Just so everyone knows...
Though it was supposed to happen in March, the website software upgrade finally went live in May just before we left for Ireland, and the nightmare began :-(
Mike from Mexico expressed a sentiment that we're sure is shared by many of our long-suffering HUBB users:
"I am not sure why you did that update that caused you so many problems, because it was running fine before that."
The reason we did it was quite simple - we had to - the software versions we were running were no longer supported, so bug fixes and security patches were no longer available and we had huge risks going forward. Also, it was way past time to upgrade to newer software that would support new features for our users and make our lives a lot simpler by automating much more of the site so we didn't have to do it all by hand.
Just a bit of background - the site runs on several different pieces of software, with a 'bridge' between the HUBB and the rest of the site to allow single sign-on. As a result, it's much more complex than sites with just a bulletin board or just blogs. Although we would like to only have to deal with one piece of software, our research to date is that we would lose too much of our current functionality if we did that, so we've opted to continue with 'best of breed'.
So we hired a company to do the upgrade - they had all the right answers and were supposed to know exactly what they were doing. Our mandate was very clear: keep it simple and make it easy to patch and do future upgrades, not worry about making it pretty.
When we launched, we had lots of issues with specific browsers, but primarily to do with logging in and staying logged in on the HUBB. After several weeks of dealing with unhappy users and yelling at the company to get bugs fixed, their project manager wrote us and explained that the setup was very complex, we seemed to be in uncharted waters, they didn't know how to fix the problems but could continue to work on it at a reduced hourly rate of $105/hr plus tax! After we had already spent $25k to that point! This was very unwelcome news to get when we were on the road organising and attending meetings...
We declined their generous offer and have now changed companies. With the benefit of hindsight and an external assessment, we now know that although the software upgrades themselves were straightforward, they wrote a lot of custom code around the bridge to make it look like one system, which had the unfortunate side-effect of making it buggy, unstable and slow! Worse news - the custom code would have made it difficult and costly to patch and upgrade the content management software in future :-(
We have now thrown away almost all the custom code and did a re-release a couple of weeks ago. That has not been pain-free, but we think the log-in bugs are finally squashed - just a few minor issues left to sort out. I should point out that many people didn't encounter any difficulties, but many of our loyal users have been frustrated to death for the past few months, so heartfelt apologies to all of you!
We are still working on bug squashing, and are pushing the developers to get it done faster. We know there are still a few issues to sort. Please post any bugs you find to make sure we get our priorities right, and get them all!
Now that we're back in the office and can catch up with ourselves, we have some new stuff to bring in, like improved blogs, more Community features, an improved shipping database, and a long-overdue redesign of the look and feel. Now all we have to do is find some more cash to pay for it - all contributions / Memberships
and thanks for your patience!