Press Roundup, March 2014

We’re always happy to see the word spread about BigOven. It’s been a while since we’ve taken a gander at what the press is saying about us — here’s a short list of some recent and not-so-recent articles.  Thanks for these mentions, writers!

Journalists, media, logos and screenshots can be found at www.bigoven.com/site/press.  We appreciate you getting the word out to home cooks everywhere!  Just as important, we love reading reviews on Google Play, Windows Marketplace and iTunes – BigOven continues to earn 4.5/5 star reviews on every major app platform.

We’re just getting started.  We love hearing from you, and hope BigOven is making your life easier, and getting you to the home dinner table more often!

Upgraded Recipe Search: Faster, Easier

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We’ve upgraded BigOven’s search to a faster, more powerful platform.

At BigOven, we know a key part of our job is to quickly put you in touch with the recipes you’re looking for.  We want to do so as fast and simply as possible, whether you’re in the kitchen or on the go.

To that end, I thought you should know that we’ve just completed a major upgrade to BigOven‘s search engine to a faster, much more scaleable platform.

These improvements apply to the entire BigOven platform:  the website www.bigoven.com, the BIgOven Recipe Apps for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone, and the BigOven Recipe API.  Every month, BigOven spends tens of thousands of dollars just on hosting and bandwidth for the servers that power the free BigOven recipe apps and website, and we’re making a considerable new investment in this new scalable search cluster.  (Plug:  We’d be delighted to earn your support for these continuing investments via a BigOven Pro membership.  BigOven Pro costs less than one latte per month, and removes all ads and unlocks lots of great features!)

This new search speeds things up dramatically today, and it’ll open up new features in the future.

Faster

The first thing you’ll notice is that BigOven’s new search engine is just plain faster.  Queries that used to take 3-5 seconds now return in a fraction of a second.  Our preliminary data suggests that querying is up to 5 times faster than before the upgrade.  We believe that performance is a feature.

Since we’ve migrated searching off the major database back-end we use, and instead farmed it out to a separate system, this puts less strain on the database, which means your recipe additions, updates and deletes will be faster as well.

Better

BigOven.com now provides better ways to get to the recipes you want.  For instance, type in a search for “asparagus” on BigOven, and you’ll see a lot of asparagus recipes, but also a handy summary categorization by course:  search-results-asparagus

Let’s say you want to only want the Soups that feature asparagus.  There’s now a simple way to get there right away.  This is called faceted search, and BigOven.com didn’t provide these counts previously.  Just click the “Soups, Stews and Chili” link and you’ll be taken there.

By default, BigOven’s looking for your keyword in the title of the recipe, which is what we’ve found gives the most common queries highest relevance.  But BigOven also gives you an easy option to broaden the search.  Simply click the “Broaden search” button:

broaden-search

Also, we’ve added new scoring methods to boost recipes.  If you’ve posted a recipe, and you’re signed in, those recipes you’ve posted will be automatically sorted higher for you, very likely on the first page of results.

So, if you’ve posted your favorite way to make Chocolate Chip Cookies, when you search (when you’re signed in) your recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies will sort much higher than others.

BigOven generally sorts recipes by a proprietary scoring system, wherein BigOven estimates the recipes quality. BigOven examines things like the number of reviews a recipe has, how many different reviewers gave it a higher score, people who’ve favorited it, whether a recipe has a photo, and more.  We’re constantly tuning this algorithm, so these factors can and do change.  But if you’d like recipes purely sorted by Star Rating, by Date posted (oldest to newest or newest to oldest) or by title, you can change that easily.

Click the button marked “Refine/Sort” and you’ll see many more options, such as showing only those recipes with photos, only those in a particular category or subcategory, only those including or excluding ingredients, whether the recipe is nut free, gluten-free, etc.  Some of these filters require optional BigOven Pro membership.

Refine your recipe search with many options.  Some are exclusive to Pro membership.

