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From "Paul Bolger" <pbol...@gmail.com>
Subject Re: [RT] A new Forrest implementation?
Date Thu, 17 Aug 2006 04:52:38 GMT
Hi all

I'm another lurker, although I read, and occasionally understand, the
dev list. Addi and Gav sum have already said some of this.

Forrest is great for simple website construction - I've used it quite
a bit to knock up 'mocks' - test sites to see how a navigation scheme
works - but doing anything more complicated takes me out of my depth
very quickly.

The features I really like are the 'forrest run' local server
implementation, and the Dispatcher.

As Gavin pointed out Forrest, in it's current state, is not suitable
for end users (people who aren't prepared to use command line based
applications). I'm not sure about the internal workings, but I think a
number of issues would need to be addressed to move Forrest towards
being a more popular system/application/framework:

1) The XHTML2 internal format conversion would make getting material
into Forrest a lot simpler. I use a Jedit plugin called Xilize a lot
to mark up text into HTML. Xilize produces valid XHTML and, in the
next version, will allow the markup to be directed to a target
directory. Make that directory the source for Forrest and you have a
nice little on-the-fly text or 'simple markup to website' generator.
I'd seriously consider using that for generating intranet pages in my
work.

2) The documentation conversions need to be slicker - if you are going
to convert Open Office or Word to HTML the resulting code should strip
empty elements, or elements containing nothing but non-breaking
spaces. PDF output should be addressed with the Dispatcher - there
doesn't seem much point in offering a 'ready for print' output format,
and not giving control over the layout.

3) Maybe Forrest needs some sort of graphic interface. The bar has
moved a lot in the last year on what people expect from applications.
DabbleDb (http://dabbledb.com/) Writely and Google Calendar are
indications of the direction things are going. Maybe something like
Brothercake's docking boxes interface
http://www.brothercake.com/site/resources/scripts/dbx/
would make a nice Dispatcher page design tool.

I'm not advocating doing away with the text-based configuration files,
once set up there's no  quicker way to check settings - just make
setting-up phase more friendly for non-geeks.

Overall, I think any move towards making Forrest a little more
approachable has to be good. Maybe some of this stuff should be put to
the user list: after all, open source
shouldn't just be about 'if you want it, do it yourself'.

paul b

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