Nov 122013

A new push of the Kuma code to the MDN web site was done yesterday, followed by another this morning. Here’s a quick look at what’s new.

  • Page moving has landed again at last. This is for now available only to administrators, I believe. The emails that let you know when page moves have finished don’t always send correctly due to what appears to be a server configuration problem. We have a bug filed for IT to look at it.
  • The Elastic Search indexing task has been rate-limited so it doesn’t chew up so many resources that it blocks other tasks from running.
  • We can add the attribute data-default-state="open" to quicklink “folder” items to make them default to open rather than closed.
  • Redirects and user pages are no longer shown in search results, which makes the search results much better. This will require a site index rebuild, so you may not see this improvement right away.
  • Names in user profiles now have wider letter spacing.
  • The capitalization of the “See also” heading in the sidebar above quicklinks has been corrected, and the link color is being enforced on the quicklinks box.
  • Fixed the demo studio links to draw above the spotlight image so that they’re clickable.
  • Content tables now all have a bottom margin.
  • The “Previous Page” and “Next Page” buttons in the search results are now just “Previous” and “Next”.
  • Other assorted style cleanup work has been done.

This is a big deal, in that we finally have page moves. We’ll use it cautiously at first, to avoid (hopefully) any disasters if new bugs are found. But we’re pretty confident this time, other than the server issue with failing confirmation emails.

 Posted by at 1:04 PM  Tagged with:
Nov 082013

We’ve just pushed another update to the Kuma platform deployed on MDN! Let’s take a look at an overview of what’s been done:

  • Page move now correctly disallows attempts to move pages to a URL for which there is no parent page.
  • Page move is now constrained to a single locale.
  • Template (macro) pages no longer have a language selection menu, since these are always edited in the en-US locale and are localized in their code.
  • When viewing on a mobile phone, MDN is now presented in a 1-column view.
  • The list of search filters on search results pages now has an empty checkbox drawn when not selected; previously there was no indicator until you selected each filter.
  • The height of the sidebar “See also” box has been corrected in “small desktop” layout.
  • Updated the appearance of the search box in the header area.
  • Rendering of the language drop-down has been improved so that parentheses are no longer in the wrong place in RTL languages.
  • Corrected the layout of the search results page in right-to-left locales.
  • Improve heading structure on the homepage to put items in the correct order for screen readers.
  • Microdata has been implemented for breadcrumbs for Google search results.
  • The left margin has been removed on the first navigation item, and its submenu shadow has been lightened.
  • The home-globe.svg image used on the home page has been replaced with a PNG to save bandwidth.
  • PNG images have been optimized to save bandwidth.
  • The padding at the bottom of the <li> element has been tightened up.
  • Platform localization docs have been updated a bit.

Whew! That’s quite a list! As you can see, page move is getting there. It’s technically done, but we’ve run into a clash with another process that needs to be resolved before we start using it in the field. Soon, I hope!

 Posted by at 3:39 PM  Tagged with:
Nov 052013

We pushed an MDN update on Friday, and it has some improvements you’ll appreciate!

  • CKEditor is no longer loaded for every page, even when you’re not editing. This speeds page load times significantly!
  • Page moving is inching closer to finished. We had it done, but found another bug; this one minor. We hope to nail it down today or tomorrow.
  • Column widths have been tweaked a bit, along with minimum sizes. This should improve overall readability of content on MDN. We’re still tweaking these, so expect future changes. But let us know what you think!

In addition, we’ve just pushed a new build of Kuma to MDN’s servers, and I’m here to share some of the more interesting bits with you, as usual!

  • Search results pages now tell you how many matches were found.
  • The drop-down menus in the header area now have a border and drop shadow as intended.
  • Fixes to the display layout for RTL languages. There’s more left to do here, but we’re making progress.
  • Accessibility improvements, including support for skipping links using VoiceOver and making the search box more accessible.
  • The “See also” text in quicklinks is now more obviously a heading.
  • Global notification messages from the site administrators now display correctly in the redesigned look and feel.
  • The login text at the top of the page has been made slightly larger to be easier to see.
  • Some internal tweaks have been done to improve testing functionality.

We’re about ready to begin seriously working on content clean-up to get our content to use the new styles that Sean Martell has created for us. I think that work will begin in earnest today or tomorrow. On top of all that, we’re doing great things with the new quicklinks functionality in the sidebar. Check out, for example, the documentation for the JavaScript Number object. Note how you can browse the entire object in the sidebar. Awesome!

This is an exciting time!

 Posted by at 4:18 PM  Tagged with:
Nov 012013

We’ve pushed another update to MDN’s Kuma installation this morning. Page load performance should be improved, and the site’s appearance on Firefox OS and other mobile devices should be better (although not yet ideal).

