Aug 222014
 

This week looks slower than usual when you look at this list, but the week involved a lot of research.

What I did this week

  • Reviewed and made (very) minor tweaks to Chris Mills’s doc plan for the Gaia web components and QA documentation.
  • Created an initial stub of a page for the canvas documentation plan.
  • Spent the weekend and a bit of Monday getting my broken server, including this blog, back up and running after a not-entirely-successful (at first) upgrade of the server from OS X 10.6.8 Server to 10.9.4. But most things are working now. I’ll get the rest fixed up over the next few days.
  • Pursued the MDN inbox project, trying to wrap it up.
    • Asked for feedback on the current state of things.
    • Added a subtle background color to the background of pages in the Inbox.
  • Started discussions on dev-mdc and staff mailing list about the documentation process; we’re going to get this thing straightened up and organized.
  • Filed bug 1056026 proposing that the Firefox_for_developers macro be updated to list both newer and older versions of Firefox.
  • Redirected some obsolete pages to their newer, replacement, content in the MDN meta-documentation.
  • Created a Hacker News account and upvoted a post about Hacks on canuckistani’s request.
  • Updated the MDN Administration Guide.
  • Installed various packages and add-ons on my Mac and server in preparation for testing WebRTC code.
  • Forked several WebRTC projects from GitHub to experiment with.
  • Found (after a surprisingly length search) a micro-USB cable so I could charge and update my Geeksphone Peak to Firefox OS 2.0′s latest nightly build.
  • Re-established contact with Piotr at CKSource about continuing work to get our editor updated and improved.
  • Removed a mess of junk from a page in pt-BR; looks like someone used an editor that added a bunch of extra <span>s.
  • Successfully tested a WebRTC connection between my Firefox OS phone and my iMac, using my Mac mini as server. Now I should be ready to start writing code of my own, now that I know it all works!
  • Filed bug 1057546: we should IMHO strip HTML tags that aren’t part of a string from within a macro call; this would prevent unfortunate errors.
  • Filed bug 1057547 proposing that the editor be updated to detect uses of the style attribute and of undefined classes, and present warnings to the user when they do so.
  • Fixed a page that was incorrectly translated in place, and emailed the contributor a reminder to be careful in the future.

Meetings attended this week

Monday

  • MDN dev team meeting on security and improved processes to prevent problems like the email address disclosure we just had happen.
  • MDN developer triage meeting.

Tuesday

  • Developer Engagement weekly meeting.
  • 1:1 with Jean-Yves Perrier.

Wednesday

  • 1:1 with Ali.

 Thursday

  • Writers’ staff meeting.

Friday

  • #mdndev weekly review meeting.
  • MDN bug swat meeting.
  • Web API documentation meeting.

So… it was a wildly varied day today. But I got a lot of interesting things done.

 Posted by at 6:16 PM
Aug 162014
 

I’m quite satisfied with how well the past week has gone. It’s been incredibly productive despite a few distractions and a great many meetings. Here’s my report on what I’ve been doing, and what I will be doing in the near future.

What I’m up to

I’ve been busy optimizing my own work processes, as well as setting up information so others know what needs to be done as well. I’ve also done a lot of copy-editing and organizational work in content, and have been touching up stuff ranging from the MDN inbox to the Learning Area to doc plans. It’s been a wonderfully productive week, and it feels good to be getting back into the swing of things.

What’s up next

Next week, I intend to dive into WebRTC, and to start putting together sample code so I can begin work on writing guides to working with WebRTC. It’s going to be really exciting!

As usual, of course, I have a number of other, smaller, tasks I want or need to accomplish, too.

