Input: 2014 retrospective

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What is it?

The purpose of Input is to collect actionable feedback from our user base across each channel of our software development process. The application collects feedback and offers a set of analysis methods for looking at the resulting data.

Project site.

This is my 2014 retrospective for Input.

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Input: 2014q4 quarter in review

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What is it?

The purpose of Input is to collect actionable feedback from our user base across each channel of our software development process. The application collects feedback and offers a set of analysis methods for looking at the resulting data.

Project site.

This is my 2014q4 retrospective on Input.

Read more…

Input status: December 18th, 2014

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Preface

It's been 3 months since the last status report. Crimey! That's not great, but it's even worse because it makes this report crazy long.

First off, lots of great work done by Adam Okoye, L. Guruprasad, Bhargav Kowshik, and Deshraj Yadav! w00t!

Second, we did a ton of stuff and broke 1,000 commits! w00t!

Third, I've promised to do more frequent status reports. I'll go back to one every two weeks.

Onward!

Development

High-level summary:

  • Lots of code quality work.
  • Updated ElasticUtils to 0.10.1 so we can upgrade our Elasticsearch cluster.
  • Heartbeat v2.
  • Overhauled the generic feedback form.
  • remote-troubleshooting data capture.
  • contribute.json file.
  • Upgrade to Django 1.6.
  • Upgrade to Python 2.7!!!!!
  • Improved and added to pre-commit and commit-msg linters.

Landed and deployed:

