Joomla! and usability

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Re: Joomla! and usability

Post by masterchief » Sat Mar 14, 2009 3:18 am

I'll let Ian work that out with you. For reference, I am working on material that also teaches you the theory (and in some cases the black art) behind why we do things the Joomla way, not describing this or that class (a bit like the difference between knowing how to use Joomla and knowing how to actually set up a good website with it). That stuff takes longer to explain. Also means I'm a bit more bus proof if this stuff is written down.
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Re: Joomla! and usability

Post by mcsmom » Sat Mar 14, 2009 3:25 am

Perhaps you might want to move this whole off topic portion of this hijacked thread to the dev docs forum.
http://forum.joomla.org/viewforum.php?f=60

You can PM Ian.
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Re: Joomla! and usability

Post by isarg » Sat Mar 14, 2009 4:08 am

Sounds good, I look forward to hearing from him.

The "Black Art" tends exist in any complex application. I started coding back on the Intel 8080 in assembler when everything was... well, all over the roads. One of the reasons I respect Microsoft is as much as its a love/hate type deal is that they are and have always been standards based and always open ended to developers. Apple never was with the Mac which I became "certified") more like insane) on.

Microsoft does not document to third party ISV's or Developers each and every function or procedure, class etc. If you drill down you can always get there but they dont openly document it all. They have been highly criticized for not doing so as we all know. Its been said they attain a competitive advantage in app's development/software development due to it.

So indeed yes I agree that varied classes the 3P Dev need not concern themselves about and need not be documented in reference materials.

I think that if the dev community has a simple reference, like any of these pocket references be it C#, CSS etc. thats pretty much what folks would need. Anything outside that could be considered anomolous and dealt with accordingly.

Learning the varied theories behind why Joomla did things this way or that way is interesting I am sure and I'd love reading it as I am quite worked to death on such things... Again, game engine coding is a "black art"... Its only in recent times that real standards have come into real play (no pun intended).

As I noted, we have many many ideas for the platform that are really commercial interests but along with that would come quite a bit free like. There are many (many) applications that do not exist within Joomla and some of those that do well... I'm not going to be critical. Lets just leave it as "should be alternatives".

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Re: Joomla! and usability

Post by mcsmom » Sat Mar 14, 2009 8:37 pm

When I hear people say they want something like WP or blogger, what I hear most of all is that they want to be able to find their work. It is very difficult to find an article you have created if you are working on the front end. If you are lucky there is an obvious section or category link somewhere and then if you remember which section and category you put the article in, you can drill down and find it. If the article was uncategorized (the default), forget it; cannot be found from the front end unless someone has made a menu link.

If we could just add a link to the user menu that generated a list of all of a user's articles that would go a long way toward decreasing frustration. Of course a pretty and intuitive dashboard would be even better, but you'd be surprised how far you can go toward that functionality that with a combination of a simplified article submit layout, the user menu, and the 3rd party modules out there that give lists of your own articles. (e.g. http://extensions.joomla.org/extensions ... 49/details) (Actually that whole category is worth looking at if you want to understand what the UI issues are http://extensions.joomla.org/extensions ... submission).

Related to this, some of the confusion issue could be addressed by such simple things as making it so that the new icon link in the front end automatically defaults to the current category even for administrators (keeping in mind that an incredible number of brand new beginners are starting off as superadmins since they created the sites). Right now you have to remember what section/category you are in if you want to end up putting your article in the right place.
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Re: Joomla! and usability

Post by deleted user » Sat Mar 14, 2009 9:40 pm

That's all true....

Additionally...what about tackling the meaningless "archive" feature? Just kill it, or make it work right.

How archived content should work:

* "Archived" would mean "get these 5,000 articles out of the admins' face." It would be a status that ONLY means "don't display this article in the backend content manager listings by default unless this setting has been overriden by an admin."

* com_content would have a menu item option/front page article view that allows visitors to display articles by month, year, section, and category filters. Call it "archive" if you want, but it should display all articles whether they are marked as archived or not.

Currently archiving articles takes them out of view of all site map extensions, which is not good. (A site map would be a good core feature too.) Other than that, all the archive function does is let you display "archived" content in a lousy com_content output page which is still the only way to call up articles listings on the front end by month and year. Using the archive function is bound to confuse your visitors because the distinction between "archived" and "published/non-archived" is arbitrary. A user trying to pull up a list of articles for February 2009 wants all articles in that date range, not all articles that are in that date range and have arbitrarily been marked as "archived."

There are now a bunch of different alternative the core search, tagging, and archive/index functions. Few are of high quality, but high quality is needed--preferably in the core distribution.

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Re: Joomla! and usability

Post by isarg » Sun Mar 15, 2009 3:18 am

dpk wrote:That's all true....

Additionally...what about tackling the meaningless "archive" feature? Just kill it, or make it work right.

How archived content should work:

* "Archived" would mean "get these 5,000 articles out of the admins' face." It would be a status that ONLY means "don't display this article in the backend content manager listings by default unless this setting has been overriden by an admin."

* com_content would have a menu item option/front page article view that allows visitors to display articles by month, year, section, and category filters. Call it "archive" if you want, but it should display all articles whether they are marked as archived or not.

Currently archiving articles takes them out of view of all site map extensions, which is not good. (A site map would be a good core feature too.) Other than that, all the archive function does is let you display "archived" content in a lousy com_content output page which is still the only way to call up articles listings on the front end by month and year. Using the archive function is bound to confuse your visitors because the distinction between "archived" and "published/non-archived" is arbitrary. A user trying to pull up a list of articles for February 2009 wants all articles in that date range, not all articles that are in that date range and have arbitrarily been marked as "archived."

There are now a bunch of different alternative the core search, tagging, and archive/index functions. Few are of high quality, but high quality is needed--preferably in the core distribution.
I've not jumped in on the archival stuff yet... Essentially your saying it would be nice to have items automatically archive (or manually)... For example, a news site might keep stories out front for a week or two. After that it should archive with some form of blog (year/month) categorization and preferably be in searchable context (or not?) and/or have a list format, good for search engines essentially?

