Team: Developers

Welcome to the engine room!

We develop the lib.reviews platform. That’s both server-side and client-side code and design (!), as well as any additional tools, apps, etc. If you’re technically minded but want to help more with docs, developer outreach, user needs analysis, you’re also more than welcome to join.

For now we use this team primarily to keep a diary of our work.

Number of members: 1 (view list)

Moderators:

Team rules

You agree to license all technical contributions under CC-0 (public domain); see: https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/

We’ve opted for these terms for our codebase to make re-use and extension minimally complex.

This team has not published any reviews yet.


lib.reviews - a platform co-operative?

I’m investigating the possibility of turning lib.reviews into a platform co-op. The underlying idea is simple: users own the platform and vote democratically on all decisions. I’m a member of social.coop, which uses this model for a social network that is part of the larger Mastodon network (a good intro if you’re unfamiliar), and my experience with it has been very positive.

What would this mean? Nothing for the day-to-day use of the site. Folks who want to participate in decision-making could sign-up and contribute to costs for hosting and development, but also vote on decisions, e.g., which features to prioritize. There would probably be a free tier for co-op membership as well, just to make sure that active contributors can join up even if they can’t contribute financially.

If this is something you’d like to see, here’s a simple thing you can do: star lib.reviews on GitHub. I’d like to use OpenCollective to manage finances for the platform, and they require a threshold of 100 GitHub stars. That seems fair—there should be active user interest before it makes sense to set up a funding/governance model.


Major update to freeyourstuff.cc browser extension

freeyourstuff.cc is a separate project from lib.reviews, but with a related purpose. It’s a Chrome/Chromium browser extension that lets you download reviews you’ve contributed to major websites, including Amazon, Goodreads, IMDB, TripAdivsor, and Yelp. You can publish them on the site as a backup, or keep your own copy.

The most popular feature turns out to be the Quora downloader: tens of thousands of Quora answers have been downloaded and re-published under free licenses with it (see the upload directory).

Today I pushed out a week’s worth of updates to the extension. From a user perspective, the main changes are that IMDB and Amazon extraction works again (design changes had caused the plugins to break), Quora extraction should be more well-behaved, and all plugins have a clear “busy” indicator when they’re doing stuff.

Under the hood, the extension now uses async/await functions instead of callbacks to make the download flow a lot more understandable, especially for complex plugins like the Quora one which have to monitor changes to a page dynamically made with JavaScript not under the plugin’s control.

If you’ve contributed reviews to other sites, I encourage you to use this extension to keep your own copy (and please report issues you experience). In future, we’ll make it easy to migrate individual reviews to lib.reviews or other sites, as well.


Major improvements to media uploading

It’s now possible to upload and insert media files directly from the rich-text editor when writing reviews, blog posts, or anything else. This video is a quick demonstration:


This was a major effort for a few reasons:

  • We needed to add an upload API that handles various failure cases (e.g., incorrect MIME type), batches up errors and passes them along to the application. The API supports multi-file uploads as well, but in the editor we only upload a single file at a time.

  • We needed to design a dialog that’s quick and easy, while handling entry of all required data without taking up too much space for mobile users. The flip to a second page you see in the video seems like a pretty good solution—you only ever see that page if you need to.

  • We needed to add an upload feed so we can keep track of what files are being uploaded.

As you can see in the video, the feature gives credit to the person who created the work you’re uploading, something that tends to go missing on most websites.

Along the way, we’ve also improved the old multi-file upload and the presentation of metadata on review subject pages. For now, you need to switch to “rich text” mode to see the upload button—in future, the plain text markdown editor will get its own toolbar.


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