  • ce95161 Clarify source and campaign parameters in API
  • 286869e [bug 788281] Add update_product_details to deploy
  • bbedc86 [bug 788281] Implement basic events API
  • 1c0ff9f [bug 1071567] Update ElasticUtils to 0.10.1
  • 7fd52cd [bug 1072575] Rework smart_timedelta
  • ce80c56 [bug 1074276] Remove abuse classification prototype
  • 7540394 [bug 1075563] Fix missing flake8 issue
  • 11e4855 [bug 1025925] Change file names (Adam Okoye)
  • 23af92a [bug 1025925] Change all instances of fjord.analytics.tools to fjord.analytics.utils (Adam Okoye)
  • ae28c60 [bug 1025925] Change instances of of util relating to fjord/base/util.py (Adam Okoye)
  • bc77280 Add Adam Okoye to CONTRIBUTORS
  • 545dc52 [bug 1025925] Change test module file names
  • fc24371 [bug 1041703] Drop prodchan column
  • 9097b8f [bug 1079376] Add error-email -> response admin view
  • d3cfdfe [bug 1066618] Tweak Gengo account balance warning
  • a49f1eb [bug 1020303] Add rating column
  • 55fede0 [bug 1061798] Reset page number Resets page number when filter checkbox is checked (Adam Okoye)
  • 1d4fd00 [bug 854479] Fix ui-lightness 404 problems
  • a9bf3b1 [bug 940361] Change size on facet calls
  • c2b2c2b [bug 1081413] Move url validation code into fjord_utils.js Rewrote url validation code that was in generic_feedback.js and added it to fjord_utils.js (Adam Okoye)
  • 4181b5e [bug 1081413] Change code for url validation (Adam Okoye)
  • 2cd62ad [bug 1081413] Add test for url validation (Adam Okoye)
  • f72652a [bug 1081413] Correct operator in test_fjord_utils.js (aokoye)
  • c9b83df [bug 1081997] Fix unicode in smoketest
  • cba9a2d [bug 1086643] [bug 1086650] Redo infrastructure for product picker version
  • e8a9cc7 [bug 1084387] Add on_picker field to Product
  • 2af4fca [bug 1084387] Add on_picker to management forms
  • 1ced64a [bug 1081411] Create format test (Adam Okoye)
  • 00f8a72 Add template for mentored bugs
  • e95d0f1 Cosmetic: Move footnote
  • d0cb705 Tweak triaging docs
  • d5b35a2 [bug 1080816] Add A/B for ditching chart
  • fa1a47f Add notes about running tests with additional warnings
  • ddde83c Fix mimetype -> content_type and int division issue
  • 2edb3b3 [bug 1089650] Add a contribute.json file (Bhargav Kowshik)
  • d341977 [bug 1089650] Add test to verify that the JSON is valid (Bhargav Kowshik)
  • dcb9380 Add Bhargav Kowshik to CONTRIBUTORS
  • 7442513 Fix throttle test
  • f27e31c [bug 1072285] Update Django, django-nose and django-cache-machine
  • dd74a3c [bug 1072285] Update django-adminplus
  • ececdf7 [bug 1072285] Update requirements.txt file
  • 6669479 [bug 1093341] Tweak Gengo account balance warning
  • f233aab [bug 1094197] Fix JSONObjectField default default
  • 11193d7 Tweak chart display
  • 9d311ca Make journal.Record not derive from ModelBase
  • f778c9d Remove all Heartbeat v1 stuff
  • e5f6f4d Switch test__utils.py to test_utils.py
  • cab7050 [bug 1092296] Implement heartbeat v2 data model
  • 5480c42 [bug 1097352] Response view is viewable by all
  • 46b5897 [bug 1077423] Overhaul generic feedback form dev
  • da31b47 [bug 1077423] Update smoke tests for generic feedback form dev
  • e84094b Fix l10n email template
  • d6c8ea9 Remove gettext calls for product dashboards
  • e1a0f74 [bug 1098486] Remove under construction page
  • 032a660 Fix l10n_status.py script history table
  • 19cec37 Fix JSONObjectField
  • 430c462 Improve display_history for l10n_status
  • d6c18c6 Windows NT 6.4 -> Windows 10
  • 73a4225 [bug 1097847] Update django-grappelli to 2.5.6
  • 4f3b9c7 [bug 1097847] Fix custom views in admin
  • 3218ea3 Fix JSONObjectfield.value_to_string
  • 67c6bf9 Fix RecordManager.log regarding instances
  • a5e8610 [bug 1092299] Implement Heartbeat v2 API
  • 17226db [bug 1092300] Add Heartbeat v2 debugging views
  • 11681c4 Rework env view to show python and django version
  • 9153802 [bug 1087387] Add feedback_response.browser_platform
  • f5d8b56 [bug 1087387] [bug 1096541] Clean up feedback view code
  • c9c7a81 [bug 1087391] Fix POST API user-agent inference code
  • 4e93fc7 [bug 1103024] Gengo kill switch
  • de9d1c7 Capture the user-agent
  • 4796e4e [bug 1096541] Backfill browser_platform for Firefox dev
  • f5fe5cf [bug 1103141] Add experiment_version to HB db and api
  • 98c40f6 [bug 1103141] Add experiment_version to views
  • 0996148 [bug 1103045] Create a menial hb survey view
  • 965b3ee [bug 1097204] Rework product picker
  • 6907e6f [bug 1097203] Add link to SUMO
  • e8f3075 [bug 1093843] Increase length of product fields
  • 2c6d24b [bug 1103167] Raise GET API throttle
  • d527071 [bug 1093832] Move feedback url documentation
  • 6f4eb86 Abstract out python2.6 in deploy script
  • f843286 Fix compile-linted-mo.sh to take pythonbin as arg
  • 966da77 Add celery health check
  • 1422263 Add space before subject of celery health email
  • 5e07dbd [heartbeat] Add experiment1 static page placeholders
  • 615ccf1 [heartbeat] Add experiment1 static files
  • d8822df [heartbeat] Add SUMO links to sad page
  • 3ee924c [heartbeat] Add twitter thing to happy page
  • d87a815 [heartbeat] Change thank you text
  • 06e73e6 [heartbeat] Remove cruft, fix links
  • 8208a72 [heartbeat] Fix "addons"
  • 2eca74c [heartbeat] Show profile_age always because 0 is valid
  • 4c4598b [bug 1099138] Fix "back to picker" url
  • b2e9445 Add note about "Commit to VCS" in l10n docs
  • 9c22705 Heartbeat: instrument email signup, feedback, NOT Twitter (Gregg Lind)
  • 340adf9 [heartbeat] Fix DOCTYPE and ispell pass
  • 486bf65 [heartbeat] Change Thank you text
  • d52c739 [heartbeat] Switch to use Input GA account
  • f07716b [heartbeat] Fix favicons
  • eff9d0b [heartbeat] Fixed page titles
  • 969c4a0 [heartbeat] Nix newsletter form for a link
  • dce6f86 [heartbeat] Reindent code to make it legible
  • dad6d82 [bug 1099138] Remove [DEV] from title
  • 4204b43 fixed typo in getting_started.rst (Deshraj Yadav)
  • 7042ead [bug 1107161] Fix hb answers view
  • a024758 [bug 1107809] Fix Gengo language guesser
  • 808fa83 [bug 1107803] Rewrite Response inference code
  • d9e8ffd [bug 1108604] Tweak paging links in hb data view
  • 00e8628 [bug 1108604] Add sort and display ts better in hb data view
  • 17b908a [bug 1108604] Change paging to 100 in hb data view
  • 39dc943 [bug 1107083] Backfill versions
  • fee0653 [bug 1105512] Rip out old generic form
  • b5bb54c Update grappelli in requirements.txt file
  • f984935 [bug 1104934] Add ResponseTroubleshootingInfo model
  • c2e7fd3 [bug 950913] Move 'TRUNCATE_LENGTH' and make accessable to other files (Adam Okoye)
  • b6f30e1 [bug 1074315] Ignore deleted files for linting in pre-commit hook (L. Guruprasad)
  • 4009a59 Get list of .py files to lint using just git diff (L. Guruprasad)
  • c81da0b [bug 950913] Access TRUNCATE_LENGTH from generic_feedback template (Adam Okoye)
  • 9e3cec6 [bug 1111026] Fix hb error page paging
  • b89daa6 Dennis update to master tip
  • 61e3e18 Add django-sslserver
  • 93d317b [bug 1104935] Add remote.js
  • ad3a5cb [bug 1104935] Add browser data section to generic form
  • cc54daf [bug 1104935] Add browserdata metrics
  • 31c2f74 Add jshint to pre-commit hook (L. Guruprasad)
  • 68eae85 Pretty-print JSON blobs in hb errorlog view
  • 8588b42 [bug 1111265] Restrict remote-troubleshooting to Firefox
  • b0af9f5 Fix sorby error in hb data view
  • 8f622cf [bug 1087394] Add browser, browser_version, and browser_platform to response view (Adam Okoye)
  • c4b6f85 [bug 1087394] Change Browser Platform label (Adam Okoye)
  • eb1d5c2 Disable expansion of $PATH in the provisioning script (L. Guruprasad)
  • 59eebda Cosmetic test changes
  • aac733b [bug 1112210] Tweak remote-troubleshooting capture
  • 6f24ce7 [bug 1112210] Hide browser-ask by default
  • 278095d [bug 1112210] Note if we have browser data in response view
  • 869a37c [bug 1087395] Add fields to CSV output (Adam Okoye)

