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#11 2005-10-28 22:30:58

zem
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From: Melbourne, Australia
Registered: 2004-04-08
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Re: [wiki] TextBook Issues (let's bring it together already)

A wiki is the right tool for the job. How would you let everyone participate without it ? Assign articles on specific subject, then assign people to proof-read it, then other people to validate and publish it ?

Does TextBook really work that way in practice?

From an outside point of view, it looks more like a site that’s written and edited by a small number of trusted users, with occasional one-off contributions from the public. If we’re using the forum to solicit contributions, the wiki editing process is redundant.

FWIW: the PHP manual is one of the best online manuals around, and it’s structured more like a CMS than a wiki.


Alex
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#12 2005-10-28 22:55:13

Destry
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From: Strasbourg, France
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Re: [wiki] TextBook Issues (let's bring it together already)

Does TextBook really work that way in practice?

No, unfortunately it doesn’t. I agree wit Jeremy’s point of view about a wiki, and in theory that is how it would be, but in reality, that’s just not what is happening.

We’re teetering on this CMS vs. wiki concept, and that is probably a big key here. I’m not against a CMS approach, again, that has been written about for TextBook since the first conception, but if we went with a CMS, we essentially limit the possibility for more hands-on. And what about the translation efforts that are already underway in the wiki, is that easily retained? That’s important. It seems there’s going to be a compromise either way.

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#13 2005-10-28 23:18:47

davidm
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From: Paris, France
Registered: 2004-04-27
Posts: 719

Re: [wiki] TextBook Issues (let's bring it together already)

@destry : thanks, much appreciated but I have to admit I don’t contribute as much as I would like to TextBook…

If I am not mistaken, the idea *was*, from the beginning, to move the wiki to a txp install someday.

TOOLS – I HAVE THE SOLUTION : WIKI + TEXTILE = INSTIKI

If we’re talking tools (which for me are not the biggest part of the problem), I agree with Jeremie and Destry this should be handled by a wiki, for one simple reason : to handle revisionning. Does MediaWiki have complex syntax ? Yes. But as Destry pointed out, it does have multilanguage support, Textpattern does not. Is it possible to manage documentation with a CMS, maybe better than a wiki ? Yes, if you have a limited number of contributors and don’t care about revisionning. A wiki is self regulating well when you have enough regular contributors.

If we’re talking moving TextBook to something else <span style=“color: #990000”>I have the solution to the wiki versus textile problem : a wiki which handle textile natively;. It’s called INSTIKI and the guys@textdrive now very well about it :) (see http://instiki.org)

There goes the textile vs wiki syntax argument, plus Instiki seems flexible enough and the folks@textdrive are more than qualified to set it up.

What do you say ?

THE PROBLEM : NOT ENOUGH CONTRIBUTORS = TIME CONSUMMING FOR FEW CONTRIBUTORS => LIMITED CONTRIBUTION

The title sums it up : I most definitely don’t spend enough time working on the wiki. How come ? I am motivated, and for the most part, able to do the job. The thing is, for any consistent content I have to spend quite a bit of time thinking, defining, structuring information to be able to write content that is (hopefully) clear and concise. The problem is to keep motivation you have to “see” things move forward, that is fast enough to think your contribution will make a difference and help achieve building this great project.

This is where things are not going well, I have discussed the reasons above In a way, the very logo of textpattern is about craftsmanship, and in this regard we could be tempted to say “…well, textpattern can not be captured by a documentation, help on the forum is so responsive : who cares about doc ? any thing I want to do with textpattern I can solve with the help of the community…”.

I don’t think this is true. Of course like any other things, doc will never provide true knowledge of the subtleties of txp, but it will help start from somewhere, and TextBook is somewhere I personnally already refer to (and yeah, rstiletti’s work on tags is a good example, thanks Rick). Plus, textpattern is not only used by webdesigners or skilled people and contextual help is not always enough. (Wait : just got an idea while writing this last sentence : what if contextual help pointed to the appropriate wiki page with a “more…” link ?)

One thing would help building a community of doc writers : add a forum here dedicated to contributors of the wiki. I know this might seem redundant and yet one other forum to clutter the community but I truly think discussion page on the wiki lack the appeal of a forum to structure debate on documentation writing. As far as I am concerned, I’d like to discuss some issues, approach on how to go about this or that in the wiki : so far this was done though the discussion page (but not enough people going there to contribute), or with some very dedicated people via mail. This could be a link between forum and wiki.

What do you think ?

Last edited by davidm (2005-10-28 23:56:49)


.: Retired :.

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#14 2005-10-28 23:42:43

Jeremie
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From: Provence, France
Registered: 2004-08-11
Posts: 1,578
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Re: [wiki] TextBook Issues (let's bring it together already)

For TextBook, I don’t have personnal issue for the MediaWiki syntax. I can understand some have, and I can understand it’s a little odd not to have Textile handling the syntax (but on the other hand, Textile had/has issues with code formating and input); but I don’t.

And even if MediaWiki has other issues (not dashboard, no admin panel, and may be overkill on some aspect) I don’t push forward a software change (or the other way around for that matter… it’s Destry call). But it is a solid product, and have a very good base and potential future because of the Wikipedia project. It ain’t going to disappear.

I do believe that a wiki is important, for both reasons said :

First, if TextBook has manpower issue, we should do everything to appeal more to potential writers, and to help people digging in. Not the other way around.

Second, versionning and history are important.

