Accessibility, Design & Technology Committee Update May 2011

AD&T has been a little bit quiet for a while, as quite a few members of the committee have had a busy and/or turbulent couple of months. However, we’ve still been working away, and there is some exciting stuff on the horizon!


The AO3 is growing!

We’ve seen a massive expansion in user numbers over the last couple of months – 1,394 new accounts were created during April (up from 897 in March), and at peak times we had over 1000 new works being posted each day! We’re really happy to see more fans joining the Archive – and we’re thrilled that our shiny new servers are keeping up with all this work! We welcome readers as well as creators – if you’ve been wondering what the AO3 has to offer you, check out our recent post on Cool account features on the AO3: the readers’ edition!.

Retiring OpenID

When we launched the Archive, we offered an OpenID option as an alternative to using a password. For various reasons, this isn’t working out too well for us, and we’re planning to retire OpenID account logins. If you want to know, check out our post on the future of OpenID on the AO3.

Prompt memes coming soon

This is a project that coder Cesy has been working on for a while, and we’re super excited to see it coming to fruition! The new feature will make it possible to run a prompt-based challenge on the AO3! It includes anon options so that it’s possible to run kink memes and other similar challenges – no more combing through multiple comment levels to keep track of your favourite prompt fills! More news coming soon.

Dark Agenda and new tag options

We’ve been discussing some other enhancements to our challenge feature with the mods of the Dark Agenda challenge. As part of this discussion, we’ve been brainstorming ways to offer more functionality on tags, so that it’s possible for challenge owners (and other archive users) to create groups of tags for a specific purpose, e.g. to make a list of all fandoms which include chromatic characters. We think we’ve come up with a design which will give users more flexibility and take some of the load off our hardworking tag wranglers! \0/

Trial of Subscriptions RSS!

Since launching the first part of our subscriptions feature, we’ve had lots of requests for subscriptions via RSS. We’re pretty keen on this idea ourselves, and in our next deploy we’ll be trialing the feature by creating an RSS feed for works posted in the ‘F/F’ category – we’ve picked this because there is a steady stream of works posted each week under ‘F/F’, but not so many that we risk melting the Archive (at least, so we hope!). If all goes well, we’ll roll out more tag subscriptions in the future.

Expansion of valid CSS for skins

When we first put out our skins, we erred on the side of caution and as a result, our parser didn’t let through a lot of valid CSS. The parser will be updated in the next deploy, after which you should be able to use many more CSS features.

We’re all going on a bug hunt!

AD&T member Ana is delving into the thickets of our current Support requests to identify some of the most problematic and recurrent bugs showing up for our users. He’ll be compiling a ‘hitlist’ for coders to help them prioritise bugfixes. The good news is that so far, it looks as though the work we need to do to fix our more annoying bugs will also help us prepare for some of our new features. For example, we need to refactor the code that deals with posting new works in order to offer our planned new options for multimedia works, but this will also help us get to the bottom of the bug some users have reported with posting new chapters. Some bugs are trickier than others to squash, however, so we thank users for their patience while we work!

Next deploy

We interrupted our monthly posting schedule because so many of our team have needed to take a hiatus over the last month or so. The next deploy is scheduled for the end of May, and will include the new prompt code, the trial version of RSS subscriptions, and fixes for some of our more annoying bugs.

News from our sister and sub-committees

  • Coders have settled into using our new version management system, Git, and have been working on a whole range of issues. There’s been some great work on Cucumber tests – essential to the overall health of the site – and Enigel has taken up her trusty sword and plunged into the javascript thickets to deal with some of our bugs and continue our transition to jQuery! We’re also debating the pros and cons of using some new coding tools: HAML, SASS andd Coffeescript (readers who have experience of these, let us know your thoughts!).
  • Testers have had a quietish period, as we hadn’t deployed any new code to our Test Archive for a while. We’ve now started work on the next deploy, so the team is getting stuck into work again. We’ve also welcomed two new testers: velocitygrass and Zebra.
  • Support Committee have been working incredibly hard trying to keep up with the deluge of work. Lots of new users means lots more support tickets, so turnaround is slower than usual, but the team is doing an amazing job working through it all. If you’re interested in joining Support, volunteers are always welcome!
  • The Tag Wrangling Committee and their team of trusty wranglers have been working hard as always, keeping the tags ordered and useful for everyone. The TW Committee have been discussing the idea of the new tag sets options with AD&T. Wranglers have also been working closely with Support to address user questions on tags and fix the odd snag.

If there are things you’d like to do or say, please share them in comments, via the AO3 support and feedback form, by volunteering, or in whatever medium you feel comfortable with. Everyone is welcome to this party!

Mirrored from an original post on the Archive of Our Own.

Archive of Our Own

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