Landed, but not deployed:

  • 4ee7fd6 Update the name of the pre-commit hook script in docs (L. Guruprasad)
  • d4c5a09 [bug 1112084] create requirements/dev.txt (L. Guruprasad)
  • 4f03c48 [bug 1112084] Update provisioning script to install dev requirements (L. Guruprasad)
  • 03c5710 Remove instructions for manual installation of flake8 (L. Guruprasad)
  • a36a231 [bug 1108755] Add a git commit message linter (L. Guruprasad)

Current head: f0ec99d

Rough plan for the next two weeks

  1. PTO. It's been a really intense quarter (as you can see) and I need some rest. Maybe a nap. Plus we have a deploy freeze through to January, so we can't push anything out anyhow. I hope everyone else gets some rest, too.

That's it!

Dennis v0.6 released! Line numbers, double vowels, better cli-fu, and better output!

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What is it?

Dennis is a Python command line utility (and library) for working with localization. It includes:

  • a linter for finding problems in strings in .po files like invalid Python variable syntax which leads to exceptions
  • a template linter for finding problems in strings in .pot files that make translator's lives difficult
  • a statuser for seeing the high-level translation/error status of your .po files
  • a translator for strings in your .po files to make development easier

v0.6 released!

Since v0.5, I've done the following:

  • Rewrote the command line handling using click and added an exception handler.
  • Merged the lint and linttemplate commands. Why should you care which file you're linting when the linter can figure it out for you?
  • Added the whimsical double vowel transform.
  • Added line numbers in the lint output. This will make it possible to find those pesky problematic strings in your .po/.pot files.
  • Add a line reporter to the linter.

