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Denise ([staff profile] denise) wrote in [site community profile] dw_news2011-12-16 03:50 am

Dreamwidth Update: 16 December

Hello, Dreamwidth! This news post is full of a lot of exciting things, so I will dive straight in.

Behind the cut:

* Development news
* New Create Entries beta
* New themes and styles
* Also new in the last code push
* Open account creation
* Reminder: holiday promotion
* Possible import/crosspost problems
* Deleted accounts purged
* The Ada Initiative
* Version 2.0

Development news

Code tours for the bugs that have been resolved since the last update:

21 Oct - 31 Oct
1 Nov - 11 Nov
11 Nov - 21 Nov
21 Nov - 3 Dec
3 Dec - 7 Dec

All of those above changes are now live on the site and available for use, so if you see something interesting, you won't have to wait for it.

Welcome-back this week to [personal profile] kaisa, [personal profile] laitaine, and [personal profile] yvi, who return to us after a break from DW development!

I'll get into some more of the awesome changes included in this last code push in a minute, but first I wanted to talk about the ...

New Create Entries beta

It's been a long, hard road -- you would not believe what we had to do on the backend in order to make this work! -- but the first draft of our new Create Entries workflow is now in beta testing. If you're interested in participating in the beta test, visit the Beta Features page, and the second of the two beta testing opportunities is for the new Create Entries page. (The first is for the new-style Javascript behavior -- we've been working on modernizing all the JS across the site to run faster, better, cleaner, and more adaptably.)

Not everything is finished yet -- among the things not yet available are the "don't autoformat entry" option, the rich text editor, editing existing entries in the new workflow, and the saving of draft posts of any type -- but this beta is an opportunity to spot not only bugs but workflow, usability, and accessibility problems.

I personally turned on the new version the second it was live and I've been loving it -- [personal profile] fu and [personal profile] hope did an amazing job taking my original crappy pencil sketches with lots of handwaving and turning them, with your feedback, into something that Just Works. It's also amazingly customizable: if you hit the Edit entry form settings image, the page will enter "settings mode" and let you collapse, move, and remove any pane you don't use regularly (or put back something you got rid of and now you miss).

There are still some bugs we're uncovering -- no matter how well you test, having tens of thousands of people using something will always turn up something you don't find in testing -- so if you spot something weird, report it on the bug reporting post in [site community profile] dw_beta. We especially want to hear from anybody who has accessibility problems with the new workflow.

Massive, massive thanks go to everybody who's offered feedback on the changes so far. This whole process may have been relatively painful on the technical end, but it's been a delight to go through on the user-facing end, and y'all and your smart, productive, constructive feedback are a major, major reason why.

New themes

The last two code pushes included a massive number of new themes for customizing your journal -- 160 in total, spread out over 17 different styles. If you've been looking for a new look for your journal, why not try browsing through the featured styles and see if any of them strike your fancy?

There are also three relatively-new styles: Crisped, Dusty Foot, and Five AM. Check them out!

Also new in the last code push

Since our last code push, we've had a collection of interesting bugs resolved. A large number were to fix problems with the Create Entries beta (or the new-JS-on-journals beta), or backend things you wouldn't notice (go on, ask [personal profile] kareila about moving around all of our perl modules; I think she'll still be twitching about it in another six months), but there's still a whole host of things that you should find interesting. The full details are in the code tours, but if you're curious, some of the big ones:


* Polls with more than 90 checkboxes in a single poll question weren't recording votes properly. This is now fixed.

* The display settings for when to show image placeholders for images of unknown size were accidentally switched around, so that never meant always and always meant never. This is now fixed.

* If you had a lot (like, thousands) of multilevel tags (of the "category: specific" form), the display of those tags was timing out in some cases when viewing your journal or your tags page. We've optimized the code to display the tags so they won't time out anymore.

* If an entry had over 10 pages of comments, the box that displays the number of pages was behaving weirdly in some browsers, which has been driving me nuts for like, two years now and which I never got around to filing a bug for. Fortunately someone else (namely [personal profile] ninetydegrees) noticed and patched it :)

* When you created a new community, it was accidentally being left out of your Default reading filter if you'd created one. This is now fixed!


* You will no longer receive a success notice for every crosspost you make by default; you'll only be notified in your Inbox if an attempt fails. You can still go to the notifications setting page and choose to receive success notices if you want, though!

* On the interests search page, you can now specify up to three interests to search for at a time. This is an AND search, not an OR search -- if you want to find people who are interested in knitting, cats, and textual deconstruction of Japanese RPGs, you can do it now. (And then introduce me to them, because I think we'd probably get along.)

* A massive new update to the external sites you can use in the <user name=foo site=bar> tag: now you can also refer to people on Blogspot (, Delicious (, DeviantArt (, LastFM (, Ravelry (, Wordpress (, and Plurk ( and have the tag pull the correct userhead icon.

* The option for setting who could send you a private message was on the Manage Profile page, which only made sense if you thought of it as a contact method and not as a privacy-related setting. Since it was clear that most people thought of it as a privacy setting, it's now on the Privacy tab of the Manage Settings page.

