—is now served from an SSD. There is now also considerable CPU and memory headroom, which won't hurt.

Enjoy! And if you notice anything awry, please don't hesitate to let me know.

Thoughts on Trading Beer February 27th, 2017

My plan for the next major feature addition to The Beer Cellar is to tackle beer trading. While support for marking cellar entries as For Trade (FT) or In Search Of (ISO) has been there from the beginning, I'd like to implement a more robust way to manage separate lists of beers on offer and beers you're looking for, as well as provide an easy interface for matching up with other users to propose trades.

Development of these features is in the early stages, and I wanted to solicit some feedback on what's important to users who would utilize trading before moving too far forward. I'm interested in hearing about the following:

  • How should For Trade lists be organized?
    I'm pretty sure that the new trade lists, both for FT and ISO beers, should be separated from the main cellar management interface. This will reduce complexity, allow trading-specific features to be displayed only where contextually appropriate, and provide the opportunity for users to link directly to trade lists, rather than their full cellar, when desired. But some issues I'm undecided on are whether there should be one list each for FT and ISO beers, or multiple per; whether lists should be directly linked to current cellar contents, meaning completing a trade would automatically remove FT beers and add received beers to your inventory; and whether there should still be some indication of FT/ISO beers reflected in your main cellar.
  • What sort of feedback mechanisms should be in place?
    While The Beer Cellar will make it clear that you trade at your own risk, some sort of feedback and rating mechanism seems necessary in the world of trading. While 99% of traders are great, it's never fun to be bit by the 1% of bad actors out there. I'm hopeful that the nature of this site, and the time investment necessary to get a big cellar input and organized, will provide a higher than usual barrier to entry for would-be malicious traders, but a public profile of past trades can help weed out any that do make it through. With that in mind, what kinds of feedback and ratings systems do folks find most helpful? Should I also provide a means of linking to reputation profiles on other sites? Etc.
  • How to handle trades with non-Beer Cellar users?
    While trades between users on the site will be more straightforward in terms of communication, I suspect a large number of trades will be conducted with folks who are not account holders here. I'm wondering what kinds of feedback non-users should be able to leave for users they complete trades with (or whether any would-be commenters should be required to create an account to leave feedback), and what sort of access non-users should have to FT/ISO lists and the searchable database of outstanding beers on offer?
These are just some of the areas I'm thinking about, and I'd love to hear from anyone interested in this space, even if your thoughts are about something that wasn't touched on above. If you have any ideas, questions, concerns, or brilliant master plans around trading, please get in touch! You can reach me via email at josh@beercellar.me, hit me up on Twitter at @BeerCellarMe, or shoot me an in-site message. And in the meantime, santé!
Small Batch Holiday Updates December 8th, 2016

With a bit of time to work on things before the holidays arrive, I've pushed a small batch of updates to the site. First up are messages, which now support basic Markdown text formatting. Emphasis (bold or italic), linked text, lists, and more can now be employed. I've already updated the messages generated when responding to user reported beer and brewery issues to utilize the new formatting.

Next up are cellar exports, which have received a new column: beer style. This is a user requested addition, and will include the style for all beers that have one defined. If you grab an export and notice any beers with missing styles, feel free to add them in your cellar.

Lastly, I've made a number of configuration changes around authentication, sessions, and timeouts to (hopefully) fix some issues with logging in and some CSV import errors. You shouldn't notice any of these changes if I did things right, and less weird behavior should be encountered in general.

Cheers all, and happy holidays!

Fall Feature Roundup October 28th, 2016

I'm busy thinking through the next round of new features for The Beer Cellar, but in the meantime I wanted to bring attention to the many improvements and additions that were introduced over the past few months. For those users who are new to the site, and for those who haven't visited in a while, here's a brief overview of what's been happening.

  • Most recently, the mobile site was upgraded to what I'm calling version 2.0, featuring an overhauled interface, improved management features, and greater feature parity with the desktop site.
  • Storage locations, a more granular and customizable way to organize your cellar, were introduced. After disabling the In Fridge column and enabling Storage Locations in your account settings, you can now add unlimited custom locations and use them to organize your cellar any way you see fit.
  • On the consumption side, a new graph-based interface is available via the Consumed area of your cellar. See your consumption habits plotted on an annual basis, along with style tracking.
  • A number of community management features are now available to all users. Missing beer or brewery information can be added by users, and incorrect information can be reported and then fixed by moderators. Hundreds of errant records have already been corrected thanks to our users!

I'd also like to thank all the users who have reported beer and brewery issues, and those who have sent feedback and bug reports. I take note of all suggestions and feature requests (even if I don't promise to implement all of them), and always appreciate hearing from folks using the site.

If you'd like to get in touch with me for any reason, you can reach me via in-site message, email, or Twitter. Thanks for using The Beer Cellar, and santé!