Getting pretty close to what I want for a 1.0, so I'm pretty excited about this version.

Denise update

I've updated Denise with the latest Dennis and moved it to a better url. Lint your .po/.pot files via web service using http://denise.paas.allizom.org/.

Where to go for more

For more specifics on this release, see here: http://dennis.readthedocs.org/en/latest/changelog.html#version-0-6-december-16th-2014

Documentation and quickstart here: http://dennis.readthedocs.org/en/v0.6/

Source code and issue tracker here: https://github.com/willkg/dennis

Source code and issue tracker for Denise (Dennis-as-a-service): https://github.com/willkg/denise

6 out of 8 employees said Dennis helps them complete 1.5 more deliverables per quarter.

Input: New feedback form

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Since the beginning of 2014, I've been laying the groundwork to rewrite the feedback form that we use on Input.

Today, after a lot of work, we pushed out the new form! Just in time for Firefox 34 release.

This blog post covers the circumstances of the rewrite.

Why?

In 2011, James, Mike and I rewrote Input from the ground up. In order to reduce the amount of time it took to do that rewrite, we copied a lot of the existing forms and styles including the feedback forms. At that time, there were two: one for desktop and one for mobile. In order to avoid a translation round, we kept all the original strings of the two forms. The word "Firefox" was hardcoded in the strings, but that was fine since at the time Input only collected feedback for Firefox.

In 2013, in order to reduce complexity on the site because there's only one developer (me), I merged the desktop and mobile forms into one form. In order to avoid a translation round, I continued to keep the original strings. The wording became awkward and the flow through the form wasn't very smooth. Further, the form wasn't responsive at all, so it worked ok on desktop machines, but mediocre on other viewport sizes.

2014 rolled around and it was clear Input was going to need to branch out into capturing feedback for multiple products---some of which were not Firefox. The form made this difficult.

Related, the smoketest framework I wrote in 2014 struggled with testing the form accurately. I spent some time tweaking it, but a simpler form would make smoketesting a lot easier and less flakey.

Thus over the course of 3 years, we had accumulated the following problems:

  1. The flow through the form felt awkward, instructions weren't clear and information about what data would be public and what data would be private wasn't clear.
  2. Strings had "Firefox" hardcoded and wouldn't support multiple products.
  3. The form wasn't responsive and looked/behaved poorly in a variety of situations.
  4. The form never worked in right-to-left languages and possibly had other accessibility issues.
  5. The architecture didn't let us experiment with the form---tweaking the wording, switching to a more granular gradient of sentiment, capturing other data, etc.

Further, we were seeing many instances of people putting contact information in the description field and there was a significant amount of dropoff.

I had accrued the following theories:

  1. Since the email address is on the third card, users would put their email address in the description field because they didn't know they could leave their contact information later.
  2. Having two cards would reduce the amount of drop-off and unfinished forms than three cards.
  3. Having simpler instruction text would reduce the amount of drop-off.

Anyhow, it was due for an overhaul.

So what's changed?

I've been working on the overhaul for most of 2014, but did the bulk of the work in October and November. It has the following changes:

  1. The new form is shorter and clearer text-wise and design-wise.
  2. It consists of two cards: one for capturing sentiment and one for capturing details about that sentiment.
  3. It clearly delineates data that will be public from data that will be kept private.
  4. It works with LTR and RTL languages (If that's not true, please open a bug.)
  5. It fixes some accessibility issues. (If you find any, please open a bug.)
  6. It uses responsive design, mobile first. Thus it was designed for mobile devices and then scaled to desktop-sized viewports.
  7. It's smaller in kb size and requires fewer HTTP requests.
  8. It's got a better architecture for future development.
  9. It doesn't have "Firefox" hardcoded anymore.
  10. It's simpler so the smoketests work reliably now.
/images/input_form_before.thumbnail.png

The old Input feedback form.

/images/input_form_after.thumbnail.png

The new Input feedback form.

Note: Showing before and after isn't particularly exciting since this is only the first card of the form in both cases.

Going forward

The old and new forms were instrumented in various ways, so we'll be able to analyze differences between the two. Particularly, we'll be able to see if the new form performs worse.

