At midday UK time (12 GMT) today our network team activated a feature called HTTP/2 (or h2 for short) for our Community website. You might notice pages loading slightly faster than they did before. There shouldn't be any other differences. Hit us up in the comments if you spot anything odd happening.
HTTP/2 is major revision of the HTTP network protocol used by the World Wide Web which received major browser support from 2015 onward.
Instead of opening up 1 socket connection per requested asset (with a typical Community page containing 30 resources over www.element14.com and another 30 on files1.element14.com), it opens 1 socket per domain and multiplexes all the assets through it, greatly reducing the connection overhead.
Most modern browsers support HTTP/2, and if they don't, they'll just use a HTTP/1.1 connection, which makes this change a no-brainer.
This week we deployed our first regular update to the site since the platform upgrade last month. It contained a lot of fixes (including the issues with the Inbox which a number of members contacted us about).
There will be another site update later on in November.
+3 other fixes.
+2 anti-spam improvements
+3 other improvements
+4 other back-end changes
For the last 4 months we've been busy working on upgrading the platform that Community runs on. For those of you who are interested, it's been upgraded from Jive 8 to Jive 9. Although the process was nowhere near as complicated as our previous upgrades, it still takes us time to migrate some of our customisations, and we take the opportunity to rewrite portions of code, fix outstanding bugs, and implement a few new features whilst we're at it
Core Product Improvements
There are quite a few behind-the-scenes improvements, and here are a few you'll notice at the front end.
- News Stream Updates
- Flash Dependency Removal
Last year our team transitioned videos to HTML5. Flash has now been removed in the following areas:
Other Fixes and Improvements
We've implemented over 80 changes. Some of the highlights are...
Good afternoon, element14 community members!
This Friday, September 22nd at 5:00PM CDT (11:00PM BST) we'll be upgrading the community platform to Jive 9. Woohoo!
Myself and several other members of the element14 community and development team will be on Friday night/Saturday morning to ensure that everything deployed correctly. This is a (relatively) simpler upgrade than those in the past, since we'll be doing a direct version upgrade (From Jive 8 -> Jive 9) instead of skipping one. Additionally, the update has been successfully deployed on our staging environment for a few weeks now, and everything appears to be stable. However, part of the maintenance period does involve doing a complete back-up to the site, so there should be no fear that anything will be lost. Absolute worse case scenario, everything is on fire we can safely revert back to Jive 8.
After the Jive 9 upgrade is complete, expect us to continue to make improvements and fixes in the future. Some of the things on this list include:
There is not a fixed time line to these things, and we'll continue to update you once more information is available. As always, if you have any questions/feedback/concerns please let us know.
The element14 team.
Platform Upgrade News
This is our last site update before we embark on a platform upgrade to Jive 9. However, early indications are that the upgrade from Jive 8 to Jive 9 will be nowhere near as complicated as our previous upgrades have been. In the past we've jumped from Jive 4.5 to 6, then from 6 to 8. Those were been big projects and took quite some time for us to integrate our changes back into the platform. Since we've been able to stay current on v.8 point releases within our regular release cycles, the changes from the latest version of 8 to 9 are not as significant. More details on the timing of the upgrade will be forthcoming.
Latest Site Update
The site update we did last night primarily focused on getting the video upload feature to work with the latest Brightcove API version, which we needed to do since Brightcove are retiring their legacy API at the end of June. We also made some performance improvements which should make the site more speedy for logged-in users. There was also a bug we needed to squash, where users were getting logged out, seemingly at random, which I'll explain further down in this post.
RoadTest & Design Challenges
Seemingly Random Logout Issue - Investigation
You may be interested in what our team sometimes has to investigate.. this is a 'fun' bug we looked into and fixed last night.
Some of our team found that we were getting logged out of the site at odd times.. yet other team members weren't. We'd not had members report it in Feedback & Support, so we knew it wasn't a widespread issue.. but it was annoying for the people affected, and there was a problem somewhere... we just couldn't work out where.
After a couple of days of it happening, I'd only seen it affect Chrome, and when it happened, it not only logged me out, but also presented the EU Cookie Directive message, which I always dismiss. Dismissing that dialog saves the choice in a cookie, so this led me to look at my cookies for the site. In the developer tools they looked okay, but then looked in Chrome's built-in 'Cookies and site data' dialog, it told me I had 170 cookies for this site
When I expanded that section it showed a one particular cookie getting duplicated... what is going on??
