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From Stefan Loones <st...@pandava.com>
Subject Re: mod_perl presence at OSCON (and other CONs) is at danger
Date Tue, 08 Jun 2004 19:50:59 GMT
Perrin Harkins wrote:

>On Tue, 2004-06-08 at 10:55, Frank Wiles wrote:
>  
>
>>  I agree mod_perl needs more PR.  I think we've got a great community
>>  of people to help on the mailing list, tons of great documentation,
>>  but lack in several areas:
>>
>>  1) PR announcements in general (When is the last time you saw mod_perl
>>     in the press?) 
>>  2) Online and magazine articles about mod_perl 
>>  3) HOWTOs on specific subjects
>>  4) Small application examples with developer commentary.
>>    
>>
>
>These are really two different things.  The first two are more about
>getting the word out while the second two are about helping people with
>practical coding issues.  We are well-equipped to handle the second two
>right here, but the first two might require some help from other groups.
>
>In particular, I would say it's a mistake to think that mod_perl
>specifically needs PR.  There is no important difference between
>promoting mod_perl and promoting Perl in general.  That's why I think
>this sort of thing should be pursued through The Perl Foundation, rather
>than as some sort of separate splinter group.
>  
>

I strongly disagree. One example about my own experience:
I'm using perl for cgi scripts since 1996 and I very much love perl. I'm 
not a professional, and my daytime job (which is much more than daytime) 
has until now nothing to do with programming. Somewhere beginning of 
2003, I started planning a new project, and was hesitating in what to 
write it. Just plain perl-cgi was much to slow. I looked at php. Why ? 
Because you hear about it, and see it everywhere (= PR !). It's only 
after a while I remembered having read something about mod_perl ... Then 
I started reading on perl.apache.org. My experience and opinion on 
documentation follows below.
In my opinion mod_perl definitly needs a lot of extra PR. And as Stas 
more or less said in the meanwhile by promoting mod_perl your promote 
Perl, and you can even try to get the opposite when promoting Perl, get 
attention on mod_perl.
All people out there that write web-applications get much to much 
publicity (as everyone does). So, it's very simple, they will start 
using the tools they've seen the most and/or heart the most about. And a 
lot of them don't want to change tools, because that again brings work 
and time, which they don't have or don't want to spent. In other words, 
the more you can promote it, the better. The more people read about it, 
the more people speak about it, the better. And I don't see any problem 
in co-promoting mp with Perl and vice versa. Both worlds will benefit of 
it in the long run.

Then about the documentation:
When I started reading on perl.apache.org, I didn't want to convert 
existing cgi scripts, but wanted to rewrite something completely from 
scratch. It would have been easier first to experiment with converting 
some existing scripts. But as many people I had (and still have) an 
enormous lack of time, and didn't want to waste time on things I would 
not use.  I also noticed very quickly that there were important 
differences between mod_perl 1 & 2, so again, I didn't want to waste 
time on mod_perl 1, and started directly with mod_perl 2. For me, speed 
and usability always come on the first place, so I directly started with 
writing my own handlers using the modperl handler type. With this 
background, I found the documentation on mod_perl 2 difficult for a new 
user.
I know most of the problems I encountered are more or less my own fault 
because I didn't want to spend time reading the docs of mod_perl 1. But 
I'm sure there are a lot of people out there with the same problem. And 
I must admit at some point I was thinking about giving up and 
re-starting with php. I've searched the internet on specific mp2 docs, 
and found some pdf's and slides from Stas. I also bought Practical 
mod_perl but was a bit dissappointed that there were only 2 chapters 
specific about mp2.

In my opinion, it would be a good idea to think about reorganising the 
online documentation structure. Especially, to make it easier for new 
users who want to give it a try. And if they want "to give it a try", 
it's important they succeed quickly in this try, or they give up, and 
give a try to another tool. Again, the more people that use mp, the more 
people that will be convinced about mp, and then they will talk about it.

I also find it a very interesting option when people can give comments 
within the documentation on a per subject basis (like you can do at 
http://www.php.net/manual/en/function.usort.php and at 
http://dev.mysql.com/doc/mysql/en/JOIN.html).

Maybe another idea (a lot of small things can sometimes make big 
differences, and it's all about the big difference): If I'm correct 
there are no specific mod_perl logo's available. Apache, mysql, php, and 
others: they all have that, and you regurarly see them on sites. Maybe 
this is also an option to think about.

None of my reactions here are meant as critics (also not on the 
documentation Stas), it's only meant to possibly help to make things 
better. I do have a lot of respect for the people here who spent so much 
time supporting mod_perl !

Stef


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