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From Niclas Hedhman <nic...@bali.ac>
Subject [IT] C2 Complexity Syndrome
Date Fri, 27 Oct 2000 10:48:28 GMT

[Irrational Thought]

Watching the frenzy of the development of Cocoon is rather interesting.

However, looking from a bit of a distance is perhaps a sobering exercise
as well.
WHat I find is that Cocoon is getting complexer and complexer by the
hour, and soon it is reaching a stage where you won't understand, nor be
able to use it effectively if you are not part of the development team.
My fright is that Cocoon will be so powerful and hopelessly impossible
to understand, that it will sink from its own weight.

What problems do we have at hand?
First of all, understanding it.
The biggest problem for any new user must be to understand an iota of
how things hangs together, and how do you structure a project, what does
all the components mean and what is the actual functionality, what is
the purpose of the sitemap and many other things regarding the overview.

Secondly, the difficulty to set it all up.
There are step by step instructions that are pretty good, but if you
deviate from it just a little bit, it is bound to become a nightmare.
This is to a large extent not directly the fault of Cocoon, but the fact
that Cocoon is a too powerful servlet, part of a bigger framework.
I believe these issues are being resolved in Tomcat.

Thirdly, configuration.
Most users don't want to hack around in the sitemap. They will not write
their own selectors, transformers and so on. They want a set of
pre-defined working templates. They want XSP to work out of the box,
without any manual hacking in the sitemap. Don't expect the average site
manager to be a fluent Java programmer, he/she is not. At best, he/she
has the resources in-house, more likely is that they must be purchased
from the outside, hence customized generators and transformers are not
part of a commoner's day.

Fourthly, source code.
Source code is getting fairly complex, especially compared to the C1.
I see a danger in this. I don't know how many has tried to figure out
how the sitemap generation/compilation is done. I hope quite a few,
since OSS projects are always faced with the fact that any single
individual might disappear by a day's notice.

Fifthly, feature bloat.
Just because it can be done, doesn't mean it has to be implemented. The
charm with C1 was it's simple approach to every day life.
I guess I am part of the feature bloat, just as most enthusiasts are,
and Stefano has tried to dodge the requests rather well, to a point
where we are today.

I just want to Raise a Condition, that I believe exists, and is the
greatest threat to Cocoon's long-term survival. As soon as C2 stablizes
a little bit more, most of the effort must be put into "friendliness",
perhaps in form of presets, wizards, tools, or whatever. I believe a
higher-level of Configuration layer is needed, that can better be
communicating with configuration tools and such.

Just my USD25 worth of thought.

Niclas


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