Further, I'll be checking the data to see if my theories hold true especially the one regarding why people put contact data in the description.

There are a few changes in the queue that we want to make over the course of the next 6 months. Now that the new form has landed, we can start working on those.

Even if there are problems with the new form, we're in a much better position to fix them than we were before. Progress has been made!

Take a moment---try out the form and tell us YOUR feedback

Have you ever submitted feedback? Have you ever told Mozilla what you like and don't like about Firefox?

Take a moment and fill out the feedback form and tell us how you feel about Firefox.

Thanks, etc

I've been doing web development since 1997 or so. I did a lot of frontend work back then, but I haven't done anything serious frontend-wise in the last 5 years. Thus this was a big project for me.

I had a lot of help: Ricky, Mike and Rehan from the SUMO Engineering team were invaluable reviewing code, helping me fix issues and giving me a huge corpus of examples to learn from; Matt, Gregg, Tyler, Ilana, Robert and Cheng from the User Advocacy team who spent a lot of time smoothing out the rough edges of the new form so it captures the data we need; Schalk who wrote the product picker which I later tweaked; Matej who spent time proof-reading the strings to make sure they were consistent and felt good; the QA team which wrote the code that I copied and absorbed into the current Input smoketests; and the people who translated the user interface strings (and found a bunch of issues) making it possible for people to see this form in their language.

Input: Removing the frontpage chart

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I've been working on Input for a while now. One of the things I've actively disliked was the chart on the front page. This blog post talks about why I loathe it and then what's happening this week.

First, here's the front page dashboard as it is today:

/images/input_dashboard.thumbnail.png

Input front page dashboard (October 2014)

When I started, Input gathered feedback solely on the Firefox desktop web browser. It was a one-product feedback gathering site. Because it was gathering feedback for a single product, the front page dashboard was entirely about that single product. All the feedback talked about that product. The happy/sad chart was about that product. Today, Input gathers feedback for a variety of products.

When I started, it was nice to have a general happy/sad chart on the front page because no one really looked at it and the people who did look at it understood why the chart slants so negatively. So the people who did look at it understood the heavy negative bias and could view the chart as such. Today, Input is viewed by a variety of people who have no idea how feedback on Input works or why it's so negatively biased.

When I started, Input didn't expose the data in helpful ways allowing people to build their own charts and dashboards to answer their specific questions. Thus there was a need for a dashboard to expose information from the data Input was gathering. I contend that the front page dashboard did this exceedingly poorly--what does the happy/sad lines actually mean? If it dips, what does that mean? If they spike, what does that mean? There's not enough information in the chart to make any helpful conclusions. Today, Input has an API allowing anyone to fetch data from Input in JSON format and generate their own dashboards of which there are several out there.

When I started, Input received some spam/abuse feedback, but the noise was far outweighed by the signal. Today, we get a ton of spam/abuse feedback. We still have no good way of categorizing spam/abuse as such and removing it from the system. That's something I want to work on more, but haven't had time to address. In the meantime, the front page dashboard chart has a lot of spammy noise in it. Thus the happy/sad lines aren't accurate.

Thus I argue we've far outlived the usefulness of the chart on the front page and it's time for it to go away.

So, what happens now? Bug 1080816 covers removing the front page dashboard chart. It covers some other changes to the front page, but I think I'm going to push those off until later since they're all pretty "up in the air".

If you depend on the front page dashboard chart, toss me an email. Depending on how many people depend on the front page chart and what the precise needs are, maybe we'll look into writing a better one.

Input: 2014q3 post-mortem

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This is the 2014q3 Input post-mortem. It was a better quarter than 2014q2--that one kind of sucked. Instead 2014q2 started out well and then got kind of busy and then I was pretty overwhelmed by the end.

Things to know:

  • Input is Mozilla's product feedback site.
  • Fjord is the code that runs Input.
  • I unilaterally decided to extend 2014q3 to October 6th.
  • I am Will Kahn-Greene and I'm the primary developer on Input.

