TidyBlocks: The Other Ninety Percent

We made several improvements to TidyBlocks this week, but not all of them are visible to users. The ones that are include:

But a lot of this week's work is behind the scenes---what people in theater sometimes call "the other 90%" of getting a show on stage. First, we moved the functions that do k-means clustering and silhouette scoring from our code base into the simple-statistics package, and we're in the process of moving functions that calculate relative error and check for approximate equality as well. Having these in the same place as the other statistical tools we rely on will make our code easier to understand, and hopefully other people will find them useful outside of TidyBlocks.

But the big change is converting our website from Jekyll which GitHub Pages uses by default, to a JavaScript tool called Eleventy. It took longer than we expected, and we still have a few issues to finish off, but now people only have to install one technology stack rather than two if they want to make and test contributions. We think that's essential to making TidyBlocks more inclusive, because as this paper says:

Getting set up to work on a project---going from "I want to help" to "I'm able to help" to "I'm helping"---is often someone's first experience as a community participant. Any complexity or confusion at this point is therefore a significant barrier to participation... By treating the process of getting involved with the same care and attention you give to the product itself, you're making it clear that you value those contributors' time and effort...

We're going to pause work on features for a while and try to put together some examples to show what TidyBlocks can do and uncover what it still can't. If you'd like to help, please get in touch.

— Greg Wilson / 2020-08-28