What I did this week

  • Moved the main page on DocShell from the top level of MDN to its proper home, and filed a bug on getting it fully documented.
  • Dealt with infrastructure failures at my office: the air conditioning completely failed (working in a swelteringly hot office is not fun), and I discovered standing water in the restroom. The A/C is now fixed; the water problem has not been figured out yet, although the water has evaporated for now.
  • Helped test the new GitHub login support on the MDN staging server, and filed a few bugs regarding quirks I noticed.
  • Reviewed and had nothing but nice things to say about the new welcome email sent out by MDN to new members.
  • Got involved in the discussion about disabling styled pasting in the MDN editor. I’m opposed to this; I would much rather we solve the problem from the user’s end — contributors should learn to be sure they don’t include crufty styles when they paste into MDN. But ideally we can come up with a solution that doesn’t break existing workflows, punishing people who aren’t making this mistake.
  • Moved the page Write a new entry in the Glossary to the right place; it had accidentally been given an obsolete URL due to a couple of MDN bugs. Reviewed and copy-edited the content.
  • Filed a bug for a feature suggested by biraj: content from one page on MDN that’s presented inside another page should be reflected in the displayed contributor list. I don’t know how likely this is to be addressed (it certainly won’t happen soon). It’s a big project and there are many unanswered questions.
  • Copy-edited the new Glossary entry for the term “i18n“.
  • Added the word “Glossary” to the list of tags that MDN offers auto-completion for.
  • Followed-up on a bug asking me to write some copy for the Github login experience.
  • Did some tidying up of the MDN style guide, including moving Chris Mills’ excellent new section on our policies on gender-neutral terminology to be among the language and grammar topics rather than in the markup and wiki usage topics area.
  • Minor changes to the Learning Area page on CSS. This page needs a lot of work still but I saw low-hanging fruit.
  • Converted the Learning Area into a zone. Its landing page needs finishing, but this is a nice step.
  • Finished an extensive review and copy-edit of the Learning Area page Write an article to help learn about the web.
  • Removed a page that was actually just a set of Firefox problem reports, and emailed the author information about how to properly report issues.
  • Found an MDN “Linking Guide” lurking in a dead part of the site, and moved it into the MDN user guide, with major updates and copy-edits.
  • Updated the MDN user guide’s landing page to use the LandingPageListSubpages macro, so it looks a little better.
  • Adapted Luke’s screenshot/diagram about how to enable a page subscription on MDN into a new page in the MDN how-to guide.
  • Tweaks to the Inbox page in preparation for expanding its visibility.
  • Integrated the first round of feedback into the WebGL documentation plan.
  • Updated my Geeksphone Peak to Firefox OS 2.0 nightly for use in upcoming WebRTC sample code tests.
  • Filed a bug about iCloud.com saying “Android not supported” on Firefox OS 2.0′s browser.
  • Pinged developers about reviewing the WebGL documentation plan.
  • Created several new basic (that is, mostly empty) MDN development project plan pages:
  • Copy-edited the Learning Area’s How to contribute to the Learning Area article.
  • Filed a documentation request bug for documenting the NavigatorFeatures (hasFeature/getFeature) API. This API is low-priority privileged API, documentation-wise.
  • Added notes to a couple of pages in the MDN contributor guide about being careful when pasting, to avoid pasting unwanted styles and classes into MDN.
  • Created the DocPlanHelpUs macro, which inserts text inviting participation in a project and describing how to get started. Added it to the appropriate place in all extant doc plans.
  • Took some notes, sent some emails, and added links to the project planning page for the on-site messaging project.
  • Added a link to the MDN contributor guide to the footer of messages on the dev-mdc mailing list, and tweaked my email address on the moderator email list names.

Meetings attended this week

Monday

  • #mdndev bug triage
  • MDN development planning

Tuesday

  •  1:1 meeting with Jean-Yves

Wednesday

  • MDN Community meeting
  • 1:1 meeting with Ali

Friday

As you see, it was an intensely busy week! I’ve started moving into using OmniFocus to track what needs to be done and by when and I think it’s going to help, but we will see how it plays out over time. I have a history of not doing well at keeping up with my organizational systems, as you’ve possibly noted if you read my posts over history about my various attempts to get organized.

At any rate, it’s been a good week, and I can’t wait to get more done!

 

 Posted by at 12:07 AM
Aug 082014
 

It’s been another good week of Making Things Happen. I’m pleased with the productivity this week: not just mine, but the entire writing community’s.

What I’m up to

As usual, what I did this week doesn’t entirely line up with what I’d expected, but it was still productive, which is the important thing, right?

