Analyzing the status quo

We need to change the out of the box experience

Assessment of the current surface of TWiki 4.2.3

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Assessment from Martin Seibert

Public document For new wiki-projects in a large German media company, designers and frontend-developers have to make a lot of changes, because they are convinced that TWiki is too ugly for a standard customer. MartinSeibert decided to document these changes now and share this knowledge with you.

Design-Changes on the Surface, that are needed

TWiki ist in der Standardversion häßlich und mit einer schlechten Usability ausgestattet. Deshalb muss es bei jeder neuen Installation angepasst werden, um die gröbsten Usability-Schnitzer zu entfernen. Hier wird anhand einer aktuellen Implementierung aufgezeigt, welche Änderungen im Vergleich zum Standard erforderlich sind. Die Anweisungen sind in englisch gehalten, damit Sie direkt auch an die Community.Foswiki-Community zur Verbesserung kommuniziert werden können: ("TWiki is ugly in the standard version and is equipped with bad usability. Therefore it have to be adopted at each new installation for removal of the worst usability-blunders. Here the necessary changes are demonstrated on the basis of an actual installation. The directions are in english for communication to the Community.Foswiki-Community for enhancement:")

  • 1.Change logo and link to Wiki-home
    The TWiki-logo in the upper left corner should be substituted by a placeholder, that makes it clear that the customer should put in his/her logo. In a real project, this substitution is a must-have. The link should point to the wiki home and not to the Community.Foswiki-Website. [password-required image link]

  • 2.Merge search prompts and add submit buttons
    Currently the Standard-Implementation of TWiki offers two search prompts. That is a severe usability problem.
    Bad solution in the standard.
    Good solution for Reisebank. The English buttons could read "Search all fields" and "Search only titles".

  • 3. Create "Administration"-button with overlay
    There are a couple of features, that are not necessarily needed while daily surfing. Those buttons should be hidden under a label "Administration" ("Einstellungen" in German). If you hover over the administration-button, it should open up with a layer and display the hidden features. The following items should be visible then:
    • Subscribe to this complete Web via e-mail / Kompletten Wiki-Bereich per E-Mail abonnieren
    • RSS-Feed for your Feedreader. / RSS-Feed für Ihren Feedreader
    • Statistics of this web / Statistiken für dieses Web
    • Recent changes in this web / Letzte Änderungen in diesem Web
    • Global configuration of this web. / Globale Einstellungen für diesen Wiki-Bereich.
    • Change language of wiki-surface to: [Dropdown] / Ändern Sie die Sprache der Wiki-Oberfläche in: [Dropdown]

  • 4. Create "Topic actions"-button
    A couple of expert topic-features should work with exactly the same hide-and-show-via-layer-solution. The name of the button in German should read "Themen-Aktionen". The following elements should be grouped in this section:
    • Subscribe to this topic and receive mails for changes. / Abonnieren Sie dieses Thema per E-Mail.
    • History of this topic: r78 < r77 < r76 ... / Verlauf dieses Themas: r78 < r77 < r76 ...
    • Create PDF-file from topic / PDF-Dokument des Themas
  • Unsorted Notes
    • "Editieren" in "Bearbeiten" ändern.
    • "Anhang" in "Datei anhängen" ändern.
    • "Main"-Link mit Quadrat oben rechts komplett entfernen. (remove the "main"-link with quadrat from upper right [note: could mean "left", I think])
    • Quadrat in Brotkrumenpfad (Brotkrumenpfad???, wenn schon "Ariadnepfad" smile ) komplett entfernen. (remove the quadrat in the bread crumbs)
    • Index komplett entfernen oder verstecken (remove or hide the menu item "Index"]
    • Menupunkt "Suchen" ersatzlos streichen. (remove the menu item "Search" without substitution)
    • "Neues Topic anlegen" soll nicht in der Hauptnavigation, sondern in einer Art "Metanavigation" angezeigt werden. ("Create new topic" should not be shown in the primary navigation, but in a kind of Meta-navigation)
    • Aus dem Brotkrumenpfad oben kann der letzte Autor und das Datum entfernt werden. Das steht auch unten. (from the upper bread crumbs the last author and the date could be removed. This is on the bottom.)
    • Webs in User / Benutzer (vorher: Main) und Help / Hilfe (vorher: TWiki) umbenennen.
    • Standardmäßig ein Web "Public Wiki" einrichten. (setup a web "Public Wiki" per default)
    • "Sandbox"-Web ersatzlos streichen (siehe (remove the Sandbox-Web without substitution.)
    • Link für Anhänge in "Anhänge anzeigen" bzw. "Anhänge ausblenden" ändern.
    • Im Footer müssen die Änderungen der Bezeichnungen auch durchgeführt werden.
    • Die Fußnotiz muss bei den meisten Kunden wohl so abgeändert werden: "Das Urheberrecht (C) liegt bei den einzelnen Autoren. Der Betreiber des Systems hält jedoch die exklusiven, zeitlich und räumlich unbeschränkten Nutzungsrechte, soweit keine andere schriftliche Vereinbarung getroffen wurde."
    • "Ideen, Anfragen oder Probleme bezüglich dieses Wikis? Rückmeldung an die Administratoren geben.

