GitHub code search redesign can't find many fans
Missing capabilities, bugs, unloved interface decisions dog engine revision – and what do you think?
Poll GitHub introduced faster code search earlier this week though the accompanying interface revision and search options have left developers wishing for a way to return to the old version.
Feedback posted over the past four days to a GitHub Community discussion of the new search experience has been largely dissatisfied, reflecting the internet community's two stages of redesign grief – shitposting and thread closure.
An objection sampler:
Mort666: "The only good thing about this new UI, it has given me a reason to move off Github completely and to self-host with anything that doesn't have a poorly thought out UI. It is impossible to do anything in this UI, the whole point of an immutable source control system is to not edit code in it."
CameronEnglish: "The new viewing experience is slow and miserable. I don't really care about the new code search functionality as I already had tools for that. The view changes have tremendously worsened my Github experience."
Shortnamesalex: "Please give us an option to revert back to the old UI. This new one is just awful. Everything feels way too cramped yet way too wide at the same time and the font code is eye searing which is not the case with the old one. You can sort by time on the old UI and everything in general is easier on the eyes and features are available at a quick glance and with one or two clicks. I opted out of the feature preview of this hoping that most of these issues will be resolved but now it isn't the case. I'm just frustrated."
That's not to say no one appreciates the new search interface and capabilities. More than a few of the 140+ comments posted to the discussion since Tuesday express enthusiasm, at least in part.
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"Having opted into both of these changes during their public betas, I can say I like them in general, and I'm really happy to be able to include special characters in code searches!" wrote DNin01. "I would like to see an improvement to the 'Show Diff' feature when editing Markdown - previously, removed content was colored red and added content was colored green. I'd guess this wasn't focused on yet."
These kinder, gentler posts often have responses from GitHub employees that suggest identified shortcomings are being worked on or have already been addressed.
But this thread is one of several expressing dissatisfaction with the new interface, something of a bitter chaser to the technical achievement of Blackbird, GitHub's new Rust-based code search engine.
Among the problems identified by developers:
- It takes multiple steps to identify when code was published due to changes in the way code is indexed.
- Lack of time-based sorting, with "recently updated" not working.
- Search results limited to five pages.
- Search only works on the default branch, and not across multiple branches.
- Query syntax has changed.
- Diffs that used to be color-coded, aren't currently.
- Various display bugs, some of which have been resolved.
- Missing tokens in Makefiles.
- Quirky behavior when searching for text with CTRL–F.
- General dislike of the interface as cluttered and difficult to use.
- And various problems on iOS and Linux.
GitHub, suffice to say, is aware of the grumbling.
"We are actively working through the feedback we’ve received from the community," a company spokesperson told The Register in an email. "When we built our new code search and code view, we prioritized giving developers the ability to quickly search, navigate and understand their code, put critical information into context, and ultimately make them more productive. These priorities remain our north star.
"For users that are interested in reviewing more than 100 results at a time, we encourage them to use the API for search. Providing the ability to search by recency will take time given the new build of the engine, but it is something we’re actively exploring, alongside any additional feedback we receive."
What do you think? Let us know in the poll and comments below. ®