denise: Image: Me, facing away from camera, on top of the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome (Default)
Denise ([staff profile] denise) wrote in [site community profile] dw_news2010-12-24 07:05 pm

Weekly update: 24 December

Oh God, Dreamwidth, I do not even want to tell you what the last two weeks have consisted of in terms of moving. Much less in terms of internet access, the finding of. (I'll summarize: Our internet is not being installed for at least another week. And the cell phone company sold me the wrong wireless access point at first. And ... you get the picture. I'll save you the whining.)

But I am back now, or at least back long enough to write an update. (I've had to save the few minutes of access I've been able to get here and there for handling things like payment problems, etc, and it is nearly impossible to put together an update on the iPad.) So, onward to the summary of what's been going on lately while I was languishing in the depths of internetless moving hell.

...And then I have to deal with my email.

Behind the cut:

* Development
* December Promotion
* New Mailing Address
* Data Migration
* Design (and redesign)
* Project News
* Sad Project News
* Invite Code Distribution


The code tour for the past two weeks was done by [personal profile] azurelunatic (warning: do not read while hungry; I made that mistake!) In addition to a great deal of backend cleanup and code modernization, we also have things like CSS updates to improve the way things display on the site, some usability tweaks (like the ability to add an interest that doesn't yet exist straight from the error message that tells you nobody has the interest; improvements to finding the "display crosspost link" setting; alphabetizing the "also access to" list on the profile'; and better error messages in a few cases), extending the "track all comments in community" to non-members if the community is a premium paid or seed
account (previously it was only available to members -- this will primarily be useful for the official DW communities, which are seed accounts by policy, but we extended it to premium paid/seed accounts rather than create a new, special "official community" class); and a bunch of new themes, one new layout, and some improvements to the style backend language.

None of these improvements are live yet, but we do hope to get at least one more code push in before the end of the year. As always, keep an eye on [site community profile] dw_maintenance for details.

December Promotion

Just a reminder, the December holiday promotion continues running until 31 December. Get a 10% bonus on all orders in the DW shop.

And, if you're looking for friends to send DW gifts to, the Circle Gifts page has a list of people who might benefit from paid DW time!

New Mailing Address

As part of the move, DW has a new mailing address! If you've sent something in the past week or so, don't worry, the post office is (allegedly) forwarding mail. (One person had their envelope returned, but several other things have been forwarded, so I don't know, man.)

The new mailing address is:

Dreamwidth Studios
PO Box 39608
Baltimore, MD 21212

We will be checking said PO box at least two or three times a week, and we will be adding a system that notifies us when someone checks out a cart using check/money order as the payment type, but for the next few weeks or so, if you've got a time-sensitive check/money order order (ie, something that is being sent in as a gift, or an order placed close to your account expiration time), it might be a good idea to drop us a support request in the Account Payments category, or email, to let us know that we should check the PO box more often.

(If you pay by check/money order and forget to renew your account in time for the mail to get here before your account expires, just drop us a line to let us know. We're happy to extend you a few days of comp time to tide you over and keep you from having to use a free account while your payment winds its way through the mail. And this offer doesn't just apply for the next few weeks -- we're always willing to do it for anybody who needs it, even if you usually pay by credit card. Up to a week of comp time to get you through to payday or whatever is always doable, and we're happy to do it for our loyal supporters.)

Data Migration

A while back, we had to temporarily disable icon keyword renames for people while we moved to a new method of storing keyword data in order to keep the site from falling down and going boom. Since then, we've been slowly converting accounts to the new data structure (and re-enabling keyword renames for those who had been migrated) over time, at periods of low site usage.

This project is now complete, and everyone should be able to rename icon keywords again. From this point on, if you have any problems renaming icon keywords, you should open a support request so we can troubleshoot!

Design (and redesign)

* [personal profile] fu and [personal profile] hope have been putting their heads together and working on some usability redesigns of existing pages, in addition to the redesign of the update page that we've been workshopping with you guys. (More about that in a moment!) The next workflow to get the usability redesign treatment will be the Manage Circle page. You can see the initial draft page: HTML mockup for manage/circle/edit page in [site community profile] dw_design.