  • To be continued ...

May I change this content

Feel free to add explanations and details. Add new changes, that are needed. But if you disagree with an action (e.g. you want to keep the two search prompts) say so in the UsabilityChangesTalkPage.

Also see UserInterfaceWishList where you can add your wishes for new release skin.

Would it be possible to provide English translations?

  • KennethLavrsen needs English text also. I think I see things here I disagree with and I see more and more implemented that removes features we use constantly.

  • GilmarSantosJr needs English text also. I know there are a lot of German people (or Germany speakers) here, but there are a lot that doesn't understand it. (Assim como há muitos que não entendem português e/ou outros idiomas, por isso nos comunicamos em inglês).
DONE Some pictures referenced on this topic require to login into an external site. Please, remove the login need or the references. wink

  • WolfgangRaus - I tried to translate, but I could have made some mistake. - I agree to some of the changes, but clearly disagree to the most.

  • MartinSeibert - The pictures lie on a place that was recently protected with passwords. I will exchange the pictures soon.

My Assessment goes here...

Web Naming issues

(I have allowed myself to mash up MichaelDaum's constructive ideas and my inputs on the problem of web names. I threw out my rather philosophical discussion about the word "webs" for the sake of continuing the discussion and keeping it readable. I hope that's ok with you, Michael. Feel free to change smile )

A lot of people agree that "Main" and "Twiki" web names for standard installation are confusing names - the content stored in each is of different categories.

YogiParish proposes re-naming of standard webs into "Community/Users", "Admin(?)" and "Documentation".

MichaelDaum raises the question: Where would "Admin documentation" be? It obviously belongs to both webs: "Admin" and "Docu".

YogiParish's latest unedited blarb: About the example Admin Docu: If you look at this from the various different LevelOfExperience personas (a proposal I am working on for taking level of experience as different possible user personas) it becomes easier. Admin Docu will be searched for in the Documentation web, but at the same time it is expected to be linked from an "Admin" web into the Documentation web at the right places.

That's because people that need the admin documentation are usually rather fresh users of foswiki. The have moved from "normal" users to "admin" users, ie they are already familiar with the Documentation web and will find things much faster.

I think that Michael is right that it is hard to tell where to put content just based on the name. I would like to agree on a process that is clear to everybody why something is put in a certain web. (even when that decision might be wrong and needs to be changed later).

But I'm wandering off again: The main question remains - are there better names for the "standard" webs? Should we discuss this further in the project site structure?

-- YogiParish - 04 Dec 2008 - 07:52

About TWiki web: I think it simply does not work out to reorganize the TWiki web (been already renamed to System in Foswiki) by splitting it up. Instead, the content should be restructured within the web by leveraging the concept of categories. Thus a topic can be in one or more categories at the same time and thus work around any artificial physical constraint by separating Foswiki's default content into two webs/directories. There is already a category system shipped with Foswiki, which frankly needs a redesign/overhaul in its own. Anyway: going with categories and less instead of more webs for this content is the right way to go, IMHO.

About Sandbox: this is a quite useful thing that new users really like. However, it should not be visible by default as its purpose interferes with what the user wants to create.

About Main: should be called Users - a namespace for user profiles/homepages.

