1. Alaveteli Release 0.26

    We’ve just released Alaveteli 0.26! Here are some of the highlights.

    Request page design update

    After some research in to where people enter the site we decided to revamp the request pages to give a better first impression.

    Alaveteli 0.26 request page redesign

    We’ve used the “action bar” pattern from the authority pages to move the request actions to a neater drop-down menu. We’ve also promoted the “follow” button to help other types of users interact with the site.

    Alaveteli release 0.26 request page action menu

    Since lots of users are entering an Alaveteli on the request pages, it might not be obvious that they too can ask for information. We’ve now made an obvious link to the new request flow from the sidebar of the request pages to emphasise this.

    The correspondence bubbles have had a bit of a makeover too. Its now a lot more obvious how to link to a particular piece of correspondence, and we’ve tidied the header so that its a little clearer who’s saying what.

    The listing of similar requests in the request page sidebar has been improved after observing they were useful to users.

    Also in design-world we’ve added the more modern request status icons, made the search interfaces more consistent and helped prevent blank searches on the “Find an authority” page.

    Admin UI Improvements

    As an Alaveteli grows it can get trickier to keep an eye on everything that’s happening on the site.

    We’ve now added a new comments list so that admins can catch offensive or spam comments sooner.

    Alaveteli Release 0.26 admin comments page

    For the same reasons, we’ve added sorting to the users list and made banned users more obvious.

    Alaveteli Release 0.26 admin users list

    The CSV import page layout and inline documentation has also been updated.

    More stats!

    The wonderful team at the OpenAustralia Foundation contributed an epic pull request to revamp the statistics page.

    The new statistics page adds contributor leaderboards to help admins identify users as potential volunteers, as well as a graph showing when site admins hide things to improve the transparency of the site.

    Alaveteli Release 0.26 leaderboard stats Alaveteli Release 0.26 hide events

    Extra search powers

    As if that wasn’t enough, the the OpenAustralia Foundation team also added a new advanced search term to be able to find requests to public authorities with a given tag.

    Conversion tracking improvements

    We’re constantly asking how we can improve Alaveteli. In order to answer that question meaningfully, we need good tracking of what happens when people make requests on the site. When we tried to track down whether people coming from social media sites were more likely to make a request than those coming from other sources, we found a problem with the way we tracked ‘conversions’ – the process of getting all the way through making a request. We were using a particular URL to mark the end of that process in Google Analytics. The issue was that sometimes, requesters would share that URL with other people, causing us to record the same request being made multiple times. We’re now using a little bit of javascript to make sure we only record the conversion when a new request is actually being made.

    The full list of highlights and upgrade notes for this release is in the changelog.

    Thanks again to everyone who’s contributed!

  2. Alaveteli Release 0.24

    We’ve just released Alaveteli 0.24! Here are some of the highlights.

    Admin Tools

    We’ve added better management for censor rules in the admin interface. Previously, only request and user censor rules could be managed; now you can manage rules for authorities and global rules that get applied to everything.

    Censor rules management

    We’ve added support deleting incoming messages in bulk on a request page. This is useful if you’re experiencing spam to the holding pen. You can zap them all in a couple of clicks.

    Deleting incoming spam in bulk

    Design

    Facebook is a big driver of traffic to Alavetelis. We’ve added support for a specific opengraph image for pages when shared on Facebook. You’ll need to add a custom version for your site in your theme. Take a look at the upgrade notes for more info.

    Alaveteli OpenGraph Logo

    As Zarino has already mentioned, we’ve improved handling of long translations in the banner.

    Handling long translations

    Long Term Support

    Alaveteli 0.24 adds support for the most current versions of Debian and Ruby. Jessie has security support until May 2018 and Long Term Support until May 2020.

    The full list of highlights and upgrade notes for this release is in the changelog.

    Thanks again to everyone who’s contributed!

  3. Alaveteli Release 0.22

    We’ve just released Alaveteli 0.22!

    Its a big one, with over 400 commits and lots of general improvements.

    Accessibility

    Luke Bacon improved the design and accessibility of the search form.

    alaveteli-accessible-search-form

    Code Quality

    Code quality came top of the list at AlaveteliCon 2015. This release includes contributions from James McKinney, Henare Degan, Caleb Tutty, Petter Reinholdtsen and Gorm Eriksen – all helping to clean up code, make Alaveteli work even better and make it easier to translate.

    Performance

    WhatDoTheyKnow’s Public Authority pages were suffering, so we took a dive in to the code around this area. Improving it had a huge impact on the page we were looking at and should have benefits across the application.

    alaveteli-public-body-page-performance

    Maintenance & Security

    We’ve added fixes for CVE-2015-3225, CVE-2015-3227 and CVE-2015-1840, and updated xapian-full-alaveteli for Ruby 2.1 compatibility.

    HTML Widgets

    We’re always trying to think of more ways to promote an Alaveteli site, so this release includes new feature developed by Jody McIntyre for the AskTheEU Alaveteli site.

    When enabled, each request has a “Create a widget for this request” action available in the sidebar.

    ask-the-eu-widget-sidebar

    Any visitor can copy the iframe embed code to paste on their own website.

    ask-the-eu-widget-create

    It’s just a flick of the switch to enable widgets for all requests on your site!

    Waving Goodbye to the Past

    Alaveteli 0.22 is the last release to support Ruby 1.8.

    We’ve got an upgrading guide available, and we’re always here to help on the alaveteli-dev mailing list.

    You can see the full list of highlights and upgrade notes in the changelog.

    Thanks again to everyone who’s contributed.