Bug and git stats

Bugzilla
========

Bugs created:        58
Bugs fixed:          54

git
===

Total commits: 161

      Will Kahn-Greene :   150  (+195704, -188071, files 672)
         Ian Kronquist :     7  (+201, -53, files 11)
         L. Guruprasad :     3  (+8, -18, files 3)
       Ruben Vereecken :     1  (+34, -14, files 6)

Total lines added: 195947
Total lines deleted: 188156
Total files changed: 692

We added a bunch of code this quarter:

  • October 7th. 2014: 23466 total, 11614 Python

Compare to previous quarters:

  • 2014q1: April 1st, 2014: 15195 total, 6953 Python
  • 2014q2: July 1st, 2014: 20456 total, 9247 Python

Nothing wildly interesting there other than noting that the codebase for Input continues to grow.

Contributor stats

Ian Kronquist was the Input intern for Summer 2014. He contributed several fixes to Input. Yay!

We spent a bunch of time making our docs and Vagrant provisioning script less buggy so as to reduce the problems new contributors have when working on Input. I talked with several people about things they're interested in working on. Plus several people did some really great work on Input.

Generally, I think Input is at a point where it's not too hard to get up and running, we've got several lists of bugs that are good ones to start with and the documentation is good-ish. I think the thing that's hampering us right now is that I'm not spending enough time and energy answering questions, managing the work and keeping things going.

Anyhow, welcome L. Guruprasad, Adam Okoye and Ruben Vereecken! Additionally, many special thanks to L. Guruprasad who fixed a lot of issues with the Vagrant provisioning scripts. That work is long and tedious, but it helps everyone.

Accomplishments

Dashboards for everyone: We wrote an API and some compelling examples of dashboards you can build using the API. It's being used in a few places now. We'll grow it going forward as needs arise. I'm pretty psyched about this since it makes it possible for people with needs to help themselves and not have to wait for me to get around to their work. Dashboards for everyone project plan.

Vagrant: We took the work I did last quarter and improved upon it, rewrote the docs and have a decent Vagrant setup now. Reduce contributor pain project plan.

Abuse detection: Ian spent his internship working on an abuse classifier so that we can more proactively detect and prevent abusive feedback from littering Input. We gathered some interesting data and the next step is probably to change the approach we used and apply some more complex ML things to the problem. The key here is that we want to detect abuse with confidence and not accidentally catch swaths of non-abuse. Input feedback has some peculiar properties that make this difficult. Reduce the abuse project plan.

Loop support: Loop is now using Input for user sentiment feedback.

Heartbeat support: User Advocacy is working on a project to give us a better baseline for user sentiment. This project was titled Heartbeat, but I'm not sure whether that'll change or not. Regardless, we added support for the initial prototype. Heartbeat project plan.

Data retention policy: We've been talking about a data retention policy for some time. We decided on one, finalized it and codified it in code.

Shed the last vestiges of Playdoh and funfactory: We shed the last bits of Playdoh and funfactory. Input uses the same protections and security decisions those two projects enforced, but without being tied to some of the infrastructure decisions. This made it easier to switch to peep-based requirements management.

Switched to FactoryBoy and overhauled tests: Tests run pretty fast in Fjord now. We switched to FactoryBoy, so writing model-based tests is a lot easier than the stuff we had before.

Summary

Better than 2014q2 and we fixed some more technical debt further making it easier to develop for and maintain Input. Still, there's lots of work to do.

Update April 21st, 2015

LGuruprasad found a bug in the script that caused commits-by-author information to be wrong. Fixed the script and updated the stats!

Input: Dashboards for Everyone v1

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Summary

In 2014q3, I created the Dashboards for Everyone project. This blog post covers what the project is, what's out there now, some examples of usage and the future.

Input collects sentiment data on Mozilla products. Currently, this data can be seen on the front page dashboard. This dashboard sucks for a variety of reasons amongst which is that it's a slog of data that isn't particularly informative.

Further, it's pretty clear that the greater Mozillaverse has different informational needs. Some people are interested in issues with products in specific locales. Some people are interested in today's hot topic. Some people are interested in comparing the first week after release of one version of a product with another. Etc.

Given that, we have two paths:

  1. Create dashboards that live on Input catering to all these needs.
  2. Create an API that allows people to create their own dashboards and host them wherever.

