3 Dec

Weekly Update 130: Good news from behind-the-scenes

This is a copy of our weekly newsletter for developers which you can subscribe to here.

Hello contributors,

News from the DuckDuckHack team this week is that we've made behind-the-scenes improvements to make working on Fathead Instant Answers (IAs) much easier, focusing on two problems.

Problem 1: User search queries often don't exactly match documentation articles. For example, a user may search for "css transparency" and no Instant Answer is shown, whereas there's an article for CSS opacity which is perfectly relevant. We can add redirects (aliases) within Fatheads but it requires knowledge of Fathead code.

Solution: Maria has created the ability to simply supply a comma-separated text file of existing article titles and their aliases, and then the relevant redirects will automatically be added. No coding required! This is suitable for people looking to make their first pull request and we currently have an experimental task open, looking for a developer:
Can I Use: Broaden search results by adding more aliases

Problem 2: When creating a Fathead, it's not easy to test it on the beta server. Fatheads have a different process to Goodies and Spices which complicates deployment and beta installation.

Solution: Jason and John have worked quickly to make easy beta deployment a reality for Fathead Instant Answers! With documentation lookups being so essential for programmers, Fatheads are a key part of the Programming Mission. This improvement should reduce frustration when developing them and lead to faster releases.

And as if that wasn't enough, we also have a design proposal we want to share with you and get feedback on, so look out for that in your inbox very soon :-)

In the meantime, here are some issues we're currently looking for help with...

Weekend Warriors

5-minute-ish Fixes

More open tasks here...

Quick Tip

Here's a code searching tip. Obviously for quick documentation lookups we recommend using the only search engine with duck power! However sometimes we want to see how other developers are using certain functions within their code in live projects. In these cases, GitHub can be a very effective learning tool.

GitHub has a highly configurable advanced search allowing you to look through thousands of repositories. Admittedly some of these may be proof-of-concept snippets or spaghetti code, so a helpful feature is being able to filter by number of stars. For example, if I want to see how other developers are using mediaDevices.getUserMedia in JavaScript, I could restrict the search to repositories with 1,000 stars and above to try to get higher quality examples. It doesn't necessarily guarantee you'll find reliable, efficient, secure code but in my experience it's usually very helpful. The results for such a search might look like this: See search results

And speaking of stars, please take a moment to star our GitHub repositories if you contribute to them or find them useful. It helps them to attract attention and maintain interest.

That's all for now — enjoy your weekend!

- The DuckDuckGo Staff

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