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From "Gav...." <>
Subject RE: [RT] A new Forrest implementation?
Date Tue, 15 Aug 2006 13:51:25 GMT
Hi Guys,

I won't at this stage join in too much in the technical aspects of this
debate, but I'll touch on it where I can. (ed: this has now become a very
Large reply, sorry about that)

<waffle mode>

Just yesterday I was asked a question regarding whether Forrest or even
Lenya CMS would be suitable for a clients website - wanting to advertise
Homes for sale etc, and allow users to login to an  area an upload their
Own house for sale, pics etc..

The short version of the Story was, due to the site owner being not of a
Technical mind, not a web designer by any means, he sells houses full
Stop, I concluded that both Lenya and Forrest would both be too big and too
Difficult for him to install and use for his purposes. Swear word of the day
Coming up, myself and my colleague ended up offering a customised Joomla CMS
as a Good solution to this particular client.


As a Dev, I like Forrest and what it stands for, however having been on this
List just over a year now and I am still clueless to a lot of aspects of
Forrests internals, due in part to me concentrating on other areas, due also
In part to a lot of the code and files being externally developed and not
Discussed much here - the code is used here, but not really developed here, 
Of course I am referring to the likes of Cocoon, Avalon, Excalibur,
Chaperon, Gump, Daisy and many more.

Of course, we don't want to re-invent the wheel, what others have got that
we can use then that’s good, but don't bolt in a complete jumbo jet just
To utilise the wings.

The other side effect of being a dev - and could also apply to user too
maybe to a certain extent, joining the 'Forrest' Dev list was the first
Step - in reality to even begin to get beneath the engine of this baby,
involves joining more mailing lists of other communities in order to
understand, extend, and manage all aspects of Forrest. Being on the one
List simply is not good enough these days if one is to familarise yourself
with all aspects of Forrest. 
As a result of joining Forrest, I am also on the dev lists at 'Abdera' ,
'Cocoon' , 'Lenya' , 'Gump' , 'Chaperon' , 'Daisy' , 'XSL (mulburytech)' ,
'Heraldry' , 'Jira' , 'Subversion' , 'Maven'.

Ok, so 3 or 4 of those are not needed, but do give a better overall
understanding of the whole picture - and these all were ' a result of

And I don't mind, I'm not complaining, it is encouraged to x-commune and get
and give help, the point is I think that so many lists is living proof that
Forrest is indeed a complex beast - at least in terms of what functionality
is provided at the end of it.

And now to quote from the Projects main index page ...

"... Forrest's focus on low "startup cost" makes it ideal for rapid
development of small sites, where time and budget constraints do not allow
time-wasting HTML experiments. Of course, that same methodology can scale up
to large projects. Your development team does not need Java experience, or
even XML skills, to use Forrest. The framework lets you concentrate on
content and design.

By separating content from presentation, providing content templates and
pre-written skins, Forrest is unequalled at enabling content producers to
get their message out fast. This separation of concerns makes Forrest
excellent to publish project documentation (notably software projects),
intranets, and home pages, and anything else you can think of..."

A number of points to raise here .

Ideal for rapid development of small sites. If this were truly the case for
'end-users' if would be a lot more popular than it is now, it really is
Still not at that stage yet. 

It is not plug'n'play (ooh a windoze term) to the extent where we have a
clash between immediate usage and being able to use skins etc to their full
potential. Web Developers know (X)HTML, PHP, Java, etc but these can not be
used natively to take advantage of skins/themes. (Well not easily atm

Developers really need to use XML and atm forrest DTDs to get full benefit -
true , once a site has been written using this, the rest is easy and the
power of dispatcher etc comes into play.

Other things to consider from the usage of Forrest, using the dynamic mode
to run forrest is really restricted to intranets, one can not expect ISPs to
host forrest/cocoon etc in order to run a dynamic website on the internet,
so this capability is limited in its intended audience, I accept that this
is probably the case. For those publishing to an ISP, then the forrestbot is
a great tool, but yet can still be simplified I think - unless Forrest
audience is always intended to be for developers.

The move to XHTML2 has stalled again, but needs resurrecting I think, Web2
is also coming around, have DTDs ourlived their usefulness, will XHTML2 make
things easier for forrest to use also , we should not forget about this
during these talks of redirection.