Refine your recipe search with many options. Some are exclusive to Pro membership.

There are a couple other goodies in there too, such as “Did you mean?” support, when you type a common misspelling, like “tuna caserole [sic]“:

tuna-casserole

More Scalable

BigOven is big, and growing!  The BigOven mobile apps have been downloaded over 10 million times, and we now have over 300,000 public recipes (and many more privately-stored recipes.)  You are among 2+ million registered members, and BigOven welcomes more than 1,000 new signups every day.

As more and more of our friends join and share recipes, this new server farm is poised to grow more easily. Ripping out the search engine and installing a new one, spread across multiple servers is no simple undertaking, and there’s bound to be some dust settling.  If you notice anything strange, or have a suggestion to make it even easier to find the recipes you’re looking for, jot us a note on our Site Comments form.  We’re listening.

We hope you enjoy BigOven!  Happy cooking.

 

Love your BigOven app? Get early access…

BigOven is looking for cooks who’d like to be on the leading edge of new app releases via the BigOven Early Access program.  

We’re building a small list of a few dozen users who get early access to our releases. We want to hear how they work for you, what might be missing, and what could make them even better.  If you’re on this list, when we have new releases ready to go, you’ll get early access (free of course) and can provide us immediate feedback before we make a broader release to millions of cooks.  With an inside-track to development, you’ll have a chance to voice your opinions directly into the new product development process.  

BigOven Mobile Applications

BigOven Mobile Applications

If you use the BigOven apps regularly and want to participate, please request early access:

Request early access to BigOven apps.

At this writing, we’re particularly interested in iOS users — iPhone and iPad.

Who is ‘early access’ best suited to?

  • If you use one or more of the BigOven apps regularly and rely upon them for your kitchen organizing, and have a little time to spare to help us improve via quick feedback
  • If you use BigOven but regularly wish to give feedback on how they could work better for you
  • If you are comfortable with how BigOven mobile apps work

Text your grocery list to any cellphone (New Pro feature)

 

Text your Grocery List to any cellphone.  Your grocery list is ordered by aisle.

Text your Grocery List to any cellphone. BigOven sorts your grocery list by aisle.

Want to send your list to someone to do the shopping?  BigOven Pro members can now send their grocery list to any cellphone via text-messaging (SMS) on www.bigoven.com.

It’s easy.

Step 1:  Visit Grocery Page

Your grocery list is at www.bigoven.com/grocery.  Grocery lists sync automatically for you across BigOven’s free mobile apps, but we realize that sometimes you may want to simply text the full list to another person, or perhaps yourself, if you don’t have wireless coverage in the grocery store.

Simply visit the grocery page at www.bigoven.com/grocery and click the phone icon:

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Step 2:  Enter the phone number, area code first

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Step 3:  Your message will be delivered within seconds.

BigOven groups your list by aisle, and also shows a handy link to the recipe(s) on the list at the very bottom.

Here’s how the list shows up on Windows Phone.  The [A] indicates that the ingredient corresponds to the recipe linked at the bottom of the text.

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Messages will be sent from BigOven’s automated messaging account.  You might wish to Save the sending number (231)-464-OVEN in your phone contacts, so you know who it’s from.  There is no BigOven charge for this feature for Pro members, however text-messaging data rates may apply (check your carrier.)

BigOven Pro unlocks many features and also removes all advertising wherever you sign in.  A single Pro membership covers you all points of service — web, Android, iOS, Windows Phone, smartphones and tablets alike.

You can try BigOven Pro completely free for 14 days — activate your free trial at http://www.bigoven.com/premium/join.

We’re hiring!

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We’re currently seeking fantastic software engineers for our Seattle office.

We’re a small team, but BigOven has openings for mobile software engineers (Android, iOS) and web (C#, MongoDB, SQL).  If you’ve got a passion for mobile, cloud computing, and cooking, we’d love to talk with you!

