Work In Progress II

by pieterh on 02 Sep 2009 10:29

Miserlou57 writes, "I would really love a page that can at least give us some kind of idea of what things are being worked on (a simple sentence or two) and if/when we can expect any of the new features to roll out. For example, the Rating module is apparently impending redesign… but when can I count on it being around?"

In July I wrote about our plans for the coming weeks and months. What you can see, looking at every announcement we've ever made is that they are predictions and not promises. This is the reality of a large living service.

I'm building around the current rating module and redesigning my entire site with a new (better) module would be a lot of work. Will it be released this month or next year? Information on upcoming features (new page variables, anyone?) and updates like these would be extraordinarily helpful.

The only safe rule is build your site using today's features. If you wait for feature X, you will be disappointed and delayed. The good news is that it is easy to work new features into your sites when they arrive.

What are our priorities over the next weeks and months? Here is what is certain:

  • Rolling out the Iron Giant templates so that anyone can grab a clone.
  • Getting data forms working (for structured wiki pages).
  • Making it simpler to login and join a site (top weneed).
  • Fixing numerous smaller bugs with the user interface.
  • Making the architecture changes we discussed last week.

More broadly and generally:

  • We want a powerful, confident community. Wikidot Inc. is not your typical web company. We inherit our philosophy from open source, where success means contributors, not clients. It is very hard to accept code contributions, because the code is complex. So, we build up the user space above the product and service with themes, packages, snippets, Iron Giant, and so on. We'll continue to create spaces for contributions. It will be messy, but fun and over time, more organized.
  • We want to keep making Wikidot simpler, more consistent, easier to use. Nested modules, more consistent use of arguments, fewer more powerful tools that support a rich user space. For this, we need an open design process where everyone can provide their input. Thus, the design and wiki sections on this blog, our collective think tank.
  • We want to keep making Wikidot more powerful. Data forms, meta data, API, and on and on. Wikidot will become a Wiki 2.0 programming platform where anyone with a good idea for a shared application can turn it into a living site in hours. Look at HeresMyCV.com for a brilliant example. Wikidot should do for the web what Visual Basic did for Windows 3.1.
  • We want to offer paying customers more value. Clusters of wikis, managed wikidot instances, and so on. We've tried using the crippleware approach but I do not like that. The only places we will not offer functionality to free and cheap accounts is when the feature is expensive for us (like web stats, which use a lot of CPU), or dangerous (like file space on private sites, too tempting for illicit use), or takes the site out of the community.1

Conclusion: use what we have now, help us organize it better, and expect things to improve slowly but accurately. If you want to contribute, start watching the sites that interest you. You'll soon see what others are working on.

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