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Rojo – how not to publish updates to your site  

Rojo has been my favourite on-line reader for a while despite the annoyances and quirks but this weekends ‘upgrade’ got me wondering how incompetent the team behind it is and what exactly Six Apart have purchased.

There were a couple of problems before the upgrade – the one most users would have seen is the crazy unread counts which are almost always wrong – but you can learn to live with that.

The second problem was Rojo failing to pull feeds in – if you drill down and there’s nothing to read you are given the “This feed is failing” message which tells you zip about what they think is wrong.

In the case of DamienG.com’s RSS feed I was told by their support staff this was because they couldn’t connect to my server. GrinGod created a feed to my site’s Atom feed that *was* still updating so that excuse was shot down quite quickly.

It’s not just me either – major big blogs such as blogs.msdn.com would sit for hours with the same message before springing back into life.

Then came this weekends upgrade.

I have some experience with publishing code to commercial sites. This is the sort of plan we use:

  1. Install and configure secondary set of servers
  2. Load software to be tested onto those servers
  3. Let internal testers loose on them
  4. Let trusted end users loose on them
  5. Run load testing software to ensure performance
  6. Repeat until it passes
  7. Schedule the switch with the appropriate teams
  8. Make an announcement
  9. Switch over to the new servers

But the team at Rojo went with a different approach. As far as I can tell here was theirs:

  1. Take current servers off-line with a notice
  2. Load software for 20 hours
  3. Bring servers back on-line

I certainly don’t see testing on that plan.

Even basic developer-level testing should have spotted that the lower “Mark Page Read” link is missing a javascript: prefix rendering it a useless link to a 404, the fact that the “Mark Feed Read” isn’t refreshing the page along with “Add Mojo” too.

“Show unread only” may as well read “Show nothing” as that’s what it’s doing.

These aren’t boundary conditions but primary use-case scenario’s that are failing.

To cap it all now every single feed has disappeared in the last half-hour.

It has been reported that Rojo have raised at least $3.5 million in venture capital so why their software development process looks like an inexperienced developer publishing from his laptop is anyone’s guess.

[)amien

2 responses  

  1. Plus the new pages takes longer to load (except when they are simply blank), is funky and generally looks ugly.

    There was no apparent upgrade of functionality.

    Big Monkey – September 19th, 2006
  2. pingback

    […] on both fronts. It goes to prove that a great idea needs a great implementation which reminds me of Rojo’s failed rollouts which led me to switch to the then-inferior Google Reader which is now much more […]

    Disappointing start to BlogRushOctober 16th, 2007

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