Interested?  Visit our Jobs page.

 

Create your own groups of recipes with folders – new for Pro members!

Our top feature request from Pro members is now here — Recipe Folders.  You can now create custom groups to keep track of family preferences, events coming up, anything you like!  Each folder has a separate URL, so you can share those with friends.

It’s the new signed-in view for BigOven.

There’s a folder view on the left, a handy finder at the top, and a gallery / list view toggle at the upper right:

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Drag and Drop Recipes Into Folders

You’ll see a drag handle in the upper left of a recipe tile while you’re in your “My Recipes” area.  Simply grab that icon and drag it over to the folder you’d like to place it in, and drop it.

Tip:  Recipes can exist in more than one folder.

drag-to-folder

Demo Video

Use #1: Keep Track of Your Family’s Top Requests

Create a folder for each person you cook for, and you’ll never again be stuck for ideas!

Use #2:  Save Time by Planning Ahead

Thinking about an upcoming event?  Create a folder for it, and then gather some recipes into that folder.  You can later add these to the Menu Planner if you like, or go straight to adding these recipes or individual items to the grocery list.

Use #3:  Organize recipes by diet, equipment, season or cuisine

BigOven gives you lots of ways to categorize recipes, but if you’d like to create a special Juicer collection, ways to use your new Panini press, or personal paleo favorites, use folders!

Use #4:  Organize the recipes you add

As you may know, BigOven lets you add all recipes in four easy ways.  Clip recipes from your favorite websites via the Recipe Clipper.  You can type them in yourself.  You can use the handy copy-and-paste import.  Or we’ll even transcribe them for you.

Now on any recipe detail page, you can save recipes to any of your own folders.  Simply click the “Save…” button:

save-recipe-folder 

How to Manage, Rename, Delete Folders

Simply click “Manage” and you can rename folders, add new ones, or delete them.  When you delete a folder, you are not deleting the underlying recipe, only the folder itself.

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BigOven Pro Membership Required

Folders are one of many time-saving features of BigOven Pro.  BigOven Pro gives you access to special recipe collections, nutrition detail, search by dietary preferences, private notes, unlimited recipe addition, an ad-free experience wherever you sign in.  It’s designed for those who want the most recipe organization power with zero advertisements.  You can try it free for 30 days at www.bigoven.com/pro.

Tip:  Share your special folders with Others

Each folder comes with its own special URL.  On newer browsers (the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, and IE), you’ll see the web address bar change to a unique URL for each folder.

For instance, my username on BigOven is “stevemur”, and so my recipes area can be found at http://www.bigoven.com/myrecipes/stevemur.  My favorites can be found at http://www.bigoven.com/myrecipes/stevemur/favorites.

Web-Only For Now… Coming to Mobile Later this Year

At present writing (February 2014) this is a web-only feature.  But we’ll be hard at work adding this to the mobile clients for free updates later this year.

Like this feature?  Please let us know your thoughts!  And make something great tonight!

 

BigOven App Update for Windows Phone Update: 3.5

Today we released an update to the popular and free BigOven Windows Phone app.

