Eclipse through a developer's eyes
|7 min read
Kaleidechse's avatar
By Kaleidechse   |   
56 139 660 (1 Today)

Whew... the internet is a scary place these days. Wherever I go, either I run into Corona conspiracy theories or into people telling the DeviantArt staff to kill themselves. Seriously. This makes me ashamed of belonging to the same species.

I'm really fed up with the toxic discussion "culture" surrounding Eclipse, so I'd like to offer my own point of view. While I'm not a web developer myself, my day job is focused on the development of user interfaces. Last winter I was teaching students about the user-centered design process, and this included some lessons that I want to share here.

Lessons from User-Centered Design

1) You cannot please everyone.

There is no "one size fits all" solution. At best, you can develop something that is good for the majority of users - and yes, "majority" can mean as little as 51% in the worst case. So it is only natural that a lot of people will be unhappy with the final result. That's democracy for you.

2) Listen to every user, not only the one who screams loudest.

My students' task for the semester was to conduct focus group interviews to quickly find out what a large number of potential users wanted to see in the system. And one important instruction for them was to be mindful of group dynamics. It's a human tendency for an opinion leader to emerge in a discussion group - one or a few extroverted personalities who are confident in opening their mouth and saying what they think is best. But what about the shy, introverted people who just sit by and say nothing? Just being passive does not necessarily mean that they agree with the loud ones. Sure, they could be agreeing - but they could just as well be afraid of disagreeing with the dominant individuals.

3) Prioritize when implementing features.

So you've asked your potential users and got a list of their desired features. So far, so good - but where do you start? Some features may have been requested by two thirds of the interviewed people, others only by a single person. Some features may require others to be implemented first. Some wishes may contradict each other. So you need to sort the list of requests into what is absolutely vital, what is of medium importance, and what is simply nice to have. You need to decide what will be implemented in which order. So it is entirely possible that the feature requested by user #17 is not implemented right away. This does not automatically mean that user #17's feedback is ignored. In many cases, it simply means that the feature requested by users #5, #34 and #92 ended up with a higher priority because more people requested that one.

How this applies to Eclipse

1) Everyone sees their own artform as the most important one.

That's only human. I, personally, am a visual artist, as are most of the people I am watching. If anyone asked me what artform the site should focus on, my first answer would be "visual art". If you asked a writer, they would say "literature". If you asked someone specializing in custom CSS coding, they would say "profile customization". The list goes on and on. Only the people managing all our collective uploads and activities can truly tell who is the majority here.

2) Hostile discussions scare silent people.

It is easy to type "ECLIPSE SUCKS" on the forum and label everyone who says something positive as an "ass kisser". And once the discussion has gotten that far, people with a different opinion lose the motivation to speak up. I know I do. Also, it is hard to find comments with valid criticism in a flood of undifferentiated hate comments, so it's a good thing that there is an infrastructure for sending bug reports and feature requests to the staff directly. But we do not know what the silent people sent to the staff. We only see the loud screamers who openly vent their frustrations, and the other loud screamers who chime in. It's dangerous to assume that those speak for everyone, because we DO.NOT.KNOW.

3) Features may come later or never - based on their importance.

Birthday notifications are going to come to Eclipse. Finally. I have been missing them for a long time. But is this a vital functionality for the site? No, because this site's focus is on sharing art, not on celebrating birthdays. So it is only logical that this feature has been delayed. I also think journal editing is limited and cumbersome on Eclipse. But is that a priority? I don't know about you, but most of my activity here consists of uploading art and faving that of other people. Only a fraction of my time is spent on editing journals. So in my personal opinion, it makes sense to focus on the display of artworks first and on journals second. The same goes for profile customization. I utterly love customizing my stuff, but it won't do me any good if the main functionality does not work first.

What we can do to make Eclipse work

There are many reasons why people can feel like the staff was not listening to their feedback and forced something onto them that was unwanted. Maybe those people are not the majority. Maybe the silent people requested different features than the loud people. Maybe the wishes of different user groups contradict each other. But none of this is an excuse for spitting vitriol in the face of those who provide this platform for us.

