What's up with the new website

by Kosh

What has been done so far

The new website has many new features and new areas to enable better organization.

One feature of particular interest is that the search engine is real time. This feature is underused right now but will be more important as more things are added to it. When you add a page, delete a page, or modify a page it updates its entry in the search engine at that point in time. So items added can be searched instantly. This also means that the site does not need to be indexed externally like the old site was. This should greatly reduce the load on the server due to searching and it should make it far easier to keep that stuff up to do. Mostly because no one has to keep the search engine updated. Best way to make sure a job gets done is to make sure humans arn't the ones that have to do the job. :)

New document types, with new capabilities, have been added. The major document that has been added so far is called CompoundDoc. It is essentially a master control document that is able to change what it is depending on what you ask of it. For WF uses so far it can become an regular page and it can be a FAQ object. New features are continually being added to it and many more can be expected soon. A few major features of this document are that it can hold images and files inside it. This means that there is no need for an upload tool anymore. Items can just be directly uploaded into the objects. It will also index those items if possible. Any alt tags you put on images will also show up in the search engine at this point. Files can be searched also if they contain plain text. This makes it easy to upload help files and have them found since the search engine will register those files contents. New features are currently underway to make it easier to work with these documents and make them more flexible. Right now they understand structured text (HOWTO is on the new website), html, xhtml, and dtml. DTML is the zope template language. In most cases only one command is ever needed which makes it pretty easy to use.

A new FAQ system is under construction for the site also. This systems makes a FAQ object out of a single question and answer. Each of these items has a category that it is part of. These objects will tie into a FAQ database on the server so that FAQ pages are dynamically created where they are shown depending on where you are at. For example if you add a FAQ object about Acorn you can say it is an Acorn FAQ and in the Acorn area of the website that FAQ will show the FAQ you just made. CVS would work the same way except for the FAQs on that you could say they applied to Acorn, general, STAGE etc and it would appear in all of those areas. This should make it easy to keep highly focused FAQs without repeating information and still make it easy for people to find the answers to these questions. Later on these FAQs will probably also tie into the regular documents so that you could make important FAQs appear on the navbar pages of special interest. A good example of this would be on the Acorn download pages FAQs could be listed that cover various important aspects of downloading and installing acorn.

What else is coming

The website is getting new features at a fairly quick rate a few notable ones of interest will be.

  1. Smarter Documents: Work is progressing on making the documents even smarter in their generation of html/xhtml. The goal is to enable the elimination of writing html/xhtml on the site. This would make it easier for editing and it would make it easier to generate pages for different browser versions. I am not exactly sure how that will be done at this point. It might just use the structured text rules and modify them a little bit.
  2. News and Comment system: From any existing object you will be able to post a news item about that object. These news items will be searchable from the main search engine and also from a news search engine. These will also appear on relelvant areas of the site depending on what areas they are created to apply to. For example if a new version of Cyphesis comes out a news item can be created on the same page that the information about the new version is done. There will also be a global news system for more global announcements. A comment system will work the same way. So that anyone can comment on a page if they desire. This will eventually evolve into pages being able to have discussion boards attach to them which will also be searchable.
  3. Redesign of Edit Interface: Based on stuff various people have commented on the editing screen for CompoundDoc is going to be redesigned to be easier to use. Not sure on what the ETA for this one is.
  4. Bugtracking system: I am not sure what the exact form of such a system should take at this point however I anticipate starting on it in about a month. At this point I will probably pattern a good deal of it off what is on sourceforge. If you would like to help design a bug tracking system feel free to hunt me down on irc. :)
  5. Custom profiles and notes: The website will evolve into a system to better help people develop for wf and to keep in contact with each other. Unfortunately this part of the solution will probably require a cookie. As such this system will be completely optional and no part of the site will break if you turn off cookies except for the pages that you would use to save all these settings. I am thinking of things like a custom set of links for different developers that can be drawn depending on who you are, notes being left for you, bugs that you could see etc. This should make it easier for developers to work with stuff and make the site truly useful for them. For example if you are working on STAGE then in your profile you could save that information so that quicklinks to the various STAGE items would appear when you view the site. If anyone has ideas on what they would like to see in such a system please post it to the infra bulletin board on the new website.
  6. Custom Databases: Various custom databases. Creature, items, magic, special characters etc will be added to the site. When first implemented ,unless we have a standard for the format of these items, I will probably have them exportable as fairly simple XML file. Help on the design of these databases would be appreciated.

Current known problems

There are a number of problems that still exist on the site. This is a list of the current problem cases, what is affected, and what is being done about them. Like any software product bug list this list seems to grow with time with old bugs being fixed a new ones being found. I hope that most major bugs can be fixed fairly quickly.

  1. Netscape 4 Viewing: The site is currently not netscape 4 friendly. This is mostly to do with some CSS entries that still need to be added or modified for it.
  2. Help System: The help system is nowhere near complete yet however it is seeing a fair amount of attention to fix this lack.
  3. Opera and uploading PNGs: Opera does not want to upload pngs to the object however it will upload gifs and jpegs. Overall this is a very strange problem that I hope to find a solution for soon.
  4. Netscape 4 Uploading: Netscape 4 sometimes doesn't like to upload stuff. It seems to be fairly random so I haven't found why it is yet. Currently the best browsers to use are Mozilla, konqueror, and IE. They seem to work pretty much flawlessly.
  5. Really Strange: A strange error occurs sometimes where when the browser sends a page back to the server the server doesn't think that is an object that it owns. So far I have not been able to reproduce this problem with any browser and the error zope generates is pretty much equiv to if you are seeing this message something has gone horribly wrong. During more of the bug fixing on the object I hope that this gets fixed. This problem has not occurred in a while so it could also be that it has been fixed already.

Well that pretty much covers it. I will probalby not be on irc much between the 30th of July and the 14th of August. I am moving so my server will also be down for a while. The best way to get ahold of me will be by posting a note to the website on the infra board. I hope to get many things done during this time so expect a lot of new features around the 14th. -Kosh