Archive for the ‘Monkey Business’ Category

File Under: Monkey Business

Welcome to the All New Webmonkey

monkey_newpaint

As you may have noticed, we’ve given Webmonkey an entirely new coat of paint.

The visual design has been refreshed — something we’ve been doing every couple of years since we launched in 1996 — and we honestly think the site has never looked better. It took a lot of hard work by everyone on the Wired.com technical and design teams to pull it off.

As pretty as it is, there are other changes behind the scenes that we feel are just as important. We simplified the site navigation and upgraded our search tool, making it much easier to find blog posts and tutorials around specific topics. We also upgraded our publishing system, which will allow us to use photos, screenshots and galleries in more interesting ways in our reviews and tutorials.

Most notably, however, this latest redesign of Webmonkey brings to an end a two year experiment. In May of 2008, we moved all of the tutorial content on the site (over 500 articles and reference pages) to a wiki. We asked all of our readers to chip in and help improve our educational content by contributing edits. Many of you jumped in, offering updates, tips, links and corrections. Certain communities really made a difference — in particular, our Django tutorial, our Python tutorial and our series on JavaScript frameworks all benefitted greatly from reader edits. We sincerely appreciate all of the work that everyone put in to improve our content.

But the wiki experiment didn’t pan out. Spam became a huge problem, and despite our best efforts to automate our defenses, keeping spam bots and vandals off the site put serious strain on our small team. Also, while MediaWiki is great software (we’ll continue to use it on Wired’s How-To Wiki), fully incorporating the wiki content into the rest of Webmonkey, which was and still is running WordPress, proved to be a challenge. Search, site navigation and content discovery were suffering because of it.

In February, we froze edits on the wiki and began porting everything into WordPress. All of the legitimate edits and updates that were made by our readers while the wiki pages were open to the public have been preserved in the WordPress versions. We also found some time to update some of the older articles, too.

Now, the tutorials easier to find. They look better (thanks to Alex Gorbatchev’s SyntaxHighlighter) and the multi-page lessons are easier to navigate. And while the spam bot armies are locked out for good, the tutorials are open for comments just like blog posts. So if you spot something that needs updating or fixing, just leave a note and we’ll attend to it.

There’s still some work to be done. Over the next few weeks and months, we’ll continue updating the content library, beefing up the number of templates in the Reference section and building out the directories. In the near future, we’re going to install Disqus to handle comments, so you will be able to log in using OpenID, Facebook Connect, your Twitter or Yahoo credentials, or an existing Disqus login if you want to leave a comment anywhere on the site.

So for now, click around the site. Follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook if you haven’t already. And of course, please let us know what you think of the new Webmonkey in the comments.