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Re: Joomla! and usability

Post by deleted user » Sun Mar 15, 2009 4:33 pm

isarg wrote:I've not jumped in on the archival stuff yet... Essentially your saying it would be nice to have items automatically archive (or manually)... For example, a news site might keep stories out front for a week or two. After that it should archive with some form of blog (year/month) categorization and preferably be in searchable context (or not?) and/or have a list format, good for search engines essentially?
No, that's not what I was saying, but those are good ideas. I was saying "archive" is a concept of value to content creators, not content consumers.

On the back end, articles marked "archived" should not appear in the default article listing in the article manager. This gets them out of the way for people focused on producing new content.

On the front end, archived articles should not show up in the com_content views (as is currently the case), but there should be an "archive" or "index" view that will show *all* content (whether it is archived or just "published") by section, category, and/or month and year. Currently there is an archive view for com_content that *only* allows chronological listings of articles that have been marked as archived. This is confusing for users, who see this archive view as a system for retrieving content by chronology. They have no way of knowing what articles you have or have not marked as "archived." They assume that if they can select a month and year, any content published in that range of dates will appear, but that is not how Joomla works.

As for your auto-archiving ideas, I think there are some plugins that will do this, but it would be nice to be able to select "archive" or "unpublish" as the status an article will taken when the "finish publishing" date is reached. Either option could be set at the default, but the current default practice of "unpublishing" articles when they reach the "finish publishing" date is a poor practice and probably not used much. You generally don't put things on the web to wipe them out later; this bugs people when they get a 404 from a dead link in a search result.

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Re: Joomla! and usability

Post by mcsmom » Sun Mar 15, 2009 7:26 pm

Right, unpublish if for things you want to delete. I've never understood why that wasn't an archive date rather than an unpublish date.
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Re: Joomla! and usability

Post by isarg » Sun Mar 15, 2009 9:35 pm

Joomla is something of a hybrid and not a pure or really close to pure CMS.

Some requirements for sites are common others not so common.

One of the reasons we found Joomla was a search for a hybrid, more a site builder of sorts.

In CMS there are heaps of requirements when one considers "Document Management". I live (and have worked for) one of the kings of this, Xerox corp who are located in my home town.

In order to really achieve proper content management workflow is simply a must have. But, without that... or that aside.

Archival of documents in CMS driven job environments allows setup of a staged flow. So for a news site, the document is live... At CBS it might be section (aka: Headline News, Business Headline etc) for 24 hours. From there it automatically moves to "Yesterdays Headlines"... From there, "This weeks headlines" from there to an archival system.

That archival system is very different from an administrative standpoint .vs. a front end user standpoint. We might need recall that document 12 days later for a follow-up. Thus Archival also is staged, a workflow that is automated defines it. Archiving World News along with say, US Eastern Seaboard weather is unwise. In fact archiving it as "World News" is unwise, it is sub-categorized... Europe, US, Asia (actually more finite than this, but it serves as an example)... So, Sections/Categories/Sub-categories and sub-categories under them. This allows for quick retrieval of keyword/tagged/dated documents for usage by reporters. They can bring up highly focused documents even if they are quite old for reference.

In the front end, news only stays relevent so long in most peoples minds but other forms of sites such as say, engineering may have data that is pretty much always timely. Its archival "signature" and subsequent workflow is wuite different than a piece of news at that same site saying, "New Joomla Book Hits The Market!".

In Document Management every stage we think of in say Joomla as process is actually many, many in multi-user CM of DMS. We think, "archival" where clealy, its EVER so important for sites that over time will attain considerable document material to have it organized both for backend reference/retrieval and front end "easy access" (both by search and logic drill down).

In publishing content again, things can vary. I may have an article that needs publish Eastern Standard Time at 4:00 PM... But a different document need publish at 6AM West Coast time. Again... This is all part of workflow and the document flow signature. I might be a writer, my document needs go to a editor, publisher, art/layout or even one other person who performs all or some of these tasks.

Some documents roll into multiple categorical type classifications but are related. Like, GM Lays Off 400 People but at the same time an article needs go out that is business/political, "Government siezes Bailout inquiries".

Almost any form of information/document management will run into this classification overlap. Commonly what a webmaster will do is say, Well I put it here, or put it there, or put it in both... or make a new category. The result becomes an unmanagable mess as time goes on.

The way it tends to be handled is that the documents are bound, you'll often see this in news stories (related articles). What you dont see is the binding signature in the compu-fluff that makes the association, keeps the association and allows the backend management of those associations, it intertwines through the entire document(s) lifetime, online, in print, archival, research.

If you put it all under one label its "workflow" and workflow is defined via multiple aspects. Human workflow, systems workflow, document workflow.

To put a parallel on it that some folks here might better grasp, take publishing. Not desktop publishing as most of us consider it. But consider just a small firm, advertising firm lets say. They will rely heavily on desktop publishing. There is a "human system" or workflow that brings a concept in the clients minds into a tangible reality, a finished product. There then is the workflow of "keeping it", might be a file cabinet, categorized by client name, a large firm might go by nation client resides in, type of business client, alphabetical order from there. In their folder sits a CD and backup of the electronic versioning, mockups artists created for it, documents of the pitch lines, advertising etc.

Lastly, this ad agency is also responsible for the end advertising. There is going to be a workflow and processes for that. Having a great advertisement and not having a strategy of deployment can make it fail. In the Joomla world, this is out current live content.

----

Earlier in this thread in the "API Documentation woo-a-thon" Andrew Eddie touched on some of the above in statement. Many here might not have caught it. Making EFFECTIVE use of Joomla is AS IMPORTANT as being able to USE Joomla and thats 110% accurate.

In the case of Joomla... Its not really "CMS" its a site builder with some CMS characteristics. MANY "CMS" systems use the term as its fairly easy to "Grok" for the avg joe/sephine. Over time there has become this complete overlap in terms, CMS/DMS/Portal. When all were conceived they were all quite defined. Overtime the terms get abused, loosened and it becomes a situation of whether your REALLY a CMS or not it is the "buzzword" that has 400 applications feet in the same door. It happens. :)

In one of the blogagges here I mentioned workflow as its a big bitch with some of our clients.

