Letter From the Editor: The Drive Gets an Engine Swap

The Drive looks a bit different this week—and it crashed hard today. No one said site upgrades were easy.

byApr 14, 2022 6:25 PM
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Every engine swap is different, like a beautiful snowflake, but they all lead to the same exhilarating and terrifying place: that moment when you try to fire it up for the first time. The same is true for website upgrades. And earlier this week, on Monday night, The Drive flipped the switch on the first large-scale technical change in our seven years of existence, migrating the site to a new platform and content management system that will hopefully smooth out the reading experience for you. I think you can see it's been a bit of a rough start, so I wanted to lay it all out for you.

We've had a team of developers and engineers working on this for more than a year, but any change of this magnitude for a website of this size is bound to raise some new and unexpected issues.

You may have noticed it earlier this week, with sporadic loading problems for various stories, or weird font colors in our subheads, or any number of small bugs. You may have noticed it this afternoon, when entire site basically crashed for about an hour, rendering the vast majority of our stories unreadable. And you may notice something else tomorrow, or the next day, or the next day... you get the picture. There will be bumps in the road ahead, and I want to thank you for your patience and understanding as we lurch into this new era together. Rest assured we're constantly monitoring everything and trying to squash those bugs as quickly as possible.

Now for the good news: the whole point of this is to make things better for you, the reader. We've streamlined the ad stack to cut down on the number of display ads, eliminate the issue with the text jumping all over your screen, and lower the insane CPU load that's been the subject of countless emails to the feedback line—yes, we read every single one of those, even if we don't have a chance to respond or the ability to fix it ourselves. We spend all day on thedrive.com, so we know exactly how bad it's been. Already we're seeing significant improvements in page load speeds and other core metrics, but obviously what matters is whether or not things look better on your screen. Please keep those emails coming (or hop in the comments on any story) and let us know how we're doing.

This upgrade also sets the stage for a few more big changes in the month ahead, the first of which we'll be rolling out later in Q2: a brand new navigation system that will make it easier than every to explore our massive back catalog, take in our newest stories, and generally move around the site without the friction the current setup brings. My friend Tyler Rogoway over at The War Zone called it the "mother of all menu bars," and I can't think of a better way to describe it than that. I've been personally working on it for months now, and I think you're going to like it.

Oh, and the new platform is set up to be flexible and allow for an extensive redesign as well, and though that's still a ways off, I'd love to hear what you'd like to see there too.

Finally, all this is going to underpin new editorial plans and projects that we'll be launching through the rest of the year as we work to set up The Drive to thrive for our next seven years. A LOT more to come there, trust me. This is probably the biggest moment of change for us since we were bought out from uncaring corporate overlords by private investors in 2019, and our mission to become a defining force in modern car culture is just getting started.

Stay tuned, and seriously, I want to thank you again for your patience and understanding and loyalty. Know that we'll never take that for granted as we work to build this place into everything that it can be. The Drive doesn't exist without you as readers, and that's something that'll never change.

Questions? Concerns? Suggestions? Hop in the comments below, or email feedback@thedrive.com. We really do read them all!