Work continued on finishing up the doc project planning page migration work, and better integration with other pages on MDN and elsewhere. I also put together the first draft of the WebGL doc plan.

I’m working on trying to reshuffle my many personal appointments that happen regularly to less often interfere with meetings, but unfortunately there’s only so much I can do.

What I did this week

  • Replaced the main documentation plan page on wikimo with a link to the new page on MDN, with an explanation of why it moved.
  • Finished work on moving the Learning area doc project plan to MDN.
  • Migrated the “Writing chrome code” doc plan to MDN, then emailed Will Bamberg to let him know his planning docs had moved.
  • Wrote first draft of the WebGL doc plan and emailed dev team to request feedback.
    • Got quick feedback with WebGL 2.0 ship date and added that information to the doc plan.
  • Added the dev-doc-needed keyword to man WebGL 2.0 related bugs.
  • Filed a bug about a problem with the link editor not suggesting zone pages that have moved out of the /docs/ hierarchy.
  • Added a link to the WebRTC doc project plan to the WebRTC documentation status page.
  • Posted to the dev-media list asking for suggestions on topics to cover in the WebRTC docs.
  • Updated the MDN page about KumaScript macros to link to the new article on troubleshooting them that Stephanie Hobson wrote.
  • Did a quick copy-edit pass on the troubleshooting article, and added some information about how to use search keywords to get to macro pages quickly (to read the built-in documentation most have).
  • Emailed out various meeting reminders.
  • Updated the team priority list spreadsheet with updated URLs and new information.
  • Wrote agenda for writers’ staff meeting and Web API docs meeting.
  • Wrote a nifty new MDN macro, ContentFromWikimo, which imports the content of a specified block (by ID) from a page on wikimo and inserts it into the MDN page.
  • Used the ContentFromWikimo macro to embed module owner information about WebRTC, WebGL, Web Workers, and XPCOM to their doc plans.
  • Filed a number of meta/tracking bugs for the various doc plans.
  • Created meta/tracking bugs for all current documentation plans. See my standup for today for links; I’m not going to copy and paste them all here. :)

Meetings attended this week

Monday

  • #mdndev bug/triage/planning meetings.

Tuesday

  • Messaging discussion for MDN feature planning.

Wednesday

  • 1:1 meeting with Ali.

Thursday

  • MDN writers’ staff meeting.

Friday

  • MDN development bug swat meeting.
  • Web APIs documentation meeting.

So, whew! Lots done! I’m particularly proud of the ContentFromWikimo macro work. It was also a lot of fun to do. I think it’ll be useful, too, at least sometimes.

I have a good feeling about next week. I think it’ll be even more productive!

 Posted by at 1:47 PM
Aug 012014
 

It’s been a while since my last Sheppy Report; there several good(ish) reasons for that. I won’t rehash all that today, though.

My intent is to resume these weekly reports; they were well-received back then, and I hope they’ll help improve my ability to keep people apprised of what I’m doing and about what’s new on MDN.

What I’m up to

My primary mission this week was to work on the MDN documentation project plans, getting them prepared for use by moving them to MDN, building any necessary content and macros  to support their presence, and so forth. This has gone pretty well, although it’s not quite finished yet. I plan to work on Saturday to complete this project.

Next week, I intend to tackle integration of the project plans with doc status pages and to write the WebGL documentation project plan. This will let us get started with the job of finding someone to write that important content.

There’s plenty more on my to-do list, and it’s possible priorities could shift, but finishing the current work is pretty much my Most Important Thing right now.

