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Denise ([staff profile] denise) wrote in [site community profile] dw_news2011-06-10 02:28 am

Dreamwidth Update: 10 June 2011

Hello, Dreamwidth! I hope that those of you here in North America who are experiencing the same heat wave that Dreamwidth HQ is experiencing have managed to figure out ways to stay cool enough. (It's been brutal. Thank goodness the shipping company finally managed to find our last air conditioner that they'd lost in transit.) And, for those of you in the southern hemisphere -- anybody want a house guest to come join you for the winter months? Really, all I need is a couch to sleep on and internet access...

*ahem* Okay, really, being serious now. Behind the cut, we will find:

* Development
* Code Push
* New Update Page
* Deleted Account Purging
* Feature Tour: Importing
* Themes, Themes, Themes


This fortnight in development was a quiet one, since [personal profile] fu's been working on a special project, but here's this update's code tour:

Code Tour: 26 May - 9 June

Special thanks goes to [personal profile] aedifica for her very first code tour, and a fine code tour it was, too!

If you're ever interested in being a code tour host, keep an eye out for the weekly or biweekly calls-to-volunteer in [site community profile] dw_volunteers. You don't need to be a super elite programmer to do it: there are always people who stand ready to help explain anything that you don't understand. The role of the code tour host is to go through the week's Bugzilla tickets and summarize them for everybody else, in "plain English", and I really, really love hearing from different people for each tour, because part of what is awesome about DW is how everybody who works or volunteers here gets to share things with everybody else in their own voice and with their own spin on things.

DW is a better place when we have a wide, diverse range of people contributing, and doing a code tour is a great way to have a hand in helping your fellow DW users to understand the awesome range of awesomeness we are working on. You don't need to have any special qualifications, or be an existing DW volunteer -- all you need is to read the list of bugs that were resolved that week, puzzle out what the change is and what it does, ask somebody if you aren't sure, and then write up each bug in a quick paragraph summary for everyone who's going to be reading it. (You even get the list of bugs in a pre-formatted, easily cut-and-pasteable format!) It's a great introduction to DW volunteering, and all you have to do is leave a comment on the [site community profile] dw_volunteers entry when I'm looking for somebody to host the tour.

Code Push

None of the changes in the code tour are yet live on the actual site, but we're planning a code push (syncing the code on itself with the development code we've been working on and making the new changes available) sometime this week! Keep an eye on [site community profile] dw_maintenance for further details.

This code push will cover the following code tours:

19 May - 25 May
26 May - 9 June

Most of the changes are either backend/optimization changes, or new themes. (We've got a theme bonanza coming up. Seriously. [personal profile] ninetydegrees has been working her tail off to get submissions to [site community profile] dreamscapes converted, committed, and on the site for everyone to use.) You probably won't notice most of the stuff in the code push, other than the themes, but one new user-facing change is that after the push, you'll be able to refer to users on Tumblr with the <user name> tag: <user name=username> will link to username's Tumblr account. (It won't work yet, but it will after the code push!)

New Update Page

We've had a bunch of people ask us lately about the new draft Update Journal page that we were showing off in demo form late last year. Rest assured, we haven't forgotten about it: [personal profile] fu has been working hard on it, alongside her other regular duties. The reason it's been taking so long is that she's needed to do a lot of backend work in order to make it possible. (It's kind of like the equivalent of having to raise the sheep, shear the sheep, card the fleece into roving, spin the roving into yarn, and then dye the yarn before you can knit a sweater.)

Still, we are nearing the point where we'll be able to release the first iteration of the new update page soon. We will likely release it to the Beta Features group first, in order to prevent the problem where that one show-stopping bug that didn't manifest in any of our testing shows up the minute we push things live...

Because it's impossible for us to maintain two versions of the code, this change will not be opt-out: the new update page will be the only update page available. The changes are necessary in order to modernize our user interface, bring our update page into alignment with the types of things that other services offer (in order to be competitive in the blogging/journaling market), and make it possible for us to offer draft/scheduled posts as our next major feature in the future. (The existing update page simply couldn't have been extended to make draft and schedule posts work without being horribly unusable!)

In order to prevent major problems with the design of the page, we ran the design through three public "demo versions" last year, taking everyone's feedback into account after each demo, and what we've come up with is pretty awesomely incredible. Major thanks to [personal profile] hope, who did an incredible amount of work on the user interface design, and to [personal profile] fu, who's been busting her ass to make it possible.

We'll keep you updated on the progress, but I'm so excited for this, you have no idea.

Deleted Account Purging

People have also asked us about the "purge deleted users" function, and why it is that deleted accounts stay in the "deleted" state, without being totally removed from the servers, for a long time past the 30 days mentioned in the FAQs and in the "this journal has been deleted" message. The answer is, the script that actually removes those accounts from the service places a heavy load on the database, and can cause disk-fragmentation problems if it's run too often (which slows down the service for everyone). Because of this, we tend to only run it once or twice a year.

