What we've been up to: Rebuilding the data model

Everyone who signed up for our beta test is probably wondering 'yo what's up'? Well, I'm keen to get your feedback. But I already know what the first two bits of feedback are, and I don't want to waste your time (and mine) getting feedback we all already know about.

  1. It's too slow.
  2. It doesn't work in China.

Both of these are big problems. For me (I go to China,too), and other people. So I'm taking a few steps to fix them... but it means a lot more work.

Right now, I have hacked together a back-end that relies on Google Docs to store the data. While this is cool and convenient for me as an editor and programmer for building a proof-of-concept, it's really risky to release like this. The app takes AGES to load when there are hundreds of cafes in a city - like in London or in New York. And secondly, Google Docs doesn't work in China. Man! What a deal breaker. There's coffee in China, and I go there, and so I want it to work. (Note: this is also why I use Apple Maps rather than Google Maps, and it's also why I'm not sure how to make it work on Android... so I'll leave that to a specialist later.)

There's also the problem that Google could pull the plug on any part of their functionality at the drop of a hat. I hate dropping hats, so I decided to migrate away from hats altogether.

The current data model, on my napkin doodle above, was fine for hacking something together for myself. But it's not going to last. So I'm going to have to build something more sustainable. See the second, more advanced napkin doodle below:

Now we're talking! This is what I'm working on now. But - any database-based structure takes time to implement. Also, I've never done any web coding. Never! So I'm saying hello to stuff designers have been using for years, putting together raw HTML, CSS, JS, Backbone and database access libraries when last week I hadn't done any of the above. Forgive me if it takes me a few days or a couple of weeks. But it'll get there!