Archive for February, 2008

New database and improvements live

Just put the new database live on Able Grape. It’s got close to 1000 new sites, and is some 10% larger than its predecessor. It’s also much fresher. Along the way, I managed to sneak in a few improvements.

For a closer look at what’s changed, plus some fun examples, read on!

Continue reading ‘New database and improvements live’

Why does great content have to go away?

Back from the Climate Change and Wine conference — it was a great experience. I’ve got epic notes (41 pages, urk!) and plan to distill them into something hopefully cohesive and post that later this week, time permitting.

Meanwhile, the build of the new database is crunching along nicely. If all goes well it should be complete within a couple of days, and then after some testing, I’ll put it live. In general, it’s got about 1000 new sites, and will be maybe 10% bigger than the previous database.

But at the same time there’s always some attrition. Some of this is natural; websites go up, websites disappear, websites change format. But what kills me is when some site “relaunches” and throws away a goldmine of great archive content, all because they’re either not aware of its value, or just can’t be bothered to make the old content work under the new site.

While putting together Able Grape I’ve seen this happen a few times, and sometimes it’s heartbreaking. I’d find some goldmine of information from a unique perspective, and get excited (yeah, I’m like that; sad, isn’t it?). I’d do a bunch of work to make sure that it got properly included and found in search results, instead of getting buried, as it might on a general-purpose search engine, and then boom! it disappears. Back to square one.

Read on if you’re interested in a couple of examples where you could help get the content back by writing to these publications!
Continue reading ‘Why does great content have to go away?’

Off to the Climate Change and Wine Conference

Headed off to the Climate Change and Wine conference in Barcelona, and plan to write about it afterwards. If any of you will be there, please drop me an email! Meanwhile, I’m building a new version of the database with about 1000 new sites and a few improvements. If all goes well, that should be live within a few days. Subscribe to this blog’s feed to get notification as soon as new features go live!


We launched!

Well, after nearly three years of crazy work, it’s finally public. The beta release of Able Grape, a search engine for wine information, went live on Monday night. It’s still very much a work in progress, as I suppose every bit of software is, but I think it’s pretty useful, and both seeing the kinds of things people look for and hearing what people think will help (is already helping!) me make big improvements. 

My plan is to use this space to keep people apprised of what’s new and improved, post the odd tasting note (it’s really much more fun than writing software!), post random blurbs about some of the funtastic web sites I’ve run across while building this,  and most importantly, to listen to suggestions and ideas for improvements.

If you haven’t tried Able Grape yet, I recommend a quick look at the help section, especially the example queries. They give a flavor for some of the kinds of things I tried to make work well, and how the slightly wacky, but hopefully very useful, UI works (I know software lore says that no-one reads the help! But honestly, I think it’s worth it!).

Have at, and let me know what you think!

Able Grape, a wine information search engine