What I did this week

  • Created the landing page for the new home of MDN documentation project plans.
    • We decided to move these planning documents to MDN (even though planning docs don’t traditionally belong on MDN) in order to integrate them with our processes better. Having them on MDN means we can use KumaScript to automatically populate tables from bug lists, other areas of MDN, and so forth.
    • This will also let us integrate them with our existing doc status page system, which has been a great tool. I look forward to this augmentation work.
    • This page automatically rebuilds every four hours so its macro-generated list of subpages can be kept up to date.
  • Archived our old “Team Status Board” page. This was an experiment in tracking what individual MDN contributors were working on that didn’t work out.
  • Updated the non-standardGeneric macro
    • Corrected a typo that broke the macro, causing a KumaScript error on all pages using this macro or one that calls it.
    • Improved performance slightly by adding code to bounce out of loops when an end condition is detected early.
  • Migrated the developer phone documentation project plan to MDN, reformatting it to follow the new organizational structure for these plans.
  • Copy-edited the string.repeat() documentation.
  • Rewrote parts of the MakeColumnsForDL macro on MDN; this macro, which breaks up a <dl> into two columns for our landing pages, was in some cases splitting the list in the midst of a <dt> tag.
  • Migrated the Game Developer Zone documentation project plan to MDN.
  • Created a framework doc plan page for the RecRoom project.
  • Created a framework doc plan page for the WebGL docs project.
  • These framework doc plans will require filling -out, of course.
  • Corrected an accidental “translation-in-place” incident that replaced the English Apps zone landing page with Italian.
  • Created the <picture> element doc plan page on MDN.

There’s lots not covered here, such as email catch-up from my vacation a week or two ago, and all sorts of non-meeting discussions about MDN features, ideas for improving articles, etc. But you’re likely not interested. In fact, I bet you didn’t actually read this far anyway. :)

Meetings attended this week

Monday

  • #mdndev planning meeting
  • #mdndev pull request triage
  • MDN bug triage
  • Mozilla staff meeting

Tuesday

  • Developer Relations town hall meeting

Wednesday

Thursday

  • One-on-one meeting with Jean-Yves
  • Employee training meeting

Friday

  • One-on-one meeting with Ali

Unfortunately, a personal meeting ran very long on Friday, causing me to miss several scheduled meetings. Repeat apologies to everyone affected.

In general, a pretty productive week. A lot got done, and I’m making definite progress.

 Posted by at 6:12 PM
Jun 142014
 

I’m happy with how my talk at the Open Help conference went this morning. I gave a talk about how Mozilla builds, fosters, and provides useful information to our documentation community. I enjoyed giving it, and the questions were good ones.

I saw a lot of note-taking and nodding heads, and the discussions over the rest of the day definitely gave me the sense that people appreciated my thoughts on documentation community-building and processes. I hope there will be video available at some point; certainly it was recorded.

Our documentation status pages and other ways we present data about tasks that need to be performed really got a lot of attention, and Florian’s graph of our contributor growth really opened some eyes — especially when I pointed to the sharp uptick since we deployed our in-house grown, open source, Kuma documentation platform.

Also, I think our development team will be pleased that I heard a lot of “I wish we were using Kuma for our docs” today, and at least one person saying they’re going to look at setting up to try building it themselves.

Three or four people said that if it were separated from the Mozilla-specific bits, they’d be pushing to switch to Kuma. That made me smile; hopefully they will still feel that way if/when we manage to ever make the platform separate from the MDN-specific parts.

I’m with my people here; it’s really wonderful to just talk about documentation tactics without all the other stuff. It’s a great feeling, especially when it seems you’re able to give your peers ideas to take home and try for themselves.

My slides

View my slides below, or download them as a PDF.

 Posted by at 10:10 PM
Jun 112014
 

I’ll be attending the Open Help Conference & Sprints event this weekend, arriving in Cincinnati on Friday afternoon and returning home on Tuesday morning after the first day of documentation sprinting. Mozilla is a proud sponsor of this event, which features a number of key influencers in the open source documentation arena. The mission: to exchange notes and ideas about how to improve the quality and quantity of good open source documentation, and to hold documentation sprints to get some writing projects done.

I’ll be giving a talk on Saturday morning (at 10 AM—the first presentation of the event) entitled “Help people so they can help you.” I’ll be covering the things the MDN team does to build, foster, and support its growing community of contributors. I’m looking forward to this, even though I’m nowhere near prepared yet. I enjoy sharing ideas about how to create and maintain excellent documentation. It’s my career’s mission, and as a Mozillian, I’m pleased to be able to share. Hopefully, too, I’ll get new ideas this weekend as well!

As an aside, if you have any thoughts on things I should be sure to mention, don’t hesitate to leave a comment or drop me an email!

If you’re going to be at Open Help, or are simply in the Cincinnati area, I hope to run into you!