We have also "rescued" some Joomla sites that over years made their way into "Cluttered, ruined and putrid" (C.R.A.P).

The real question at hand here is CAN Joomla be moved towards some of the above. Really, to try it "Full scale" is just well... Like I said, Xerox Paperless Office I worked on. I worked on this (C.R.A.P) in the financial institutions transitions and insurance networks as small computers "took off".

Its EXTREMELY difficult to stay flexible to EVERYONES possible or every businesses possible needs. One HAS to set boundaries. Programming unlike say marketing has boundaries. Those boundaries can be extended BUT doing so overtime often results in spahghetti (the core knows what I mean).

Going the other way, stretching those boundaries WAY WAY out so in time we could encompass a broader base of possiblilities results in lots of thought, lots and lots of forethought quite possibly (and even likely) that never will be met or for that matter even be in mass demand. In other words, implementing all I noted above which is a highly simplified edition, planning towards that in engineering terms requires a TON (actually 100 TONS) of forethought. Then there is the code, much which would not be implemented in phase 1, 2 or even 50. Then when we get far into it we find, "Welp... we're way ahead of what our average J!User really is"... So... we tossed all this good time away and worse yet we have all this stuff interspersed in code (stubbed, partials etc) and now we got to spend MORE TIME getting rid of it and hopefully we did not tie in too many dependancies!!!!

I *Completely* understand this quagmire.

In Joomla we have indie site builders, casuals, businesses of varying scales all seeking differing things for Joomla to do. Quite different from Ford Motor Company buying the Xerox Paperless Office stuff of years past. We know or have a damned good idea of what they want it for.

We have a zillion hosting firms out there using Joomla as a value added item towards purchasing their web hosting services and/or more.

We have site designers who could not, do not want to have to be engineers in order to make really fantastic sites for clients. We have engineers who want and RECOGNIZE what the designers see and know... but also see that this project really is great work. Thats us and others. We see it as something that can hit "the next level" and we'd like build stuff for it to do just that.

In this workflow stuff the question that FIRST must be asked and defined are WHAT will those document management boundaries be and subsequent workflow boundaries be.

I cant see Joomla as the Online Washington Post. I can see Joomla as the "Washington Political Tribune"... say, ficticious... A staff of 15 reporters, 2 editors, a publisher and a few layout/artwork people and handle it long term to a growth factor of several hundred percent.

I cant see Joomla as Toyota's Intranet management system. I can see it as a tool handling say, Dealers able to locate the exact automobile color, features that they product from another dealership.

ALL aspects however do require some flexible workflows and controlled workflows, human, system, documents.

Just to go back to "homebase" (sorta) on this, I cant tell what can and cant be done unless I spend heaps of hours reverse engineering Joomla.

These are areas our company wants to breach. We have done this type of work and its very (very) well... hmmm... forethought intensive. With this stuff, a screw up in design "bubbles up" to users in very very (did I say very) ugly ways. Thus, The Washington Political Tribune in 1.5 years sits in a situation of literal DOOM .vs. a path of continual success.

Thus for us, understanding J!Guts if its the platform we go with is really really importanto and why the last thing we want do is fight with having to find that information, a treasure hunt.

It is in fact but one project we'd like engage.

Joomla is a good candidate as it is MVC in most regards.

It has a good base of current users and thus testers and people who would benefit from the above type thangs'. In these "site builders" really there are TONS of em' out there, but how many are "making it". Joomla, Drupal, DotNetNuke (Its a portal)... Others have had some acclaim such as e107.

What is needed however is not a CMS, what is needed is a site builder that has strong CMS abilties. All of these named softwares will say, we have this and that and thats all true, well and fine. But none have string "Pure" document/content management abilities but DO have strong site building abilities.

We'd like light the fire under the rest. Joomla is the platform we would prefer. We have existing clients for it, the MVC end of things affords us the ability to use other MVC related work we have done (granted, in ASP.NET) to be moved without having to consider architectural torture.

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Re: Joomla! and usability

Post by lnxwalt » Sun Mar 15, 2009 11:01 pm

ianmac wrote: I'm sure that clear usability suggestions with ideas for implementation would be welcomed!
I'm not sure about that. At the dev site, I tried to post a suggestion about making it possible for regular users to log in through OpenID. It disappeared and has never been seen.

I had about ten sites running Joomla! 1.5. Over the past year, usability issues have caused me to move most of them to Drupal or MODx and another one is about to go to WordPress MU. The users who actually should be creating the content are too afraid of the process.

A specific suggestion: a content creator should be easily able to create and publish to a predefined part of the menu without a multi-step process.

If I'm doing phone support, it is easier for me to say "send the content in e-mail and I'll post it myself."

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Re: Joomla! and usability

Post by isarg » Sun Mar 15, 2009 11:47 pm

Interesting...

We've essentially run into similar issues with those we have trained or supplied training materials to. But, we utilize it to our advantage in this way. We beat our competition in service contracts as we can turn the time over faster for updates on Joomla. Just a point of interest there.

How is Modx? Its one I'd planned look at.

From where we sit we'd rather create what we need create for Joomla but if we have to hunt around for engineering info constantly then maybe we'd come back at the platform at a later date. Then the obvious candidate becomes Drupal. We're essentially (at least in several areas) looking to place a Windows client application in place that provides a workflow external of the CMS system itself which is what we keep getting requests for.

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Re: Joomla! and usability

Post by OnTheMarkDesign » Mon Mar 16, 2009 2:27 am

AmyStephen wrote:
"After 2 hours of fiddling mercilessly I gave up thinging thats one bloody steep learning curve but I could see that in theory Joomla had a lot of potential but I just wanted something to work quick and not need a semesters tutelage on it."
Ok, but, "2 hours" is not "a semesters tutelage" :P

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Re: Joomla! and usability

Post by isarg » Mon Mar 16, 2009 3:36 am

Yep... welcome to 1992.