Some more points raised inline :-

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Ross Gardler []
> Sent: Tuesday, 15 August 2006 6:50 PM
> To:
> Subject: Re: [RT] A new Forrest implementation?
> Thorsten Scherler wrote:
> > El lun, 14-08-2006 a las 20:59 +0100, Ross Gardler escribió:
> >
> >>This is a Random Thought. The ideas contained within are not fully
> >>developed and are bound to have lots of holes. The idea is to promote
> >>healthy discussion, so please, everyone, dive in and discuss.

In the deep end here :)

> >>
> >
> >
> > Just some quick remarks.
> >
> > Is our focus on framework or on implementation for the new trunk?
> I'm not sure I understand you question, I'll take a stab at it though...
> I see the possible new branch being a complete implementation of Forrest
> as it currently stands (i.e. with a CLI, with in place editing and with
> a WAR distribution). This would be built on a new framework that
> replaces Cocoon.

I realise Windows may be a dirty word, and that in the end Forrest will run
on whatever platform and will publish to whatever web server, I just can't
help thinking though that because the majority of desktops in the home and
the office run Windows, that we are missing out on a large userbase/devbase
if we don't also try and do something to help those that are scared of CLI
and the feared 'dot prompt' ($p$g) . 
Anyway, could more be done in this regard? What about a Windows Installer,
asks a few questions with a 'comfy and cosy' GUI and let the installer do
the dirty work getting it all installed in place and configured ready for
I also think that more use of PHP both as an input and output could be
looked at. I wonder if we could weave a bit of AJAX in there too :)
One more thing regarding the quote, it sort of claims that there are loads
of templates and ready made designs to choose from. I think we need a few

> >>The Drawbacks
> >>=============
> >>
> >>What are the drawbacks of getting rid of Cocoon?
> >>
> >>Probably the biggest drawback would be that we have to code it. There's
> >>not a huge amount of work to be done, but there are some neat things in
> >>Cocoon that we would have to reimplement or find elsewhere. We may be
> >>able to extract some of the code from Cocoon, but I'm not convinced this
> >>is a good approach.

What would you gestimate would be 'not a huge amount of work' ? If Coccoon
disappeared overnight, how long before we got a working Forrest again?

> >>
> >>Because of this need to write the code it will mean that Forrest would
> >>initially take a step backwards in terms of its functionality.


> >
> >
> > The other thing is that the existing community is right now pretty much
> > cocoon orientate. Dropping cocoon in 2.x can have the side effect that
> > the current community *may* loose interest in forrest (cocoon have been
> > a big selling point in the past).

Which Community, the dev or the user ? Who are we here for ? I don't really
think 'users' care less what is driving their car, as long as they can put
Petrol in it and works. If converted to LPG and it still works, will they
care any more or less.

As far as *I* am concerned regarding Cocoon, I still don’t really understand
it that well anyway, and have been reluctant thus far to do far, I am on the
lists, but most of it passes me by, only catching my eye on things relevant
to Forrest related problems.

The question is, what are you thinking of replacing it with, I guess it is
mostly platform independent java. I don't mind either way, if it cuts out
bloat I don't need to trawl through then it's a good thing for me. Being
here at the start of a new code adventure will be a benefit to me also, so I
can see (and help) it gradually come together, my understaning of the core
will be so much better. Will this also be the case for those that follow in
a years time (and will it matter) ?

> >
> > The critical question is, how many people (as devs) can we attract to
> > join the rewrite dropping cocoon, taking a step back in functionality,
> > focusing on java for new components?

I really missed the boat on Java, I know a little I guess, and this could be
a good exercise for me to really get to know it. I'll certainly help where I
can. A scenario (where I guess some will be familiar) : Imagine a shiny
brand new top of range computer, then being told that something doesn't
work, go fix it, ok so you strip it down dig around and get there
eventually. Now imagine you had all the components, built it yourself and
then were told to find the problem, you would probably go straight to it and
even 'know' where it was without even touching it.

> >
> > How many committer and devs will work on branch, how many on trunk, how
> > many on both?

I really don’t mind, probably just work my way through Jira :)

> >
> > I hope to see a healthy discussion, which will give some leads regarding
> > above questions.
> This is very important, thanks for highlighting it.
> I'd like to ask how many developers here do anything other than write
> XML and XSLT in Forrest?

Not me.

> How many actually use Forrest in an environemnt where it is doing
> anything more than building a website?

Not me.

> I'd suggest that the thing to do is ensure that we support the building
> of simple websites quickly in order to quickly support what I suspect is
> the vast majority of our users.

I agree, with all Forrest power, and more to come, most users I agree just 
Want to build (ready made) websites.


> Ross

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