These two paths aren't mutually exclusive. However, I want to put effort into the second one first for the following reasons:

  1. It enables people to individually and collectively solve their own informational problems.
  2. It enables people to solve informational problems as problems crop up rather than wait for Input developers to have time to write up a dashboard.
  3. As people are solving their informational problems, we'll learn a lot more about what informational problems exist which will guide how we build dashboards that live on Input.

The Dashboards for Everyone project aims to create the infrastructure for enabling people to write their own dashboards using Input data.

Version 1

Over the course of the quarter we put enough of the bits in place that building your own dashboard is a viable thing now.

First, we wrote and honed an API for getting feedback data.

Then we wrote a bunch of proof-of-concept dashboards that use this data.

I threw together these two dashboards which are defined in Github gists and "hosted" on bl.ocks.org:

Ian Kronquist (Input intern for summer 2014) wrote this one:

Those are examples of fetching and manipulating the data into a chart. They're not very informative. We used them to help flesh out the API and their current purpose is as examples for using the API to do things.

However, we've built some real things that use the data and are "in production" now:

  • I use the Input API for the Response Breakdown graphs on the Input Health Dashboard. That helps me figure out whether we've just pushed out bugs preventing people from leaving feedback. That uses a d3-based charting library I've been toying with to help me flesh out possible data transform needs. It also uses a library that lets me defined the charts in HTML attributes and they get "auto-charted" without me having to write JavaScript.
  • Cheng used the Input API to build the Hello dashboard for tracking Hello feedback.
  • I then reused most of his ideas and some of his code to produce a Firefox for Android trends dashboard. That's still got some issues namely that the tokenizing isn't very good and thus there's enough noise in the words lists that it doesn't bring real trending issues into starker relief.

That's where we're at. Now I need to tell people about it so that you know these possibilities exist.

Do you have informational needs for the data on Input?

Can the API help you solve your specific needs?

Are there important things missing that you need to have implemented in order to solve your needs?

If you use the Input API to build your own dashboards and you run into problems, write up a bug.

Version 2 and future

Bugs, conversations and seeing other peoples' dashboards will inform us as to how we need to grow the API going forward. That will set the priorities for the next version.

Also, I have a few ideas I've been mulling over:

  1. Build an index of charts: If there are a sufficient number of interesting charts out there, then we should build an index of them on Input.

  2. Build tokenizing into the Input API: If you look at the JavaScript code for my Firefox for Android Trends chart, a good portion of it deals with tokenizing. If tokenizing is a common thing people are doing to build charts, then we should pull that tokenizing in-house.

  3. Build an auto-charter or chart widget library: Right now you have to do all the charting by hand. It'd be really nice to be able to throw dashboards together using chart "widgets" and possibly define the dashboard entirely in HTML. I've been toying with this with the Input Health Dashboard. I'm curious to find out if there's a need for throwing dashboards together quickly to follow certain issues (e.g. e10s, Hello, ...).

    The Metrics team produces some really great looking dashboards that use MetricsGraphics.js. Maybe we could build a shim on top of that letting people more easily use that library with Input data?

Thanks

I really want to thank Matt Grimes for coordinating d3 training, Cheng Wang for giving me some compelling code to reuse and Mike Cooper for helping me debug code whose mystery was only exceeded by its brokenness.

Thoughts, comments, etc

I'm using the fruits of this labor now, so at a bare minimum, it solved some of my problems.

Can it help you solve yours?

Hair today, gone tomorrow

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I've been cutting my own hair since like 1991 or so with two exceptions: a professional haircut before my wedding and one before my wife's sister's wedding.

Back in 1991, my parents bought me a set of Wahl clippers. Over the years, I broke two of the combs and a few of the extensions. Plus it has a crack down the side of the plastic body. At one point, I was cutting hair for a bunch of people on my dorm floor in college. It's seen a lot of use in 23 years.

However, a month ago, it started shorting the circuit. There's a loose wire or frayed something or something something. Between that and the crack down the side of the plastic body, I figured it's time to retire them and get a new set. The new set arrived today.

23 years is a long time. I have very few things that I've had for a long time. I bought my bicycle in 1992 or so. I have a clock radio I got in the mid-80s. I have a solar powered calculator from 1990 or so (TI-36). Everything else seems to fail within 5 years: blenders, toaster ovens, rice cookers, drills, computers, etc.

I'll miss those clippers. I hope the new ones last as long.