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Re: Joomla! and usability

Post by deleted user » Sat Mar 28, 2009 7:29 pm

In what ways is FCKeditor better than JCE? With FCKeditor, can you give different editing function privileges to different user groups?

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Re: Joomla! and usability

Post by deleted user » Sat Mar 28, 2009 10:05 pm

Some other usability discussions (elsewhere) got me thinking...yea, there is a usability problem. The problem for new users to Joomla is wrapping your mind around these 3 things and how they relate:

1) menu manager: creates menus
2) menu item manager: creates menu items assigned to a menu
3) content manager: creates content items which must be menu items or accessible through a component assigned to menu item.

The main idea to grasp is, "no content exists as a visible page (that you can assign modules to) without a menu item." In that sense, the menu item manager is a page manager.

The main annoyances and snags with this system:

1) The common but annoying need for "invisible" menus and menu items that exist solely to give you more control over module assignments. (The limited power of the module manager is also a problem.)
2) Uninstalled component or deleted content leaves behind dead menu item.
3) If you uninstalled a component and then install a newer version, the menu item for the old one may need to be reconfigured.

Questions for people with an inside familiarity with the J! framework:

-Is page identity based on menus a fundamentally bad system?
-Can the interplay between the menu manager, menu item manager, content manager, and module manager be communicated to user more through the admin UI? Can some of these functions be consolidated or connected to each other more?
-What are the simplest improvements? Automatically flag content without a menu item, supply a little help tooltip and link to the menu item manager....???

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Re: Joomla! and usability

Post by ianmac » Sat Mar 28, 2009 10:22 pm

dpk wrote:Some other usability discussions (elsewhere) got me thinking...yea, there is a usability problem. The problem for new users to Joomla is wrapping your mind around these 3 things and how they relate:

1) menu manager: creates menus
2) menu item manager: creates menu items assigned to a menu
3) content manager: creates content items which must be menu items or accessible through a component assigned to menu item.

The main idea to grasp is, "no content exists as a visible page (that you can assign modules to) without a menu item." In that sense, the menu item manager is a page manager.

The main annoyances and snags with this system:

1) The common but annoying need for "invisible" menus and menu items that exist solely to give you more control over module assignments. (The limited power of the module manager is also a problem.)
2) Uninstalled component or deleted content leaves behind dead menu item.
3) If you uninstalled a component and then install a newer version, the menu item for the old one may need to be reconfigured.

Questions for people with an inside familiarity with the J! framework:

-Is page identity based on menus a fundamentally bad system?
Fundamentally bad? I don't think so. Does it have its limitations? Absolutely. This is basically a design choice, and although it limits you in some ways there are things that you get from it too. That being said, this is something that is potentially set to change if we were to move to a node based scheme. Though I wouldn't expect this to change in 1.6 or probably even 1.7, I wouldn't be surprised if it looked different in say, 2.0.
-Can the interplay between the menu manager, menu item manager, content manager, and module manager be communicated to user more through the admin UI? Can some of these functions be consolidated or connected to each other more?
Probably. I'm sure there are many people around who have creative ideas that might make this easier. But having an idea and having the time and motivation to implement it are two different things, and with so many things to accomplish you can only do so much.

There seems to be some interesting project proposed so far for the upcoming SOC in this area. Will be interesting to see what happens.
-What are the simplest improvements? Automatically flag content without a menu item, supply a little help tooltip and link to the menu item manager....???
That is a harder question, IMO, since usability is an inherently evasive concept. One person's intuitive and easy to use is another person's spider nest. Apple is supposed to be a leader in usability, but in my experience it is far from intuitive.

One project I started and almost completed before priorities changed was an admin menu customizer, which was designed as a usability tool. The hope was to give designers the ability to hide menu options that site administrators don't necessarily need to access.

Also, if one were to develop custom components to replace some of the core stuff they could rearrange the menus so that either more powerful or more intuitive interfaces could be used in place.

Ian

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Re: Joomla! and usability

Post by isarg » Sat Mar 28, 2009 10:30 pm

dpk wrote:Some other usability discussions (elsewhere) got me thinking...yea, there is a usability problem. The problem for new users to Joomla is wrapping your mind around these 3 things and how they relate:

1) menu manager: creates menus
2) menu item manager: creates menu items assigned to a menu
3) content manager: creates content items which must be menu items or accessible through a component assigned to menu item.

The main idea to grasp is, "no content exists as a visible page (that you can assign modules to) without a menu item." In that sense, the menu item manager is a page manager.

The main annoyances and snags with this system:

1) The common but annoying need for "invisible" menus and menu items that exist solely to give you more control over module assignments. (The limited power of the module manager is also a problem.)
2) Uninstalled component or deleted content leaves behind dead menu item.
3) If you uninstalled a component and then install a newer version, the menu item for the old one may need to be reconfigured.

Questions for people with an inside familiarity with the J! framework:

-Is page identity based on menus a fundamentally bad system?
-Can the interplay between the menu manager, menu item manager, content manager, and module manager be communicated to user more through the admin UI? Can some of these functions be consolidated or connected to each other more?
-What are the simplest improvements? Automatically flag content without a menu item, supply a little help tooltip and link to the menu item manager....???
Essentially the problem is common in Open Source software though Joomla has done a bit better than most do.

Commercial grade applications be that MS Word, a video game etc. go through very intensive User Interface and software flow testing with "Real World" users *AND* management staff who are NOT engineers before any code is solidified relating to the end users experience with the software product.

With most open source software these descisions are made by the Engineers, the engineers are seldom the "End users".

This is why workflow is so poor in Joomla for example and why its the exact opposite with say WebEasy.

Engineers try break things down into logical segments where-as users seldom do, they work via workflows (good or bad, often their choice). Joomla is really an integrated piece of software but instead of having workflow that not only takes advantage of that integration but also makes things "Simple" to learn it has functions that should be very closely tied in workflow completely seperated into logical entities.

