After months of hard work and the hard work of the community we are pleased to announce the release of version 2.1 (Tunis) of the Ushahidi platform that is available right now at download.ushahidi.com.
New Release Features:
- Powerful Reports Filter
This is perhaps the most salient feature in this release and also one of the biggest asks that the community has been persistent about for quite sometime. The new faceted reports page allows a user to filter reports using one or a combination of the following parameters:
- Report Categories
- Date when reports were submitted
- Location radius e.g. x kilometers from a given point
- Channel via which the reports have been submitted (Web Form, SMS, Twitter or Email)
- Media contained in the reports e.g. photos, video or news source links
- Verification status (i.e. Verified and/or Unverified)
Also bundled with the new reports page is an option to toggle between list view and map view.
A big shout out to Jepchumba and Caleb Bell (our in house designer) for all the wire framing, mockups and their unquestionable and evident design wizardry (badassery) that went into conceptualizing this page. And to John Etherton, thanks for all the help in fine-tuning the functionality of this page.
- Custom Forms
In the spirit of embracing what we learn from our community, we have integrated the awesome work on custom forms by George Chamales (Konpa Group) into this release. With the improved custom forms feature, you can build richer forms for augmenting the information collected via the reports submission page. This feature is still experimental and we are working with the Ushahidi SWAT team to spruce it up. Thumbs up to Linda for manhandling this feature (in the real sense of the word) like a true Spartan.
- Member Module
Now this is one of the features we have parked for while. This module allows users to sign-in into a deployment using via OpenID or with a username/password that is specific to the deployment in question. This feature would be useful in situations where it is not feasible to grant everyone access to the admin console, or where you simply want to avoid the process of filling out yet another registration form! Once signed in, members can create their own reports, send messages to other members and access their alert subscriptions.
This is also another new feature and it basically allows you to toggle the display of the “Reports” and “Mainstream News” blocks that appear on the main page. A big thanks to David Kobia for whipping up this thingamajig in one weekend!
- API Updates
Henry has been chewing on Plantain overtime in order to push the Admin API out the door and the work of his mandibles has borne fruit. The Admin API will allow users to do basic Ushahidi administrative tasks. The Admin API has been designed to allow you to administer reports which means you can now approve, unapprove, edit and even delete reports. It also makes it possible to administer categories and comments as well. To know more about the Admin API, read our API wiki
- Bug Fixes
Bugs are always a pain and sometimes they mutate into rodents – in which case you have real nightmare and you probably need a some ninja Nyan cats to take care of that problem. Anyway, that aside, we have managed to knock out a good number of irritating bugs and plug some potentially fatal security holes. We dedicate 15 Internets to Gjoko Krstic for shedding light on the possible sections of the platform that could fall victim to security exploits, the recently launched Ushahidi SWAT team and the rest of the community for a job well done on this front – May your dress code be bug free.
One of our key focus areas for this year has been improving the load time of the various sections/pages of the platform. Of prime importance is the main page which shoulders the Herculian task of clustering the reports. So with the help of (Ninja) Nigel McNie after this incisive and eye-opening blogpost, we got inspired to dig deeper into ways in which we could reduce the time it takes to cluster reports on the main map. This kicked off a radical refactoring of the code that handles the clustering after which we realized some significant performance wins on the clustering time. Have a see at the comparison in execution times below:
NOTE: These benchmarks were run on a server operating on 488.63MB of memory
We also appreciate all the goodies received from the Sinsai.info team on optimizing the database queries in the Ushahidi API and some fixes for the admin console. Thanks guys!
Finally, we have also noticed that some high traffic Ushahidi deployments have had issues with crashing web servers and tying up Apache processes. For these high traffic deployments, one of the major improvements is the ability to easily configure a CDN for all of your static media assets (JS, CSS and image files). You can now upload your media/css, media/img and media/js directories to a CDN and configure that URL in the application/config/cache.php directory. You will see a major boost in the number of concurrent users on your site and performance increases. We shall keep you posted on the general benefits of this new functionality.
Once again, a big thank you to the Ushahidi Community. You guys rock like 3.14159265358979323846264338327950288419716939937510 big bangs. Continue oozing with awesomeness and spread the love.