There were a couple of odd things about each one; the path for the cookie was set to the full URL of the content I'd looked at (it shouldn't be), and it was a session cookie which should be cleared when I restarted my browser, and they certainly weren't being cleared.
After some Googling, it turns out that when Chrome is set to 'Continue where you left off', it keeps all the session cookies even when you completely restart the browser, so these cookies were never getting cleared down.
What seemed to be happening was that Chrome kept collecting these duplicate cookies until it hit a threshold, then it cleared out as much as it could (logging you out in the process) but didn't clear all the duplicate cookies. The Chrome team should maybe look at fixing that (I'll see about raising it as a bug), but our platform shouldn't be saving the cookie with a path like that, so there was still more work to do to find out why it was doing that.
It turned out the platform vendor had made a small change to how that path was calculated, and in most circumstances it works...but not for our site. I put a breakpoint in the code, and saw it was setting the cookie path to;
Yet when I looked at it in the cookie dialog it had the full content URL. After a bit more thought, I realised that the path needs to end with a slash.. when it looks like this, it works as intended!
The fix is trivial, but as you can see, tracking it down and working out what was going on took quite some time!
So, taking a digital page out of mcollinge's book, I want to start giving regular "status updates" regarding the community and what I've been up to. Realistically some of things will be less concrete or exciting than a Dev Update, but if any of are curious as to what I've been working on (and some of my plans for the future) read on.
Fair Warning: This one might be a bit long as it's part introduction, part re-cap, and part future planning. Future updates will likely be much more concise. (... Likely. Only a Sith deals in absolutes).
I will be out of the office from Friday, May 12th until Monday, May 20th attending a friend's wedding in Japan(!!!). I hope to have some cool content for the community, as well as to fulfill a few souvenir requests from the team (such as a robot for tariq.ahmad).
What's new on element14?
This is a section of the community that is cross-referenced in numerous places, but unfortunately took a back seat while I was ramping up into this position. I was able to work with our Design Team to get it updated for April, and the May update is currently in progress. My plan is to adhere to at least a monthly cadence. If you have any feedback on how we could make this area more useful to everyone, please let me know.
A couple of new badges have been added to the system. Here's a quick look:
|Global Spotlight: Germany||Score 100% on the Global Spotlight: Germany Quiz.|
|Exterminator!||A badge for whenever a community member helps to identify or troubleshoot a bug. This badge can only be awarded by members of our Dev Team.|
Awarded to members who voted/commented on our "Revenge of the 5th" Poll.
The "Exterminator" badge was implemented based on a suggestion from a community member (though I'm awful and I forget where...) If you happen to be that person, please let me know so I can give proper kudos.
Now onto some of the "background noise".
I'm a huge fan of documentation. Perhaps it's due to some deep-seated fear of failure, but I like having things I can reference to make sure I'm doing everything correctly. Self-depreciation aside, getting certain aspects of our community and the community properly documented has been a major priority for me and a large part of what I've been working on. While I've been doing Community/Social Media management for a few years now, element14 is unique to me in a few aspects, from the platform we use (Jive), to specific aspects of my job (gamification, community newsletter) and other internal tools that we use to assist with project management.
I like having things I can cross-check to confirm that I'm not forgetting anything, and I like providing tools on the off chance I meet some kind of untimely demise (or you know... take a vacation or something). Some of the things I've been documenting include:
This isn't to say that some of this documentation didn't already exist, but as software and systems change most of them needed updated, and others I've created to suite my personal work ethic. (Fun Fact: I'm a huge fan of checklists as a kind of 'writing therapy'. Above is a page from my 'handy dandy notebook' that I use to track my current tasks via my checklists).
Stepping Away from the Keyboard
I've also been sitting down fairly regularly with other employees/departments for things that intersect with the Community (such as with our Workflow Specialist and Direct Marketing Campaign Manager) to learn about our tools and get myself nice and situated using them for the things I'm responsible for. While informative, it can be very time consuming and there are days when I spend more time collaborating with other stakeholders than I do at my desk. (Exhibit A: This was my Monday).