  • The home page now uses mobile CSS on Firefox OS devices.
  • Search-related accessibility is improved.
  • CKEditor is now only loaded when needed, instead of on every page.
  • Moved a lot of the wiki content’s CSS into site CSS files.
  • Medium-sized screens’ CSS updated.
  • Sizes of text in certain lists have been reduced.

I expect (and fervently hope for) a second push today, to get page moving up and running again. I’ll let you know if/when that happens!

 Posted by at 12:37 PM  Tagged with:
Oct 302013

We’ve had a few more improvements to our new design land over the last couple of days. Key among them is improved responsive design; our layout now works better both at very small and very large screen sizes, and should provide more of the viewport’s area for article content.

Specific changes of interest:

  • On small desktop screens, the left sidebar is now kept visible, but the article’s TOC and tags are nudged up above the body of the article instead of being in a right sidebar.
  • On the first page of search results, the “View all” link has been removed.
  • Fixed alignment of the MDN logo with the rest of the left-aligned content on the page.
  • Back-end work to allow analytics to know the difference between users that are logged in and not logged in, so we can get real statistics about contribution rates.

This is a pretty small set of changes, but they should improve usability noticeably, if subtly in some cases.

I do think we have a few more column width issues to resolve; in particular, I think the maximum width of our sidebars is still too large. We’ll see what we can do about that.

My last post about Kuma updates mentioned that page moves had returned; unfortunately, we uncovered a bug in that feature just minutes after I posted, and had to disable it again. However, a fix has been devised and is in testing now. I hope to see page moving land again in the next day or two.

 Posted by at 4:53 PM  Tagged with:
Oct 252013

Big progress today on MDN! Support for moving pages has returned, now refactored to run as a background task, alerting the person that initiated the move by email once it’s complete. This feature is only available to site administrators for the time being. Still, this is a huge, huge deal! Deleting pages should come along soon; it shares a lot of code with page moving.

It’s worth noting that we’re still testing the page move functionality, so we’ll be starting with small numbers of pages and working our way upward.

So here’s a brief overview of the changes of note for the last few days:

  • Page moving, available to administrators. This lets us move one page or an entire tree of pages, leaving behind redirects.
  • Site redesign progress
    • On mobile devices, the TOC at the top of the page is initially collapsed (closed). Tap on it to open it up.
    • The languages menu, formerly hidden in the “gear” menu, now has its own menu, adjacent to the “gear” menu.
    • The “quick links” section in the left sidebar now includes a “See also” heading, since that’s how those links are typically used.
    • The buttons to expand and contract things like the TOC are now plus and minus icons rather than arrows.
    • Zone subpage titles are no longer italicized.
    • Styles while editing content should more closely match the way it will appear when rendered for reading.
  • Assorted adjustments to layout and padding.

So, lots of great progress here, both on site functionality and on the new design. I think our international community will especially appreciate the more discoverable language picker.

As always, don’t hesitate to post to the dev-mdn list if you have concerns with the design.

 Posted by at 3:05 PM  Tagged with:
Oct 212013

It’s been many months since my last status report on the state of Kuma. There are many reasons for this; some technical, some personal. I’ll be trying to do this more regularly again going forward. Obviously, the big project is the redesign of MDN. Most of our fixes apply directly to that project right now.

Here’s a quick list of the things that landed in the last few days:

  • The new search results page has a big search box on it.
  • Menu font sizes have been improved on search results pages.
  • Fixed a bug that caused double vertical scroll bars to appear on zone landing pages with short content areas.
  • Use of the content space within the body of articles is improved.
  • Performance of the localization dashboard is improved.
  • Other improvements for the wiki and home page, including fixes for RTL and text overflow problems.
  • KumaScript warning messages now use preformatted styling for easier reading in the redesign.

Also, several internal fixes building up toward upcoming big features have been committed.

We should be getting the ability to delete and move pages very soon. The code is finished and committed; I’m trying to sort out why it’s not enabled yet so we can fix whatever remains to be done so it can be switched on, at least for a few people to test.

 Posted by at 5:25 PM  Tagged with:
Apr 082013

There’s been a great deal going on on the Kuma front of late. If you’re not already aware, Kuma is the Mozilla-built wiki platform that powers the Mozilla Developer Network (MDN) documentation. Today, I’m going to share a few tidbits about what the team is up to and what’s coming in the near future.

New Features

We have some new features! Let’s take a look!

