How Contentful is wrecking our app (and does not care)!

We are Raisin: The Natural Wine app. We are a very small company, a micro-team and have limited means. Since starting, we have released 1500 places (bars, wine shops and restaurants) where you can find at least 30% of natural wine*. However, for the last 2 weeks we have been suffering from technical issues and our user promise of finding 1500 places is broken. Why? Because Contentful, a technical platform (CMS+API) on which we host our data is limiting the number of published locations. How come? They did not know they had technical limitations(?)… Sadly and unless we get real support, you can expect to see less and less data appearing on our app…

What is going on?

Lately, many of the establishments we publish are either no longer appearing, or are appearing but only momentarily. It’s hard to provide a clear description as to how and when it happens as we have observed various issues. At first it felt like it could be cache related, but it is not.

For e.g.: on some devices 6 places appear in Berlin, but on others only 2 are displayed. Or at the same moment on two different iPhones both in IOS 9.3.2, one shows a place, the other does not. The most confusing is that this has nothing to do with any release date, places come and go, randomly. Our users are getting as frustrated as as we are.

Below, you can clearly see all the missing locations:

Why isn’t it working anymore?

When we started publishing places, everything was fine, But as our numbers of places grew — not surprisingly — they took more and more space and weight. Now that we have reached the amazing number of 1500 recommended places where to drink natural wine (probably half of those which we will in time reference), places come and go because Contentful discovers: “once exceeding 4095 bytes URL or header size limits, it leads to 400 response”.

In short: there is too much data so it cannot be updated anymore. Suck, stuck.

This is a bug, can you fix-it? No.

We are in touch with Contentful support, but all we get is: “we did not know about this technical limitation, we’ll try to fix it in our next SDK, no priority, no release date”. Seriously? When you have been putting all your energy, time and money into trying to map the world with locations where you can drink natural wine, this is definitely not an answer you want to hear. It is not fair if a company you are paying does not honour their promises. This is even harder to swallow when the company in question is healthy and wealthy and has just raised $13M for its platform.

We are boostrapping this free app with our personal savings, and do not have the funds for additional development caused by the unreliable behavior of a 3rd party software that we are already paying for. Considering the relatively small amount of data and traffic from us (Raisin have 7000 users), and the fact that we’re using Contentful the way it’s pitched (CMS+API), this situation is hard to accept at face-value. We cannot afford unexpected extra developments, because our hosting company is neglecting us.

What’s next?

Contentful’s refusal to provide a clear schedule and roadmap makes us believe we need to re-work and update our app to solve their issues and eventually have a new version released.

Our development team has spent a whole day investigating hampered by unexpected technical limitations. They now have to find how we could make it work without being impacted by this limitation. Tricky.

What can you do?

You can help us by heading to Contenftul Support and by providing the following infos:

  • [your email]
  • Subject : Update your SDK for Raisin
  • Description : (paste the following text)
Hello Contentful,
Could you please kindly udpate your SDK to automatically detects if query becomes too large and splits it into several queries. That way, we can still be using Raisin in the most convenient way!
Thanks in advance,
  • [your name]
  • Category: API Question
  • select severity 1
  • SUBMIT

You can also help if:

Are you a developer knowledgeable about Contentful? Or would you know how I can connect with Contentful beyond their support desk? Any help at this point would be greatly appreciated. You can contact me at help@raisin.digital.

Conclusion:

Maybe Contentful does not care about its users, but we care about ours, we are devoted to them. We are trying our best to make sure we create the best app dedicated to natural wine ever. It’s our Raisin d’être !

Thanks in advance for your help.

*Natural wine is wine that respects man and nature, made from a single ingredient — grapes — and sometimes a bit of sulphur.