2014 – 2017, Washington, DC
I joined Science (a publication of The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)) in 2014. When I came aboard, the department of Digital Media had just been assembled. Then-Director Rob Covey went to every individual department in the building and found the person or persons responsible for updating and improving the family of journals online, which at the time included:
- Science Translational Medicine
- Science Signaling
- and the newly launched open access journal, Science Advances
(Click the images below to see details)
Before I joined the group, each journal had its own group of developers and was responsible for its own layout and back-end management. This was, as you already assume it would be, a real nightmare to manage.
- Manage the back-end as consistently as we could, both internally and through our scholarly access partners
- Improve look-and-feel by creating a common template
- Allow for new journals to be implemented as time went on
By the time we were done, we had integrated the journals under a common pattern library that governed changes across all our sites. Better still, we introduced next-level data visualization components and improved the caching setup so that the site wouldn’t buckle under increased traffic; so well, in fact, that on relaunch day, we never experienced downtime, even with the weight of redirects and new looky-loo traffic.
I like to think of my time at Science as my transition from “Swiss Army Knife” to “Chef’s Knife.” At DigitalMailer, I learned a lot and got things done, but I was too multi-purpose to focus on one thing for too long. At Science, I was trained to keep my attention on the style and structure of the site, not the content or the advertising or the delivery model.
I helped build out the Science PatternLab, the overall style/implementation guidelines for all the sites.
The Blog Sub-Site
I built the original version of blogs.sciencemag.org, which houses several science-themed blogs by various editors and contributors. This was built in WordPress to make it more friendly and accessible to the authors (as it was determined Drupal 7, which the rest of the site was built on, was too hard for the writers to grasp).
The Digital Media Web Technologies (DMWT) team was where I learned the ins and outs of Agile development. That’s where I learned all about GitHub and remote version control, as well as how to work in sprints and how to Scrum.
I advocated for the redesign at the AAAS Annual Meeting in DC in 2016 and spoke to real users about their experience reading Science online and using our site as a resource.
404 and 403
It’s a relatively small thing, but I created our 404 and 403 pages. I wanted them to echo back to Science‘s early days when Thomas Edison was one of the founders so I went with public domain line-cut drawings, re-worked with some clever text. I got a lot of good feedback on them.
What I learned
- Drupal, 7 and 8
- WordPress multi-site setups
- GitHub, Docker and Jenkins
- User experience basics/best practices
- Agile methodology/Scrum
- How to work on a real, honest-to-God development team
- The importance of harmony between back-end and front-end developers
- Node, Gulp, React, and other JS frameworks
- How to REALLY cut loose using the console/terminal