Activity Stream Progress Newsletter June 1st

Tim Spurway tspurway at mozilla.com
Fri Jun 2 16:42:25 UTC 2017


<crossposted from activity-stream at mozilla.com <mailto:activity-stream at mozilla.com> by request>

Hi Folks,

The Activty Stream ‘Zumtela’ milestone ended May 28th. For a complete list of the issues resolved in the iteration: https://github.com/mozilla/activity-stream/milestone/35?closed=1 <https://github.com/mozilla/activity-stream/milestone/35?closed=1>
Our new iteration, 'Apocalypse Now' is running through June 11th  https://github.com/mozilla/activity-stream/milestone/36 <https://github.com/mozilla/activity-stream/milestone/36>

To get the latest dev edition of Activity Stream for Test Pilot (1.13.0): https://moz-activity-streams-dev.s3.amazonaws.com/dist/latest.html <https://moz-activity-streams-dev.s3.amazonaws.com/dist/latest.html>
The release version (1.12.0): https://moz-activity-streams.s3.amazonaws.com/dist/latest.html <https://moz-activity-streams.s3.amazonaws.com/dist/latest.html>
To 'pref on' the version of Activity Stream in Firefox Desktop Nightly, navigate to `about:config` <> and twiddle the pref: browser.newtabpage.activity-stream.enabled

The Activity Stream engineering team works in two distinct clumps:  
the MVP Team is focused on implementing and experimenting with Activity Stream features in our Test Pilot add-on
the Graduation Team is landing proven Activity Stream features in Firefox Nightly

The MVP Team has finished and landed the last of the so-called customization features.  This allows users to fully customize what sites and what order you see them in the Top Sites section, including the elusive drag’n’drop functionality.

Based on A/B experimentation and User Testing, we have decided to move away from using a single, large (and slightly confusing) Highlights section in Activity Stream, and to replace it with two separate Sections:  Recent Bookmarks and Visit Again.  These are pretty self-explanitory, which was the whole point!



The MVP Team will be pretty busy implementing and A/B testing these features in the current iteration.  Ricky Rosario, who has been doing a lot of the amazing UI engineering for the MVP Team is being joined by our newest streamer, Andrei Oprea who will bring his many talents to bear in helping Ricky get these features landed this iteration.

Our Graduation Team has been busy knocking down GitHub tickets in order to get us to a major milestone - preffing on Activity Stream in Firefox Nightly!  We fully expect that this will happen by the end of this iteration.  For those of you who like to track such things, we have a GitHub link for you:  https://github.com/mozilla/activity-stream/issues?q=is%3Aopen+is%3Aissue+label%3AFx55 <https://github.com/mozilla/activity-stream/issues?q=is:open+is:issue+label:Fx55>

The cool stuff the Graduation Team landed in the last iteration include site ‘screenshot’ enhancements that are going to make Activity Stream faster/better and incorporating search box suggestions.  Fred Lin (@gasolin on GitHub) from the Taipei team that is working on Onboarding and Auto-Migration has submitted their first pull-request to the Activity Stream repo, which we want to loudly applaud and are all really excited about 👍👏🎉.  https://github.com/mozilla/activity-stream/pull/2650 <https://github.com/mozilla/activity-stream/pull/2650>

Our MVP Team is also responsible for A/B Testing and for building our experimentation and data processing infrastructure.  One interesting experiment we have been working on for the past while is integrating Pocket into Activity Stream.  This takes the form of the  Top Stories section in Activity Stream and it looks like:



and shows up right after the Search and Top Sites sections.  Many kudos to Christian Sadilek over on the BizDev Team for the great work on landing this feature and hacking on the Activity Stream code base.

This particular A/B test is to enable the Top Stories section for 20% of the Test Pilot population where the control group has the section disabled.  We can then compare the Highlights section to Pocket for click-through and block rates to get a quantitative metric for how it is engaging users compared to Highlights.  We have a lot of results in re:dash for this experiment.  If you have an account, you can take a look at it over here:  https://sql.telemetry.mozilla.org/dashboard/activity-stream-a-b-testing-pocket_1 <https://sql.telemetry.mozilla.org/dashboard/activity-stream-a-b-testing-pocket_1>, but here are a couple of salient/interesting plots from the study (as of 2017-05-31 22:00EST):



This result shows that the Pocket recommendations are performing really well in the Test Pilot audience.  Click rates are comparatively and significantly high for Pocket recommendations.  This result is re-enforced by lower block rates for Pocket recommendations as well.  

Results like this, combined with follow-up User Research Team studies, like the diary study that Jennifer Davidson is currently running (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Jv83ARiECBL_dNUpvjsePuqgQYxcKdXVE5afFhayTnI/edit# <https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Jv83ARiECBL_dNUpvjsePuqgQYxcKdXVE5afFhayTnI/edit#>), give us confidence that the features we are developing are more likely to lead to positive and engaging user experiences on about:newtab <> and about:home <>.

Thanks!
Tim Spurway
Engineering Manager, Desktop Streamer
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