When you come across something you dislike - please, take a deep breath and think what exactly it is that you want instead.

Then go to and tell the staff about it. Politely.

Do not use generic statements - if you don't include details, the staff will not know where to start.

Do not say:

  • "I want the old site back."
  • "The interface is ugly."
  • "The website does not work."

Do say something like:

  • "I want a gray color scheme."
  • "I want rounded edges for the buttons."
  • "I want custom boxes on the left side."
  • "I want to be reminded of people's birthdays."
  • "I want to set a background for my literature deviations."
  • "I want to select which topics are shown on the homepage."
  • "The interface elements overlap on low-resolution screens."
  • "My nested gallery folders suddenly disappeared."
  • "The deviations on XYZ's profile appear distorted."

The more information you include, the more the staff will know what to do in order to meet your expectations. But keep the lessons above in mind - you have no idea what the other users requested, so it may take a while until your wish is granted. Or it might never happen, because it conflicts with the wishes of other users.

And if you have reason to believe that a lot of people want this feature, too... Spread the word! Encourage more people to request this feature directly. Not to insult the humans behind this site.

Thank you.

anonymous's avatar
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RensKnight's avatar
RensKnightHobbyist Writer

Thank you so much for this. I'm not a dev but an auditor at a large company, and sometimes I do IT-related audits. And I've been trying to explain the whole situation with Eclipse. Not to mention how I think decisions made way BEFORE the current batch of management put them in the emergency situation they got in where the old site literally went BEYOND end-of-life.

K-Zlovetch's avatar

I use the feedback since... well more than a year now, politely, but the bugs are still here.

So yeah, Eclipse is a bad UI.

YOKOKY's avatar
YOKOKYProfessional General Artist


Kaleidechse's avatar
KaleidechseHobbyist General Artist

There's a link on the bottom of the page, where you can find out about the team. It says "About".

Kaleidechse's avatar
KaleidechseHobbyist General Artist

Last time I checked, I paid money to DeviantArt, not the other way around... But thank you for saying that I deserve money for speaking up. Have a nice day! :wave:

RedFox9799's avatar
RedFox9799New Deviant

Hey! Kaleidechse was trying to explain! You are exactly what they DONT want to hear. People mindlessly ranting and venting instead of naming specific things you would like to change. Plus, I never saw the old dA, and honestly, the old interface looks outdated and old. I will admit, eclipse can be a bit buggy (ex. I click “comment” and it brings up the menu that you see when you click on your icon) but the new interface is modern in my opinion. I personally like it. Your opinions might be considered if you didn‘t yell and provide no actual comments on what could be fixed about it.

YOKOKY's avatar
YOKOKYProfessional General Artist

I am sorry- I WORK AS PARAMEDIC IN ISRAEL 24/7... CAN YOU UBDERSTAND?i have my daughter and I am wary for her- I work a lot with welcome new deviants any time the team asks me- so I am not the bed one- and I am a good artist- all most 8 years in da- so accept my note and was a confusion- sorry.

RedFox9799's avatar
RedFox9799New Deviant

No, no, its okay. I was being a bit rude.

YOKOKY's avatar
YOKOKYProfessional General Artist

just a night before we got 200 new in all Israel- my god is the second wave...BUT SOMETHING IS NOT OK IN ALL THIS-PALL countries are alive and like COVID was never here- something is a LIE- thanks so much dear :heart:

DarsyWolf's avatar
DarsyWolfHobbyist Traditional Artist

I'd usually just try with the best of my ability suggest ways to make things less tiring or easier to access. I'd personally prioritize watch/notifications and notes as that was my #1 go to page to stay in since the day I joined. I liked watching out for comments, posts, notes, replies and so on, even if notes, comments or replies rarely came, also disappointed I can't keep responses to save them.

I don't like eclipse, but doesn't mean I don't have ways to make it easier to handle. I do like some of the small things like gifs however.


think my personal gripes is how limited organizing is and how cumbersome or tiring some things are, other then that I worry for the health of some of people I fallow who experience motion sickness, headache or eye problems.