 Posted by at 9:51 AM
Apr 062014
 

First, let’s start with this: if you want to know what’s really been happening at Mozilla, you should read this blog post, written by a fellow Mozilla Corporation employee. It’s got details from staff meetings, internal discussions, public meetings, and more, and it’s the most accurate representation of the truth of the past two weeks you’ll find anywhere.

Next, let’s recall my previous post, and I will re-iterate that I strongly favor the nationwide legalization of gay marriage, and that I disagree with Brendan on this issue (while also strongly defending his right to hold his opinion as long as he keeps it out of Mozilla business, which he always did).

Now, let’s get into what I personally want to say about the last few days.

In March of 2006, I was the father of a baby girl less than a year old, and had just been let go by my employer—a game development company in Southern California, for whom I was doing Mac programming. Despite a previous arrangement, they decided they wanted me to relocate, which I wasn’t interested in doing. So we parted ways. My old friend David Miller had been working at Mozilla on the Bugzilla project (and doing IT work) for a while, and he suggested I apply for a job as a Mac programmer at Mozilla Corporation.

When Mozilla got wind that I had spent years as a technical writer, I found myself instead interviewing for a job on the developer relations team as a writer for the Mozilla Developer Center site. On April 3, 2006, I started working for Mike Shaver, alongside Deb Richardson, as a technical writer.

I joined Mozilla as someone that didn’t use Firefox. Heck, I didn’t even like Firefox. I also didn’t give a rat’s ass about open source software; indeed, I generally looked down on it across the board as inherently inferior.

I would never have dreamed that someday I would consider myself part of a “community” of Mozilla users. I was not someone that would be a Mozillian. I walked the walk and acted the part, generally, but if you read through my early blog posts, you’ll find clues that I was just in it for the paycheck.

Fast forward to March of 2014. I’m days shy of my eighth anniversary as a Mozilla employee, and I find myself a changed person. I’m an ardent fan of Mozilla and its mission. It’s important to me. It means something to me. It’s part of who I am. I feel every sting when something goes wrong, and exalt in every win Firefox and Mozilla achieves.

I’m not blindly faithful, no. I have my doubts now and again, about specific initiatives or projects, and goodness knows I’m not afraid to say so. I have a well-earned reputation as a bit of a complainer. When I’m troubled, I tend to say so (usually at length). But Mozilla’s mission is my mission: to bring the open Web to everyone, to do it well, and to be sure that everyone knows how to build upon its potential.

I’ll admit: when Brendan was selected as CEO, I was surprised. I had been quite certain that Jay Sullivan would become our permanent CEO, after a long and successful “interim CEO” run. When Brendan was announced, I was somewhat puzzled. Not because of his political beliefs, but because Jay was already in place, doing a good job, and had long experience in more “business management” roles, rather than just “project management” roles.

But I quickly got behind Brendan. As a technical wizard and cofounder of Mozilla (having saved the Mozilla project form the dying embers of what was left of Netscape within the AOL behemoth), Brendan knew and loved the project more than anyone else. Who better than to lead us into the technical challenges that lie ahead? With Li Gong as our new COO to help him, we were in great hands.

Then everything went straight to hell in the media. Taking bits of reality (yes, Brendan donated in favor of Prop. 8, and yes, he didn’t apologize for doing so, and yes, a scant handful of employees tweeted that they wanted him to resign), the press and social media turned reality into some kind of hyper-reality, in which a few basic facts were tossed into a blender with a healthy dose of bullshit and a little wishful thinking on their part.

Soon, we were in the midst of a crisis, with the voices of reason so overwhelmed by outright nonsense that they couldn’t be heard. Several of us tried. We failed. Brendan, overwhelmed by the waves of negative press and outright hate mail he was getting, gave up and resigned. The mob won, and Mozilla lost its founding father.

The press (including the Wall Street Journal) is reporting that Brendan was pushed out by the board. This is not true. Mozilla’s board of directors begged and pleaded for him to stay with us in some capacity. He declined.

