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Release 2016-08-06 Comments feature request & loss of functionality

J. Craig WilliamsJ. Craig Williams Top Contributor
edited 12/09/19 in Archived 2016 Posts
08/07/16 Edited 12/09/19





This is a severe loss of functionality. I used the previous feature (being able to see an overview of comments from either the workspace or sheet level) to find the specific discussions of interest.


Specific example:

We have a customer with thousands of comments spreadsheet over hundreds of sheets.

Many of those comments were auto-generated by third party tools.


I used the workspace view of the sheet and row levels to find the specific information of interest.

Now I can't do that.

At all.


I can do a back-up of the workspace and write a routine to go through the Excel spreadsheets or go through them one by one.


Please bring this feature back.

Please add the ability to export the comments (even as a PDF) from the workspace level.

There  needs to some way to see which workspaces and sheets have comments without opening each sheet indivdiuallly.





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  • Alex VorobievAlex Vorobiev ✭✭✭✭✭

    Craig - thanks for reaching out.  This is a known issue and is an unfortunate result of a change in the underlying architecture aimed at improving the overall scalability of Smartsheet..  We left it out because it is now extremely "expensive" - in terms of impact on performance and usability - to roll up all comments across an entire workspace.  But we would really like to understand your use case - and see how many other users have come to rely on this feature.


    Can you please share the approximate # of workspaces where this feature has been important, the rough # of times (per day or month) you have used this feature?  We would also like to hear from other users who consider this feature important.


    Thanks in advance!

  • J. Craig WilliamsJ. Craig Williams Top Contributor
    edited 08/07/16

    Can you provide your email so I can respond off line?



  • Alex VorobievAlex Vorobiev ✭✭✭✭✭

    craig, sure.  can you please shoot your email to [email protected]  tx!

  • J. Craig WilliamsJ. Craig Williams Top Contributor

    Email has been sent.


  • I agree with Craig on this. The latest release of the new comments feature is a shambles and has caused us a massive headache in terms of usability.


    Essentially, the new feature does 3 things that are not great.
    Firstly, everything has been reversed in terms of date so the oldest comment is now at the top rather than the most recent - which is not useful when viewing the latest position.
    Secondly, you now have to click "See more" to view the full comments instead of automatically seeing it all. Why add an extra click?
    Thirdly, they seem to have arbitrarily grouped all further comments under the original comment, whether directly related or not. This is nonsense.
    Really considering an alternative tool now.
  • Alex VorobievAlex Vorobiev ✭✭✭✭✭

    Robert, appreciate your feedback, and apologize for any inconvenience the changes may have caused.


    To clarify - the threads are ordered the same way the discussions were ordered prior to the release: most recent first, based on the most recent comment in a given thread.  The order of comments within a thread has changed - you are absolutely right: these are now ordered oldest to newest, so the newest comments are on the bottom.  This had to do with the fact that the "Reply" link is now at the bottom of the thread, so the new ordering is meant to align with that - so that when you are replying to a thread, you will have immediate access to the 3 most recent comments.  I certainly understand that this could be jarring when transitioning from the old to the new layout.


    To make sure that the threads are readable, we are now collapsing older comments and by default showing you only the three most recent - that way, the older stuff is out of the way and you can immediately see the most recent content.  If you still want to see it, however, it's only a click away - you can expand the entire thread.


    As you pointed out, we have also introduced the "See more" link.  It only appears if you have more than 50 threads, and allows you to load the next 50.  The reason for that is that threads tend to be quite lengthy, and the more content we have to load all at once, the greater is the load on browsers.  Ultimately, we are constrained by the current browser limitations, and if we load too much text, browsers will struggle and will significantly impact scrolling performance, etc.  It is certainly something that presents an interesting challenge and forces us to make tradeoffs to optimize the user experience.


    We found that in most cases there are fewer than 50 threads (where each thread can have lots of comments), so we made a decision to set the cutoff at 50.  This, however, is not set in stone - we appreciate your feedback and will continue to monitor other customer feedback, and may increase this threshold.


    Can you please elaborate on what you mean by "arbitrarily grouped all further comments"?  Better yet, point to a specific sheet and/or discussion?  If there is a bug, we would like to understand and investigate.  Nothing should have been arbitrarily grouped. As part of the transition from Discussions to Comments we simply removed the titles but otherwise maintained the same grouping / structure.  So, what used to be a single discussion should now be a thread, where the very first comment in that discussion became the parent of that thread.


