Accessibility, Design and Technology Meeting - 19 November 2011
The Accessibility, Design and Technology committee oversees technology-related projects within the OTW. Currently we are responsible for designing and building the Archive of Our Own. Our regular meeting updates keep you informed about developments on the AO3!
AD&T and our associated committees and subcommittees have been very busy recently working towards our latest deploy and then working on issues arising from that. This one didn't go as smoothly as we had hoped (understatement!); we knew that there would be bugs revealed by practical use that didn't appear in testing, though there were more than we had anticipated and we have been working hard to fix the immediate issues. We're happy to say that we were able to fix the most pressing problems within 48 hours; a week on from the deploy we've been able to address quite a few more, so those fixes will be deployed soon. We're really grateful to everyone who worked hard on this deploy and on addressing the issues subsequent to it. We are planning to do a thorough review of the deploy and think about the lessons learned and ways we can improve. This week, however, we focused on working through some outstanding business and outlining the tasks we need to complete before the end of the year.
Goals for the rest of the year
We're drawing close to the end of the 2011 term, so we started to think about what our priorities are for the rest of this year. On December 16th all the OTW committees officially dissolve and we take a break before reforming in January (although in practice many members of AD&T tend to do quite a bit of work during the hiatus, heh). So, we talked about a few things we'd like to get done before then:
- Coding! Several people have code in-progress which they'd like to do some serious work on and hopefully finish by the end of the year. Site navigation, bookmarks improvements and a refactoring of our works code (important for tons of other improvements) are high on this list!
- Revising our roadmap. We have a longterm plan for what features we'd like to implement on the Archive and when. However, we don't always implement things in exactly the order they are in on the roadmap: we have to be flexible and adapt according to a range of things including the pressing needs of the Archive at a given time, the coding expertise available, the level of difficulty involved in a specific project (this is not always as anticipated), and a bunch of other things. We also add new things to out to-do list based on feedback from other fans. So, we have to review our roadmap regularly to ensure it reflects our capabilities at any given time: right now it's out of date, so we'd like to get it updated to help shape plans for the coming year.
- Completing our archive import code and rescuing some at-risk archives! Coder Naomi is currently putting the final touches to the code which will allow us to rescue archives which are no longer able to exist independently. Our immediate priority is the Smallville Slash Archive, which was hosted by the late, great Minotaur: several fans have worked hard to preserve this bit of fannish history, but it can't hold out much longer, so we want to help them out by the end of the year. We talked about the various things we need to do to make that a reality - stay posted for more news on this soon.
- Reviewing our testing procedures: One area we'd like to improve and develop more support is in our testing team, where a very small number of people do very dedicated work. Our testing lead Kylie will be hosting a meeting for current testers to think about what works well and what can be improved, to make sure they can continue to work well into the future.
- Exploring our tag wrangling options. The Tag Wrangling Committee and the big team of wranglers they manage do an amazing job at keeping the many, many user-generated tags on the Archive in order. However, we're growing at a massive rate and their job has become significantly bigger over a very short space of time. So, we want to talk to the TW Committee now to see if there are technical improvements that could make their lives easier, if the current system is still right for us, and whether there is anything else to think about from a tech point-of-view.
Issues for love!
As part of our recent drive to address features requests and feedback via support more quickly, we had a big drive in this meeting to burn through some of the 'issues for love' which are awaiting committee discussion before they can move on to the next step. A few of the things we discussed:
- Improving bookmarks: We get lots of support requests asking for more sorting and filtering of bookmarks, and our Support team wanted to know how our plans on this were progressing. We're happy to say this is being actively worked on and we hope to have it out by the beginning of next year.
- Donate to the Archive: We also get quite a few Support requests asking how to donate time or money to the Archive. We've long been meaning to make this much clearer on the site itself, and we're happy to say that the code for a page with this information has now been submitted by our new intern, Firewolf. If you're wondering in the meantime, both these things are handled via our parent Organization for Transformative Works: get in touch with our Volunteers and Recruitment Committee if you're interested in helping out with the Archive, or make a donation to the OTW to help fund the site. Since the committee term for this year is coming to an end and we'll be taking a break, we won't be welcoming any new people to our teams until we reconvene in January, but we still welcome expressions of interest now!
- Adding more than one related work: A couple of users had contacted Support to say they had works inspired by more than one other work and couldn't figure out how to show this. It is actually possible to add more than one related work - however, due to an oversight you have to add one, post the work, and then edit the second one in. This is clearly not very intuitive, so we're fixing it - and in the meantime we're adding some help text so people can find the workaround while we look at the more complex bit of the code.
The next deploy is scheduled for some time in the next week (depending on the availability of our team, several of whom have holiday celebrations this week). It will include a fix for the rich text editor (currently completely broken for some people), some fixes for oddities in skins, and a fix for index pages on subcollections (currently not showing up!).
News from our sub-committees
- Coders worked crazy hard to get our last deploy up and running, and then to fix some bugs arising afterwards. They did an awesome job of coming up with quick solutions to some of the bugs that showed up once we were on the real Archive - thanks to everyone for their hard work! More generally, they have been focusing on getting lots more projects out of the door before the end of the year. They are cooking up some exciting stuff, including navigation improvements and importing, so we're looking forward to having these see the light of day.
- Testers have been super active lately! They tested the latest deploy in all sorts of situations and configurations, and then did more urgent testing to help fix the things that slipped through the cracks. The testing team is small and they do amazing work - thanks lovely people!
News from our sister committees
- Support have also been working very, very hard dealing with all the tickets arising from our recent deploy. Every new deploy produces an uptick in tickets, because new code inevitably means some new bugs (this is why whenever big companies release a new OS, it's usually followed shortly after by a bunch of updates!). This deploy produced more tickets than usual - a lot more! - but Support have been doing a sterling job keeping up. If you do find they are a little slower than usual, then rest assured they will get to you as soon as possible.
- Tag wranglers have been awesome helping Support deal with tag-related tickets. The Tag Wrangling Committee gave AD&T some initial feedback on where tag wrangling stands at the moment, pending a meeting when we'll talk in more detail about tech needs for wrangling.
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!
This meeting round-up by Lucy.
Mirrored from an original post on the Archive of Our Own.