I am skipping the weekly digest this week for two reasons : (1) I had a crazy busy week, and (2) Connect is embarking on a major upgrade this morning.
I thought I would take this time to tell you a little more about (2), since Connect just went dark, and details about (1) would most likely bore the crap out of you.
For more information on the Connect updates, you could also read the official blog post from the Connect team, but then you wouldn't get my commentary. 🙂
What they have fixed
No longer will you need to decide between 4 and 5 stars on issues of varying importance to you; they've done away with the stars and the voodoo math behind them. They will simply use up or down votes (a la ServerFault, StackOverflow, etc.). The curious part is that they are taking all of the existing feedback, and counting all votes of 3 or higher as "up" votes. This is confusing to several of us, since 3 was supposed to mean neutral. Oh well. Another great change is that when you submit an item you automatically apply an up-vote. Which you could change later to a down-vote I suppose, but at least initially it will get rid of one of my peeves: plenty of items submitted by people who forgot to vote themselves.
Validation will no longer apply to suggestions, only to bugs; and they have changed it to a more meaningful "I can reproduce this issue" type of wording.
- Consolidated comments
Today there is a comment area in the middle of the Connect item (where the submitter and Microsoft can comment), a comment area at the bottom of the item (where anyone can comment), and also you could comment when validating the issue. They've done away with the comments on the validation, and they've combined the public and private comment areas.
- Better search
The search experience prior to this update was woeful. They've enhanced it by making it much easier to vote on issues within search results (that hovering balloon can be a nightmare, also see #281406, #281461, and #297052 … though initially I must admit I kind of miss the tooltip window, as ill-behaved as it was on my Mac). And search results are divided into separate tabs: bugs vs. suggestions. And while they show it in the screen shot, they forgot to talk about the best part, IMHO: you can now click on the name of the submitter in the search results, and this brings you to a results page showing all of their submissions. Cool right?
What they have forgotten about
- Attachment issues
I see no reason why they haven't implemented a very simple security mechanism on attachments. When I submit an attachment, it should be private, but I should optionally be able to mark it as public. Especially with screen shots, since we don't all have the ability to upload screen shots to our own hosting providers. At the very least, as Erland suggested, I should be able to later re-download (e.g. to a different machine) or delete/update my attachments; currently I cannot. Some other items that have been closed: #35286, #231289, #352607.
- Validation issues
Why can you still validate your own items? I've always considered this to be kind of like voting for yourself for prom king. You submitted the item, so obviously you can validate that you can reproduce it. I wanted to submit this comment to their blog post, but for some reason they've disabled comments. I submitted a suggestion about this over a year ago, but it has received no comments or status updates — probably because there haven't been enough votes.
- Carriage return issues
In *some* of the textareas within a feedback submission form, carriage return / line feed combinations are stripped out (and tabs are ignored too). This can make a well-crafted code sample come out looking like alphabet soup. I complained about this back in 2007, and even with a relatively solid vote count, I can't even tell if anyone at Microsoft has even read it.
In any case
As a heavy user of Connect, I am looking forward to the updates, and am glad they continue to invest in this system (unlike forums, where they just abandon one approach and quietly build a different one to quasi-replace it).