The Mozilla Developer Network has a New Face

Last summer the Mozilla Developer Network (MDN) underwent a massive platform change, moving from a hosted third-party solution to our own custom Django application code-named Kuma. That move laid the ground work for our latest major MDN upgrade: a complete front-end redesign, included many new features as well as usability and accessibility enhancements. Let me provide you with a quick overview of what you can expect to see on the new MDN and what features we’re cooking up for the future!

New MDN Features

Increased Commitment to Search

The majority of MDN users are looking to find documentation the moment they land on the MDN homepage, so we’ve placed search front and center:

We’ve also added search filters to the mix, allowing users to narrow down search results to their specific needs:

From a technical perspective, we’ve moved to Elasticsearch for search, allowing us to continue making indexing and filtering improvements, as well as add new search features at will. We anticipate fine-tuning search as we receive feedback so we’ll continue the push to get you to better documentation faster.

Ease in Navigation

Getting from document to document was a pain point in the previous design, so we’ve fixed that in two ways. The first was creating Content Zones, a method for creating navigation for a given topic. We’ve started with the most prominent parts of MDN, including App Center, Firefox, Firefox OS, Firefox Marketplace, Add-ons, and Persona:

Content Zones

MDN’s new Content Zones provide a complete collection of documentation about a given topic, encompassing the very basics of a topic to API details and advanced techniques. We’ll be kicking off with the following zones:

Firefox OS

Highlights of the Firefox OS zone include:

  • A detailed Platform Guide
  • Build and Install details
  • Hacking Firefox OS
  • App Design & Development
Firefox Marketplace

Highlights of this zone include:

  • App submission and review
  • App publishing and monetization
  • Marketplace API information
App Center

Highlights of the App Center zone include:

  • Quickstart Guide
  • Design and Build tips
  • App publishing guidelines
  • API references

Highlights of the Persona zone include:

  • Guide to using Persona on your site
  • Becoming an identify provider
  • Details on the Persona project

Highlights of the Firefox zone include:

  • A complete Firefox Add-on overview
  • Information on Firefox internals
  • Detailed instructions for building Firefox and contributing

Highlights of the Add-ons zone include:

  • XUL extension information
  • Best practice tips
  • Theming
  • Add-on publishing guidelines

“See Also” Links

We’ve also implemented “See Also” links which may appear in any wiki page, linking to documents which may be relevant based on the document you’re currently viewing.

Both the zone subnavigation and “See Also” link sidebar widgets are built from basic link lists in the wiki document, so adding links and shuffling navigation is easy for anyone looking to contribute to MDN. These link lists can also be built using MDN’s macro language, Kumascript, and our writing team has done a great job automating “See Also” links so that contributors can save on the manual labor of hunting down other relevant documents.

Top level navigation

In the top level navigation, you will have access to five distinct areas:

  • The above-mentioned Content Zones
  • Web Platform, including direct links to more information on technologies, references and guides
  • Developer Program – To be able to help developers and establish long-term relationships and channels, we have created the Mozilla Developer Program. We have a lot of plans and ideas for iteratively expanding the Program, and we want you involved as we do so! So, sign up! You will get a membership, be able to subscribe to our newsletter and get access to features over time as we roll them out.
  • Tools – more information on the Firefox Developer Tools and their features
  • Demos, being a direct link to the Demo Studio

Enhanced Kumascript Macro Features

Kumascript, MDN’s dynamic macro language, was also outfitted with the ability to read external RSS feeds. At present MDN is using the feed reader capability to pull forum posts from StackOverflow and blog posts from the Mozilla Hacks blog. Check out the MDN:Common macro to view the fetchJSONResource and fetchHTTPResource methods which aid in displaying feed content in wiki documents.

Future Features

This visual redesign is just the beginning of our push to make MDN more dynamic and usable. The MDN development and UX teams have plenty more coming in 2014. Here are a few peeks into what you can expect to see!

Dynamic Search Filtering

To improve the efficiency in user search, we plan to implement hashtag-prefixed text filtering which may be added in the initial search — doing so will prevent the need for additional filtering when the user lands on the search results page.

Holly Habstritt Gaal has detailed this query system in detail on her blog. Check out her blog post to see implementation details.

Docs Navigator

So you’ve completed a search and you click the first link you thought would be applicable, but you want to move onward and view other results. Instead of backing out to the search results page again, the wiki page (if the user came from search) will display a doc navigator to move to the next or previous result, or you can view the entire list of results from your original search:


Just another handy way of finding what you need faster!

Demo Studio and Dev Derby Redesign

A redesign to the MDN Demo Studio and Dev Derby will be coming shortly. We have an excellent design in review and we hope to roll that out in early 2014.

If you have a suggestion or find any bugs within the new MDN, please let us know.

Look forward to more from MDN in 2014 and beyond. The MDN platform promises to expand and improve the way we view, write, and experience documentation and web technologies!

View full post on Mozilla Hacks – the Web developer blog

Tagged on: , , ,

20 thoughts on “The Mozilla Developer Network has a New Face

  1. thelolcat

    uh it looks a random Microsoft website now. Did you guys use a themeforest theme? Because all those themes all copy Microsoft styles…

    Well it’s pretty bad. I mean yeah it’s prettier than the previous version, but less ergonomic. You cannot stay on the site for more than 5 seconds before your eyes start to bleed. Programmers don’t care about prettiness, they care about ease of use, and MDN is useless now.

    At least make the old style available somehow, a stylesheet changer or smth…

  2. Robert Nyman [Editor]

    Thanks for the feedback! There’s no way to get other colors, unless we change the default ones – so please submit your feedback with above link.

  3. ady

    Hi guys 🙂 Really nice work – the design is much prettier than the previous version. Yet it has one downside – very bright colors. I’m used to work with darker themes (Dark Visual Studio anyone?) and really liked how dim your previous colors theme was. Any way to get darker version of your theme? (I am not even referring to previous colors, just darker).

  4. Francisc

    It’s OK, but I liked the older one better.
    The new one has too much white screaming at you (my monitor is 30″).
    The one before had darker colours and it was easier to read.
    To me, anyway.

  5. Robert Nyman [Editor]

    Thanks! I’d like to believe that the important thing is all of us doing this together for a better web. 🙂

  6. Robert Nyman [Editor]

    Thanks! Hopefully the navigation helps, but also, if you believe some information should be in the same page rather than spread out, feel free to edit it. MDN is a wiki and wouldn’t be possible without all the contributions it gets.

  7. Rolfen

    These colors are horrible. Someone was very uninspired, and then had a look at MSDN… and this is what we get. Even the logo is blue now.
    Also, how about giving users some choice or warning?

  8. Rudolf Olah

    Very very very nice! I’m liking it and what I really love is that the search URL didn’t change so I can still search using the search keyword in firefox and !mdn in duckduckgo! 😀

Leave a Reply