dashboard-redesign

So this is the email I just sent to support@tumblr.com:

Hello. I wanted to send this email to let you know that tumblr’s recent decision to change the dimensions of photosets and photos was, in my opinion, not well thought out. I know you get a lot of negative feedback anytime you guys change anything, but the protests you are currently hearing from the people on tumblr who post photos, photosets, gifs, (ie. the people who make tumblr a place worth visiting) are not just your run-of-the-mill reflexive feet stomping over experiencing the inconvenience of change. The problem is that by making these changes in the way that you have, all the photo/photoset/gif posts made previous to the change now look terrible. Photos and gifs are now blurry and out of focus. On many themes, photos and gifs are now chopped off. This greatly devalues millions of past posts to tumblr. People will be less likely to reblog posts that once looked as their creators intended them to look, and now look blurry and messy. For some creators and artists, this amounts to vandalism of their work. Surely there’s a way to fix this, either by returning photo and photoset posts to their previous dimensions, or by finding a solution that makes at least all posts made previous to the change appear as they were meant to.

Jeff Wang: My Summer at Tumblr

This summer I was blessed with the opportunity of working as a product engineering intern on the Dashboard team. I love my team so much because we got to build features that every user directly interacts with whenever they go on Tumblr.

Having never worked in a similar environment before, especially on a product of Tumblr’s scale, I spent a majority of my time familiarizing myself with the software development process. I got to experience, from a first-hand perspective, how ideas form, how teams work together, and how caffeine turns into software.

My first project was the keyboard shortcut guide, an idea that began as a bit of an inside joke. This is a reference sheet with several keyboard shortcuts to improve the browsing experience. (Most people, even a few who work here, didn’t know there was a shortcut to make a new post!) It can be opened from the side of the screen by simply hitting “shift + /” (or “?”) anywhere on a dashboard-like page. I had a blast building this because I was involved in every step of process. It was my first time working with Backbone.js, or any JavaScript MVC framework. It was intimidating to build something from scratch while making sure it interacted properly with several existing features. I also learned about robust design patterns because I had to build a component that future components could easily branch off of. After fleshing out a working prototype, I spent a decent amount of time QAing to make sure I got everything right by testing across different browsers and platforms. After seeing the keyboard shortcut guide progress from a simple idea to a key (no pun intended) feature of the dashboard, I felt a strong sense of ownership of the product.


Our next project, the dashboard redesign, turned out to be a major team effort. We rolled in a fresh new background color, built a sticky header from which users can create a post without having to scroll to the top of the page, and made images stretch to the full width of a post. This involved reimplementing the old features to make them more modular, and restyling a large chunk of the site in SASS. I worked closely with the design team to deliver ideas as code, exploring different JavaScript and CSS3 animations. I also worked closely with my team to tackle each part of the site in a way that ensured our code was reusable. The project gave me a crash course of Tumblr’s history in code, and a macroscopic understanding of its front-end.

I was also very fortunate to be here for our net neutrality campaign. My team took over the Dashboard and created a form that urged users to call and email their senators. Specifically, I helped with styling the forms and making sure it ran smoothly with the rest of the site. This was incredibly exciting because we played a direct role in Tumblr’s social impact, and our work was featured on major news outlets.


Tumblr has always been special to me as I’ve actively used it since I was in high school. To actually be able to contribute to a product I love so much is a dream come true. Hanging out with other interns, working with my team, and living in New York has been a surreal experience. My only gripe is that it went by so fast.

I want to thank Jake (jaykillah) for helping me whenever I bugged him, and the rest of my team for putting up with my bad jokes. I will miss all the cool, talented people I met here this summer.