Which leads to the real problem: whatever Foswiki's webs will be named - their naming will interfer with the webs the user wants to create. In the end the user wants to see his own webs and categories, not the default ones. This means that the best we can do is to hide as much as possible the Users, System and Sandbox webs.

What really would help users is a clearly explained guideline when to create a new web, when to create subwebs, and why to do so. Even offering different scenarios. Unfortunately, Foswiki has got no first-steps-wizard that would set up the initial empty web where the user can start putting his concent right away, without mixing it up with user homepages (as is the case with Main) or Sandbox (like Rod did) or even altering the System web content thus complicating upgrades.

What most users do is to create one extra empty web, called like the company or just Home. We could do the same with just one simple message: put your content here.

-- MichaelDaum - 04 Dec 2008 - 12:57

I agree 100% with MichaelDaum. I think the administrative namespaces should be completely separate from the user-generated namespace(s). I also think that "Special pages", as MediaWiki calls them, shouldn't be named pages at all, just queries. For example, not It's silly to have pages that say "Don't edit this page!".

-- BobBagwill - 05 Dec 2008 - 16:17

So summing up so far:

  • "Main" should be called "Users". It's the users community web.
  • "Twiki" is now called "System". It contains (after installation) the documentation (users usually dont change that) and site default preferences (this is changed) NO! Only change SitePreferences. System web should never need to be changed.

  • Michael states that users often create an empty web that is called "CompanyName" or so. Couldn't the generation of a single "put your content here" Web is generated with the installation? This would be the default web, when the users opens Foswiki the first time.
  • Michael says the "Sandbox" is used often by new users. (BTW, how about "Playground"? When I hear "Sandbox" I immediately think about feline bodily functions)
  • Bob wants administrative and user-generated namespaces separated. "Special pages" like statistics should only be created by queries.
I agree with both of you on these points.

The longer I think about the documentation though, the more I think it should be in its own web. I see several reasons for this:

  • They are in a sense "Special pages". ie should not be edited by everyone smile
  • Documentation is a very dynamic and eclectic part of the project, and features very unique document types. It consists of
    • Documentation,
    • Step by Step instructions,
    • Guidelines,
    • How-Tos,
    • Scenarios of real sites, and other special format pages, that are not likely needed in another part of a foswiki installation.
  • It should be somehow tied to support (eg good support answers should be able to make it into the documentation).
  • The documentation web could be downloaded separately from the rest of the application
  • A clear separation might invite more people to participate in working on docu, maybe even non technical people.
  • People are used to separate documentation. People buy linear books, without any xlinks smile
I do not say, that every bit of documentation should be stored in a documentation web, but having a well defined documentation especially for foswiki beginners would be nice. Even now, I am still terrified when I have to look up something on, knowing that I will spend endless hours in various web's tag clouds, search windows, and articles that date back to the stone age smile

-- YogiParish - 05 Dec 2008 - 23:18

Hmm... if the system web shouldn't be allowed to change, what is it there for? Documentation and ... what?

I think these are the webs a user should see after a fairly normal standard installation on his left bar (and in the following order)

  • MyCompanysWeb (automatically created during installation)
  • Users (or alternatively UsersAndAdmin if we put all the site preferences in here)
  • Documentation (including courses, intros, read-only?)

  • Sandbox (important for new users, but it doesn't HAVE to be there)
If there is a system web, I think it should be hidden from the non-admin, it's just way too confusing.

If there are no objections, I will move this into a more appropriate topic - it is in infinitesimal change, I think wink

-- YogiParish - 10 Dec 2008 - 17:30

  • Das "Löschen" von Topics oder Anhängen führt manchmal für den unbedarften User zum Problem, dass im Trash das genannte Topic bereits existiert. Vielleicht sollten beim Löschen alle Topics und Anhänge mit dem Löschdatum und damit mit einem einmaligen Namen versehen werden um dieses Problem zu umgehen.
-- JoachimSchmidt - 27 Dec 2008 - 12:28

You'd like to tell us what you think current TWiki could do better?

Go for it!

UserExperienceProjectForm edit

TopicTitle Analyzing the status quo
TopicSummary We need to change the out of the box experience
Subject core interface
Status abandoned
Status note no activity
Driver help wanted
Skills needed strategy, analysis
Topic revision: r35 - 12 Mar 2014, MichaelDaum
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