Aug 212009

Now that I’m largely recovered from my flu (but not so much so that I’m not about to go get some more rest), I figured I should post a more detailed status report about the Mozilla Developer Center.

I expect to post another status report soon. I’m juggling several things at once (Firefox 3.6 documentation, general upkeep of MDC, enhancements to MDC, and driving resolution of these problems we’ve been having the last week or so), so things are a little hectic.

Glitches and crashes

As you probably noticed, we’ve been having a series of weird problems with MDC the last week or so. We had a cluster of crashes of the database server, which appears to have caused a chain reaction of glitches.

Among those was that the preferences for a key wiki plugin — the one that handles script content imported from MediaWiki (used by the vast majority of our templates) — lost all its preferences.  This caused a large number of very weird problems.

I think I’ve fixed most or all of these lost preferences now, but for some reason, only one of our two wiki hosts is seeing the changes. I’ve asked IT to look into this, and hopefully we’ll have a better idea what’s wrong there soon.

Performance and security

One problem we have is performance. We’re aware of several possible causes for performance issues, and we are actively engaged in working out the best possible solutions.

The most obvious issue is that we’re currently using SSL for everything on MDC. We did this to protect users’ passwords and other information while they use the site, but using SSL for so many transactions does slow things down appreciably. We’re working on a solution for this. I’m talking with several people at MindTouch about the best way to make it possible to avoid SSL for every single transaction. Exactly how we do it is still up in the air, but I want to be sure you know that we know about it and are working on it.

Another issue is that some content, including a bit of CSS and some scripts, are being loaded from MindTouch servers instead of our own. This, too, I’m looking at, but I only just found out about it so I haven’t had time to seriously investigate yet. I will.

Sort those tables!

If you right-click inside a table, you will now find a new “TableSort” option. This lets you sort the contents of the current table, with several options for configuring the sort. This will finally make it easy to clean up sloppy and disorganized tables, and that makes me very, very happy!

The table sort dialog box

Not sure why the box’s title is “undefined” there. It may be because this feature is designed for use with the next version of MindTouch.

Which brings us to…

MindTouch 9.08 “Minneopa” coming soon

MindTouch has delivered a preview release of MindTouch 9.08, and they tell me the final release should be out in a very short time (possibly just a couple of weeks, if things go extra smoothly). This is primarily a bug-fix and cleanup release, but does have some improvements of special significance.

I won’t list everything that’s changed here, since only a few of the items are ones that have given us special headaches, but if you’re curious, you can take a look at the full list on the MindTouch wiki.

There are only a couple of items fixed in Minneopa that we had specifically asked about, but some of the stuff that’s been done will be nice nonetheless, such as the fix to keep from scrolling back to the top of the document when you finish editing a section of an article. That was annoying, but never made it onto my hit list, so to speak.

One thing our international users will be pleased about is that finally the RSS feed offered on the “recent changes” page will be for changes in your language. This should improve discovery of these feeds significantly.

 Posted by at 7:50 AM
Aug 202009

Just in case anyone hasn’t noticed, I’ve been MIA for the most part for several days, taken out by a sudden and unpleasant flu. I’m gradually improving now, and hope to be back to work, at least a little bit, on Friday. If you’ve been watching your inbox for email from me (I have a ton of messages I’m just not up to dealing with), that’s why.

 Posted by at 2:48 AM
Aug 162009

You may have noticed that we’re having some strange glitches on the Mozilla Developer Center, with error messages cropping up in the middle of articles where templates are used sometimes.

For some reason, a query that happens periodically is causing our MySQL server to crash. This is happening several times a day, and when it happens, things don’t always automatically start back up correctly, leaving the wiki in an uncertain state.

It appears that this is being caused by a bug in MySQL that we’re running into. I’ve contacted folks at MindTouch to see if they can work around it, and our IT wizards are looking at it from the MySQL side of things, to see if they can figure out what can be done on that side.

I’ll post again when I have more information. I just wanted folks to be aware that we know about this problem and are actively working on fixing it.

 Posted by at 12:11 PM
Aug 052009

We finally got around to flipping the setting that controls whether or not MindTouch automatically “corrects” articles to enforce an uppercase first letter.

That means that going forward, articles with titles starting with the name of a method, interface, or other API term whose first letter should be lower case can actually, you know, start with a lower case letter. So instead of “NsIFoo” you can now have “nsIFoo” as the title of the article.


 Posted by at 1:37 PM
Aug 042009

After discovering today that the IRC links that are supposed to appear in the sidebar stopped appearing sometime recently, Shaver suggested that I look into starting to do unit testing of the Mozilla Developer Center.

This is obviously a good idea, so I’ve started putting together a list of things that need to expressly be tested. My thinking is that for the most part we should focus on testing our customizations:

  • The MDC skin.
  • Custom templates that tweak overall look and feel.
  • FCKeditor extensions.
  • MindTouch wiki extensions.

The list I have right now is very small, and I’m still actively working on it. Please feel free to suggest things that you’ve seen break in the past, so that we can make sure they get tested going forward. You can make your suggestions by commenting on this post, or by emailing me, or by adding to the talk page for the unit testing list.

I’m going to be experimenting with using Selenium to do these tests. I’ll post more as my experiments progress.

 Posted by at 3:49 PM