I also had the privilege to attend JiveWorld17 with Christy-Admin last week, to learn more about the Jive platform and best practices for using it. While our instance of Jive is fairly unique due to it's extensive customization, it did give a few ideas for improvements...
Before I go into any specific detail, I feel morally obligated to post a little disclaimer that everything and anything in the following section is subject to change at our discretion. As of now, there are no expected time lines, and realistically, it's a musing of all the things I have planned for the Community around some of my day-to-day tasks. So, what's next for the community?
Other Important Notes
Whew, okay. I think that's all for now. Thank you for your time!
In our second site update of the year, we've been doing a lot of work behind the scenes, so the release might look a bit lighter on the ground compared to previous updates. We're also planning our next big platform upgrade; work on that starts in April, and we'll limit the volume of improvements we'll make on the current platform over the coming months.. don't worry.. we'll still be listening to your suggestions and fixing problems, we'll just not be actively working on big new features.
Change embedded videos to scale in size / be suitable for mobile
Countdown Timer added to the Design Challenge application form
Ability to add 'Reasons To Register' panel to the Registration Form
Improve Featured Search so that 'eagle' doesn't show Beaglebone results
New homepage profile icon which should look a lot better for Social Network sharing
Un-editable profile fields are now hidden, simplifying the look of the form
+3 other changes
+2 other anti-spam improvements
'In Review' widget needs UI tweaking
Top Member badge sometimes wraps onto the next line
Styling issue on the Create DreamBoard page
+ 2 other changes
Fixes / Maintenance
Tidy up video code.. remove non-HTML5 option
Video record not being created in some situations
The referral page wasn't working with some products
Video playlist opens video without decoration when used standalone mode
Live chat fix (for new provider)
Remove legacy live chat code (from old provider)
Mark Quiz button was showing multiple times on mobile
Ensure the 'Following' page shows RoadTests correctly
Missing images on some RoadTests
+2 other changes
The display order for child products was broken
This is our first site update of 2017. It was deployed last night and updates the underlying platform to the latest version, with over 100 fixes by the vendor. As well as that, our team implemented 42 fixes and improvements to the code that makes element14 Community the awesome site it is today
Underlying platform upgrade! Over 100 fixes by Jive
Ability to white-list a user from being deactivated by anti-spam process
Add a 'Reactivate User' link to the profile pages for admins to use
Anti-spam improvement (no detail given on purpose)
Widget(s) that allow easy use of YouTube Playlists
Ability to follow a single RoadTest instead of all RoadTests/The RT Space.
Tidy up denied country pages
Broken vanity URLs went to a bad not found page
RoadTesters widget improvements
Reduce font size of Status Update widget
"RoadTest Review" widget fixes
Old Icon /Road_Test_3.png being used on the homepage
New RoadTest Icon is not displayed in the Create drop-down small menu view
Change name/label of 'Champion' to 'Top Member'
New homepage profile icon in the next community release
The link to Tech Docs 404s
Chinese Lang Text is not translating properly when languages are selected in drop-down menu
'Undefined' showing in content search results
Images not working in Recent Reviews
Extend referral handler to allow lowercase country codes
"That image type is forbidden" error in RoadTest and Design Center applications
4 x back end changes
8 x changes and fixes in Design Center
10 x other fixes and improvements
It's been a while since I posted some site update blog posts; I've actually missed a couple we did in 2016, so here's what we updated in December.. our last update of 2016!
We've switched the live chat provider from Live Person to Live Agent.. this switch-over happened in mid-January
Improve and fix the 'Register Interest' feature.. now suitable for eBook downloads & registration includes the Job Role field
Improve automated account deactivation process so that user's don't keep getting deactivated
Improve the anti-spam notifications our admins receive
Add a "Why Join" document link to the "Join Now" pop up for locked down content
Take users back to RoadTests or Design Challenges once they log in
Allow multiple competitions to run at the same time
Add T&Cs checkbox to RoadTest Application form
Moderation message and message content were visible to Guest users
element14 logo for China
Fix for different social media links shown based on region
Users were finding that they couldn't create a Group
New homepage profile icon (for social media via Open Graph protocol)
Job Role in RoadTest and Design Challenge apps was blank
'Ask a Question' widget was appearing twice on DC docs
Make "category" required for Feedback and Support
Image Upload not working on Events
Mobile download of eBook does not work
Can't create a discussion without having the 'Read' permission set for a Place (affected competition entries)
"Now Enrolling" Widget Tweaks
Right rail on RoadTest page UI tidied up
Update the RoadTest content icon
CircuitStudio Link on Resources Drop Down
+8 admin and other improvements
Hide Child Products that aren't available for Sale
+2 other tickets
It's been a while since I posted some site update blog posts; I've actually missed a couple we did in 2016, so here's what we updated in October.
