Today I got a newsletter email SilverStripe talking up the end of year activities. One of the awesomest parts was from Sigurd himself asking for community feedback.
If there was one thing you'd love to see SilverStripe do differently next year, what would it be? We'd love to hear your thoughts. We'll keep this easyâ€”just reply to this email. We look forward to reading through the responses when we return to work.
I was impressed by this and thought I'd share my response in a public forum. Please share yours too!
Dalesaurus here. Its great to see SS reaching out like this to user and clients alike. A very refreshing approach to community outreach. I'd like to take you up on offering some thoughts for 2010.
Improving Community Tools
This is the theme of things I think need the most attention. Adoption of SS hits a certain wall to it due to documentation, developer community, and information management. It pains me to see newcomers so frustrated that they want to walk away when the underlying code is _SO SUPERIOR_ to the alternatives, they're fools to do so. Under this umbrella I present my suggestions in order of my perceived importance.
This was discussed on the dev-silverstripe list a few months ago, but the conversation died out. I believe that the issue need brought back to center stage, first thing 2010. The wiki has good information but the structure is lacking. DokuWiki is easy, but not ideal for complex data needs like versioned software. Tutorials aside, the terse and often outdated information hurts more than it helps. I think it needs to be separated into stuff from the Core Team and User Contributed sections, like Python.
-Search Search Search
Four separate, isolated software systems holding very important data (Trac, IRC, Wiki, Forums). Its a battle just figuring out WHERE to search for something you need. I know eating your own dogfood is good, but the Search Contexts built into the Forums module are not on the same level as a free google site search. It also doesn't behave like users familiar with other search engines are used to. Let the content get indexed and be free! I have deployed a Google Mini Search Appliance before, and for $3,000 USD it is _AMAZING_. It will let you have control over what people can and cannot see.
This is the primary area where new users poke their heads in. While it is pretty to look at, actually using it can be painful. I still maintain that your very own WillR has the patience of 28 saints.
1. No Code Syntax highlighting. This is extremely frustrating when attempting to provide support of a code-based product.
2. No inline embedding of attachments. Again, this is a code based product. Also deleting attachments doesn't work.
3. Spam Reporting, only available to the Original Poster. This is so puzzling, as a spammer isn't going to report themselves.
4. Layout. Can we get a little more width in here? The design is pretty but not conducive to viewing code.
5. Search. See above. No way to target a specific sub-forum, no tags to know which version a post affects, no advanced options.
6. Preview Post. Argh!
7. Manual formatting of BBCode. Double Argh!
8. Cookies! All your subscription emails create URLs to http://silverstripe.com but your cookies on login are set to whichever you used. So if I login at www.silverstripe.com I am logged out when I click a subscription link. You guys invented forceWWW() for a reason :)
There are many other small things that build up a big ball of usability issues. The bottom line is that there is no shame in using a more mature package here (Vanilla, phpbb, vBulletin).
I have a separate login for each; Trac, Wiki, and Forums. Have you considered a service like RPX ( https://rpxnow.com/ ), OpenID, or even something simpler like LDAP on the backend?
-Alternate Community Tools
I'm not selling anything, but I can tell you after several years of working with Atlassian software products ( http://www.atlassian.com ) kick serious ass on all the points I'm speaking to. JIRA, Confluence, and FishEye are FREE for open source projects and all the pieces integrate seamlessly. JIRA alone is a godsend over Trac and there are even good transition tools for it.
Please note that I'm not trying to outright critisize anyone or anything here. I really appreciate what you folks do and I owe a large part of my success in 2009 to the SilverStripe platform. I want to offer my suggestions to help the developer community grow stronger in the coming year.