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From "Brian Topping" <topp...@digidemic.com>
Subject Intro / etc.
Date Wed, 29 May 2002 11:15:40 GMT
Hi All,
 
My name is Brian, I've been looking around at the mail archives and progress of Forrest, it's
great!  I'm just introducing myself, I guess.  I'm really into CMS, it's something I'm doing
for my main line of work.  
 
I'm not sure how many of you have heard of Xopus, but it's a very cool (and very lightweight)
browser plugin that allows inline editing of XML documents.  See http://www.q42.nl/products/xopus/
and try the demo to actually understand what I am talking about.  I don't have any connection
with these guys, I just think their technology rocks the house.
 
I saw the CMS thread that happened a couple of weeks back, and I don't want to flog a dead
horse, but I would like to throw in a prop for doing a CMS within Forrest sooner than later.
 Here's why:
 
I'm starting to believe that ad-hoc user-generated documentation may be what gets people to
write docs.  By this, I mean truly living documents that users can edit.  Check out the sections
of http://mysql.org/doc/ for an example.  At the end of each section, users can add comments
that elaborate the documentation and leave "popcorn" for the maintainers to update the site.
 Forrest is most successful so far as a documentation system, and documentation is what seems
to be lacking in the world.  So it seems to make sense to really kick some butt with the handling
of documentation.  Gracefully integrating user changes, as they have them, seems to be something
that would make a lot of sense.
 
To illustrate, a couple of examples:
 
An example of how it *shouldn't* be:  Over the last week or so have contributed some diffs
that would help people avoid some build and install issues I hit with a couple of random projects.
 They haven't been merged yet, so my attention deficit disorder has me wondering whether I
should make more diffs, since the instant gratification that I can get somewhere else isn't
there.
 
My idea of how it should be, with Xopus:  I see a problem that I want to fix on a page.  I
log into the site, and since I'm in Mozilla, I hit F7 to edit the text.  Xopus comes in to
let me edit the text -- inline.  When I am finished, Xopus pushes the changes to the server.
 My changes are *not* immediately put on the site, but are queued.  The queue is managed by
Scarab, logged as a documentation bug with a patch, and both myself and the maintainer are
notified in standard Scarab fashion.  The next time the maintainer logs in, a viewer shows
the changes and allows them to accept or reject the changes.  If they are accepted, they are
pushed to CVS.  Either way, I am notified of the accept/reject status of my work, again via
Scarab.  There is no room for loss of my work, and I can track the status and who is responsible
for reviewing my changes.
 
The reason I am yammering about this is because all the parts are there (Wyona for CMS, Xopus
for XML editor, Scarab for issue tracking, just add glue), and adding this to Forrest would
leverage it to any project that used it.  It would add a very fast feedback cycle to people
that wanted to add to the documentation, which would increase participation.  Since docs are
a weak point of all projects, if it was successful at increasing participation on them, nobody
would think of doing a project without it.
 
The ugly stick with these kind of systems is that they are another database system that needs
to be maintained, but if everything could be managed through Scarab, the extra cost is really
back to zero.  And if it gets people to contribute to documentation, how much is *that* worth?!?
:-)
 
It might be worth thinking about!
 
-b

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