* [personal profile] fu has also been working on an epic project to clean up and standardize the site's CSS classes on site-skinned pages (the ones that have the DW logo on them that appear in whatever site layout you've chosen). The idea behind this is that standardizing the CSS classes will mean a faster-loading site, more consistency in how the site displays, and better flexibility for designers and for people working on usability and user-experience improvement.

With this project, ideally you won't notice many things changing, since the goal is to standardize over time without doing major changes. You may notice one or two things looking a little different, though. If you want to help out with the project, or at the very least see what things might look like in your favorite site skin (and spot any potential issues), check out the List of Classes post, which includes links to sample pages using all of our site skins and all of the major required elements.

* In general, keep an eye on [site community profile] dw_design for discussions on site usability and redesign. (It probably should be called dw_userexperience or dw_userinterface, but that's too tedious to type.) Usability and user experience is awfully important to us, and we've got a lot of things we want to improve over the next few years. It's going to take a while to get things to the point where we're 100% satisfied with them, and it's going to involve a lot of back and forth with you guys to make sure that we do things that are genuinely helpful and not rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

We're always looking for more input from you guys. All major redesigns will go through fact-finding (what you guys use the page for, and how you'd like for it to behave) and at least one round of "here's a mockup; tell us what you love and what you hate about it", and we'll link all the major posts in a weekly news update, but [site community profile] dw_design is where the nuts and bolts get discussed and the early versions get kicked around.

* Also, absolutely anyone can get involved in a redesign project. If there's something on the site that you hate, and think you have an awesome way to fix or improve the user experience, make a mockup and post to [site community profile] dw_design about it! You don't need any kind of official sanction or blessing -- everyone has official sanction and blessing to come up with a potentially better way of doing stuff.

Project News

* Going back to the previous point for a few minutes, the update page redesign (last publicly seen in the September 1 news post) has reached a point where we're pretty confident that our current design will work for 95% of people (and at least avoid actively pissing off the remaining 5%!) This means that the version of the update page in that news post is the current working draft -- there'll continue to be minor improvements as we've been moving into actually implementing it as a functional change and not just as a mockup.

* This means that we've moved on to doing the backend work for the reason we redesigned the update page -- adding support for draft and scheduled posts. This will be our next "major" feature added: you'll be able to save entries that you're working on (on DW itself, rather than the current in-browser draft support that breaks down an awful lot), you'll be able to write entries and schedule them to be posted sometime in the future (great for keeping up journal coverage while you're on vacation), and you'll be able to set specific entries to repeat at a defined interval (which will be a godsend for things like my weekly scheduled "pride thread", where every Monday we celebrate things that we accomplished the past week, or for people or communities who do things like host a discussion of a particular TV show after each episode airs).

This is a vast undertaking, as you might imagine, and [personal profile] fu, who's the point person on this, has been working on it alongside the rest of her regular duties. But the project's still active, and we do hope to have a 'first draft' ready sometime in the next few months, then revise it based on your feedback once you see it working.

* Photo/image hosting is still in the works! We've got the first draft of the backend sketched in, and are working on frontend and figuring out what the user management should work like. We'll give you a closer ETA as soon as we have one, but I'm hoping for sometime in Q2 of 2011 or so.

* Yahoo's past week's leak that they are sunsetting Delicious means that a bunch of people have asked us about our planned redesign of the Memories feature to allow people to bookmark content offsite in addition to onsite memories. (Not to mention the social features that Delicious does so well, and that people are the most upset about losing -- those social features are built into our spec for the ultimate goal of our redesign.) We haven't gotten much past the design and spec stage, but Yahoo's announcement means that we'll be moving this project up the priority list, in the hopes that we can have at least the basic version (importing bookmarks from a Delicious data file/bookmarking content anywhere on the internet and not just on DW) finished quickly enough to be of use if Yahoo can't find a buyer for Delicious.