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New features

  • Recipe Collections:  See hand-picked collections of seasonal recipe ideas.  Currently featured are Romantic Meals, Valentine’s Treats, Quick and Easy Weeknight Meals, Winter Recipe, Healthy Breakfast Ideas, Guilt-free Desserts, Fall and Winter Soups, Kid-Friendly Dinners, Make Ahead Dinners, Ethnic Dishes, Quick and Easy Sides and Salads, Party Time, Brunch, Sandwiches and Wraps
  • Special additional Recipe Collections for BigOven Pro members:  Currently featuring Healthy Meat-Free Recipes, Low-Sodium Recipes, Low-Carb recipes, Slow Cooker Recipes, Quick and Easy Vegetarian Dinners, Fish and Seafood Favorites, Paleo Recipes, No-Red-Meat Recipes, Vegetarian, Gluten-Free recipes, Dairy-Free recipes, Nut-free recipes and Shellfish-Free recipes
  • You can now pin any recipe page to your start screen.  This is a really handy way to have today’s recipe ready to go.  (Wifi or cell data access is still required to see the recipe)
  • Support for in-app Notifications – BigOven will let you know when a Facebook friend of yours joins (if you’ve linked to Facebook in the Account Profile page or joined via Facebook), and also when someone sends you a recipe. 
  • Support for deep-links – When someone Sends you a Recipe, the notification you receive will, when you tap on it, take you right to the detail screen of the recipe that they’re talking about!
  • In-app purchase of BigOven Pro membership – Ready to upgrade to BigOven Pro?  You can now do this via in-app purchase, right from the app.  BigOven Pro removes all advertising and unlocks extra features.  A single upgrade works across all screens, and keeps your account in sync.   See www.bigoven.com/pro for a complete list of features. 

Screenshots below.  You can find it today on the Windows Phone MarketplaceIt’s free!

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New “Send” Feature Brings You a Modern, Mobile Take on the Recipe Swap

Have you ever swapped recipes with a friend?  Today, we’re making that much easier with a brand new enhancement: “Send Recipe”

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imageThis feature, exclusive to BigOven is now available on the web.  “Send” lets you send recipes to your friends and family, but it’s much more than just sending the content of the recipe via email.

If your friend is a BigOven member, it will automatically add the recipe recommendation to their Try Soon list, it will include your note with it when your friend views the recipe (the note expires after a short time.)  If you friend has the free BigOven recipe app installed with notifications for BigOven enabled, they’ll even receive a courtesy in-app notification on (currently supported: Android, iOS) with a handy link to take them right to the recipe.

Example:  Sharing a Fondue Recipe With Your Friend

For instance, let’s say you’ve just had a dinner party and your friend loved the Cheese Fondue you made.

To send the recipe to them, just click the paper airplane button, which you’ll find on the recipe detail page, or also by hovering over the tile in your “My Recipes” dashboard:

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Click the Send button, and you have the option to send via email, via Facebook Messaging, or BigOven username.

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If the recipient is already BigOven member, you can send it to them just by knowing their BigOven username.

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What the Recipient Sees

BigOven will send an email or Facebook message as you choose.  And also:

  • If the recipient is already a BigOven member, BigOven will automatically add it to their Try Soon list with a note from you!
  • Of course, since BigOven synchronizes this list on your tablet, mobile and web, it’ll be on their Try Soon list ready for them to add to the grocery list, menu plan, or save as a favorite.
  • If the recipient has the free BigOven app for iOS or Android installed with push notifications enabled, they’ll also get a notification that, when selected, will lead the user right into the app, and right to the recipe detail page.

They’ll get an email with your personal note:

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Also, when they click on the link, BigOven will display your personal note to them right on the recipe page, via the specially coded link sent in the email:

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If they have an iOS or Android device and have the free BigOven recipe app installed, they’ll also get a notification which, when tapped, takes them straight to the recipe:

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Tap on this notification on iOS or Android, and the BigOven app will launch, and take you right to the recipe detail screen:

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And on the web, when they visit their My Recipes Dashboard (found at www.bigoven.com/myrecipes), they’ll see notes in their Try Soon list for any “Sent” recipes:

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This is a simple way for you to share your favorite recipes with your friends and family.  Send a recipe today, and ask your friends to send you their favorites!

When you invite new members to BigOven, you can start them off with multiple recipes for their Try Soon list.  This will get them started with great personal recommendations selected by the people who know them best.

Recipes can be Sent in this way from the web.  We’ll be adding this Send feature to our mobile clients over the coming months.  (In the meantime, you can still share recipes via email, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest via the free mobile apps.)