We did realize it's been a while since the last time we did it, though, and we'll be starting the script up sometime this upcoming week, working slowly over time. If there's a particular username you've had your eye on, and the account is in the 'deleted' status, you can sign up to be notified when the account is purged. Just go to the Track This User page, replace 'username' in the address bar with the username of the journal you want to be notified about, and tick the "has been purged" notification.

Once an account has been deleted and purged, the username is freed up for you to use a rename token to change your username to that username. (You can't register the username from scratch, because while purging a journal does remove the entries in the journal, it doesn't remove the comments that were made by that journal, and the rename process is necessary to move those old comments to a new username.)

Meanwhile, if you've had a journal that you set to 'deleted' status in order to take a brief DW break, it's a good idea to undelete the journal temporarily right now, even if you don't think it's been 30 days since you set it to 'deleted' -- I know that some people rely on the fact that we don't run the deleted-account-purging script regularly, which is why we wanted to give you guys a heads up. We really don't recommend that people use deletion as a temporary way to take a break from DW, for that very reason; it's easy to lose track of time! We do have a bug open to add a "vacation mode" for journals, so people can take a break without having to risk deletion -- we just haven't gotten a chance to add it yet. In the meantime, if you have a journal temporarily deleted to give you an internet break, it really is a good idea to undelete it now, just to make sure.

Feature Tour: Importing

We've had a lot of new people join us in the past few months -- welcome, guys! -- and I wanted to start a series of semi-regular "feature tours" of things we've added that you might not be familiar with! Consider this a reminder of all the nifty things that Dreamwidth can do.

Did you know, for instance, that you can import your entries from LiveJournal or InsaneJournal into your Dreamwidth account? Go to the Import Journal page -- you'll find it under the "Organize" tab of the CORES menu on every site-schemed page (except in the Lynx/Light Mode scheme) -- and enter your username and password for the other service. (If you're uncomfortable with doing this, we recommend that you change your password on the other site both before and after you use the importer. We don't use the information for anything other than importing your journal -- it's covered by our Privacy Policy -- but we don't want anybody to do something they're not comfortable with. We hate that we even have to ask for your password, but it's the only way that Dreamwidth can authenticate to the remote site as someone authorized to retrieve your content.)

You can choose to import your entries, entries + comments on those entries (and the commenters will still have control of their comment if they log into Dreamwidth using their OpenID account), icons (although if you have more icons on the remote site than you have icon slots available on Dreamwidth, only your default icon will be imported), your "friends" list (imported as OpenID accounts, so people will be able to log into DW and still have access to your posts), your tags, and your profile bio.

Meanwhile, if you've previously imported your content, you can import again and not have to worry about duplicates: the importer will only fetch posts or comments that haven't been imported already. And if you've been using the crossposter to crosspost entries to the remote site, you also don't have to worry about duplicates; the importer will recognize that those entries were crossposted, and instead of duplicating the entries, it won't import them at all. (If you choose to import comments, it will just assign the comments from that entry to the entry on Dreamwidth that was originally crossposted.)

Imported entries will be posted to your journal with the "date out of order" option checked. This will prevent you from accidentally spamming your friends' reading lists with the two thousand entries you just brought over. So, go ahead and bring all your old stuff over. Even if it feels like the equivalent of the giant trunk full of notebooks from when I was 15 that I've been moving around with me for the past 20 years, full of my epic Tragic Emo Goth Poetry, we want you to be able to bring all your stuff with you when you move in.

Future improvements will include being able to import (certain types of) communities from other sites, being able to specify a date range to import from (so you can leave the truly embarrassing old stuff behind you -- or, conversely, only bring the old stuff with you!), and being able to import from non-LJ based sites like Wordpress, Tumblr, and TypePad. Keep an eye out in future [site community profile] dw_news announcements for improvements to the feature.

Themes, Themes, Themes

I mentioned earlier that the styles team (and especially [personal profile] ninetydegrees) has been doing an epic amount of work to bring you new themes to make your journal pretty!

If it's been a while since the last time you looked, check out the available styles and themes. You can check out all the featured themes, which are chosen from our newest themes, or all of the base layouts (each of which has tons of themes available -- just click the style name and see all the choices!), or -- for the truly brave with the reliable internet connections -- browse through all the themes and styles available -- over 400 at last count!

We've got styles that range from the complex to the simple, from the designed-for-accessibility to the bare-bones, designed-for-people-to-style. Got a favorite theme or style that you absolutely love and think more people should know about? Post a link to it, the thumbnail image, or the name of the theme in the comments. I love seeing what everybody finds "pretty", and I love seeing the wide range of preferences people display!

And, if you're using a custom theme that was made for DW and posted somewhere in a DW layout community, give the link in the comments. Some of the most awesome themes out there were made by unofficial layout comms, and I love seeing those, too.


That's it from us for another two weeks! 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 in two weeks (hopefully) for our next update. Meanwhile, [personal profile] fu is taking an actual vacation, so please join me in wishing her a pleasant one -- and tell her not to work through her whole vacation! (Maybe if a bunch of us say it, she'll believe us ...)

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