  • You can now specify a maximum depth for tables of contents on individual pages. Say you have a page that has lots of repetitive sub-headings. You can keep those from exploding the length of the TOC now. Just open the “Edit Page Title and Properties” pane in the page’s editor, and you can now specify how deep the TOC should be allowed to get (or disable it entirely, as before).
  • You can now add a revision comment when saving new articles; this can be especially useful for people like me to note things like “just getting started, more to come,” for example.
  • Admins now have a “View in Admin Panel” option to look at a page in the Django admin panel; this gives us access to the option to delete a page, for example, saving precious time and hair-tearing-out.
  • Unused bits of data are no longer displayed in revision diffs and page history. We used to show some information that we inherited from SUMO but don’t actually use.
  • The page footer now includes a link users can follow if they’d like to contribute to the Kuma project.

Back-end Improvements

We’ve also done more work on improvements to the internals, structure, and so forth. This includes work on upcoming new features that aren’t exposed to users yet. Some of the more interesting ones:

  • Upgraded to Django 1.4.5.
  • Upgraded to jQuery 1.9.1.
  • The CSS for our custom fonts has been updated to allow the fonts to be cached locally instead of having to be re-downloaded all the time.
  • A number of bits of optimization work have been done to help improve page load times and the like.

Bugs Fixed

  • You can now use the title attribute on <div> blocks.
  • Several other minor bugs have been fixed.

As you can see, the team has been busy. Now that the bulk of the back-end work on the Elastic Search and Django upgrades has been finished, the team is moving on to other things (although the front-end work on ES is still ongoing). I hope to see some really good new stuff arrive soon.

Coming Soon

Work has begun on designing and hopefully soon implementing the notification system that will be used by our review queue as well as by page watchlists. Once we have that system, a lot of awesome new features will become possible, and we’re really excited to have that work underway!

Also, section editing is gradually making progress. I hope we’re in the home stretch on finally being able to edit individual sections instead of having to edit the entire page every time we want to make a simple tweak.

The guys are working hard, and I’m very proud to work with them! Thanks guys!

 Posted by at 11:14 AM  Tagged with:
Mar 192013

Let’s take a look at all the updates to the Kuma platform that powers MDN that have been installed since February 28th! There have been a number of changes, although most of the work our development team has been doing continues to be behind the scenes as they continue to build toward switching over from Google search to our new internal elastic search based system.

  • Long headings now indent when wrapping in tables of contents blocks.
  • New pages are now labeled as such in the Revision Dashboard.
  • Assorted CSS improvements.
  • Improvements to handling of the HTTP accept-language header.
  • Back-end work on implementing support for per-page configurable maximum table of contents depth. This isn’t finished yet, though.
  • More work on implementing section editing. This, too, is not yet finished.
  • Lots of code cleanup, Demo Studio bug fixes, and other things you probably won’t notice but are actually important.

Despite the mostly innocuous appearance of this list, there’s a lot going on, and big things are afoot.

On the writing side of things, we’ve got a lot going on. I should be posting some stuff soon. Keep an eye on this space!

 Posted by at 10:36 AM  Tagged with:
Mar 012013

It’s been two weeks since I last reviewed the recent changes to MDN’s Kuma platform. Let’s take a look at the more interesting improvements to the software since then!

  • Using the query ?summary on document URLs now returns just the summary of the page. If there’s content marked with the “SEO summary”, that content is returned. If there’s a section entitled “Summary”, that content is returned. Otherwise, all the text in the first block is returned.
  • The page summary is also available in the object returned by the wiki.getPage() KumaScript function.
  • Tables now default to the “standard-table” style, which is our preferred style, when created using the editor’s table editing interface.
  • The context menu when you right-click on links while in the editor now includes a “Launch” item, which lets you open the link. This is handy for reviewing content linked to in your article while you work.
  • Fonts and CSS files from Gaia’s user interface have been added so that they can be used from live samples in the Firefox OS and Gaia documentation.
  • Photoshop files may now be attached to articles; this is permitted in order to allow art resources for app templates and the like to be hosted on MDN.
  • A few bugs have been fixed here and there.
  • More code has landed as our team continues to work on integrating elastic search, which will eventually replace Google search on MDN, and will also eventually be used to implement other features.

Another round of nice little fixes. The summary stuff in particular is exciting to me, because we can use this to automatically generate landing pages. For example, the Firefox OS user experience guide’s “Building Blocks” documentation’s landing page makes use of this capability.

Obviously, all the hard work going on to build up the code for the switch to elastic search is keeping the guys busy. In addition, work is being done to prepare to upgrade from the version of the Django framework we currently use to version 1.4.2. I think they’re getting close to ready to roll that upgrade out. I don’t know what wins we get with that, but I know the team is looking forward to having it done.

 Posted by at 10:53 AM  Tagged with: