Forum OpenACS Q&A: Response to Article on ACS x Zope

Posted by Chris McDonough on
"""I'm more concerned about the people halfway between those users and serious, heavy-duty programmers. I'm talking about the people inside organizations who usually end up maintaining the systems, which often means extending them as well. """

I had a discussion today about this, and I think we concluded that we would partition Zope users into five categories.  In this model, we start with a core group.  The second group consumes the work of the core group.  The third consumes the work of the second and the first, etc.  Here's what I think they are:

1. Core hackers - people who actually evolve Zope internals and provide interfaces to low level stuff

2. Product builders - people who produce generalized reusable modular products for Zope but who don't necessarily hack internals

3. Content managers - people who organize and produce presentation logic for site structure, featured content, and syndication.

4. HTML designers - people who give dynamically-generated things a consistent and attractive "look and feel" using routines created by a content manager

5. Content consumers - people who consume the services created by the prior four groups (this may include contributing content, buy not meaningfyl formatting, layout, or logic)

Historically, we've catered to groups 1 (mostly internal employees), 2 (members of the Zope community like Butch Landingin, creator of Squishdot), and 5 (the customers of our consulting customers).  We've also got a good start in the catering to 3.  Our through the web management story appeals to 3, this is a target market for us, and we're hoping to make it more attractive for these folks though the Portal Toolkit effort and other "content-management-esque" features being added to the Zope core (like historying and revision control).

4 doesn't care what hosts the HTML, and 5 doesn't know nor care what lies underneath.  These are folks that (unless we're doing consulting), are *not* our target market.

We often run across peple trying to be in many of these roles simultaneously who resultingly need to absorb quite a bit of information to become proficient at all of it when using Zope.  I think these are the kinds of people you're talking about.  Unfortunately, our docs cater to *none* of these groups, we don't offer an end-to-end documentation story, and that needs to be fixed badly.  Zope is a very attractive product, and its initial simplicity in installation and intro documentation I think sort of lulls people into a feel-good state.  Then they try to do something that's not in the docs.  Look out!  Anger!

How does the OpenACS community see their userbase?  Would you divide it this finely or would you paint broader strokes and consolidate?  Would you include #4 and #5 as members of your userbase?

"""Odd in the sense that the team seems to put its sense of architectural aesthetics ahead of accessibility of the code. It may be open, but it feels a bit elitist (if unintentionally so)."""

The Zope core definitely does not have as relatively broad a contributors list as something like Linux.  I'd compare Zope to a *BSD-type project in this respect (as opposed to a Linux-type project).  Personally I'd like to see a better system set up so that more people were encouraged to submit core enhancements.