All I could do is hope it's all sorted some day.

sorry for rambling.

Kaleidechse's avatar
KaleidechseHobbyist General Artist

Now that you mention it - keeping comments that I replied to is also something that I'm missing. Thanks for the reminder, I need to send in some feedback about that.

And I agree - a lot of things feel cumbersome, like selecting multiple notifications from the watch feed in order to delete them after viewing.

Yeah, I think it's a good strategy to suggest improvements and find small things to like in the meantime. Hopefully the development will pick up speed now that they can focus on Eclipse alone.

InvisibleSniper's avatar
InvisibleSniperStudent Writer

1) Please implement something cathegories on old site. Like option to search only literature. (Saves LTE internet.)

2) Please do a better optimalization. I dont want to be a jerk, but old site was kinda loading faster. At least thats how I feel

Kaleidechse's avatar
KaleidechseHobbyist General Artist

I'm just a regular user, so you'll need to direct this feedback to the staff.

You can do so here:

InvisibleSniper's avatar
InvisibleSniperStudent Writer

I did that long time ago. Thats why I commented here

firecz's avatar

1) There is a size that fits all. It's called seeing 100% of the image in previews instead of cropping.

2) DA is the dominant individual here. But hey, people want to stand up anyway.

3) Prioritizing for the masses doesn't mean you'll have the best thing. It means you'll end up with the most average product. If they want to compete with other mass social networks and forget their niche, then sure.

Kaleidechse's avatar
KaleidechseHobbyist General Artist

1) Images can have wildly differing aspect ratios - there are character line-ups with a width more than two or three times their height, and tutorials which are ten times as tall as they are wide. Now, I have no idea how those preview images should be scaled without reducing either of these formats to a nondescript line... But maybe I'm missing something. How would you handle that issue?

2) True - DA holds the most power. If they decided to throw in the towel, refund all Core Memberships and pull the plug on this site altogether, there would be nothing we could do against that. And yes, people do stand up to butt heads with them... but I, personally, do not identify with those. I do not agree with their opinion, I do not agree with the crass behavior of certain individuals, and I dislike that they claim to speak for me. The only solution I see is to stand up myself and add my own voice to the mix. (I would prefer using this time to make art, but oh well. :shrug: )

3) Not the best for everyone - but for the greater amount of interested users. Like I said, there is no "one size fits all". I'm curious how you define DA's niche - in your eyes, what exactly is it that DA is forgetting?

firecz's avatar

1) I would handle the issue the same way the previous version did. It didn't try to smack everything into the same box. Yes, there are pictures that will never really fit, but for most, there's absolutely no need to crop them. The problem is that right now they do just crop it all, to force you to click on every single one to make sure you're not missing something.

Also, although this isn't the main point, for some of the very long/tall pictures the current crop is worse than displaying that "line", because instead of hinting it's 10 pics in 1, like a comic strip, the preview shows just the center one. And they don't allow too big pictures, like those comics that you only would see a line of, anymore, it automatically gets shrank down.

2) There's always something that can be done. To make it better, or to make it worse :) If that something works, well that's a different thing :D Yeah, I'm not a fan of screaming how everything sucks and going to set their lawn on fire. But even those people may get some points right, even though they add more passion to how they express it than me. And just like I don't like those self-righteous individuals claiming they're setting it on fire for me, I don't like bland PR statements that surely if the majority is silent it means they are absolutely fine with everything and nothing needs to change. And the middle ground between doing nothing, and doing something is...well...still doing something.

3) Indeed - interested users. But as I said, there's a distinct path between

a) going for the masses and making it just another pinterest - that would mean they would target everyone as a potential interested user, and try to dumb things down for the average user, so they get some influx of new ones

or b) targeting their current userbase, which would encompass not just the artists and the viewers, but more or less everyone who got into some contact with DA over the 20 years of it's existence. I can't really explain that exactly that niche is. I guess it's refusing to stand in line - deviating? No wonder users here just don't bow their heads down like, I dunno, FB users when FB breaks things. I'm pretty sure DA has it's place on the market and it's not just a site for everything, or for every type of art. Sure, you can't and shouldn't say about something "this doesn't belong on DA", but the overlap with other art sites isn't so big that you would say they focus on the same userbase entirely. Also, just recently there was a PR post basically about how every other art site sucks, so where else would we I guess there is something about DA that makes it unique. And as of now, ease of use is not really it :) Then again, if you change the controls on some app that makes it confusing for it's 100 current users, but familiar (from other apps) for 1000 other just gained net 900 users from the business standpoint. I guess that counts.

