Accessibility, Design and Technology Meeting - 3 September 2011

Published: 2011-09-08 12:06:26 -0400

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!

This meeting was the last on the current timetable. We've been alternating between two times on a Saturday and Sunday, but as new members join the committee and the schedules of the existing members change, we have to review from time-to-time, and we're switching to some new slots that suit our current membership better. With committee members from Argentina, Germany, New Zealand, Romania, the UK and the USA, it can be tricky to find a time that suits everyone! Kudos to the members who stay up insanely late or get up super early in order to make the meetings!

Meeting highlights

Collections and Challenges

Our taskforce met up to discuss the ongoing development of collections and challenges. Coder astolat is almost finished with the new tag sets functionality, which will allow users to create sets of tags for use in challenges - this will mean that nominations for multifandom challenges can take place on the Archive. Once this work is done we'll be reviewing the collections and challenges code to make it faster, prettier and simpler. We already have some major functionality - gift exchanges and prompt memes - but we want to refactor the code so it works better and make it easier for us to add other challenge types in the future (Big Bangs are definitely on our to-do list)!

FAQ improvements

The Archive FAQ is long and detailed - but it's not very easy to find what you want in it! We're planning some improvements to go along with our new Support Board so that our users can get the information they need.

CSS revamp

Front-end coder lim is currently working on a massive overhaul of the way CSS works on the site. The new structure will make it much easier for people to write skins (skins creators, you'll be able to bid a not-so-fond farewell to all those !importants). We're planning some very intensive testing to be sure the new design works in most browsers.

JavaScript revamp and testing

Our awesome coder Enigel has worked hard replacing the JavaScript library Prototype with JQuery. This should make our JavaScript less buggy and will help make it easier to design more accessible JavaScript which degrades nicely for people who don't use it. Now her work is done, we're faced with the massive job of testing it all. The changes affect most areas of the site, so our intrepid testing team have a big job on their hands!

Open Video Conference

AD&T chairs Amelia and Elz will be attending the Open Video Conference in New York this coming weekend. They're hoping to pick up some ideas for how we might progress with our plans for hosting videos on the AO3 - this functionality is still some way off, but we're really excited about the possibilties.

Fanart is coming!

In preparation for hosting fanart on our servers, our Content Policy team are revising our Terms of Service and FAQ to cover images. They are currently inviting feedback on the draft policy - our aim is to make our Terms of Service as clear and fan-friendly as possible, so please do raise any questions or concerns.

Technical preparations for fanart are also continuing. Our plans for a revamped 'post new work' form include more features for multimedia, and we'll be introducing ways of tagging different media so they can be easily filtered for.

Site performance and the invitations queue

The number of people waiting for an invitation now stands at over a thousand - we seem to have arrived! Many users will have noticed a corresponding increase in site slowness, especially at peak times when a large number of our 21793 users are trying to use the site all at once! The good news is that we have some performance enhancements in our forthcoming deploy which should help ease the site slowdowns so that you no longer run into the sad 502 page. The bad news is that the high demand means that we still need to manage the number of users signing up to the site at any given time, so we'll continue to use the invitations system for sign-up for the forseeable future. We're sorry that we can't give excited fans accounts immediately, but everyone who requests an account is given one. If you have added your email address to our invitations queue you can check that page to see when your invitation will arrive - if the date passes with no invitation, please get in touch with our Support team and let them know, as sometimes they do get caught in spam filters.

Tag tutorial

Ever wondered about how tags work on the Archive, or what the best way is to tag your work? Our awesome Tag Wrangling Committee have put together a Tags Tutorial explaining how everything works and what goes on behind the scenes! Thanks to the wrangling volunteers who gave feedback on the draft tutorial (and for all their hard work wrangling). If you have a specific question or comment about tags, you can contact the Tag Wrangling Committee directly via Twitter @ao3_wranglers or send a message via our Support team.

Next deploy

We're working hard to get the next deploy out as soon as possible. This deploy is a big one, and needs some heavy duty testing - because we've changed the JavaScript across the site, we need to do a full regression test to check everything is still working as it should. As soon as we're sure nothing is broken, we'll be putting the new code on the site - this deploy includes important performance enhancements as well as lots of other lovely stuff, so we're keen to get it out in the world as soon as possible!

News from our sub-committees

  • Coders are continuing to tackle our issues list and working hard fixing bugs identified in the new code.
  • Testers are working hard on the regression test for the new deploy - testing ALL the things. We always need new testers, so if you're someone who likes banging on the site and finding out how things work, please do get in touch with our Volunteers Committee and let them know you're interesed in testing. No special skills required, just a spirit of enquiry and a certain tenacity!

News from our sister committees

  • Support welcomed two more new staffers to the team - Oaktree and lionpyh! They are planning a ticket party later in the week to tackle ALL the tickets (or at least quite a few of them!). They've also been updating the FAQs - thanks to Cybel for adding the new Kudos FAQ.
  • Tag Wranglers are reviewing their membership to make sure that everyone on the list of volunteers still wants to wrangle. New volunteers are always welcome - check out the list of fandoms currently in need of a wrangler to see if there is an area you could help. The Tag Wrangling Committee has also recently revised some tag-related FAQs, and they have just posted their brand new Tag Tutorial! \o/

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 Zooey.