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first batch of answers (Re: [Demexp-dev] New test Drupal site open.


From: Augustin
Subject: first batch of answers (Re: [Demexp-dev] New test Drupal site open.
Date: Thu, 5 Oct 2006 15:02:47 +0800
User-agent: KMail/1.8.2

Hi, 

I reply first on the easy stuff. The rest will come in separate emails.

Every mention of "stage 1" refers to the priorities as defined in my mail 
"Development priorities for the Drupal module (and for the server)".





On Saturday 16 September 2006 07:14 pm, David MENTRE wrote:
>  3. Account creation should be reworked. In my mind (to be discussed),
>     we would have two different workflows for the demo and official
>     servers.
>
>     * for the demo server, one could create a demexp account through the
>       Drupal interface, that would create an account on the demexp
>       server (for vote) and one could vote immediately,
>
>     * for the official server, one could enter account creation on the
>       demexp web interface but that would trigger an email to demexp
>       admins that would create the account manually (or at least
>       validate account creation).

I don't see the need for 3 servers, test, demo, and official. 
"Test" is for developers.
with the demexp.module, everything is transparent on the web, so I don't see 
the interest of having a separate 'demo' web site.
If you really insist, though, I can create another drupal web site within the 
drupal web site. It will run on exactly the same code, but it can be 
configured completely differently and will be an independent web site, with 
its own users, questions, theme (design), etc... and it will be connected to 
the demo server instead of the test server. 

For stage 1, my focus is creating a stable module for the official server + 
web site. So I will only code for the official way to create an account.
You can add a feature request for later stages, for different account creation 
workflows. Let's see first if we can come to an agreement about the official 
way, though.



>  4. Account creation form should be modified. I think it is manfdatory
>     to have following fields:

Drupal core comes with a profile.module. I don't need to code anything. It is 
only a matter of post-install configuration and you can have all the profile 
fields you want, even the most exotic ones. 

I am already using this module to create a field for the demexp username, and 
I read the content of this field when I need it. 


>  5. The timezone field in current login is not very clear to me in
>     current Drupal interface. Is it GMT+n with or without summertime
>     shifting?

It is a limitation of Drupal core: it doesn't handle summertime changes. 
It is a known limitation, and we are waiting for someone to come up with a 
patch with core. 
There is no summertime change where I live so this problem has never affected 
me. I am not sure, but you may have to adjust your settings twice a year 
until a fix is proposed.


>  6. The Tags link[3] is quite nice. It is probably not scalable for a
>     very big amount of tags but for a reasonable amount it is quite
>     usable. However (there is always a however ;-), it would nice to be
>     able to change the metric criterion, for example through a drop down
>     menu: number of questions with that tag (current setting if I'm
>     correct), most recently edited questions with that tag, most voted
>     questions with that tag, etc.

It's ironic that it is the part that has impressed people the most 
(understandably), but I have not much to do with it. 
This is made possible by a contrib module called tagadelic.module. 

My module is an import module: most of my work was to import the data from the 
server and store it in the Drupal native way. This way, all other tasks can 
be handled by the other modules. 
That's what I have done in this case: I have imported the tags so that 
Drupal's very performant taxonomy handling can do its job and so that other 
contrib module using Drupal taxonomy can also do their job, like here.

The cloud that you see is only made up of the n most popular tags, displayed 
with x different levels (from the smallest tags, to the biggest).

A few weeks ago, I submitted a patch that got committed so that both n and x 
can be configured. As you see it, there are the n=100 most popular tags with 
x=10 levels. Both figures can be adjusted but it also means that if there are 
more than n tags, only the first n will be displayed.

But:
1) tagadelic seems to be a well maintained module and the maintainer wants to 
release a second 4.7.* version with more features, that will eventually be 
available for 5.*. 
2) We are not limited by tagadelic.module. There are dozens of taxonomy 
related modules in contrib, some of which I really ought to test later on.
3) We can submit patches for some of those modules or create our own 
complementary implementation for additional features.
 


>  7. At mid term, it would be necessary to have a way to navigate into a
>     tag hirarchy, but we already discussed of that;

yes.
Again: a lot can be done with taxonomy. At stage 2 and later, we can 
investigate different ways to achieve what we want.

>  8. The Questions link[4] is basic but works. At mid term, being able to
>     search into question fields would be nice (but maybe we could count
>     on Google/Yahoo/... for that ;-);

There is a good search.module (in core) that I have not enabled. 
There is a popular views.module in contrib that I have never tested, but that 
has been talked about a lot. 
Those are modules that we can test later.
I don't need to code anything here.


>  9. Forums attached to each question is very nice. However, after
>     various discussions on demexp-fr and elsewhere, it appears that it
>     would be sometimes necessary to a Forum without a question attached
>     to it, and maybe create a new question and attach it to one or more
>     Forum discussions. I have no clear idea on how to make all of that
>     work, but my main idea is that the democratic debate (on or more
>     Forum) would sometimes (but not always) trigger one or more vote
>     (demexp question), without a bijection between the two;

Those forums (without a question attached to it) already exist. Look again. 
More forum can be configured as wanted at any time. The hierarchy of forums 
can be changed any time.
If a debate within a general forum triggers a question (actually, I expect 
this to happen often!!), creating a question will trigger the creation of a 
forum. Then new threads within that new forum can link to old discussions in 
the general forum. In some cases, the old discussion can actually be moved 
whole into the new forum.

