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Its been a while since tech has released new user-facing features. In the run up to the election we bolstered our infrastructure so as to be able to handle the drastically increased election-season load, and following that epic struggle we felt we deserved a really big nap. Actually, we engaged in, well, quite a lot of housekeeping tasks and reved up the design and development efforts, and now have quite a lot of progress to report.

This is the first of what I hope will be a monthly series where I give an overview of development progress. A lot of the work we do is behind the scenes stuff, so this will be a place to talk about it. Also, I'll try to give preview of features that are in the process of getting built.  Feel free to ask questions and give feedback. Be sure to check out links to new designs- they are hosted at a site which allows you to make notations on the designs directly.  

Up now or coming soon

Development on all this work is either done, or its in QA and will be done very soon.

Front Page Share Tools

This went up, but spammer found the email a story to a friend, so we took just that button down. We'll put a few safeguards in place then put it back up soon.

New Activism Campaign Pages

This is live, and we've run through several test with the campaigns team. The tech is as ready to go as it can be. We are just waiting for a good opportunity for the campaigns team to try at with actual users. You can see the test petitions here.

Signup form and auxiliary pages

We're working to make the signup process easier, and you can see some of the design comps here. Development is finished for the web version of the site, while development is ongoing for the mobile version. This will go live after we make some changes to the autoban robot, since we will also take the opportunity to get rid of the commenting and diary waiting periods. That'll be awesome for people who legitimately want to contribute, but we have to be able to quickly weed out the trolls.

New User Welcome Wagon

This is pretty cool, but no details for now. Markos will be announcing it soon.

Housekeeping Tasks

  • Subscription downloads page updated
  • Better error pages when the site goes down
  • Mobile site design improvements
  • Many bugs squashed

In Development

Recovering from the dev machine collapse

For a while we have been running several development processes off of a custom box sitting in the office. The box has been a single point of failure and when it has had hardware problems in the past it has knocked many core dev recourses out of commision. This box finally died, so we are now moving all the processes into the cloud. This is great for a few reasons. It eliminates the single point of failure. We don't have have to maintain hardware. We aren't limited by the office network stability. And it serves as preliminary work in moving our production servers into the cloud. That last point it a pretty big deal. The production move isn't scheduled, but this work get us a lot closer to making the move a real possibility.  Systems on this box moving to the cloud:
  • Database backups
  • image backups
  • auxiliary system backups
  • Staging server
  • Continuous integration server


We were forced to turn off our custom analytics during the elections partly because of high traffic, partly because of changes to the analytics vendor's api, and partly because of bugs in our own code. We had our hands full just keeping up a live site, given that our servers were in Manhattan during Sandy. Living without detailed analytics has been debilitating, as we make most site-development decisions based on actual user data. We are bringing those analytics tools back online.

Content Management System

When DK4 launched, we never had time to build an easy way for non-tech staff to update pages like the About and Jobs pages, so we're finally going to install a CMS to make that possible.

Front Page, Diary Page, Comments

We are in the process of refreshing the design of these pages. If you want to see what the next design version of Daily Kos will look like, click here. Note that design details can and likely will change before we release it for beta testing, and then will change more based on the beta results.

Projects with finished design. Dev starting soon:

New Login Process

This design strives to be as boring as possible. Hopefully users can navigate these pages almost without thinking.

Originally posted to Jason Libsch on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 12:12 PM PST.

Also republished by Cranky Users, New Diarists, J Town, and KosBusters!.

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