Sad Project News

One of the things we've been trying to accomplish since the open beta launch is the ability to read your offsite friends page/reading lists from other LJ-based sites directly on Dreamwidth itself, along with things like locked posts (assuming you have the credentials to read them, of course). It's been a while since we've given you an update on that one, and there's a reason for that -- the project has had a bunch of setbacks. [staff profile] mark actually had working code, and could have committed it at any point in the past, oh, nine months ... except for some factors that meant the near-certainty that the minute we turned it on, LiveJournal will block our access to their servers.

We have been looking for a way to work around that problem -- rate-limiting our queries, further limiting who got access to the feature, even throwing out all the code Mark had written and starting again from scratch, but nothing we did could get around the fact that if we went ahead with the implementation, we'd be almost guaranteed to be blocked from accessing LJ entirely. That would mean not only no more cross-site reading list, but also no importing, no crossposting, and no syndicated feeds from LiveJournal. The past nine months or so have been full of a lot of behind-the-scenes brainstorming on how we could make things work, since we know how much people have been looking forward to the prospect, but nothing has worked and we've hit the bottom of the barrel on other things we can try.

It is with utmost reluctance that I have to announce that unless something changes drastically in the future, we aren't going to be able to offer the cross-site reading list feature after all. We'd rather keep importing, crossposting, and syndicated feeds (and not offer cross-site reading) than not be able to offer any interaction with LJ at all. We are all incredibly sorry about this -- we genuinely thought we'd be able to do it, but some factors changed after we first announced the project and no matter what we try, we can't work around them.

For those who are looking for something that will let you read offsite content that requires you to identify yourself in order to see locked data, our best suggestion is to download a desktop RSS feedreader that supports HTTP authentication. (I don't know of any online feedreader that will do it, but many desktop ones will.)

We are absolutely going to keep this problem in mind, and if the factors that are keeping us from being able to release this feature ever change, or if LJ implements a better way for their users to access their data through the LJ protocol, we will go back to it in a heartbeat.

Invite Code Distribution

It's been a little while since our last invite code distribution, so we sent out another batch of invite codes on Wednesday: 1 code each to people who had no unused invite codes, and 1 code each to people who have been active on the site in the past 30 days. (You therefore may have gotten two separate emails -- that's why; we had to do them separately to use the two separate criteria.)

You don't have to hold on to the email -- your invites are always available on the Invite Someone page linked in the header of each site skinned page.

And, as always, if you're moving a large group of people over to DW -- bringing over a community that formed elsewhere, starting a new group for your local friends, starting up a new RPG, teaching a class where writing or social networking is part of the curriculum, or something that we just haven't imagined yet -- please don't waste your time trying to scrounge up invites from all your friends. We are more than happy to give you enough to cover your intended use! Or, we can give you a "bulk" promo code that will let you create a number of accounts with a single code that you can hand out to people, instead of having to fuss around with all that. Just open a support request in the Account Payments department and let us know, and we'll work out what the best solution for your particular situation is.


I'm going to skip the community news and DW user craft/artisan/creative work showing off for this week, since this post is so long already (and I've been working on it forever) and I still have a ton of email to handle! As always, if you're having problems with Dreamwidth, Support can help you; for notices of site problems and downtime, check the Twitter status page; if you've got an idea to make the site better, you can make a suggestion.

We'll see you next week, in the hopes that perhaps we might actually be able to get back to a regular updating schedule again. If you celebrate Christmas, I hope it's a good one! (My parents are arriving at our new house first thing tomorrow. Urp.)
sharpest_asp: the DW logo 'D' surrounded by words (General: Dreamwidth)

[personal profile] sharpest_asp 2010-12-25 12:16 am (UTC)(link)
Sometimes projects just don't reach a workable stage. It was a nice, wonderful idea, but for now, I at least do understand.

moem: A computer drawing that looks like me. (Default)

[personal profile] moem 2010-12-25 10:46 am (UTC)(link)
It's a shame about the cross-reading, I was really looking forward to that. But if it won't work, then it won't work... and I'm glad to know that it's really been tried, and also that we're being informed.

