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Re: Changes I've been thinking of...

From: Riccardo Mottola
Subject: Re: Changes I've been thinking of...
Date: Thu, 08 Oct 2009 00:34:39 +0200
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; FreeBSD i386; en-US; rv: Gecko/20090906 SeaMonkey/1.1.18


I just read Richard's answer.. and I have to say I agree mostly with it.

Gregory Casamento wrote:

There are a number of things which need to change on the project:

We need to:
1) improve our website.  It's been the same for years and doesn't
reflect our progress.
Agreed. I like the look, but the information in it is sparse, not well organized. The website has to appeal to a broad range of people: New users, developers, recurring users... I personally feel that quite some information is there, but needs to be checked and made be better available.

For example the download page is something people expect, yet it is confused. We have mirrors, do we still have them?
If, then I'd expect something like:

<package 1> [download version 1 main site]
[download version 1 mirror 1]
[download version 1 mirror 2]

<package 2> [download version 2 main site]
[download version 2 mirror 1]
[download version 2 mirror 2]

Just to make one of the many examples.

We had a very good improvment with the software index, but still some information is dispersed between the site and the wiki.
2) improve GNUstep's default theme as well as theming in general.
While I know some people will respond negatively to changing the
default theme from a NeXT-like look to something more modern, I
believe it's one way for us to spark interest in the project is to
update it's look.   The current look should always be available, but
not necessarily the default.
Let's do things gradually. Not just because I think the default look is good, but because this is generally an open problem. I agree mainly with Richard, I think it is good for themes to be available, but it is not really necessary to change the default theme.

- GSTheme needs to be improved and GUI with it. THere are soem things which are difficult to theme
- Thematic should track the above
- We need the ability to bundle Application and Document icons to make a theme. I proposed that to some people but got no feedback. I intend that it would be nice for a theme to supply new icons for several programs. It is a feature that has drawbacks in consistency, but "themers" like that a lot I believe! - These themes, color schemes, bundles should be bundled in dedicated pages on sites for easy access (I think here for example in etoile, and GNUstep itself, in GAP I made a prototype of what I have in mind)

I released two early versions of themes and worked on a third (available in CVS). They work, but are very incomplete, also because several components need to be easier to theme, some settings need to be made independent (mainly colors for example)

Then I may add that as much as I like our default theme, it can be improved. Not newly "designed", but we are not good as OpenStep at all! Some of our icons are missing, some are nice but not in the NeXT style.

So I believe that to improve on the theme side there are several tasks to complete before even discussing "change the default theme". Since this is an issue people have opinions about, let's procrastinate. Working on the rest is already very interesting and promising!

3) Improve our ability to market ourselves in general.

One thing that GNUstep has been lacking in is marketing.   I've been
trying to improve things on that front, but I'm not the best marketer
to say the very least.

Marketing is difficult! But yes, we need to work on that. I tried to market GNUstep professionally a couple of times and I found criticism or doubts on:
- Windows compatibility (yes it is important!)
- integration (thus in this case theming in the sense of blending with windows, more than the pure joy of ricing) - ease to package on windows (currently it is difficult to make a single self-contained application)
- incompleteness of some appealing applications
- bad packaging in the Distro X (where X was the choice of the customer...)

well more spots, but those are of note.
Does anyone have any questions or comments regarding this?  I would
like to hear any and all input people have.
I think we actually do well. The fact is that even if our core package improved a LOT, just reading some 4 years old mails shows that for the Joe average user or developer progress has been not very visible... and what was there is not that well shown on the website.

I think other points we need to work on:
- make some useful applications more complete, less buggy... we have tons of them, before even starting new ones. Let me cite: - ProjectCenter (the upcoming version is so much better.... try svn trunk, but not there for a release)
   - GNUMail: a nice application, that is bitrotting
   - FlexiSheet
   - many others, text editors, etc

I also think we should devlop, document and make more prominent:
- GNUstepWeb. I got asked about that
- gdl2 and the other database related stuff inclduing the Gorm palettes. People loved that at Fosdem
- did I mention packages in Linux and BSD? :)

Did you notice that there were people asking question and interest on the Mailing list and on IRC? Let's keep that interest awake, reply nicely.


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