In regards of how to solve that....

The best way without scrapping things and starting over is to use the commercial kludge.

When commercial applications have problems bridging workflows or covering bad engineering integrations (no insult intended) they use Wizards.

The Wizards bridge the inconsistency with a stepped automated workflow process. They call em' Wizards as it makes for a nice buzzword .vs. "Oh crap this integrates like a cat trying to mate a buffalo".

Many wizards in commercial grade app's now have even moved away from the intensive (cost intensive) processes of user Interface -> Workflow -> Ultimately Quality Control to Wizards as its a pretty simple way to solve the problems and as long as the user has a good experience who cares if the engineers or managers, or quality feedback/marketing people screw up or not?

Welcome to humanity :)

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Re: Joomla! and usability

Post by isarg » Sat Mar 28, 2009 10:35 pm

isarg wrote:
dpk wrote:Some other usability discussions (elsewhere) got me thinking...yea, there is a usability problem. The problem for new users to Joomla is wrapping your mind around these 3 things and how they relate:

1) menu manager: creates menus
2) menu item manager: creates menu items assigned to a menu
3) content manager: creates content items which must be menu items or accessible through a component assigned to menu item.

The main idea to grasp is, "no content exists as a visible page (that you can assign modules to) without a menu item." In that sense, the menu item manager is a page manager.

The main annoyances and snags with this system:

1) The common but annoying need for "invisible" menus and menu items that exist solely to give you more control over module assignments. (The limited power of the module manager is also a problem.)
2) Uninstalled component or deleted content leaves behind dead menu item.
3) If you uninstalled a component and then install a newer version, the menu item for the old one may need to be reconfigured.

Questions for people with an inside familiarity with the J! framework:

-Is page identity based on menus a fundamentally bad system?
-Can the interplay between the menu manager, menu item manager, content manager, and module manager be communicated to user more through the admin UI? Can some of these functions be consolidated or connected to each other more?
-What are the simplest improvements? Automatically flag content without a menu item, supply a little help tooltip and link to the menu item manager....???
Essentially the problem is common in Open Source software though Joomla has done a bit better than most do.

Commercial grade applications be that MS Word, a video game etc. go through very intensive User Interface and software flow testing with "Real World" users *AND* management staff who are NOT engineers before any code is solidified relating to the end users experience with the software product.

With most open source software these descisions are made by the Engineers, the engineers are seldom the "End users".

This is why workflow is so poor in Joomla for example and why its the exact opposite with say WebEasy.

Engineers try break things down into logical segments where-as users seldom do, they work via workflows (good or bad, often their choice). Joomla is really an integrated piece of software but instead of having workflow that not only takes advantage of that integration but also makes things "Simple" to learn it has functions that should be very closely tied in workflow completely seperated into logical entities.

In regards of how to solve that....

The best way without scrapping things and starting over is to use the commercial kludge.

When commercial applications have problems bridging workflows or covering bad engineering integrations (no insult intended) they use Wizards.

The Wizards bridge the inconsistency with a stepped automated workflow process. They call em' Wizards as it makes for a nice buzzword .vs. "Oh crap this integrates like a cat trying to mate a buffalo".

Many commercial development houses now have even moved away from the intensive (cost intensive) processes of user Interface -> Workflow -> Ultimately Quality Control to Wizards as its a pretty simple way to solve the problems and as long as the user has a good experience who cares if the engineers or managers, or quality feedback/marketing people screw up or not?

Welcome to humanity :)

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Re: Joomla! and usability

Post by deleted user » Sun Mar 29, 2009 5:54 pm

Ian, Thanks for the reply.

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Re: Joomla! and usability

Post by darb » Thu Apr 23, 2009 7:44 am

Why not just skip the section/categories?

- either skip menus and making categories working like the menus or just work with menus.

The more I think of it I would prefer to work with just menus to set up the site structure only and map every content from the menu system.

Why shouldnt that work?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
side note.

Maybe we can learn from SAS institute how to map and categorize large volumes of multilingual content also that is a problem with Joomla. Then you need a rule engine with a central rule repository too..

http://www.sas.com/technologies/analyti ... #section=1
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Re: Joomla! and usability

Post by isarg » Thu Apr 23, 2009 6:48 pm

Actually IMHO most CMS/Portals are designed wrong. They essentially have tried to mimmick desktop publishing and apply those same concepts to web building. It makes sense when looked at it in a "publish" kinda way but its not the right way. The right way is to look at everything as "information collections" or... to put a more human term on it, A library not a "magazine".

Many have poor workflow, Joomla has very poor workflow and the easiest solution to that are programmable wizards.

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Re: Joomla! and usability

Post by mcsmom » Fri Apr 24, 2009 1:21 am

And the beauty of open source development is that you can build them or pay someone to.
So we must fix our vision not merely on the negative expulsion of war, but upon the positive affirmation of peace. MLK 1964.
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Re: Joomla! and usability

Post by isarg » Fri Apr 24, 2009 2:42 am

mcsmom wrote:And the beauty of open source development is that you can build them or pay someone to.
This type of open source development is doing ok, much of it is on the wane. The problem is simple. Sun and Adobe are both targeting "Open Source" to essentially "do their bidding". The technologies such as Flex, Air and others via Adobe "Are the new Internet". Joomla, Drupal etc. are producing similar results but NOT with similar tools or for that matter similar calibur of developers in the third party world.

Microsoft is lowering its costs across the line, Visual Studio Professional 2010 will be affordable enough for pretty much anyone and they intend on continuing "Express Editions" for free. In fact, buzz has it the entire "Expression Web Suite" will be available under $200.

All these parties are vying for the same terrain. That being 1. Internet Developers and 2. Drag/Drop rich internet applications. CMS/Portals are but one of the targets. This is also true of Google. Google has systematically been building all sorts of applications, having the public use/test/enhance them, Google Forms, Calendar on and on and on. They have the same goal. Web sites that can be built by anyone young or old, web applications created by drag and drop and capitalizing in many many ways on the work.

