Activity Stream Desktop Weekly Status 2017-08-15

Tim Spurway tspurway at
Tue Aug 15 23:48:12 UTC 2017


Activity Stream is pref’ed off in Firefox Desktop 56 Beta and contains Search, Top Sites, Top Stories.  This will be pref’ed on to 10% of Beta population 
We kicked off the Experiment Services sub-team who is tasked with operationalizing our A/B Testing practice and making it available to all Firefox teams
Tippytop Icons (most frequently used static site icons), Default Top Sites and Pocket telemetry have undergone extensive legal, business and privacy reviews
We are implementing the remaining Activity Stream functionality <> in Firefox about:home <about:home> and about:newtab <about:newtab> 
Most significant risks to AS in Fx57 are about:home <about:home> impact on Comparative Benchmarks and quality/engagement/retention risks associated with newly integrated Onboarding Tour, Snippets and Migration modules 

Up Next <>

The focus of the AS team is to land a fully functional version of AS in Fx57.  To that end, we have a handy GitHub Project to track against that goal <>.

The Activity Stream team short term goals are:
land AS on about:home <about:home> 
collect, store and retrieve site metadata (HD icons, descriptions, images) for ++ the Top Sites and Highlights sections
HD icon metadata harvest (on DOM Added events) and PlacesDB insertion
site summary pipeline (HD Icon -> Tippytop -> Screenshot + Favicon) 
Query optimization
Highlights Section which displays Recent Bookmarks + Recently Visited Sites
harvesting and storage of site ‘description’ data
on demand image display,  retrieval and image caching
Top Site UI Customization features
Pin/Dismiss, Show More/Less, Add/Edit Top Site
Tippytop Icon DB improvements
These are the HD icons for the Web’s most popular sites
Firefox based static payload
Server Based database, infrequently fetched and cached by Firefox 
10% roll out in 56 Beta to en-US, geo USA, Canada using Shield opt-out pref flip stud
Next will be >%, more locales/geos + Pocket in Germany
Our amazing intern, Adam <>, is building a Web Extension API to make it easy to hack Activity Stream <>

Risks <>
about:home is a crucial component when we measure Firefox startup time.  The Photon project is trying to Make Firefox Start More Quickly <>   Obviously, if Activity Stream ‘takes over’ about:home <about:home>, we must guarantee performance will not degrade
Our approach to site metadata collection, storage and retrieval <> must be thrifty in its use of memory and CPU cycles and should cause no perf regression
In our Test Pilot experiments, we found a strong correlation between user engagement and the quality of our site summary metadata (locale agnostic images and icons).  A key to our excellent engagement scores was our use of a static database of site summary metadata (called Tippytop).  After legal review, it became apparent we need to change our approach <>, exposing AS to user engagement regression risk
All of our user engagement and retention tests for Test Pilot were done without consideration of the Onboarding Tour, Migration or Snippets modules.  Now that these co-exist with Activity Stream on about:home <about:home> and about:newtab <about:newtab> in Firefox, we need to ensure these experiences do not negatively affect key user KPIs
Any user facing strings in Activity Stream need to be localized, and localization takes time.  We need to be mindful of giving enough lead time for any changes that have strings as the 57 merge approaches.  Right now our deadline is September 1st for any change to land that require localization.

Activity Stream  <>OKR Progress <> 

Activity Stream KPIs

We are eager to start collecting Beta 56 data, which will be turned on with a Shield opt-out pref flip study next week!  Until then, enjoy the various AS Dashboards from out Test Pilot <> experiment.

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