Notes:

  • Not yet live on sending from mobile, but it’s reasonable to expect that we’ll be adding this in future free updates.
  • A “Try Soon” list is a list of recipes you want to try.  Read more about Try Soon and Favorites.
  • If you choose the Facebook send method, BigOven never sees who you are sending it to, so BigOven is unable to add to their Try Soon list.  The “Add to Friend’s Try Soon List” action only happens if you use the email or BigOven username address book.

Improvements to “My Recipes”

Today we released several improvements to the My Recipes Dashboard.  The “My Recipes” dashboard keeps track of all the recipes you’ve added, marked as Favorite and Try Soon.  You can find it in two ways:  Click the “My Recipes” menu option on any page on www.bigoven.com, or visit www.bigoven.com/myrecipes.  

Related article:  FAQ on Favorites and Try Soons

New features

  1. Easily add to Grocery List — simply mouse-over the tile and click the grocery cart icon
  2. Easily add to Menu Planner — simply mouse-over the tile and click the calendar icon
  3. Easily Remove from Favorites, Try Soons or Added lists — mouse-over and click the minus icon. “Favorites” and “Try Soons”  are two separate lists on BigOven, by design.  Removing a recipe from these lists simply removes it from your list, it doesn’t delete the underlying recipe.
    However, removing a recipe when viewing your “Added” list will permanently delete the recipe from the database.  Don’t worry; you’ll be prompted to confirm!
  4. View as tiles or detailed list

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View your recipes as a list or tiles

Sometimes it’s handier to view everything as a quick list.  We’ve added a list view to the My Recipes Dashboard.  Click the list icon in the upper right to switch to list view:

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Sample list view

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Sample Recipe Tile View

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Existing Features You Might Not Know About

To quickly find a recipe you’re interested in, just start typing the title of the recipe in the text box at the top of the page, or and/or use the dropdown to filter by Course.

Special holiday note for those who are sharing recipes — simply pass along your “My Recipes” web address!

How to share your recipes dashboard:

Click the “Share to Facebook” or “Tweet” links, or simply grab the URL from the browser (it’ll look like www.bigoven.com/myrecipes/stevemur, with your username instead of “stevemur”) and share it with friends!  They’ll be able to see all the public recipes you’ve added, all the recipes to try soon, and your favorites, in one easy place.

 

 

BigOven supports #GivingTuesday with Feeding America

2013-11-18-givingtuesday3Giving Tuesday 2013 (#GivingTuesday on Twitter) is Tuesday, December 3rd.

Earlier this year, Melinda and Bill Gates created the concept of “Giving Tuesday” as a natural successor to accompany the series of days through the Thanksgiving holiday — Thanksgiving, then “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday.”

BigOven is proud to participate in Giving Tuesday 2013, by donating all revenue made during the day to FeedingAmerica.org, America’s leading hunger-relief charity, which helps serve over 14 million children and 3 million seniors.

About Feeding America

feedingamerica

While America is a land of plenty, for 1 in 6 people in the United States, hunger is a reality.

FeedingAmerica partners with local food banks, helping to secure food from national organizations, communicate best practices across locations, inspiring over 200 member organizations to best serve their local communities.  They provide low-income individuals and families with the fuel to survive and even thrive.  The network members supply food to more than 25 million Americans each year.  Serving the United States, the 200+ member food banks support 63,000 agencies that address hunger in all of its forms.

My oldest son and I volunteer at our local food bank here in Seattle a few times each year, and I see directly some of the great work that they do.  It takes tremendous logistical coordination to organize and source food, break bulk, package it, distribute it, and distribute fresh and nutritious food to those in need.

CharityNavigator rates the BBB-accredited charity FeedingAmerica 64/70 in terms of efficiency and effectiveness; it’s the leading hunger-relief organization in the United States.  Join us by making a contribution today!

Giving is an opportunity to help create the better world we all want.

We humbly thank all our cooks, partners and employees around the world, and wish you the very best holiday season!