May 292009

So we got the Mozilla Developer Center upgrade done last night, thanks to the awesome dudes in IT! Over the next few days, I’ll be blogging a bit about the things we gain from this upgrade, from the major stuff to the little stuff (and not necessarily in that order).

Things that need doing still

There are a few things left to do; I’ll be revamping our editor toolbar today to make the editor more convenient to use. I’ve got a better feel now for which features we use and which we don’t, so I can make a better toolbar than the one we currently have.

There are some skin changes I need to make to support new features; for example, we currently don’t support the new notification system because our skin doesn’t expose it to the user. That’s an oversight on my part; I forgot to add support for that to the skin before the upgrade, but I’ll be working on that over the next few days.

In addition, there’s a new tag editor that in theory provides a nicer interface for editing tags, but at present looks awful because we haven’t skinned it yet. I’ll be dealing with that too.

Also, some under-the-hood changes have been made to how custom string resources are stored; previously, we had to manually append our custom strings to the standard resource files every time we updated the software. Now they’re kept in separate files. We haven’t moved them into their own files yet, because we weren’t aware of this capability at the time. We’ll be doing that sometime in the next week or two, once we work through the other stuff that needs doing.

A few improvements

A much-requested improvement that we have now is that the version comparison page now shows you the two versions side-by-side, instead of intermingled and hard to read. The RSS feed still does it the old way, but this is definite progress!

Another helpful improvement is that when you’re editing, there’s now an “Edit summary” box at the bottom, where you can enter an explanation of what you’re changing and why. This is a much-requested feature that we definitely missed when we switched away from MediaWiki, and I’m thrilled to have it now!

One small but pleasant change is that, finally, when you enter edit mode, there’s no longer a spurious extra scroll bar. Instead, the edit box is scrolled along with the rest of your content using the main scroll bar on the browser window. In addition, the edit box more reliably resizes along with the content you’re editing. This will make the editing experience much more pleasant, I think.

There is now a “View page” link on Talk pages that takes you back to the main article; currently, it’s being drawn dimmed as if it’s disabled (due to a minor MindTouch bug that I’ve filed a ticket for), but the button does actually work.

I’ve also configured the table of contents that draws in the top-right corner of pages to only show the top three levels of headings; this prevents certain pages — especially interface references — from having unreasonably long tables of contents, leaving them much easier to navigate.

The RSS feed for new changes on the wiki now only shows the blocks that have changed, instead of embedding the entire article. It also calls out each individual edit, instead of lumping all edits together, leaving you to guess who made what changes.

One thing you can do — which I think you were actually able to do in the previous version, but I never mentioned before — is subscribe to RSS feeds for individual pages and subtrees of the site; click the RSS feed icon in your location bar, and the popup that appears lets you choose between the “What’s new feed” (for all changes on the wiki), the “Page and subpages changes feed” (for all changes in the subtree of the site rooted at the page you’re looking at), and the “Page changes feed” (which only covers changes to the page you’re looking at).

That’s not the same as the excellent notification system that we’ll expose soon, but it’s still a handy feature.

But wait, there’s more…

There are other changes, too, but these are the ones that come immediately to mind. I’ll go into more detail, and discuss other changes, in future blog posts over the coming days and weeks.  But this should get you started exploring the improved Mozilla Developer Center!

 Posted by at 4:04 PM

  10 Responses to “MDC upgraded to MindTouch 2009 9.02.2”

  1. So what happened to the fix that was supposed to add diff links to revisions’ entries, rather than requiring 5 clicks and a form GET to diff an arbitrary revision from Recent Changes?

  2. I suspect that’s a skinning issue. I’m going to be looking into that.

  3. I see now that the links with a hash as anchor text leads to the diff. Still nothing for article histories. 4n – 1 clicks to step through revisions.

  4. Sevenspade — could you specifically tell me what you’d like for this? To be honest, I’m not clear on what you’re looking for exactly, and want to be sure I understand before I get into it with MindTouch.

  5. It’s probably better to contact via e-mail or on the wiki itself; blog comments are really hard to follow.

    > One small but pleasant change is that, finally, when you enter edit mode, there’s no longer a spurious extra scroll bar
    Did you mean this one: ?

  6. Huh. Yeah, that’s the one. It’s not happening to me anymore. How weird.

  7. Oh, it’s a welcome improvement! :) (It hides only when clicking the editor, and for some reason not the first time I tried…)

    Now if you killed the floating-over-the-text-you’re-trying-to-edit toolbar, it would be perfect. (Well, one step closer to it anyway.)

  8. Yeah, I filed a bug with MindTouch to switch from the weird floating toolbar to using a fixed toolbar in CSS.

  9. Sheppy, I was referring to the issue that was (later?) separately brought up in the newsgroup about the links that allow you to step through revisions on diff pages themselves. Similarly, the only way to diff against the previous revision in article histories is through a form GET; you can’t open a series of diffs in tabs all from the article history. You must either hit back to get to the article history and select the radioboxes next to the revisions, then scroll back up to click the form submit for each diff you view, or I suppose you could, say, guess at the number of diffs you’d like to view beforehand and open that many tabs of the article history, then choose the revisions to diff in each tab. Either way, it’s the same number of clicks and a huge pain.

  10. Sevenspade: Yeah, I figured it out and have filed a ticket with Mindtouch on that one.