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the_shoshanna: Dean Winchester is Not Happy. (is not happy)

[personal profile] the_shoshanna 2010-12-25 12:20 am (UTC)(link)
Sad Project News

Well, CRAP.

ETA: That may have sounded hostile, which I didn't mean! I mean, certainly I'd rather have crossposting and importing and etc. than not. But I was really really looking forward to never having to open another site again the cross-site reading list, and it's very disappointing to hear that it can't happen. And reading between the line, it sounds as though the difficulty is, well. Not technical, and not on your end. Hmph. Phooey.
Edited 2010-12-25 02:21 (UTC)
nanbungaku: (rookies_bff)

[personal profile] nanbungaku 2010-12-25 12:34 am (UTC)(link)
thanks again for the weekly update!
And Merry Xmas <333
rising: an icon of the cheshire cat, with the text "the cadre" in the bottom right corner in a terminal-ish font (the cadre: cheshire cat)

[personal profile] rising 2010-12-25 12:37 am (UTC)(link)
Quick suggestion for the create entries page, though I'll make a more thorough poking-at-Fu later.

On the customise, it offers full with entry field and option column along side, but it would be nice if it offered the ability to make the entry thing below the options to. Not by default, but as an option.
ironed_orchid: pin up girl reading kant (Default)

[personal profile] ironed_orchid 2010-12-25 12:46 am (UTC)(link)
We'd rather keep importing, crossposting, and syndicated feeds (and not offer cross-site reading) than not be able to offer any interaction with LJ at all.

I like this plan and think those features are far more worthy.
arethinn: thoughtful woman's face (thoughtful (woman and unicorn))

[personal profile] arethinn 2010-12-25 01:04 am (UTC)(link)

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[personal profile] unixronin 2010-12-25 12:47 am (UTC)(link)
Can't be helped. It always sounded like a difficult thing to accomplish unilaterally. Kudos for trying anyway. :)
pantswarrior: The characters of Vagrant Story don't understand pants. (Default)

[personal profile] pantswarrior 2010-12-25 12:52 am (UTC)(link)
This will be our next "major" feature added: you'll be able to save entries that you're working on (on DW itself, rather than the current in-browser draft support that breaks down an awful lot)

Didn't this feature already exist? While I was in Detroit over Halloween weekend, I started a post on my laptop, using a sports bar's wifi, then my battery died. When I got home to my desktop a day later, I pulled up the DW update page, it gave me the option to restore from a saved draft, and there was my unfinished post that I'd started on a different computer in a different city on a different connection. Unless it's the scheduled posts that you were referring to as the next feature...

And after having heard an explanation of how the cross-site reading would have to work, I can totally understand why it was becoming less and less likely to happen. Maybe there'll be a breakthrough sometime. If not, ah well - I like it here anyway. ;)
jumpuphigh: Pigeon with text "jumpuphigh" (Default)

[personal profile] jumpuphigh 2010-12-25 03:50 am (UTC)(link)
The "restore from a saved draft" is the in-browser draft support. This new draft system will be an active save draft option where you can save a draft to work on later and meanwhile, still make new posts. You'll also, iirc, be able to have multiple drafts in the works.

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[personal profile] chris 2010-12-25 12:55 am (UTC)(link)
The cross-site reading facility is/was a killer app of the DW project and may still be. While there is much to be said for not letting it hang on, and I do appreciate the willingness to declare "looks like it's impossible for now" as opposed to letting things hang, is there any sense in the concept of enabling the functionality for sites that use (versions of) the LJ codebase except LiveJournal itself, or have owners of other sites that use (versions of) the LJ codebase indicated that they would be likely to react as poorly as the LiveJournal management? Not quite sure how popular the other sites using (versions of) the LJ codebase still are, but there must be more than zero people who would stand to gain for it.