* Poll enhancement: you can now not only view how everyone answered an individual poll question, but also view how each individual person answered all of the questions in the poll. Hopefully this will make things easier for people using DW to conduct surveys!

* Another poll enhancement: if you use the scale question type in a poll, you can now add labels to the high end and low end of the scale, so people don't have to stare at the question and think "okay, does 1 mean I agree completely or I disagree completely?"

Honorable Mention

In the "things you will hopefully never notice but oh my god, so much work" department, we totally have to say a thank you to [personal profile] kareila for all her work on reorganizing the backend code so things are where you'd expect them to be (instead of where they got put randomly over the years) and to [personal profile] ninetydegrees for not only patching a ton of new themes, but also going through and optimizing over six hundred preview images to make them load faster and display with more reliable color information. Both of y'all deserve cookies, seriously.

Open account creation

Earlier this year, we decided to try out a "no invite codes needed" week to see whether we could do it semi-regularly and still keep the same level of service (and of spam protection) that the invite codes let us stick with. The results were pretty good, so we've decided to try it again, and for a little longer this time!

For the rest of the year, creating a Dreamwidth account will not require an invite code: just visit the Create an Account page.

We do reserve the right to switch invite codes back on if open account creation is causing problems -- invite codes let us carefully balance the site's resources and keep spammers from overrunning the site -- but with luck, that shouldn't be a problem.

Reminder: holiday promotion

Just a reminder: for the remainder of 2011, all orders made in the Dreamwidth Shop will receive a 10% points bonus for future use. For instance, if you buy yourself a 12 month paid account (350 points), we'll give you 35 points to spend later once you complete your order.

This is one way of saying "Thank you!" to everyone who helps to support Dreamwidth -- it's your support that keeps us on the air. We're completely user-supported: we take no venture capital, have no outside investors, and are completely advertising-and-sponsorship-free. Your support is what allows us to keep making Dreamwidth better, and we are super grateful for everyone who's given that support.

Possible import/crosspost problems

Things have mostly calmed down now, but if you've been watching [site community profile] dw_maintenance (and you should be!) you'll have noticed that over the past few weeks there have been some issues with importing from and crossposting to LiveJournal. This is because LiveJournal has been having problems with Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks intermittently for the past few weeks, and their DDoS mitigation attempts can make it very hard for Dreamwidth to contact the site.

In general, if you receive errors in your inbox telling you that the job can't connect to LiveJournal, you're running into that problem. Until you receive the error in your inbox, the job is still running. For imports, wait a little while after you get the failure message and then schedule a new import. For crossposts, wait a little while, then edit the entry and check the crosspost box, then save the entry. (You don't have to make any actual edits to the entry.)

LJ's people have been absolutely great about keeping us in the loop about what's going on, and we'd like to thank them for the information and wish them luck in their mitigation efforts.

Deleted accounts purged

A few months ago, we mentioned that we don't regularly run the script that permanently removes deleted accounts from the site, because of the load it can place on the servers and the databases. We realized that we never did run that script after all -- oops! We've fixed that now.

Because we've been so irregular about running it, we changed the time an account has been deleted to make it eligible for complete removal from 30 days to 90 days to give a little more wiggle room. The script has finished running, so if there's a username you've had your eye on for renaming, check to see if it's available now.

We'll try to be a little more regular about purging deleted accounts in the upcoming year. Also, remember: this does not affect inactive accounts, only accounts that the owner has chosen to set to 'deleted' status. Once you register a personal DW account, that username is yours until you choose to delete it.

The Ada Initiative

One of the things Dreamwidth has received a lot of press about is the gender balance of our contributors -- while most open source projects struggle to have just a few contributors who identify as female, our volunteer base is well over half female-identified. We're just one small fish in a very big pond, though, and there's been a lot of discussion in the open source world about how to address the gender imbalance problem: while women make up slightly over 20% of the IT world as a whole, statistics show that they make up about 2% of open source contributors.

I've been volunteering on the board of directors for the Ada Initiative, an organization dedicated to concrete, active efforts to improve women's participation in open technology and culture communities and projects. The experience of being a board member has been awesome (and exhausting!) and although the heavy lifting is being done by the two employees of the Initiative, it's been great to have an opportunity to pitch in and contribute.

Diversity, opportunity, and equality of all kinds are incredibly important to me and [staff profile] mark, and in the spirit of furthering that goal, we'd like to invite you all to consider contributing to the Ada Initiative fundraising drive. Meanwhile, in the spirit of putting our money where our mouths are, we'll be donating 10% of our gross revenues for the month of December (with a minimum donation of $1000) to the organization ourselves.

Version 2.0

No, not Dreamwidth version 2.0. We're pleased to announce the arrival of [staff profile] mark and [personal profile] aposiopetic's version 2.0, Oliver Graham Smith.

Oliver has already mastered serious face and is a champion sleeper. Mom, Dad, and baby (and older brother!) are doing wonderfully, and we're looking forward to getting Oliver's first Dreamwidth patch in another 13 years or so. :)

Congratulations to Mark and Ari, and welcome to Oliver!


That's it for us for another update! 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 a few weeks for our next update.

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