Essentially these companies realized (years ago in fact) that captalizing on the Internet is not done by charging web developers/designers for tools. Instead its providing the tools that are so easy to use a child can do it. They then capitalize on enhancements of the technologies and deals that end up pushing out independents.

Its nothing new. The exact same things and formulas have happened time and again in global business from automobiles to you name it.

Globally right now you'd be hard pressed to find 500 web applications that are open source that are in a decent growth pattern and many of these are on the Java end of things. One of the reasons the PHP Boyz are working hard to release new programming capabilities as PHP in comparison to Java is night and day. Both in capabilities and performance.

Yet, in the commercial software world Microsoft alone has well in excess of 100 applications that are successful. Adobe's entire line is successful for example.

I had an interesting pow-wow with a gentlemen with Scribus not long back. This is one of the GPL/Open growing deals. Dynamite Desktop Publisher. But, there is apparently some trends towards taking DTP essentially online, that is to say, changing all of web development towards RIAs (Rich Internets App's) to be much akin with DTP. Very good idea.

I've said to the J! folks that Joomla need move towards several areas if they want it around in another 5 years. I have played with Microsofts "CMS/Portal" Alpha and its just leaps ahead of this stuff. Try Ektron CMS and you'll get the idea. Its kinda a cross of that and Liferay. I'd not in fact even known about Liferay until I was told, "Its a cross...".

The stuff I am working on using Joomla is for capitalizing on. I'll make money on the platform with fairly generic code so I can port to Drupal, e107 etc. That money will be used to push towards some other business goals.

I've always been a supporter of Open Source as a developer but I also realize the commercial industry which is essentially what creates the wealth that allows things such as the Internet to thrive. But the days of the Internet being the playground for cottage operations is coming to an end. Big players are staking the grounds and just like any other industry the world has ever known in time the small get pushed out.

As Visual Studio 2010 rolls out, it'll take 2-3 years for them to really "hit hard" with web/mobile apps. Flex 4 is exceptional and word has it Adobe has some BIG surprises coming near years end for every web user in deploying their "Flex based RIA Portal". Price to the average joe? Free. Price to business, ranges from $599-Up.

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Re: Joomla! and usability

Post by deleted user » Fri Apr 24, 2009 4:32 am

mcsmom wrote:And the beauty of open source development is that you can build them or pay someone to.
isarg, maybe another way of saying some of the same things you said...

This...
  • Take it or leave it, it does what it does.
  • You can always make it do what it doesn't do if you have the expertise or the money.
...is not a viable model if/when...
  • People who put in the expertise and the money extending the core product can't sufficiently monetize their derivative products (regardless of the license used)
...because...
  • The core product is not sufficiently developed or functional enough to meet contemporary needs in a way that rivals competitors even in middle to low-end markets.
...because...
  • Everyone with a monetized derivative product or service has a natural incentive to see the core product limited/less competitive on its own to create greater need/demand for their supplementary products and services.
...which puts all the players in a race to the bottom to see who can sell the most expertise, add-ons, and high-maintenance software to increasingly savvy customers faced with more and better choices where the most attractive competing options enable monkeys to build the websites most people need "out of the box," often as "turnkey" "hosted solutions," yadda yadda.

Perhaps the correct, synergistic model by contrast comes out looking like Drupal-Acquia.

By the way, here's a look at the progress of the usability project for Drupal. Click through to the video at Lullabot: http://buzzr.com/ Also of note: http://www.d7ux.org/ And: http://www.disambiguity.com/ who realize the key to usability and everything is young mothers: http://www.disambiguity.com/opportuniti ... -research/ (It's true and probably not all that unknown. Success/failure online depends a lot on that demo for major products and services.)

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Re: Joomla! and usability

Post by isarg » Fri Apr 24, 2009 5:57 am

dpk wrote:
mcsmom wrote:And the beauty of open source development is that you can build them or pay someone to.
isarg, maybe another way of saying some of the same things you said...

This...
  • Take it or leave it, it does what it does.
  • You can always make it do what it doesn't do if you have the expertise or the money.
...is not a viable model if/when...
  • People who put in the expertise and the money extending the core product can't sufficiently monetize their derivative products (regardless of the license used)
...because...
  • The core product is not sufficiently developed or functional enough to meet contemporary needs in a way that rivals competitors even in middle to low-end markets.
...because...
  • Everyone with a monetized derivative product or service has a natural incentive to see the core product limited/less competitive on its own to create greater need/demand for their supplementary products and services.
...which puts all the players in a race to the bottom to see who can sell the most expertise, add-ons, and high-maintenance software to increasingly savvy customers faced with more and better choices where the most attractive competing options enable monkeys to build the websites most people need "out of the box," often as "turnkey" "hosted solutions," yadda yadda.

Perhaps the correct, synergistic model by contrast comes out looking like Drupal-Acquia.

By the way, here's a look at the progress of the usability project for Drupal. Click through to the video at Lullabot: http://buzzr.com/ Also of note: http://www.d7ux.org/ And: http://www.disambiguity.com/ who realize the key to usability and everything is young mothers: http://www.disambiguity.com/opportuniti ... -research/ (It's true and probably not all that unknown. Success/failure online depends a lot on that demo for major products and services.)
Well said.

Funny as Drupal has always been known as "the developers CMS". Its good to see that at least some of the great Open Source projects that have a following are standing up and taking note of whats happening in Rich Net App's development and want to stay in the fray.

We've done some really nice sites w/ Joomla. The problem always comes back to the same issues with most sites. Either we administrate them or (forbid) the client need learn. Most operations that want websites want rich capabilities and they are perfectly willing to learn as long as things are sensible and easy. When confronted with the reality however that things might get technical it all falls apart. Where there is no control (access logic) to partition who can do what and even more-so defined/flexible workflows it not only falls apart, it comes complete with Vulcanism/rage.