Let’s be clear: Brendan Eich left Mozilla because a virtual mob got whipped up into a frenzy and harassed him and Mozilla until he felt the best way to serve Mozilla was to leave. Brendan quit his job because he felt that leaving the organization he loved was better than watching it be dragged down into a cesspool of bullshit.

This situation arose because one man—a key member of Mozilla’s technology team and its community as a whole—exercised his legal civil right to donate money to an unpopular cause (and one that is now, thankfully, a lost cause). That’s the real tragedy here.

But we’ll figure out how to move on. We will mourn for a time. We will do some soul-searching. And then we will get our hands firmly planted back onto the tiller, tack into the wind, and continue our journey. Because we are Mozilla.

Updated at 3:53 PM EDT on April 6, 2014: I got a couple of corrections recommended to me by email, so I applied them above. My apologies for overstating a couple of points in my 3 AM drama mode.

 Posted by at 1:35 AM
Mar 292014
 

There’s been something of an uproar over Brendan Eich’s promotion to the role of CEO of Mozilla Corporation due to the fact that many years ago, he donated money to support Proposition 8 in California. I’m not going to link to any of the blog posts, tweets, or news stories about this, since I don’t really want to give more traffic to rumormongers, especially since a lot of the stories are mostly speculation.

Since I work for Mozilla, I obviously have opinions on this. I’m going to share them, but first I’m going to be sure to point out what I’m not:

  • I’ve never reported to Brendan either directly or indirectly.
  • I’m not gay, so his opinions in the area don’t directly affect me.

With that out of the way, let me say this: in the more than eight years I’ve worked at Mozilla, I’ve never known Brendan to treat anyone differently based on their gender, sexual orientation, color, religion, eye color, height, weight, or anything else (sorry for being slightly flippant there; it’s how I handle this stuff).

I felt then, and feel now, that Prop 8 is a mistake, is unconstitutional, and is a moral catastrophe. Freedom to marry the consenting adult of your dreams is a core human right and should be protected as such. Now with my feelings on the matter exposed, let’s press on.

While I, too, would like him to make a statement clarifying things further, I also don’t think it’s any of my business. As long as Brendan’s feelings don’t impact his work functions, I honestly don’t care what he thinks. As far as I can tell, all he cares about is whether or not you can deliver the goods when you’re working on the project. That’s all that matters to me.

He can be cranky and dismissive at times when he thinks you’re wrong (or less right than he is), but everyone can be that way (I know I can). Whatever his personal feelings are on gay marriage (or homosexuality in general, or anything else), Brendan is a brilliant developer and manager, a great leader, and an avid supporter of open source software and of the free and open Web. In those respects, he’s the best possible person for the job of CEO of Mozilla.

Mozillians are a diverse community. Brendan knows that; he’s known that since he first helped create Mozilla a decade and a half ago. He’s never once been involved in controversy related to that diversity; becoming CEO doesn’t, I think, make him any more likely to be so.

Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt, and get back to rockin’ the open Web.

 Posted by at 4:04 AM
Mar 142014
 

Last weekend, we had an MDN work weekend at Mozilla’s Paris space. Over the course of the three days—Friday, Saturday, and Sunday—we built code, wrote and updated documentation, and brainstormed on new and better ways to present documentation on MDN. A grand total of 34 participants (wow!) including 16 volunteers and 18 paid Mozilla staff sat down together in a big room and hacked. 11 countries were represented: France, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Italy, Spain, Poland, Germany, India, Bangladesh, and Brazil. We completed 23 projects and touched (either adding, updating, or closing) over 400 bugs.

The most important thing, to me, was the reminder that our community is a real, tangible presence in the world, rather than an ephemera that flits about touching documentation from time to time. These people have real jobs, having real and important impacts on their local communities. Coming together is a chance to enhance our bond as Mozillians. That’s a great thing.

What’s also great, though, is the amazing amount of output we produced. Let’s look over some of the stuff that went on (if I leave out something you did, I apologize!).

