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From Sebastien Arbogast <>
Subject Re: Community health
Date Wed, 11 May 2005 19:10:27 GMT
> Sebastien, I think we share the same concerns. I agree that good,
> stylish documentation is a great way to grow a community (e.g. I love
> Why's Poignant Guide to Ruby at I've
> been looking at the efforts that you and Helga have begun over at
> Have you had much feedback on
> your efforts? Are you continuing with the initiative? For my
> complementary effort at I've had plenty of
> offline messages of support, but I haven't yet been able to get a
> dialogue going on the mailing lists about the site's future value. I'll
> keep trying!

Unfortunately no, we didn't get any feedback on our project, which
disapointed me a little bit because I thought there would be more
interest in such an initiative. And as I explained in a recent message
I've given up because I have neither time nor knowledge enough to do
that alone or even with a small group of people (we were only three).
I've not given up the idea to participate in Cocoon documentation
efforts : I'm in the process of writing a few tutorials on Cocoon Wiki
which I plan to translate and make more dynamic on another platform
later. But I think that Cocoon is still too unstable to write a whole
linear tutorial right now.
The only feedback I had and that clearly confirmed my first
impression, explained why this initiative was likely to fail (I won't
give the name of the author of this quotation because he could find
his tires burst tomorrow ;-P but I totally share this impression)

"I think the problem with a project like Cocoon is that, contrary to
what you might expect, nobody has a real interest in explaining
and documenting things. Most of the people are working with or
on Cocoon to resolve their own issues. Many have founded their
own companies, are marketing their knowledge and experience.
Cocoon is a means to an end, not a product anybody has to sell."

The thing is that I'm sure that everybody doesn't think that way (and
that's why I post this message on dev list rather than directly to you
Mark, because I'd like to see a constructive discussion developed on
that topic) and that many people find that unfair that such a
wonderful tool is so unknown. Your initiative with spreadcocoon and
others like planetcocoon, cocoondev, and cocooncenter, as well as
users questions like this one
show that there is a real need to make Cocoon more "famous" and
"prosper" than it is today.

Maybe we could (as someone suggested me in feddback after Cocoon in
action give-up) try to unify our efforts and try to start a common
Cocoon documentation community, why not on SpreadCocoon. I totally
agree about the importance of a good documentation to grow a community
and I think it could be a great time for Cocoon to leave its... cocoon
(yes I know this was easy :-)) and reach the developer's community,
not only Cocoon (or IBM) developer's community but the whole Java
server-side developers community, as projects like Spring, Hibernate,
Struts, Webwork and so many others have managed to do it. Entropy is
not a problem, the volume of Cocoon documentation and Cocoon wiki show
that there is a wide community of experts willing to share their
experience. The problem is organization, structure, coherence and
pedagogy. There must be a real will in this direction at the basis of

And most of all, maybe it's time to completely integrate documentation
effort into Cocoon development, to make it part of the Apache
"meritocracy thing" as much as coding, because I personally find it
too sad that entire Cocoon modules are still coded without being
documented at all (eg apples) or with a documentation which is not
up-to-date. But this is another discussion which would involve
strategic decisions from Cocoon "guru's", assuming they are willing to
make Cocoon community evolve that way.

The way I see it we could all join our efforts on a common platform,
make it as user-friendly and easy to use as possible and gather all
the up-to-date quality tutorials spread all over our different
websites in one common place with common conventions and processes. In
particular, I think workflow management is essential for a quality
documentation, that is it should be reviewed, commented, corrected,
updated as often as necessary and all of those steps should be
normalized in the documentation platform. And we should take care of
integrating all of this newly created documentation in the new Cocoon
2.2 documentation effort.

So WDYT ? Stefano ? Bertrand ? Sylvain ? Upayavira ? Helma ? Others I
forgot ? And what about planetcocoon, cocoondev and cocooncenter
webmasters, if you can read this, what's your opinion ? How do you see
things ? Do you want Cocoon to be better known and so better
documented or not ? And how ?

Sebastien ARBOGAST

PS : this was my last desperate call to gather documentation efforts
in a coherent and rationalized way. If this message doesn't get any
answers or does get only negative answers I don't care anymore, I'll
do as everyone else, cook my own stuff in my corner. But I think it
would be too bad. Don't get me wrong this message doesn't intend to
tell you guys how to do things. I'm just a small individual and humble
user of this wonderful tool you created. But this list is also made
for feedback and it's one of the powers of community development :
communication. So this is just my personal opinion, which obviously a
few share. As you say in French, "A bon entendeur, salut !"

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