The StructuredXHTML branch is a branch of the core mb_server behind MusicBrainz and intends to improve the website by making sure the html is as structurally correct as possible and making the layout driven predominantly by CSS. This has numerous advantages including faster rendering, better support for screen readers, and layout flexibility for users with visual impairments.
We’ve been working quietly in the background on this, but have finally got the bulk of the work down (transforming the main layout). We’re going to be gradually rolling these changes in, and as such some pages will not be immediately updated, and it’s important to make sure that they all work and display reasonably correctly.
What we need you to do is head over to our test server, which is running the StructuredXHTML branch. Browse the website just as you would usually use the normal website: viewing artist entries, looking at releases, searching for data, entering new data, moderating data – just about anything you can think of! If one of the pages looks a bit too odd, please let Oliver know by filing a bug appropriatly in our bug tracker – http://bugs.musicbrainz.org (we now have a section just for bugs on StructuredXHTML).
Here’s a list of the changes we’ve made in this first version, that will be rolled out into the next version of mb_server:
- Layout driven entirely by CSS: We’ve got rid of the tables we used to use and have made a very flexible layout that will accommodate custom text sizes better than before. It also introduces minor amounts of whitespace in certain places, with the intention to improve readability.
- A new search option in the sidebar: The current set of search fields has caused some confusion to people on there first visit. Some people have tried to combine search fields, which does not work. A new compact dropdown box search has been added to hopefully elevate this confusion. We’d love to know what you think on this – should it be the new default search option? We plan to make both search options available through user preferences.
- Search portals have been updated: The search pages (not the results yet though) have been recoded as a prototype for the way that forms are going to be handled (again, no tables).
- Browse pages: The browse by artist/label/release pages have also been updated.
Please have a thorough look through the page when you have chance. It’s key that you raise any issues you have, because this will be being merged in the future, and we’d rather keep everyone as happy as possible 🙂