All of this will become clearer to you once we get to use the site.

>  10. I *personally* hate web forums. Do you know if there exists a
>      Drupal module that makes a link between Drupal Forums and Usenet
>      for example?

I used to use a feature like this for phpBB. It was a MOD called mail2forum.
I have seen a Drupal site which uses a couple of contrib modules to achieve 
the same.

We certainly can try to have something like that, but I am not too eager.
My past experience with phpBB and mail2forum shows that it can soon become 
messy, between dealing with badly formatted emails, security concerns, spam 
posted on the forum and delivered to every email subscribers, subscribers 
complaining and denouncing us as the spammers, being blacklisted, etc...
Also, we would need one mailing list for each forum.

Still, we can try and we'll see, but that's for later stages.


>  11. How is internationalization handled in Drupal? At long term, we
>      will have both questions and responses translated and we will need
>      to take care of that;

Internationalization is maybe one of the weaker points of Drupal. 

Still, there is a fairly good i18n.module that should allow us to do 
everything we want (translation of pages, etc.)

I have never tested this module thoroughly. I wanted to update it for Drupal 5 
(like I had to updated tagadelic myself to use on our test web site: most of 
the contrib module have not been updated yet, because Drupal 5 has not 
entered the beta stage yet... it should very soon), but it is a fairly 
complex module so I gave up. 

That's a module we'd want to properly test and decide to use or not at the end 
of stage 1 (i.e. before we launch the official web site), because it affects 
the way URL are formatted and it will affect search engine indexing, etc. It 
will be clumsy to switch half way through. 

As far as i18n and l10n (summertime changes) are concerned, here is some 
excellent news that we received today:
http://lists.drupal.org/archives/development/2006-10/msg00086.html
Hopefully, we'd have a much better thought out i18n for Drupal 6.


>  12. The items on the left side ("Sujet actifs" and "Commentaires
>      r├ęcents") should be tailored to distinguish between Forums and
>      demexp Questions. For example, we could have the list of the most
>      recent Questions and the list of most recent Forums;

Those are "blocks" (to use the Drupal lingo).
I am using blocks as defined in core.
"Sujet actifs" is a block defined by the forum.module, so it includes only 
forum discussions.
demexp questions do not accept comments (you cannot post a comment on the 
question node itself, only in the forum).

We can create our own blocks later. Some may be part of the demexp.module 
(AFTER stage 1), some can be created for each site, within the admin section 
of the site (php is allowed).


>  13. In the link listing all Forums[5], it would be nice to sort the
>      list by different criteria (forum name, number of subjects, number
>      of messages, most recent forum, etc.). In fact, all the
>      capabilities you already have for Drupal's forums;

http://demexp.ouvaton.org/forum/1
You mean click on the table headings to sort the forums?
A patch would need to be submitted for core.

This item, as well as all those above concerning taxonomy pertain to the site 
navigation, or how to find the questions/discussions you are interested in. 

For stage 2, you'll have to see first what can be achieve easily (by using 
core functions or contrib modules) and then evaluate the most pressing 
navigational needs.


>  14. I would personally use Drupal only for the web interface to demexp
>      server, and probably use other technologies for information on the
>      democratic experience project, logins, etc. So I would remove all
>      general information on the Drupal web site.

No. It would be a very big shame not to use Drupal which is a very complex and 
performant CMS for such simple tasks as presenting a few introduction pages.
I'll detail my answer in a separate email, when I get time (maybe later 
today).

>  15. What is the meaning of the "Languages" item on the left side? Is it
>      the leanguage of the interface, of the displayed forum,
>      questions,...?

This is a custom block I created myself, with a simple menu to the English and 
French description of the project. 
Such custom blocks with information and menus can be created and modified or 
removed at will. 



>  16. Drupal links lack sometime some semantics, as they are most of the
>      time of the form /node/nnn/.... Would it be possible to improve
>      that?

Within Drupal, every piece of content is a node: a forum thread, a picture 
within a gallery, a demexp question, an "about" page, etc.
The native format of a page is /node/nnn .
I can easily create an alias so that for example:
http://demexp.ouvaton.org/node/248
can be accessed at :
http://demexp.ouvaton.org/demexp_question/243
Both lead to the same place.
I have done it manually for this particular node as an example, but I can do 
it programmatically for every question nodes.

The reason why I have not done it is because of concern for resources.

If you feel it's essential to have such aliases for every question, I'll do 
it.



>  17. At first connection on the Drupal site, the main page should
>      probably display some "hot topic" items, like most active tag or
>      question.

The demexp.org home page can be designed the way we want. That is not relevant 
to my module.
We can discuss the organization of the whole site later. 



Augustin.



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