Warmest thoughts to you all, house-move-wise and otherwise!
stewardess: (Default)

[personal profile] stewardess 2010-12-25 05:18 am (UTC)(link)
Good question. I'm wondering about Insanejournal, for instance.

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bell: a dreamwidth sheep with a psychadelic background and the text "dreaming in color" (dw sheep)

[personal profile] bell 2010-12-25 01:06 am (UTC)(link)
I appreciate the project updates! ♥ Pity that cross-site reader didn't work out, but I'm really looking forward to the other features in development (new update page, posting images, and improving the Memories section). :D

I hope your internet behave soon!
Edited 2010-12-25 01:28 (UTC)
erika: (buddhism: lotus flower)

[personal profile] erika 2010-12-25 01:37 am (UTC)(link)
I know this is pie in the sky type stuff, but is there any way a DW clone of Semagic could be made?

If this isn't the appropriate venue to direct this wish towards, please let me know!
elialshadowpine: (Default)

[personal profile] elialshadowpine 2010-12-25 01:40 am (UTC)(link)
Semagic actually will work with DW! It just has to be configured correctly. I can look up the how-to I found if you like.

The one thing it won't do is cross-post, unfortunately, which means it's not really optional for me, since I still have a bunch of people back on LJ. :-\

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tree: text: all i want for christmas is everyone using correct grammar ([seasonal] i don't even celebrate this)

[personal profile] tree 2010-12-25 02:31 am (UTC)(link)
so sorry to hear about your technical and moving woes. and thanks for reminding me i want to give you monies!
Edited (what? i can spell.) 2010-12-25 02:32 (UTC)
chironstar: (Default)

[personal profile] chironstar 2010-12-25 02:48 am (UTC)(link)
Thanks for the hard work and thanks for the invite code! :D

Merry Christmas to you and your team! :)
vanessagalore: (Default)

[personal profile] vanessagalore 2010-12-25 02:53 am (UTC)(link)
As always, thanks for the keeping us all in the loop. I think you are making the right decisions as regards to reading locked lj entries. It's not that I don't go over there, because I do...but this is my home now, and the features you mentioned are essential to DW's longevity.

Scheduled updates cannot come fast enough for me.
bookfanatic: Image: white spider over desert landscape, Source: cover of My Chemical Romance's album Danger Days (Default)

[personal profile] bookfanatic 2010-12-25 05:01 am (UTC)(link)
I've wanted to use Delicious for my fannish bookmarks for a while (surely my obsessive organization could be useful to more than just me), but two things kept it from being useful:

(1) I can't just import some of my bookmarks. I have all of my fannish bookmarks in one folder, but Delicious only lets me import all of my bookmarks or none of my bookmarks.
(2) Tags can only be one word. Since most of my tags follow the format "Fandom: xxx" and "Relationship: xxx/xxx," this makes Delicious useless.
chaosraven: Chopper (Default)

[personal profile] chaosraven 2010-12-25 06:17 am (UTC)(link)
If you just take out the spaces it works okay. My tags are formatted fandom:Sherlock or pairing:Sherlock/John for example, and it does remember caps for somewhat better readability.

Not to say that will make it an ideal option for you, but some of the annoying problems can be worked around. No idea for importing, though. ;_;

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[personal profile] yourlibrarian 2010-12-25 05:02 am (UTC)(link)
I know many people were looking forward to being able to read LJ lists here, but for me the other features are far more important. I have a community there (which I'd love to be able to mirror here) and since I read and comment there anyway, there's no point to not logging in there as well.
john: Various candles, in multicoloured jars, under trees in the evening (nz:fiords!)

[personal profile] john 2010-12-25 05:16 am (UTC)(link)
A veery meery Chrustmus frum Wullingtun, Nyoo Zillund! <3
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[personal profile] holyschist 2010-12-25 05:31 am (UTC)(link)
Scheduled/draft posts! *bounces up and down*

There was a time when I thought cross-site reading would be DW's killer app, and a time when I desperately wanted it, but I'm sorry it's not going to work out for the foreseeable future, but I think DW as a platform will do fine without it.

