Accessibility, Design and Technology Update August 2010

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All the latest news on the Archive of Our Own below the cut! Mirrored from an original post on the Archive of Our Own.

This isn't so much a meeting update as a general round-up of news from AD&T, since the writing up of reports, er... got away from me a little. But that means it is an extra tasty update!

Recent updates

We deployed new code to the Archive at the end of May - see the exciting list of new features in the Release 0.7.5. This release includes our new advanced search and a revamp to the HTML parser - this stuff was tricky to test and we're proud that the small amount of support requests suggests our testers did a great job of catching all the bugs!

Coming soon - Skins!

We're currently testing some awesome code on our Test archive. All being well, the next deploy will include the long-promised Archive Skins feature - you'll be able to choose from a range of lovely skins created by Archive staff, and create your own custom CSS. We know that lots of people have been looking forward to the opportunity to make the Archive look exactly the way that they want, and this will soon be possible! We're looking forward to seeing the beautiful designs people come up with. So exciting!

Rails upgrade - Faster! Better! More sparkles!

Our next big code project is to upgrade Rails, the application framework the Archive is built on. The latest version of Rails, v. 3.0, has lots of neat new features which will enable us to write much cleaner, faster code. In preparation for this change we have been writing lots and lots of automated tests, which will help us ensure we haven't broken anything in the move.

Refactoring - Code makeover

As we develop more automated tests and get ready to upgrade our version of Rails, we are also refactoring our code. Refactoring involves rewriting the code to make it much neater, more efficient and more beautiful. It's something which is necessary in all programming, but it's particularly important in a big project like ours with lots of contributors: by refactoring the code to make it more elegant, we make it easier for other people to work on it and smooth out any of the lumps and bumps which may have sprung up. Refactoring also improves the performance of code, and it's an important foundation for the next wave of development on the Archive.

Internationalisation on the Archive

We had a very exciting and productive conversation with the International Outreach Committee about the features the Archive needs in order to serve the fannish community internationally. All the work we have been doing on writing automated tests and refactoring will help a lot with developing our international features - we had to retire our old interface for translating the Archive because it caused some major performance issues, so we want to be sure that the new one we are planning will work smoothly. In addition to translations, we've also been discussing ways of improving our system for indicating the language of a work, browsing for works in particular languages, and setting useful defaults for language options. We're very lucky to have a brilliant International Outreach team who help us to see all the angles for our international membership - it's something we try to consider at all times, but it's very helpful having a team who are dedicated to this aspect of our work.

Introducing the new Tag Wranglers committee!

As most users know, the tags are the Archive are managed and organised by our behind-the-scenes team of dedicated and awesome tag wranglers. Until recently, tag wranglers were a subcommittee of AD&T, but there are now 133 volunteer wranglers working around the world to organise more than 99,666 tags, so it was high time for them to take on a more formal committee role. AD&T are very proud to see new committee chair Renay and her awesome team step out on their own: we'll be working closely with the new committee and we know that this change will help to ensure that Archive users continue to get a great experience.

News from our sub-committees and sister committees

  • Coders are working hard on writing automated tests, refactoring, and getting ready for the Rails 3 upgrade.
  • Testers are working on our new set of code on the Archive, and giving the new Skins option a workout!
  • Tag wranglers have been adjusting to their new identity as a committee in their own right, figuring out some new policies, and generally being awesome.
  • Support continue to do awesome work, answering most requests within a couple of days. They are a small but dedicated team and we value their hard work! (Don't forget that if you need a response from Support, you must leave a contact email address.)

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, which is commentable with or without an Archive account.

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