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From Erin Mulder <>
Subject Usability Notes: First Impressions
Date Sat, 02 Jul 2005 07:33:43 GMT
Congratulations on passing the TCK!

It sounds like usability is now a top concern, so here are some quick
first impressions based on the geronimo-1.0-169186 build.  I approached
this as someone who had just heard the buzz about Geronimo and had
downloaded it to give it a try.

Many of these items are simple documentation or user feedback issues
that should be easy to fix.  A lot of them are pretty minor, but taken
together, they make a difference.

1. It would be nice to have obvious and startup.bat scripts
in the bin directory so that the user doesn't need to look at the README
file to figure out how to start the server.  (I know java -jar
bin/server.jar isn't hard -- it's just not quite as brainless as a
script called "startup").

2. The README file should probably put the instructions for starting the
server ahead of the deployment instructions.   (I think most people will
want to make sure Geronimo starts successfully before they invest time
in deployment or configuration.)

3. When first launching the server, it's hard to tell when startup is
complete.  There are lots of pauses, and it's not clear whether there
will eventually be a "successful startup" message.  This adds a bit of
uncertainty/confusion as you sit there and wonder whether it's done,
still going or broken.  (It would actually be quite cool/unique to add
some sort of ascii progress bar like sftp and scp use.)

4. During startup, too much information is written to the console.
Ideally, it should display a "Server starting..." message, followed by
some sort of small progress indicator, followed by a "Server started
successfully!" message.   Only errors, severe warnings, or truly useful
environment information should go in between.  (A verbose switch could
be added to allow developers to load the server with the current chatty
log4j config.)

5. There's no sense of what to do next when first launching the server.
  It would be nice to see something like "Server started successfully!
 Visit the web console at http://localhost:8080/".  It would also be
very nice to print out a quick table of the ports that the server is
listening on.  Perhaps something like:

  > bin/

  Environment information:
    JDK_HOME: /usr/lib/java
    GERONIMO_BUILD: 1.0-169186
    VERBOSE_LEVEL: quiet (use -verbose to change)

  SERVER STARTING..................................

  Now listening on:
    Port 1234: JMS
    Port 8080: HTTP
    Port 8081: HTTPS
    Port 9876: Foo


  Browse to http://localhost:8080/ for web console

6. I expected to find some sort of welcome page at
http://localhost:8080/ (to reassure me that installation & startup were
successful), but just got a 404.  It would be nice for that URL to
present a welcome page that gives "quick start" instructions for
configuration, deployment, accessing the management console, etc.  Links
to example apps and instructions on where to find their underlying code
would also be helpful.

7. Since there was no obvious management console, I followed the
instructions to enable the debug console.  While doing this, I noticed that:
  a. the README doesn't list username/password info next to the debug
console instructions.  It's in a different section, and I didn't notice
it until after I was surprised by the "Username:" prompt.
  b. Password input echoes to console (perhaps use shell/batch scripts
to work around this?)
  c. In general, debug console deployment takes a long time with no feedback

8. Not immediately clear how to configure anything (data source, server
ports, application, etc.)  There are no config directories that can be
browsed or grepped, no examples of data source configurations for common
databases, no sample applications, etc.  At this point, you're pretty
much dumped into the main documentation page and need to comb through
articles and ebooks for more info.  This is an easy point to give up
playing with Geronimo and go back to work on something else.

Anyway, that was the first 10-20 minutes.  Now I need to work on porting
a few apps from JBoss and WebLogic to Geronimo.  I'll keep a log of
first impressions as I go and will try to report back at some point.


PS. The tarball I downloaded included a NOTICE.txt that says Geronimo is
still in the incubator.  This should probably be removed.

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