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From Thomas Dudziak <>
Subject Re: [RT] Super Simple Site Generation Tool
Date Tue, 27 Dec 2005 15:17:37 GMT
On 12/27/05, Leo Simons <> wrote:

> It pains me to say this (Forrest is a cool project and I
> consider at least some of its active developers and community
> members my friends) but we've muddled around long enough.
> I think that, for the incubator website, Apache Forrest
>   * is too unstable as a codebase
>   * is way too complex
>   * has too many features we don't need and solves
>     too many problems we don't have
>   * has a learning curve that is too big
>   * does not work well with the SVN-based publishing
>     process we want to use
>   * is not well-understood by enough of the current
>     Incubator volunteers
>   * has caused frustration for too many of the current
>     Incubator volunteers
> I think this needs solving. I think this needs solving in
> general, not just for the Incubator (I have the exact same
> problem over at Gump, which also has a horrendously outdated
> website which also uses Apache Forrest).

Hi Leo,

since I'm rather new to this, I don't have a deep understanding of the
problems you're trying to solve. However, to my naive understanding
its two things:

* make the process of documenting incubated projects easier for their community
* make the process of publishing this documentation easier (and more
stable) for infra/incubator people

Now I don't really know about the problems that you have with Forrest
regarding the second point - it works for the projects that I work in,
but then again we probably have fewer/simpler requirements. It would
be nice if you could perhaps provide some details, e.g. regarding
SVN-based publishing ?

Anyway, I think there are several possible things that could be done
to deal with this (in the line of "eating your own dog food"), aside
from implementing a new tool:

* Get Cocoon/Forrest developers to help in the Incubator.

If Forrest is too complicated to use, let Forrest/Cocoon people help
out. This would help them see where complexity has to be removed. And
the community of the incubated projects would have experts available
that can help them with their problems.
And more helpers for Incubator should be a good thing, not ?

* Simplify Forrest for 'admins'.

Same as above. As I said, I don't really know about the problems, but
I think all projects that use Forrest, can benefit from a
simpler/faster/more stable site generation.

* Simplify documentation writing for end users.

Actually, I think this is quite an important point. Writing a new tool
probably means yet another XML (or some other format) to learn, which
is Not A Good Thing (tm). IMHO it would be better to get away from XML
completely and pursue simpler solutions.
One such thing might be the OpenOffice plugin that generates Forrest
files, which would help new projects a lot in writing/converting
existing documentation.
Another thing might be abandoning Forrest altogether for Incubation
docs in favor of, for instance, a protected Wiki that only the project
developers (and mentors, PMCs, ...) have write access to. And there's
is probably a not-too-complicated technical way to convert this later
on to Maven or Forrest format once the project comes out of

Anyway, I hope you don't mind me making a case for using this as an
opportunity to make Forrest better instead of abandoning it.


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