Thanks, @brian. I always appreciate your contributions. Posts, like the ones I believe you're referring to, are simply the frank expressions of our experiences (perhaps fuelled by irritation or frustration we've developed). I've tried my best to keep my observations based on fact rather than on emotion.
In the main, technical discussion forums tend to focus on "negatives": on problems/frustrations/difficulties that ordinary folk have using complex software. We're not saying that complexity is a bad thing and we're not saying that any specific software is unnecessarily over-complicated or beyond the abilities of ordinary folk to accommodate. It's true that everyone has different experiences; some people find things easier to use than others.
What we're saying, in effect, is that the J! 4 project has been focused for a very long time on the highly technical aspects of building a new product—and there's nothing wrong with that when a project is in the early design phase—but that, as we are emerging from the construction phase, while the builders are still wearing their hard hats, and into the market testing/owner-occupier stages, the construction crew needs to understand the difficulties that potential owners are having (or, at least, are perceiving) with their craft.
What we need to know, with certainty, is that the design phase has finished and that the design (good or bad) is the one that will be used to build the product that people ultimately will be using. If the design is sound, then let's proceed. If the design simply won't match market expectations or user needs, then what's the point? Perhaps it was a nice four-year holiday and maybe we should get back to work? I'm not saying this, of course, but I'm saying in a blunt way what others may be afraid to say.
The difficulties we're having (which is not to say should be "discouraging" ones for builders) lie in several areas:
1) A perceived lack of engagement from the development team with ordinary folk. It's not sufficiently excusable to say that developers are working hard simply because the focus of their work is at GitHub
. This engagement needs to flow through to other facilities: the forum is one such place for engagement; the community magazine and the developers blog are others. We're not all "gits" you know (pun intended).
2) Engagement requires patience, the awareness that amateur/novice users are unequipped to cope with technicalities unless they're offered support in the form of well-placed briefing material, news bulletins, documentation, user guides, etc. Patience is a two-way street. Developers may be unequipped to deal with lay terms that ordinary folk use just as ordinary folk are unequipped to deal with jargon.
It is not sufficient to place all the burden of testing on ordinary people by saying "get involved, become a tester" if people don't know where to start. We're also not saying that user guides need to be comprehensive; we need to know where to start, what to do, what's missing, and what is the next stage in the overall project.
3) It's hard to find information about the current state-of-play. The information that we need is buried and, were it not for Google
, we'd be lost. Even there, Google
doesn't provide us with the answers. We're largely our own and, unless you're "in the know" because you're part of "the team", we're largely bystanders watching the show. We're floundering here.
4) We're not saying that our experience of J! 4 is disappointing or disillusioning. I'm suggesting that, as the result of four years of work, we're a little underwhelmed by the results of that work. This is not just my observation; it's an observation shared by others with no encouragement from me. In fact, these kinds of observations can be beneficial: if the developers hear the murmurs of discontent in the audience then they can either get on with the job, disprove our observations, silence the hecklers (not with ridicule but with action), or they can walk away, close up shop and end the performance. I hope the developers will take heart from our observations and prove to us that the fruits of their labours are worthy of sharing. Furthermore, the fact that we're making our observations known here, in public, is evidence of our interest in this work.
5) We're not compiling a list of disappointments because we're inherently a cynical, one-eyed lynch mob. We're listing our concerns
in the hope that our concerns will be addressed. There's a big different between between cheering for one side or another and how those cheers will translate into action. If our concerns are dismissed as the ravings of the great unwashed, that's discourteous to us and it's equally discourteous to integrity of the developers as well. I want neither; I want to see everyone profit from this experience.
In conclusion, @brian, I don't see discussions like these being discouraging to people who are working really hard. I see discussions like these should spur people get involved: to listen, to engage, to learn from one another. However, if the purpose of these discussions is interpreted as a zero-sum game, then no-one benefits. I'm not criticising you, @brian. I'm admitting that these things are difficult and, in the context of a [rather one-sided discussion, perhaps] I'm hoping that my observations will be taken in the spirit of trying to help everyone do better.
If there are show-stoppers, things holding back the release of a genuine Beta version, then let's discuss them. At the moment we're just guessing (although, as I've written, there are a few things holding us back and preventing us from being more engaged).
It's regrettable that the J! 4 discussion at the Joomla Forum™ is rather one-sided. It's regrettable that many discussions fall silent for lack of something useful to say. That's why I value the contributions we're all making on this forum (even if we may disagree with some of them) because we learn from them.
I'm learning as I go, too, you know. Curt responses (in technical forums), such as "stop complaining"—not that I'm saying that anyone's written those words anywhere—are kind of discouraging, too.