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(Redesigning the MDN is a complex project that’s going to take more than one post. In this post, I discuss the reasoning behind some of the more superficial changes I’ve made to the Network.)

Another one of my big projects here at Mozilla has been working on redesigning and re-branding the Mozilla Developer Network (MDN). If you’ve been keeping up with my blog, you’ve already seen some of the work that Jay and I have done with regard to graphically redesigning the network. As I’ll discuss in a bit, we’ve made some important changes since then.

First, it’s important to understand the impetus for change. The Mozilla Developer Center (the current name for the MDN), as it stands, can be found here, if you’re not already familiar with it. Although it certainly looks better than it has in years past, it could still use some fixes here and there. Or all over the place. You can find the slide deck with some pictures of our first draft of the redesign here.

Underneath the superficial overhaul, however, lies a deeper paradigm shift. Although content is pretty well spread out to cover various domains of the open web, the focus currently concentrates on developing on the Mozilla platform specifically. While certainly we want to reward and help those who develop with the tools that we provide them, we feel that perhaps this mindset is a little close-minded. Mozilla’s goal is to advance the open web in every way possible, Mozilla-inspired or not. Consequently a solely inward focus on only Mozilla’s tools is unintuitive and does not allow us to optimize the progress of the open web.

Ultimately, the goal of the Mozilla Developer Network is to provide a central hub for discussion and documentation for open web developers, regardless of platform. The redesign of the MDN cannot lose sight of this goal.

With this goal in mind, we took the original .psd files from our web designers and started making tweaks. As previously mentioned, there are four main documentation headers: Web, Mobile, Add-ons, and Applications. In the currently released design, all of those headers are given equal weight, which runs against our fundamental goal.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t much of a way to change these headlines without breaking the entire header, so we instead decided to revamp the site’s home page to place a greater emphasis on open web technologies at-large. When the new site is live, you’ll be able to see for yourself. There have been several other changes as well; I’ll tour through them on this blog when the new Network goes live.

One thing I’d like to emphasize: though our presentation of information has changed to fit our goal, none of the documentation has changed. You will still find all the information found on the current MDC, from Gecko to info about Mozilla-specific APIs. These articles will continued to be updated as well. Only the presentation of the information has changed.

Expect the site to go live mid-August. Tomorrow, I’ll write about some of the awesome new features that we can expect to see in the next iteration of the MDN and how we plan to facilitate communication between developers.

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2 Comments

  1. It might be useful to include the MDN future/direction things such as this blog post in the dev-mdc@lists.m.o mailing list (or had that been replaced? There was no announcement.)

    Hopefully we (the users) will be able to better focus on the areas we want – web developers probably don’t care about Mozilla internals, but Mozilla developers probably do. There are some shared areas, though, such as the JavaScript guide. Even those, though, sometimes would want context-sensitive information (Mozilla developers won’t care much what IE versions support something)…

    Looking forward to seeing what the changes will bring.

    • Hi, Mook:

      Thanks for the feedback. Mozilla’s actually in the process of moving all of our mailing lists to a different mass mail client, so I’ll probably hold off on trying to reach people via the lists. Thanks for the suggestion nonetheless.

      We have certainly been working to address your concerns. Right now, Eric Shephard and Janet Swisher are working on organizing doc sprints, events/meetings/chatrooms where developers who proclaim to be experts in a particular area can contribute specifically to those areas.

      From a more end-user-geared standpoint, we’re doing what we can to organize the site in a way in which it’s easy to access the information that’s specific to you. We’re working out the kinks in the tag and searching systems as well. Naturally, it’s difficult to parse out articles of interest in shared areas, but we’re doing what we can to provide only the information needed at any given time on any given page or search result. Hopefully we’ll have something a little more concrete by the time the site goes live. If not, you can bet that we’ll be working on it while you guys continue to provide us feedback on the newest iteration.

      Brian


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  1. […] Redesigning the MDN (part 2) By Brian Louie Leave a Comment Categories: Uncategorized [This is a continuation of the post "Redesigning the MDN (part 1)."] […]

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