New Features / Highlights
Status Update widget for the homepage
Re-position the Star Ratings feature to the right of the page
Switch store URLs to HTTPS (fixes referrer problem in China)
Couple of improvements to the anti-spam processor
Move the Arduino area from a Group to a Space
Misc Fixes / Improvements
Document PDF preview breaks for some documents
Add Job Role to Design Challenge and RoadTest Application Forms
"Move All Content" admin page wasn't fully working
Handle EXPORT countries instead of defaulting them to the UK
Show the contents of all SuperWidgets when you edit the overview page (useful for mobile widgets)
Moderation - content that would be moderated can't be published at all
"Now Enrolling" widget tweaks
Translate Countdown Clock text
Tweaks to Ben Heck Show Connect form
Unescaped apostrophes would cause Event code to fail
'All' language option for content browsing doesn't show All
DreamBoard on Mobile.. message to tell users it won't work with certain resolutions
7 x navigation and vanity URL changes
3 x admin improvements in the back end
It's been a while since I looked at the stats for browsers accessing the element14 Community site (Browser Support on element14 Community and Windows 10 on the rise ), so I thought I'd put together a quick blog post showing how things have changed over the past 3 years.
It's worth noting that Adobe only shows the top 5 results for each report type, which means you are missing out on a bit of the detail.
Operating System Types (including mobile OSs)
I'm really not sure what's going on with Google Android from August 2016 onwards; I know Chrome OS is gaining in popularity, but didn't expect it to ramp up like that. It might be caused by a reporting problem at the Adobe side of things, so I've raised this for investigation with our analytics team.
Operating Systems (shows the most popular OS versions)
Observations on point accumulation by the top 60 members in Element 14
Back in October of 2015 Element 14 announced its first Hertz level member, who, at the time, was mcb1. The Hertz level starts at 100,000 points, which in the Element14 community is really a lot of points. Accumulating that many points is no easy feat, as I will illustrate in this blog.
On the day I read the announcement, just over a year ago, I checked my point accumulation and found I had 7051 points, placing me 61st in line to the throne. I wondered about how the community in general was doing in terms of point accumulation because point accumulation can be a good proxy indication of member participation.
Point accumulation is not 100% correlated with member participation. A strong case supporting this assertion can be found in the very prolific and highly participatory benheck who is not among the top 60 members ranked in the chart below. From April 2016 to October 2016 Ben slipped from 64th to 81st position. Clearly, this does not mean Ben has been participating less over the last year, it means that he has been concentrating on making valuable contributions through The Ben Heck Show. I think it is quite possible that Ben's contribution to the community through The Ben Heck Show has inspired many members to increase their participation, helping them move up the ranking scale.
Nevertheless, observing point accumulation should provide the temperature of member activity and plotting member activity over time should provide insight into the climate of the community. With this hypothesis in mind I started a spreadsheet to record the point accumulation of the top 60 members in the community longitudinally, or, over time. I could have selected the first 100, or the top 50, but because I was sitting just on the other side of 60 I arbitrarily decided to track the top 60 members. I have maintained the spreadsheet for the last year and would like to share the chart below with the community because I believe other members and element14 administrators might find it interesting.
The process I used to gather data for the spreadsheet is pretty straightforward, if perhaps a little cumbersome. It went like this:
For reference here is a link to the point accumulation rules and the levels currently established by element14.
The chart below illustrates the progress in point accumulation for the top 60 members of the element 14 community from October 27, 2015 to October 27, 2016.
The vertical axis represents the number of points accumulated, obtained via the method described above. The horizontal axis represents member ranking from 1 to 60, The third axis, the depth axis, contains a series of snapshots taken through the year, each one labelled with the date the snapshot was taken.
