Feb 142013

We’ve had a few updates to the Kuma platform that powers MDN lately, and now there have been enough interesting changes that I thought I’d share them with you!

  • A bug causing translated articles to sometimes get “en” injected into their slug has been fixed. This caused a number of pages to wind up in the wrong places. Pages that had already been affected have mostly been fixed. There’s an explanation of what localization teams might have to fix here.
  • We’ve fixed a bug that was preventing live samples and embedded SVG images from working correctly.
  • Fixed a bug that caused the editor toolbar to not be fully visible on-screen when you put the editor into full-screen mode.
  • When adding an attachment to a page, the “description” and “comment” fields are now optional.
  • A link to the wiki dashboards has been added to the root docs landing page.
  • The MDN home page has been cleaned up to be significantly less messy. We’ve removed a lot of promo blocks that we were never all that happy with, so the page is significantly easier to use. There’s a more substantial redesign under way, but it’ll be a while before that lands.
  • A bug causing layout problems when you zoomed in on the home page has been fixed.
  • CORS has been configured to allow sites to pull content from MDN using the Kuma API.
  • For security reasons, file attachments are now served from the same alternate domain as live samples.
  • Demo Derby uploads whose Zip files’ names have non-ASCII characters in them are now accepted.
  • The text of the “Revert” link in the page history view has been updated to clarify what it does. This feature is still incorrectly only available to users with special privileges; we have an open bug to correct this.

There’s a lot of good stuff in here! These aren’t the only changes, but they’re the ones that humans will actually possibly notice. There’ve been a lot of behind-the-scenes patches to continue toward implementing future features. I continue to love this platform and what a great job the team is doing.

 Posted by at 5:06 PM  Tagged with:
Feb 062013

Back when my niece Olivia was eight years old, her family got a new Mac after years of using Windows. They loved it, but missed a particular kid-friendly writing program they had been using on the PC. When I failed to find a similar program, I sat down and wrote one for them. I named it “OK-Writer,” after my niece’s initials. She loved that program, and over time I fiddled with it and added features to it.

Its big features, from a kid-friendly standpoint, are that it offers big fun buttons for styling text (using a few fun fonts, colors, and styles) and for tasks like printing and the like. Each button plays a silly sound effect when pressed (although you can turn this off in the preferences). It takes away concerns about page layout and stuff by rewrapping text to fit the page width, no matter what the child has done. And, a few versions in, I added some neat speech features for automatically reciting letters, words, or sentences as they’re typed.

Screen shot of OK-Writer 1.4

Over the years, the program has been bought by a number of parents, but even more teachers and in one case an entire school district; I offer site licenses for both individual schools and entire districts.

Today I got a nice email from a nursery school that bought OK-Writer some years ago. While the main point of the email was a contact information update, it also included some nice remarks about how they still love the program and use it all the time. That sure makes me feel good!

I’m really proud of it, even though it’s a fairly simple piece of software. That I’ve created something being used to teach kids and encourage them to enjoy writing is a great feeling. Even better is knowing that some people are using it with blind children (and even grownups) because of its unique speech features.

That’s pretty darned awesome.

I’m working on a new version now. It’s not a huge update, although it does fix a few bugs, and it adds new retina-quality icons. And I have some nice plans for future improvements, too. It’s a fun project to work on, and that it’s making a difference for some people is a lovely bonus!

 Posted by at 10:02 AM