In some regards its worked well for us in that we can admin a J! site quite rapidly allowing us to get contracts to maintain the sites. On the other hand we have extensive usage as well of for example, DNN (DotNetNuke) Portal. DNN has been a playground for Microsoft essentially. After getting to play w/ the MS Alpha and seeing results of the Beta of their "Internet Content System" I was just well... blown away. As it enters production phases I'll jump into its third party development. I'm hoping to build some scratch in the Joomla area to help foster funding of that work.

I'm not a tribesman or even a hired gun. I think there is room for everything. But, this is not an industry where one can sit back and think success will be everlasting. Joomla 1.5 is not a enormous advancement over 1.0. Yippin' MVC, MVC works in this community. Yip' MVC in nearly any enterprise development project or even plain ole' Windows app's and you'll get looks like, "So, you know a development model, there are many". Nothing special about MVC. In fact some of the more recent advancements in applications allow for developmental frameworks to essentially adjust themselves, Models and User Interface to changing of the business rules or requirements, sorta like "Visual Rules" does.

People do not see lots of "ASP.NET" based items out like the myraids of PHP scripts. But, anyone who takes a look at whats been going on with tools based in the Microsoft engineering is guaranteed to be "WOW'd". One cant not be basically, developer or user alike.

Whats on the horizon is the next capitalization of the Internet and the big players put their foots in the door. Its nothing to do with "Whats best" from an engineering standpoint. Its everything to do with what people want and more so expect.

In regards to third party developers for Joomla there are issues I have noted prior. Hard to make really good applications when alot of time is spent reverse engineering others work or hunting for information on "How Do I?".

You'd think that they'd want the product (free or not, its a product) to succeed. I dont know how they are measuring success, another conference perhaps. Lots of little modules and such most repetitive and little in substantial RIA's. Just bein' honest here, hard to be an effective developer when the information needed is like hunting for a specific kinda of cactus. Its coding with a hand tied behind ones back.

1.5 was expected to be a needed leap forward yet, nearly 2 years later is it? Access Control we're now getting around to. Ummm, forms? forms management? Kinda like its a basic thing in web sites. Use chronoforms... ah, who knew. A user might expect that they could make forms without having to have a HTML code junkie involved, like say, the myraids of $20-$40 Windows WebEasy's or even those free site builders that come with hosting.

I'm rather a call things as I see it kinda dude. Makes me unpopular.

Sure, open source requires volunteers and the common "flap" thrown out to anyone is, "Well you have no business saying poops as your not helping". Sounds like the Bush administration. I dont tend to "fire back" as I "get the mindset". For example, "Ok, lets say I do volunteer my engineering capabilities, now do I have the right to bitch? Do I have the right or ability to change directions things are going?" Uh Uh. Now your supposed to be one of the few, the proud, the PHP-Marines.

I bitch about PHP all the time. I guess one either likes it or not. I can live with it but it's pretty damned crappy albeit amazingly fast. Apache, its cool. mySQL, very impressive.

Point being all these various communities are strange beasts my friend. I know some Java coders where things always appear be elite. PHP coders are looked at like they are engaged in a high school programming 101 course. C++ coders who kinda look at the Java people as their children. C# coders who wonder why the Unix C++ coders want to stay in the Jurrassic period of programming and the Visual Basic coders who wonder how for 10 years they ruled the rapid applications development universe and now cant even get their sperm frozen. Then there's the fringe groups, python, Rails, Ruby, this/that. All very strange.

I believe things should always move forward. I am in support of Joomla, Drupal, Microsoft, Adobe and even AMD (I'm an Intel man! I was an AMD man then Gateway abducted me with a Quad Core CPU... LOL). But, black is black and white is white. Like I said, doesnt make me popular.

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Re: Joomla! and usability

Post by isarg » Fri Apr 24, 2009 6:58 am

dpk wrote:
mcsmom wrote:And the beauty of open source development is that you can build them or pay someone to.
Perhaps the correct, synergistic model by contrast comes out looking like Drupal-Acquia.

By the way, here's a look at the progress of the usability project for Drupal. Click through to the video at Lullabot: http://buzzr.com/ Also of note: http://www.d7ux.org/ And: http://www.disambiguity.com/ who realize the key to usability and everything is young mothers: http://www.disambiguity.com/opportuniti ... -research/ (It's true and probably not all that unknown. Success/failure online depends a lot on that demo for major products and services.)
I went and viewed the video. I'm not going to say "wow" because I wasnt Wow'd.

But clearly the Drupee's have been LISTENING to PEOPLE who wish to use their software. The video is 110% on the money. Granted, in terms of "state of the art" its essentially behind the curve from the word go even with what your seeing in that video. But, its a start and they are moving as the RIA's in CMS are right around the corner and in some cases already here really.

Take a look at DotNetNuke, sites are "skinned" and named positions exist. If I want Text in this position on the right, I assign a text box there. If I want one in the center as well, I put one there. Each edited within its container. In fact, the entire user interface is the same across the entire application. It is a portal system. One installation, 50 sites if you like with root administrator and site admin(s). You can parcel out as "root" which sites get what features. Full access control as "Roles" are not done by the application but instead are native to Microsoft IIs / ASP.NET.

HEAPS of add'ons. Enable MS IIs on your system, install DNN... installs just as easy as any PHP script. Its pretty impressive. All the above aside. Its workflow is managable, not great.

Its good. Not perfect. But its been the basis that MS has used for "the real deal" coming down the pike which comes in a variety of tasty flavors of course. Those being, distributed administration on and on. What do I mean?

Ok... take a look at liferay (http://www.liferay.com).

Liferay is coded in Java... easy to run local. Install Xampp on your PC. Install the TomCat package. All easy as pie. Happily works with mySQL. Install Liferay. Prepare to be a bit overwhelmed.

Liferay is not designed to go "Mish mosh". It is designed to be capable of supporting enterprise level operations, internet, intranet. So, the office's in the USA can have their presence, the UK offices can have theirs, the Japan offices can have theirs... Collaborative work as well as not.

ACL to control literally anything and everything. A Liferay site requires one actually think about what they are going to create, workflows, restrictions etc.

