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From SAXESS - Hussayn Dabbous <>
Subject Re: proposal: "The Newbies Competence Center"
Date Mon, 27 Jan 2003 21:48:54 GMT
Hy Miles;

thank you for the very deep insight to several points here;
i take this all very serious and will keep it in mind. especially
because i consider my self beeing in the middle of step 3 (see below)
now and still have lots to learn about cocoon.

just let me put one thing correct:

the proposal is not a proposal for a beginners tutorial. It is a
proposal for a beginners documentation set, that should allow a newbie
to start digging into cocoon up to step 3 (i assume) of your

In this sense a tutorial might be only one peace of the whole set...

Concerning the significance of avalon in XSP programming: i simply
never touched XSP in cocoon-2 until today (although i am quite
familiar with the concepts as i learned from cocoon-1 about two years 
ago, but it changed alot...). Hopefully XSP will be my next step
towards mastering cocoon-2. I thought from the ongoing discussion,
that the underlaying technology wouldn't be soo evident as you state.
as i said before i take you very serious and once i get to the
point i will remember your very valuable insight to the theme.

thanks again,
regards, hussayn

Miles Elam wrote:
> SAXESS - Hussayn Dabbous wrote:
>> * currently the docs do not really separate between
>>   cocoon-users and cocoon-developers and cocoon doesn't
>>   imply an obvious separation. 
> On the contrary, on the homepage, there is a User Guide and a Dev 
> Guide.  I don't think that there lacks an obvious separation, but rather 
> an arbitrary separation.
>> * the documentation seems to be more developer centric, less
>>   user centric. 
> Think of Cocoon's target audience.  The greenest newbie is still 
> expected to be a web developer.  My aunt who's not in web development or 
> publishing couldn't care less about Cocoon.  The documentation *should* 
> be developer-centric.  A separation could be "Cocoon introduction for 
> developers" and "advanced Cocoon hacking for developers," but still, 
> this isn't technology for Joe Sixpack walking in off the street.  If all 
> someone wants is to publish a few HTML pages, even Microsoft's personal 
> web server would do the trick; Cocoon is overkill.  If someone off the 
> street wants to make an image slideshow/gallery, they shouldn't be 
> looking at Cocoon; They should be looking at a project built *on top of* 
> Cocoon.  The "Cocoon"part of it should be transparent to them: just 
> upload images and view in the web browser.
> On the other hand, Cocoon docs should definitely be geared toward 
> someone wanting to *write* an image slideshow/gallery engine.
>> * especially the newbies often get into trouble, because
>>   they feel, they have to learn the concepts in depths before
>>   they can get something out of cocoon. 
> You have to learn what a sitemap is, what its purpose is, and how to use 
> it and the enclosed pipelines.  That's a must just as you must learn 
> Java and the basic tenets of OOP before you can get anything out of 
> servlets and JSP.  The only question is how this can be accomplished the 
> best.
>> therefore we started this "newbies competence center" approach.
>> i personnaly whish, that eventually the whole cocoon documentation
>> will be better separated into developers issues and users issues,
>> where my definition (biased from the discussions) is a bit fuzzy:
>> user:      *uses*    the given infrastructure as is
>> developer: *creates* his own add ons to given infrastructure 
> When a user writes an XSP file, they are effectively creating a 
> generator -- create their own add on.  XSP files are definitely in the 
> category of "user introductory knowledge," however.
> Would a more appropriate distinction be:
> user:      uses or extends the given infrastructure as is
> developer: creates new infrastructure or alters existing infrastructure
> Creating a generator for file format foo is the domain of the user.
> Editing or replacing AbstractGenerator or making fixes to the cache 
> store (shared resources) are the domain of the developer.
>> I get troubles when it comes to xsp programming, which clearly
>> sits between the chairs. But even there i see a bunch of prepacked
>> ready to use logicsheets ready made  for the "users" and
>> the self made extra logicsheets from the developers...
>> maybe this is a little simplistic, but it may hold as a first
>> approach towards separating user concerns from developer concerns. 
> I see XSP as the middle of the user bell-shaped curve.  What you are 
> talking about is not the documentation but the introductory tutorial.  
> The tutorial is important, but it is only a part of the overall 
> documentation.
>> another argument was: the user does not deal with internals nor with
>> philosophy under the hood (like avalon framework, etc.) The developer
>> in contrary does.
> Here we very much disagree.  In order to have your XSP file cache its 
> results, you need to reference Avalon components.  It's not an 
> all-or-nothing affair.  Almost everyone I've ever seen come to the list 
> has wondered about how fast Cocoon is.  If your XSPs aren't able to 
> cache, the answer is "not impressively fast."  There are only a few 
> Avalon interfaces/implementations you would ever need to know about or 
> use when you're starting out.  SourceValidity comes to mind...but it 
> needs to be documented better.
>> all of this is not so easy and should be separated out more clearly
>> in the next steps. I am pretty shure, if we keep with KISS, we should
>> come out at least with a usable beginners doc though ;-) 
> The pattern I see (the one I saw in myself) was:
> 1) First learning what makes Cocoon different and the general concept of 
> a sitemap.
> 2) Then the concept of a pipeline 
> (generators-to-tranformers-to-serializers).
> 3) Then seeing what components are available ("Ooh!  I can create a 
> directory listing as XML and use and include transformer to drop them in 
> place!  Neat-o!")
> 4) Then bumping into the wall of "I need to do X but I don't see a 
> ready-made component yet."
> 5a) Learning XSP to make simple items.
> 5b) Learning Actions to manipulate simple items.
> 6) Writing a component by extending an existing one.
> 7) Writing a component from scratch.
> 8) Hacking the Cocoon core.
> I'm at about level 6 now.  (Is that a 1d8 or 2d4? :-))
> Your tutorial, if it only handles the first three, would be a great 
> primer, but it has no bearing on the individual.  People will do 
> whatever is necessary to get their job done.  The first couple of steps 
> could be skipped and handled more easily by using JSP, PHP, etc. by 
> themselves.  A directory listing?  Apache's been doing that since its 
> introduction.  Cocoon is taking it to the next level.  Unfortunately, 
> "the next level" usually implies complexity.
> The tutorial can only be the introduction to more knowledge.  It can't 
> ever serve the purpose of "this is all you need to get useful work 
> done."  That's like saying "I'll give a snippet of how while-loops and 
> declaring variables work so that you can write C code."  There 
> definitely should be a hello world demonstration, but don't be fooled.  
> A hello world example will enable you to edit sitemaps, see how it all 
> fits together, and write more apps with the complexity of hello world 
> (ie. not very useful apps).  It will teach 1 and 2 and let the user know 
> that 3 is on the horizon.  In the end, anyone who spends any amount of 
> time with Cocoon will go through all the steps (except maybe 7 and 8 -- 
> but I could be wrong).  This is because no real-world app is the same 
> complexity level as Hello World.
> Cocoon: Making the impossible possible, the unmanageable manageable, and 
> -- when you are starting out -- the simple one-liners from Perl into 
> several days of research.
> If all you need is the Perl one-liner, Cocoon will probably frustrate 
> you and leave you bitter.  If you're finding that the Perl one-liner 
> just won't cut it because you have hundreds of "one-liners" bouncing off 
> each other, then it's time to look at Cocoon.  (Ugh...  I feel like I 
> just transferred to marketing and sales.)
> - Miles
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Dr. Hussayn Dabbous
SAXESS Software Design GmbH
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