[personal profile] greyyguy 2010-12-25 06:22 am (UTC)(link)
Unfortunately I can completely understand LJ's side of it.

Their posting is going down, and the big thing holding people to Livejournal is the fact that everyone already has their friends there. Now if that content was allowed to be shared on other sites, they lose the benefit of their large network effect. I can see how they would bring up security and server load issues, but those can be handled. The business issue cannot be fixed as easily.

That said, you might be able to bully them into it. Update the code to only work with a list of sites that have approved its use. You won't get LJ but you will get other sites, and if it gets updated to include secured posts from other sources non-LJ based sites, then the website itself starts to not matter. Instead of which site people are on, it becomes if the person is on a site that shares or not. And people do seem to migrate towards sites that share.
sophie: A cartoon-like representation of a girl standing on a hill, with brown hair, blue eyes, a flowery top, and blue skirt. ☀ (Default)

[personal profile] sophie 2010-12-25 10:04 am (UTC)(link)

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[personal profile] lanterne_rouee 2010-12-25 06:53 am (UTC)(link)
i'm still looking forward to the drafts and the photo hosting!

happy holidays! :)
kellzilla: open books piled on each other, stacks of books behind, wall of books out of focus in the background; text "read more" (Default)

[personal profile] kellzilla 2010-12-25 07:43 am (UTC)(link)
and are working on frontend and figuring out what the user management should work like.


CAVEAT: For the love of Pete, please make it less obtuse and user-unfriendly than LJ Scrapbook. I really cannot stand using that. Navigation around that place is a headache.
lethe1: (dw: newbie dreamsheep)

[personal profile] lethe1 2010-12-25 10:51 am (UTC)(link)

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[personal profile] oconel 2010-12-25 08:21 am (UTC)(link)
I don't know of any online feedreader that will do it, but many desktop ones will
iGoogle does it, It reads the mobile version of LJ so you can see protected entries.
sophie: A cartoon-like representation of a girl standing on a hill, with brown hair, blue eyes, a flowery top, and blue skirt. ☀ (Default)

[personal profile] sophie 2010-12-25 10:11 am (UTC)(link)
We are absolutely going to keep this problem in mind, and if the factors that are keeping us from being able to release this feature ever change, or if LJ implements a better way for their users to access their data through the LJ protocol, we will go back to it in a heartbeat.

(emphasis mine)

Although LJ might not implement it for obvious reasons, and we probably can't really do the original plan for LJ clones either, could we design this better protocol ourselves, so that we could offer this feature between Dreamwidth clones, or any site that wanted to implement it?

Do you think that'd be possible?

(Edit: There is a problem with this idea; namely, some people will feel uneasy with a site that actively works to allow the downloading of posts in a bandwidth-resourceful manner like that which could be used by other sites without a way to opt-out - which kind of defeats the point of this. Not blaming those people for feeling that way - just pointing out a potential flaw in the plan.)
Edited 2010-12-25 10:18 (UTC)

[personal profile] feathertail 2010-12-25 11:44 am (UTC)(link)
I should've read your comment before posting mine. It's late, that's my excuse.

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[personal profile] feathertail 2010-12-25 11:42 am (UTC)(link)
Question ... is there any way that cross-site reading lists could be built into the.Dreamwidth code in such a way that they'd work between different sites running it? Because even if we write off LiveJournal as a lost cause, if we're trying to be open and interoperable here that's kind of essential to it.

LJ Cross-posting and reading

[personal profile] babysprite 2010-12-25 04:59 pm (UTC)(link)

I'm not posting anything to LJ, anymore or keeping a paid account with them. I log in to LJ separately to keep in touch with friends who are not on DW.

Yours from the ba$h shell, Robert.

[personal profile] merlinpendragon 2010-12-25 05:41 pm (UTC)(link)
Denise - your internet problems sound like the classic effects of a Mercury Retrograde (which is happening now). I've been seeing posts by people I'm friends with for the last week that indicate the effects are very widespread and general this time around. Hope you get through it alright.

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