Forum OpenACS Development: Re: GUI Redesign of OpenACS, ]po[ and Others?

Posted by Antonio Pisano on
I think it is useful to distinguish a few sub-tasks in this broader discussion about "redesign", which in my opinion would be:
1) upstream platform capability to implement a certain web paradigm in the first place
2) upstream platform support to make migration from one graphical design trend to the next one as easy as possible
3) downstream effort to adapt user's own design (markup, assets, fonts, layouts...)

An example of 1) is for me the set of tools needed to support Web 2.0 (database interaction, scriptable pages, validation and so on...) which the previous static Web 1.0 didn't need. There is to me no need for new OpenACS features to support the definition of Web 3.0 in [1], as this has only to do with graphics. This is not so clear with the definition in [2]... One feature for connectivity that we are discussing at WU that might fit in the 1) category is push notification support. Some work for this has been done recently by Gustaf on Naviserver. Semantic web boils down in the end to additional markup. 3D graphics has mostly to do with browser support and can also be just markup in the end (see e.g. [3]). It is unclear to me what a web platform can do to support "artifcial intelligence use cases", other than provide backend scripting capabilities for processing information...

2) is what we try to achieve via the templating system. As Monika pointed out, there is already quite much one can do to customize the look and feel of their applications. One shortcoming I see at the moment is the tcl duplication that right now is necessary when one overrides e.g. the vanilla login page with a new one in their own theme. In the future it might be possible to just let the adp file be customized. Apart from this, a sane application of best practices, such as the definition of the typical graphical elements of one's design in reusable components (includes, widgets, portlets, templates...) and the correct use of CSS styling, should help to migrate at least most of the design without touching every single program... even if I know from experience there will always be a few special pages which will need custom intervention.

to me 3) is the kind of effor that needs to be done every few years by everyone in order to maintain website sexyness... at some point a new theme package implementing a fresher graphic design might popup from upstream to be used as boilerplate for others as the current bootstrap theme has.

I would love to hear your take on the matter. What is Web 3.0 for you? What is that OpenACS is missing in your opinion that would enable this "new kind of web"? Is the templating system sufficient for your web design purposes?...

Cheers, Antonio