Kaleidechse's avatar
KaleidechseHobbyist General Artist

1) I wonder if it would help to let people set thumbnails manually, especially for those extreme cases like long comic strips. (You know, like many GIF previews saying "click me, I'm animated".) I think I'll request that as a feature.

2) I agree - the sad thing is when valid criticism is buried under a load of hostility that turns people away from looking at the arguments. I'd prefer to see more level-headed people in this discussion - those who point out flaws that need to be addressed, without screaming insults at each other. Funny thing, some months ago I encountered an extremist from the other end of the spectrum on the forum. That person mistook me for an Eclipse-hater just because I argued in favor of more profile customization, and suddenly they started lashing out at me, jumping to all sorts of conclusions about my intelligence, artistic aspirations or my opinion on things that I had never even mentioned. It was oddly amusing, but I wouldn't want that person to represent me, either.

3) Interesting point - it makes sense that people here are more rebellious by default, now that you say it. As for targeting the masses, at least people need to be registered here to comment or enter their user name on the feedback form. So there's a better chance that input comes from actual deviants rather than random passers-by looking for another Pinterest or Instagram.

And I'm hopeful that ease of use will improve - allegedly, the developers can focus better on that now that the old site is "out of the way". Let's see if they do. :)

Nelex5000's avatar
Nelex5000Hobbyist Digital Artist

ARE YA CODING SON??????????????????

Tomate89's avatar
Tomate89Hobbyist Traditional Artist

It must be a living hell for you guys, right? I found this massive toxic behaviour so disgusting...and I can't understand at all how childish people can be with superficial things like a website UI renewal! They were so dramatic to unexcepted levels! I can't imagine how dramatic for they would be if something "bigger" happens on their lives! I only imagine them making something explode or killing people?

It was so unfair, you guys don't deserve this, because you were working really hard on this and I thank you for that. Since I love DA with all my heart, this is my social life for me. A good place where we can talk, share our works and even make friends! Not to mention, that devs are always in contact with us, users, and making contest, prizes and more activities.

To be honest, I'm one of those "silent users" because I just prefer to dissapear every time I presence a planetary level of toxicity and mass hysteria, throwing billis to others who don't deserve it. It makes me feel anger, sadness and negativity. But, even if I don't say something about the "Eclipse crisis", I log in every day to leave positive comments on my friends drawings, status updates, journals, etc. Its my way to show the this is a good place to stay and forget their hysteria.

I want to tell you I love the new DA UI, it's cool, modern and stylish, also a dark theme is such a big plus, most of apps has this feature now. But you also add the green (classic) theme, and that's cool too! I was hyped for Eclipse since day 1, and I know almost any of my friends thinks the same, but I don't care. I'm happy to know DA will stay with us (hopefully forever) because there's no other social/arty place better than here. :D

Also, sorry for my bad english.

Have a nice day! Thank you for everything! :D Send you lots of love.

Kaleidechse's avatar
KaleidechseHobbyist General Artist

Hi, I've forwarded your comment to the @team through the feedback form.

I'm not part of the staff myself, but I really hope they see your message! :D

I absolutely agree - they need to know that these toxic people do not speak for all of us.

petrzajczek's avatar
petrzajczekNew Deviant

Every feature from the old site should have stayed from the V-E-R-Y beginning. Every feature old site had should have S-T-A-Y-E-D. There is no sense in ADDING them BACK because they should have been implemented from the very beginning of this wix govno.

Don't sugarcoat this! Don't make fools of us! Adding them back by the developers because people want it make developers look dumb.

anonymous's avatar
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