Diaspora Gets a Little Backbone, Interface Overhaul

A lot of you may have logged in on your pod a few days ago to notice that something is just kind of different about the site. The words “Alpha” have been removed from the title, the gradients are a little different, and some features are just straight-up missing.

“What gives?” you ask, and that’s a good question. What, indeed?

The fact of the matter is that the Diaspora devs are looking at squeezing out every bit of juice into their platform. Optimizing how a system interacts with databases is no easy task, nor is designing a platform to scale up to potentially hundreds of thousands of users. As the developers come to getting the databases to the pinnacle of the possible performance yield that they can get, they also decided to focus on another contributor to page loads: the interface.

Diaspora’s UI uses a considerable amount of JavaScript, and rightly so. It all deals with presenting the various controls in a visually appealing way, while remaining usable. I’ll let you in on a little secret: in the past, there weren’t good enough ways to prepare and test all of the javascript code. Sometimes, running a test suite could take upwards of 10-20 minutes, just to make sure everything checks out on the developer side. It’s a simple problem: lost time = lost development. With Backbone.js and Jasmine, Diaspora devs can test their code in a fraction of the time.

Everything is being made to be slimmer and faster, and future developments will require code to be tested against for the sake of maintaining a higher standard. That means more stability in code, more infrastructure and guidelines to develop against, and more new features rushing out the door, to greet you on a faster interface and system. What’s not to be excited about?

So far, the stream has been ported to make use of the new system. Other features will soon follow, but it’s important to remember what this all means, and keep things in perspective. A lot of features currently are running in a bare-bones state because they’re being rewritten to accomodate the newer, faster, sleeker system. You could almost say the system is being rewritten from the inside out, all for the sake of keeping a community going with something to use. With this new system in place, it will not only allow for faster page loads and system response, but it will also allow for the development of new features.

For more details, check out the blog entry about the change on the new Diaspora developer blog, and see how it affects Diaspora. Dennis has done a great write-up explaining everything further.

Sean is a guy from the middle of nowhere in Illinois who passionately supports Free Software, Free Culture, and decentralized communication systems. He serves as the editor of We Distribute, a publication dedicated to the development of the fediverse. In his spare time, Sean is a budding indie game dev, writer, web developer, and a musician.

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