    Thanks again for all your thoughtful feedback, and please send the details related to my question above to [email protected]


    Thanks in advance!

  • Alex VorobievAlex Vorobiev ✭✭✭✭✭

    Robert, I just realized that your note regarding "See more" had to do with individual comments rather than the number of threads loaded - my bad.  The reason we started collapsing long comments is to make sure you can see more comments in a single view / window, rather than having a single long comment taking up the entire window - so you are able to quickly see more of what's going in in a single thread rather than having to scroll.  I certainly understand that this is helpful sometimes, and other times you really need to see comments in their entirety - so, we will definitely be looking at ways to balance the two needs.


    Thanks again

  • edited 08/10/16

    Hi Alex, thank you for your response.

    Regarding the see more, as you rightly say it is about the individual comments.

    The specific issue for us is that we copy and paste a large volume of emails into the comments. We include headers so that we have distribution, timing etc... The collapsing of the comments now means that essentially, all comments looks almost idential i.e. the header of an email.

    We are now no longer able to scan down the long lists / history to identify the specific comment we need, instead having to "see more" on all of them to find the relevant info. This is potentially adding minutes to each transactional task, mutiplied across a large team, therfore accumulating resource costs for no additional gain.


    From your response, the issue in regards "arbitrary" grouping is a possibly a result of the way we used the previous discussion feature. Essentially, all comments / emails, discussions etc were simply added to the discussion, without different titles. This means that now everything is grouped under the single initial comment.


    I echo other's sentiments in that this has really caused us a headache and this kind of significant functional change should not have been applied without some form of consultation or change managememt.


    This change in the comments is the webpage equivalent of New Coke, I hope it disappears and is replaced by the previous set up as soon as possible.

  • Allan Ross, I had to google what you meant by "new coke", but yes, I agree!

  • Alex VorobievAlex Vorobiev ✭✭✭✭✭

    My apologies, my browser has been acting up and I've had trouble posting to this forum, and in some instances it appears I have posted duplicates and then tried deleting them.

    In any case, reposing my earlier response:


    Again, let me reiterate that we appreciate your feedback and your patience.  I completely understand that the transition from the old Smartsheet experience to the new one may be disruptive and frustrating.


    My team and I have been focused 100% in the last two days on customer feedback, and we are looking at options to mitigate the concerns that have been expressed.  Most immediately, we are working on a fix to add aditional context (primary column value) to notifications, and looking to release that today or tomorrow.


    We are listening to your feedback and appreciate your patience!  Stay tuned.

  • J. Craig WilliamsJ. Craig Williams Top Contributor
    edited 08/11/16

    Robert Jack, you just made me feel old.





  • Alex VorobievAlex Vorobiev ✭✭✭✭✭

    Folks - yesterday we released a hotfix with the following changes:


    (1) add missing context to notifications about comment activity: add primary field value (up to 100 characters) to the body of the notification
    (2) improve readability of comments by no longer hiding blank lines / carriage returns in collapsed comment view
    (3) improve readability and searchability of comments (where there are many threads) by increasing the load threshold from 50 to 100 threads at a time


    We are actively looking into options to address sorting order and collapse / expand concerns.  I will continue to share updates on our progress.


    Thanks again for your patience.

  • Jeremy MyersJeremy Myers ✭✭✭✭✭

    Overall, agreed with comments in the various threads about this "improvement" to Notes.  Fumbles on both the design and treatment of the User Community.  


    Design:  The new comments regime adds needless complexity and requires beaucoup mouse clicking - an unfortunate step backward in usability.  Visually, it's a mess and is functionally counter-intuitive.  My small user base is baffled and exasperated - now I'm doing free tech support to help them adjust to the "New Coke".


    User Community:  Your otherwise sharp Dev Team bobbled the politicis of the implementation.  These changes look like a response to a parochial set of needs from a small but (powerful) user group.


    In future, suggest that you poll the user community before you make a change to an existing major system such as notes  It's not that hard to mock up a set of screens suggesting the proposed changes - same as any development project for paying clients. 





  • J. Craig WilliamsJ. Craig Williams Top Contributor

    I tend to agree with Jeremy.


    I've been very busy (and will be for the next few weeks at least) and am behind in keeping up with the Community.

    But my customers are not pleased either.

    I'm still finding things that were broken in the release that no one had noticed yet.

    Working with a customer that heavily uses the Comments (nee Discussions) functionality - and I'm nostalgic for the old days, even though it was only 9 days ago.


    I want to change the title of the thread.




This discussion has been closed.