Complete Drag & Drop ability for user interface. Java portals use portlets instead of modules or components. Portlets are essentially stand alone applications. Blogs, Forums etc. Unfortunately there is not the level of "activity" witnessed in the PHP world but that too is now changing as these RIA's are gaining not only support but capitalization. Liferay recently went with a commercial edition for example.

Some really neat features that come standard with Java portals. Since porlets are stand alone applications essentially pretty much every Java portal application allows any portlet to be displayed and fully used external of the site. So my blog can be on 100 or 1000 sites and be fully interactive, even sites I do not own. My forums, galleries anything essentially.

Some of the most popular (if not most) of the BIG sites we here the "buzz" about are built atop Java or Java portals. Performance wise its night and day. Java beats PHP, ASP.NET hands down, no comparison at all. Its more like a "whoopin'".

However, these applications all should be looked at by the Drupalite core team if for no other reason to see where things are... right now. JBOSS, Liferay, DNN etc. Then just take a little look ahead which can be viewed by seeing the myraids of "controls" available in ASP.NET/Silverlight and more and more coming to Flex / Adobe Air / Flash. Thats the future. The "Internet Desktop". Anything thats not in that "loop" is as good as dead.

One organization in the Joomla World was working (is?) on something called Joomla OS (http://beautyindesign.com) but apparently(?) its DOA. actually never arrived so just "D".

Trying to get the peep's in the J! world to address the very real issues is difficult. Kinda reminds me of the folks who thought Windows was a fad and refused to move away from DOS.

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Re: Joomla! and usability

Post by darb » Fri Apr 24, 2009 8:57 am

I think you really have some good points here and the fact that its really important the decision to come for Joomla now. I love Joomla and hope its still will take this necessary steps for not beeing obsolete in future bcs that could go fast in a very rapidly changing world especially in the scripting world with a lot of competition.

So Its important strategic decisions always and also about organization for using the power of the Joomla community in the best way.

You pointed out some good points about a better user friendliness interface that I also like for making improvements for Joomla. Just to mention two of them.

"...Each edited within its container. In fact, the entire user interface is the same across the entire application. .."

"Complete Drag & Drop ability for user interface"

The competition from Cloud computing is also a factor to consider.
http://forum.joomla.org/viewtopic.php?f=48&t=390339

About Remove sections, use ierarchical categories important discussions
http://forum.joomla.org/viewtopic.php?f=500&t=273958
Success in the long run Its not about the code its about the people and community that's make it!
Its not what you say its what you do that matters!

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Re: Joomla! and usability

Post by mcsmom » Fri Apr 24, 2009 9:37 am

My experience is ... open up a file, and learn.
Go to the store, buy a php book.
Pay for extensions you covet or pay some one to build them.

Sure people monetize, it's great. Other people build for fun, and that's great too. Other people write white papers or suggestions for gsoc projects or even mentor gsoc projects. I myself don't see how sitting around meditating about what you want other people to do gets what you want. But if it works for you, good luck with it :).
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Re: Joomla! and usability

Post by darb » Fri Apr 24, 2009 10:17 am

mcsmom wrote:My experience is ... open up a file, and learn.
Go to the store, buy a php book.
Pay for extensions you covet or pay some one to build them.

Sure people monetize, it's great. Other people build for fun, and that's great too. Other people write white papers or suggestions for gsoc projects or even mentor gsoc projects. I myself don't see how sitting around meditating about what you want other people to do gets what you want. But if it works for you, good luck with it :).
I think you missing the point here and I dont want to rant to much about it but..people are engaged in Joomla for different reasons of course and as you also say here but its not only about "open up a file" and buy a php book. We must discuss this in an open community spirit thats why I love Joomla bcs we are open for discussions and critics to make things better.

And this is about Joomla core not the extension of what you can expand it to be. But we are all depended on what the core can do and not do.

So I also believe that its introvert thinking believing that the code is the single most important component in the Joomla community. It is not! Its the people making it.

The old code/structure for Joomla 1.0.15 is not important for 95% of Joomla users now bcs its obsolete to them and not interesting at all - not many use it so it have no value for many at all.

But ideas of how to make J 1.5 better is now and its not about the code itself. Its how to do it.

Its like thinking that the basic cores of produce of steel composition and the wheels rubber consistency of a car is the single most important for GM having a future in the car industry. I dont think GM will be better of by having better code in their production system rather understand the business drives what make people buy cars and what the market wants=users.

What is important is what the code should do and how to use it. Thats what my signature is about too. So I don't think we should only give emphasis to something that its just about code bcs is not 100 % accurate for making Joomla better bcs we need an comprehensive planning of the best structure for future Joomla - if Joomla should be one of the choices in the future.
Success in the long run Its not about the code its about the people and community that's make it!
Its not what you say its what you do that matters!

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Re: Joomla! and usability

Post by isarg » Fri Apr 24, 2009 5:54 pm

mcsmom wrote:My experience is ... open up a file, and learn.
Go to the store, buy a php book.
Pay for extensions you covet or pay some one to build them.

Sure people monetize, it's great. Other people build for fun, and that's great too. Other people write white papers or suggestions for gsoc projects or even mentor gsoc projects. I myself don't see how sitting around meditating about what you want other people to do gets what you want. But if it works for you, good luck with it :).
I am versed in PHP, mySQL and quite a bit more.

As to mediating, we're discussing and hopefully the people that are the core developers/owners of Joomla read/listen. From what your saying above they could care less about what users/developers need. "If its not there, too bad... build it or pay someone else to" is essentially what your saying. I assume then as well that means that the Joomla core developers could care less whether or not Joomla lives or dies.

If you care to look at the video and work with Drupal obviously they dont think the same way which is good, at least for them. Assuming they are going to actually produce the shell interface over Drupal they show in said video and they continue to expand upon it then the Joomla cores dreams of "We dont care" will come true.

I hope your not a "Joomla representitive" as if so then they need realize the people they do have volunteer for being part of the Joomla project need properly represent it instead of patronize developers and users with inane statements.


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