Documentation work

  • Prototyped new UX for the MDN App Center.
  • All KumaScript errors on every page in the English, German, and French locales were resolved! This is a huge deal and I’m grateful to Jean-Yves, Florian, and Sphinx for this work.
  • Lots of work was done to sketch out and plan an improved onboarding experience for new contributors.
  • Lots of new Web documentation was added for various CSS properties, as well as for the HTML <template> element used by Web Components.
  • Over 100 pages of beginner content were properly tagged to be easier to find using MDN’s search filters.
  • Planning work for the new MDN “Learning” area was done; this area will provide content for new Web and Web app developers.
  • Work to plan out requirements for future MDN events was done.
  • Planning for the next steps of the compatibility data project was done; I missed this meeting although I meant to be there. We will be building a system for maintaining a database, in essence, of compatibility for all the things that make up the Web, then updating our compatibility tables to be constructed from that database. This database will also be queryable.
  • Progress was made on documenting the Web Audio API. Thanks to Scott Michaud for his work on this.
  • Chris Heilmann worked on adding live samples to pages; his work included some experiments in ways to make them more interactive, and he talked with our dev team about an improved user interface for implementing live samples.

Kuma platform work

Seven new people had the Kuma build system set up on their computers, with a virtual machine running a Kuma server up and running. Those seven people included me. In fact, I devised and submitted three patches to the Kuma platform over the weekend! They’re nothing particularly big, but it did allow closing three longstanding minor bugs. Not a big deal, but I’m proud of that anyway.

And I’m not the only one: a ton of amazing enhancements to the Kuma platform were developed over the weekend. Some are already deployed; others will not be for a while, since there are quirks to iron out.

  • Live samples are now better delineated by having a border drawn around them (this one is mine, and already deployed).
  • A new JavaScript snippet has been developed that can be embedded into any Web site to automatically link common terms to the appropriate pages on MDN. This is almost but not quite ready to deploy as I write this.
  • A bunch of old code we inherited from the Kitsune project has been removed (Ricky did this).
  • The email sent to admins after a page move operation is completed has been enhanced to include a link to the new location and to have the subject be more specific as to which move finished (another of mine; not yet deployed but probably will go out in the next push).
  • The “revert this page” confirmation prompt has some wording corrections (mine, and pushed to production).
  • A new “top contributors” widget has been developed; this will show the top three contributors to a page, with their avatar image, at the top of the page somewhere. This isn’t finished but the prototype is promising. This work was done primarily by Luke Crouch, I believe.
  • UX design work was done for future enhancements to how we display search results.
  • UX design work was done for how we display the language list, to improve discoverability both of the fact that there are multiple languages, but also that pages can be localized by contributors.
  • The revision diff page you get when comparing two pages in an article’s history now includes a “Revert to this revision” button. Also mine; I don’t know if it’s on production yet but I think so.
  • Lots of design and planning work for improved search UX, filtering, and more. This stuff will amaze you when it lands!

I won’t become a huge contributor to Kuma, probably. I don’t have time. I’m too busy writing and (more often, really) organizing other writers. That’s okay, of course. I’m having my own impact on our worldwide community of Mozillians and users and developers on the World Wide Web.

 Posted by at 6:47 PM
Feb 212014
 

The most important rule of contributing to the developer documentation on MDN is this:

Don’t be afraid to contribute, even if you can’t write well and can’t make it beautiful. It’s easier for the writing team to clean up information written by true experts than it is to become experts ourselves.

Seriously. There aren’t that many of us on the writing team, even including our awesome non-staff contributors. We sadly don’t have enough time to become experts at all the things that need to be documented on MDN.

Even if all you do is copy your notes onto a page on MDN and click “Save,” that’s a huge help for us. Even pasting raw text into the wiki is better than not helping at all. Honest!

We’ll review your contribution and fix everything, including:

  • Grammar; you don’t have to have perfect (or even good) writing skills—that’s what the writing team is here for!
  • Style; we’ll make sure the content matches the MDN style guide.
  • Organization; we’ll move your content, if appropriate, so that it’s in the right place on the site.
  • Cross-linking; we’ll add links to other related content.
  • Structure and frills; we’ll ensure that the layout and structure of your article is consistent, and that it uses any advanced wiki features that can help get the point across (such as live samples and macros).

It’s not your job to make awesome documentation. That’s our job. So don’t let fear of prevent you from sharing what you know.

 Posted by at 10:15 AM