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#15 2005-10-28 23:44:50

zem
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From: Melbourne, Australia
Registered: 2004-04-08
Posts: 2,579
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Re: [wiki] TextBook Issues (let's bring it together already)

this should be handled by a wiki, for one simple reason : to handle revisionning

Again, the devil’s advocate asks: are those things really used in practice?


Alex
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#16 2005-10-28 23:46:37

Jeremie
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From: Provence, France
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Posts: 1,578
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Re: [wiki] TextBook Issues (let's bring it together already)

zem wrote:
FWIW: the PHP manual is one of the best online manuals around, and it’s structured more like a CMS than a wiki.

I do believe it has tools and features that TXP don’t have for that job. For example, I can’t imagine this manual has been written without attached discussions tools (aka forums) per page topic and so on, revisioning, versionning, smart notifications to people in charge, and so on.

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#17 2005-10-28 23:54:47

davidm
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From: Paris, France
Registered: 2004-04-27
Posts: 719

Re: [wiki] TextBook Issues (let's bring it together already)

I understand the “devil’s advocate” stance. In a way, I agree with the Keep It Simple and Stupid philosophy : the important thing is for it to work. Yet I think in time, when the doc is big and evolving, we’ll see the advantage of going the wiki way…


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#18 2005-10-29 00:10:41

zem
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From: Melbourne, Australia
Registered: 2004-04-08
Posts: 2,579
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Re: [wiki] TextBook Issues (let's bring it together already)

I guess what I’m suggesting is: go with the flow, let the behaviour dictate the tools, rather than trying to change behaviour by using different tools.


Alex
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#19 2005-10-29 00:16:38

Jeremie
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From: Provence, France
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Posts: 1,578
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Re: [wiki] TextBook Issues (let's bring it together already)

Destry wrote:
Why does TextBook only have 88 users out of potentially hundreds? And why out of those 88 people is it only that a handful every really do anything, especially when you see the names in there and know these people know Textpattern well enough to contribute something of substance?

I’m one of these people (having some TXP knowledge from some time now, some forum presence, and making very sparses to nothing as TxtBook contributions are concerned) so I’ll try to respond. Not in a defensively way, I will just try to search why is that so (frankly I don’t really know myself), so that when other people do we might see a pattern, and ten fix it.

First, there is a language barrier. My english can be far from perfect (I don’t believe you guys let me use the “outputed” word on these forums for month without telling me… I’m ashamed :p), and is more difficult/less pleasant to use when writing. Especially when we try to taught someone something, where form are as important as substance to truly explain something.

On the other hand, I don’t rememebr doing anything for the french translation. Mostly because it’s a translation I think, a mimic of the english one. I do think a translation is important in theory, but for myself it’s not a priority right now. In a strange way, I was thinking that I could help more people with english content ‘forum or otherwise) than on a french translation of the manual.

Second, I acknowledge now I do have some issues with the WikiMedia markup. Not the syntax itself (I’m a geek enough to use it), more because manual pages are mostly very strictly formated (I’m talking about the tag page, which are by far and in my opinion the more important ones) as they should, but this format make it a little harder to write from scratch. It’s not that big a deal (it’s very minor), but it’s on minor thing, and another one, and another one.

Another issue I have, though more narrow and specific, are the new tags or tag related feature. I mostly don’t understand what the dev team are doing, because the subversion comments aren’t really helpful on that subject – to me.

Another issue, is the strict formating of the wiki at whole. For example I wanted to publish the hdiff patch to make the Textile class french compliant, I don’t even know where to put it. And creating a new page from scratch for MediaWiki is a bitch…

Also, for some time I wasn’t sure TXP was the right product. It had some major things lacking (or wrongly done), and I was still investigating other product for the job of my “default cms tool”. This is no longer the case however (it still has some issues, but I will bitch about those some other thread :p).

For a conclusion, I would say that – for me – it’s by far mostly a problem of getting kick in the butt (well, not kicked in fact). I can do more, I do think I should do more, and I should. Well, I will try anyway :p

One little thing that would help me, is from time to time some call on specific subject. Like “we got a Using SVN to install and update TXP page that is no good, we need some help on it” and so on. Give a purpose or a direction, that sort of things. And another one little thing, would be a XML feed of the “recent changes” page. Something I could subscribe to, and reming me Textbook exist and I need to read more of it – and so, have more chance of seeing errors and so fixing it, and so on.

Edit: about the appearance of the “strict formating of the wiki as a whole”, there’s a page that says:

This page describes many precedures and methods for authoring and editing collaboration in TextBook. The methods are particularly important as more and more people try and work together, and as new revisions (and versions) of Textpattern are released. Please review this entire page before doing anything in TextBook.

This page is 7337 bytes long ! And others pages are heavily pushed for reading too. So yes, I can understand some are really scared about conributing in any ways. I don’t support a chaotic wiki, and I do have an OC mind and like the right things in the right box, but that’s a lot of informations to read, understand, remember for the casual contributor.

Last edited by Jeremie (2005-10-29 00:51:51)

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#20 2005-10-29 00:19:05

Jeremie
Member
From: Provence, France
Registered: 2004-08-11
Posts: 1,578
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Re: [wiki] TextBook Issues (let's bring it together already)

zem wrote:
I guess what I’m suggesting is: go with the flow, let the behaviour dictate the tools, rather than trying to change behaviour by using different tools.

I agree. But (but ?) for me, the flow is using a wiki. More important, it is what we have. Switching tool need some really good cause to do it, because it consume tim ethat could be used to develop, write doc, debug, and so on.

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