[Catalyst] Re: Catalyst site design drafts feedback thread

Michael Burns michael.burns at cosbit.com
Thu Jun 12 19:49:54 BST 2008

On 12-Jun-08, at 8:12 AM, Matt S Trout wrote:

> On Thu, Jun 12, 2008 at 09:48:55AM +0200, Tobias Kremer wrote:
>> Once again, sorry for being so negative but this just shows how  
>> much I
>> care about Catalyst gaining more attention.
> Enough to say you hate them all but not enough to try and say why.
> So it's subjective - the whole point of this was to provide - 
> feedback- so
> the designers could understand what people did and didn't like.  
> Telling us
> you'd be worried about Catalyst's future if we used any without a  
> single
> bit of constructive criticism is ... well, frankly, completely  
> useless for
> anything except insulting the designers who were kind enough to create
> mockups for us.

I don't believe it has to be as subjective as it currently is.

Sure, at the end of the day, colour palette choices, specific design  
techniques (rounded corners? square corners?) are things that fall  
into the realm of subjectivity.

But I agree 100% with Simon's position that there hasn't yet been an  
agreed-upon *standard* of judgement that we can all use specifically  
so that the design process doesn't have to be purely subjective.

 From his email:

On 12-Jun-08, at 2:40 AM, Simon Wilcox wrote:
> IMO, the three fundamental questions that need to be asked and  
> answered before you get anywhere near a visual design are:
> 1. Who is the audience ?
> 2. What information/resources do they need ?
> 3. How do we get them to that information as quickly and as simply  
> as possible ?

There should be some discussion of what is the point of a Catalyst web  
site at all before we all try to measure and judge web mockups with no  
common base of reference or comparison.

Let's treat it like any other project, and put together an informal  
but thought-out bullet pointed RFP for the design process.

I propose something along the lines of answering the question:

"Why do we want a Catalyst framework web site? Why not just leave it  
on CPAN and the mailing lists?"

IMHO, if it's just for communicating to other Perl devs, CPAN +  
mailing lists would be enough. So assuming it's supposed to do more  
than that, how about:

# The Catalyst Web Site #


1. Should communicate the active ongoing development of a stable,  
enterprise-deployed web framework;

2. Should communicate the stability and utility in using Perl as a  
development language for web projects;

3. Should communicate the operability of Catalyst in different server  
frameworks (Apache, lighttpd, fastCGI, etc.) and operating systems  
(*nix, *BSD, Windows, Mac OS X, etc.)

4. Should entice programmers of different languages to give it a try  
(would need some specific merits as to why it's worth the time  
investment to try it out)

5. Should entice Perl programmers that currently use different  
frameworks to consider Catalyst for their next project (would need  
some specific comparisons vs. other Perl frameworks as to why it's  
worth the time investment to try out)

6. Should have supporting links / documentation to large sites or big  
names (as best we can) to demonstrate the stability and enterprise- 
ready nature of Catalyst to non-programming stakeholders.

7. Should communicate to existing Catalyst users with current version  
information, release notes, links to download, mailing lists, SVN repo  
information, etc.

8. Should communicate to both novice Catalyst and expert Catalyst  
users (perhaps short articles? "How to use Moose?", "How to deploy  
Log4Perl?", "How to write your first Controller?" -- as beginner  
examples) -- a place for "Recent Articles" on the home page would be a  
good way to pull visitors into the site.

9. The wealth of modules for Catalyst and on CPAN in general should be  
emphasized, with key pointers on particularly often-used and powerful  
modules (the whole Cat::*::Authentication and Authorization ones; how  
to do REST stuff to communicate with your existing corporate web  
services; the MIME:: and Mail:: libraries for not having to re-invent  
the wheel; etc. etc.)

10. Should reach out to the community (including commercial  
entities!!) and help them promote their Catalyst offerings, to  
demonstrate the presence of a "Catalyst Ecosystem" and not just an  
isolated framework (i.e., "Catalyst-friendly Hosting Providers", the  
Catalyst book, other appropriate Perl books, companies that specialize  
in Catalyst development (perhaps by geographic region, etc.) -- even a  
Catalyst-specific job board would be fantastic to demonstrate the  
merits of choosing Catalyst as a fundamental framework choice).

*Design Requirements:*

(different from Goals, more technical, but also needed to establish a  
common base of measurement)

1. Should be fully standards compliant (CSS, xHTML, etc.) -- should  
validate with no (or with few known/specific) errors

2. Any javascript should degrade gracefully providing equivalent  
information access for browsers w/o javascript or with javascript  

3. Any image replacements should be done using accepted image  
replacement techniques (say, sFIR or similar) to ensure complete  
search indexability and readability with screen readers

4. Should be visible at a minimum of 974px (this is standard for  
current designs) but ideally would be elastically widening

5. Should use font scaling techniques (such as em-based sizing) so  
that font size changes keep the site visually consistent

I submit this as a draft design RFP for the Catalyst framework  
website. I'd be happy to add it to the Catalyst wiki (or wherever  
would be most appropriate) if the community thinks this is valuable.

I'd propose that we need to agree on a standard of critical  
measurement before we're ever going to be able to agree on what "looks  
best" :-) This is my proposed first step to get us there.

Feedback ... will be swift and heavy I'm sure :-)



Michael Burns, Partner
Cosbit Technologies Group

403-701-2672  / michael.burns at cosbit.com

IM: cmikeburns

North Centre Business Park • Suite 217, 2770 3rd Avenue NE  •   
Calgary, Alberta, Canada  •  T2A 2L5


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