Several observations can be made from this chart.
First, the vertical axis is pretty much asymptotic around the top point accumulator. There isn't enough data on the horizontal axis to confirm this, but it looks like the horizontal axis is pretty much asymptotic to member rank as the rank number increases above 50 or so. I explored a bit well beyond the 60th ranked member to see what the chart would look like out there. Now I couldn't determine exactly how many members there are in the Element14 community because odd things happen when member rank numbers get into 5 and 6 digit territory. For example, I know of three members that have less than 100 points accumulated. These members have ranking numbers ranging from around 36,000th to around 228,000th. So there are probably at least 228,000 members in the database. However, the ranking system breaks down at high rank numbers because multiple members have the same rank position if they have the same low point accumulation number. For example, at least 6 members share rank position 31,851.
From examination of the data set gathered over a year, I believe I see a very large number of inactive, or barely active members, and a small clutch of moderately to highly active members, likely under 200 in total. I may be wrong. The data set I gathered is incomplete, so I am making inferences and my conclusions are certainly open to debate. The chart does not show this well, but the raw data shows that some members shoot up through the ranks over a relatively short period of time, then stop advancing. Others have steady point accumulation over time, using various participation strategies, advancing up the rank at various paces. None of the members on the chart have activity levels as frenetic as the levels achieved by the top three members.
As can be seen from the chart, the top three members are very active. The number 1 position has advanced by 44,598 points in the one year time span displayed in the chart. Ownership of the top member position, by the way, has changed hands several times among the top three.
Here is a question: If Element14, as a community, has a desire to increase awareness and participation in electronics/computing as a hobby or as a career, should more be done to encourage participation among the many thousands of inactive or barely active members? Is this a topic of interest to the membership?
Our 7th site update of the year was deployed on Tuesday night. Here are the highlights;
+ 1 other improvement
+1 other fix
Misc Fixes and Improvements
+ 1 other fix
5 SEO improvements
Last night we deployed our 6th update of the year to the element14 Community site. As ever, thank you to our members for all the great suggestions and bug reports.. we try to look into every problem & assess every idea. Lots of the items below are a result of member feedback.
- Allow prev/next link text to be customised
- Allow text for the success/retry link to be customised
- Set a pass mark (so we can say that 80% is enough to pass a particular quiz)
Naviatation and Menu Changes
RoadTest and Design Challenges
Misc Improvements and Fixes
In our 5th site update of the year we made a number of enhancements to improve the performance of the site; most of this was centred around compressing CSS and delaying the loading of non-essential CSS, so pages should load faster, especially on mobile.
Behind the scenes we improved a anti-spam page which helps us find the user accounts used by spammers.. it's a lot easier for me to identify those accounts and deactivate them in a single click
The content for I'm an Engineer has now been fully migrated to element14 Community; https://www.element14.com/community/community/imanengineer
You'll now find a link to your Bookmarks in your profile menu (top of the screen); it wasn't particularly easy to find before.
Migrate I'm an Engineer to Community
Add Image field to Design Challenges Application
Enhance registration anti-spam page to aid our anti-spam efforts
Delay loading of certain CSS to help with site performance
Performance and SEO
4 tickets (3 for compressing CSS in different areas)
Separate Industrial Automation & Robotics
Move "The Ben Heck Show" into 'Resources'
+ 2 other tickets
Welcome Page video wasn't working
Fix the Product Search widget used on various supplier Overview pages
Sharing and Action links are missing for Guest users on blog posts
RoadTest icon is missing in the Small View Menu from the Create Dropdown
Email addresses with new-style domains are rejected during registration
Breadcrumbs for sub-spaces aren't correct when viewing content
Buy Now links in Design Center don't work when multi-part links are also used on the page
Pressing Delete a lot in site Search generates multiple captions that fill the results box
+ 1 other fix
User de-activation via on Recent Users page was often failing.. now fixed
Allow anti-spam user deactivation to handle more content types
Make My Bookmarks/Likes Easier to Find (it's now an option in your Profile down-down at the top of the screen)
Contestants widget improvements
Tidy up the display of the Category list when editing content (CSS)
Allow Design Center Buy Now links to be opened in new tab
Display the Follow button for logged out users
Design Center product pages were using old widget styling
+ 2 other improvements