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Engineering News

Work with us this summer!

Hey! Are you a student? Do you design? Develop? Love the web? …or… Do you make pictures? Want to learn to be a great photo editor? If so, we’d very much like to hear from you. You’ll spend the summer working on the visuals team here at NPR’s headquarters in Washington, DC. We’re a small group of photographers, videographers, photo editors, developers, designers and reporters in the NPR newsroom who work on visual stuff for npr.org. Our work varies widely,…

Baking Chart Data Into Your Page

Do you use our dailygraphics rig to create and deploy small charts? We’ve introduced a new feature: The latest version of copytext.py (0.1.8) allows users to inject serialized JSON from a Google Spreadsheet onto their page with one line of template code. Benefits: Store your text and your data in the same Google Spreadsheet, making editing a little simpler. The data is baked right into your page, so there’s one fewer file to load. (Thanks to Christopher Groskopf and Danny…

The case of the “Page can’t be displayed” intermittent selenium test

IMVU relies heavily on unit testing with dependency injection for most of the testing of its website code written in PHP. Unit testing is great because it can be crafted in such a way that it will (hopefully) only test the things you’re interested in testing to verify the behavior of a particular component. This ideally makes unit tests both fast and reliable. However, it’s possible to write unit that all pass, but that fail to catch an incompatibility between…

Code Reviews: Follow the Data

After years of reviewing other people’s code, I’d like to share a couple practices that improve the effectiveness of code reviews. Why Review Code? First, why review code at all? There are a few reasons: Catching bugs Enforce stylistic consistency with the rest of the code Finding opportunities to share code across systems Helping new engineers spin up with the team and project Helping API authors see actual problems that API consumers face Maintain the health of the system overall…

Putting Radio On The Television

For election night 2014, we wanted to do something different. We guessed that the dedicated wonks — the ones who want to drill down into detailed data and maps — would probably go to sources like the New York Times or Washington Post. Rather than reproduce that work, what could NPR do that would be unique, and would serve a broader audience? To start, we had our organization’s thoughtful reporting and on-air coverage — a live event we could build something…

The Real-time Web in REST Services at IMVU

By Jon Watte, VP Technology @ IMVU IMVU has built a rich, graph-shaped REST (REpresentational State Transfer) API (Application Programming Interface) to our data. This data includes a full social network, as well as e-commerce, virtual currencies, and the biggest 3D user generated content catalog in the world. This post discusses how IMVU addresses two of the bigger draw-backs of REST-based service architectures for real-time interactive content: Cache Invalidation (where users want to know about new data as soon as…

Responsive Graphics In Core Publisher With Pym.js

Note: This post is out of date. NPR Visuals recommends using the new pym-loader.js to load iframed content on Core Publisher pages. Editor’s Note: Core Publisher is a content management system that staff at many NPR member stations use to maintain their websites. This post is written for that audience, but may be useful for users of other CMSes. Over time, many member stations have created maps, graphics and other projects for their websites that were sized to fit Core…

Packaging Matters: Packaging Fail – How not to unload a Truck

Packaging Matters: Packaging Fail – How not to unload a Truck Pages Packaging Fail – How not to unload a Truck Packaging and material handling are everyday activities when they go as planned, but there are always special occurrences and variances to normal processes and events in your supply chain. Check out the following video of pallet jack material handling dock truck unloading gone amiss. That is quite the pallet jack fail, hopefully the operator was not harmed too much.…

Improving User Engagement Through Subtle Changes: Updating the Book Concierge

By David Eads and Christina Rees | December 12, 2014 The NPR year-end 2013 Book Concierge was a big hit. Instead of writing a bunch of lists, the books team solicited over 200 short reviews by critics and staff and put them into a single, beautiful website designed to make discovering great books fun. Readers loved it. For the 2014 Book Concierge, our goal was to build on last year’s success and resist the urge to rewrite the…

The Case of the Trailing Space

Solve the case of the trailing space with IMVU’s Senior Engineer, Michael Slezak. In this post, I wanted to discuss a problem we ran into recently dealing with REST authentication in our IMVU client application which ultimately boiled down to small discrepancies between JSON encoders. In this case, I’m going to focus on Python’s JSON library and javascript’s JSON encoder. Before I dive into the problem, I want to provide a quick background on the client application architecture. Client Architecture The…