[ic] Taking a Poll

David Adams david@akopia.com
Mon, 16 Apr 2001 10:42:36 -0400

I'd like to take the opportunity to respond to this thread, which I think is
a very appropriate subject of conversation on this list.  I think that
everyone realizes that with the documentation in its current state, it's
quite difficult for someone to get up to speed and really reap the benefits
of Interchange's depth of functionality. It's especially difficult for
someone who isn't a dyed-in-the-wool hacker.

I'd like to give everyone a glimpse into what we're hoping to do here at Red
Hat over the next few months (and years) to alleviate the situation and give
everyone a chance to respond.

1.  The new tag reference.  At tremendous effort and expense, we have almost
completed a comprehensive new tag reference guide.  It has taken a very
skilled developer many months of work, and we will be making this document
available soon.  In addition to being on the web site, this document will be
a part of a printed and bound Interchange manual.  <guilt trip>For further
documentation efforts to be justifiable to the accountants, it's important
that we at least make some movement toward allaying the costs of producing
this documentation by selling these manuals.  I'll hope that many people who
read this list will be  buying them</guilt trip>.  I know that people have
been clamoring for a printed manual that they can buy, so we're trying to
meet the demand.

2. The new developer web site.  We're going to be launching a new developer
web site that's going to have more tools to allow the developers to
contribute to Interchange and to the documentation.  We'll be launching some
Wiki-web-like tools that allow people to contribute to a living FAQ, we'll
be working on the annotation features we currently offer to make them
better, and we hope to be offering a sourceforge-esque area where people can
sponsor Interchange-related projects and set up CVS and mailing lists for
them.  <guilt trip>Of course, this will only be worth the effort if people
take advantage of them and they end up benefiting the project, so let me
know if you think you'd be interested in taking advantage of these
tools</guilt trip>

3. Making Interchange easier to use.  Since Interchange does not result in
direct licensing-derived revenue, we have never been able to dedicate as
many resources to making Interchange easy to use as we'd like to.  We only
have a few full-time developers who work solely on Interchange development
and we have to pick our tasks carefully.  However, there are some options
that are open to us, and I'd love to get people's feedback on some of these
ideas.  One option is to develop a site setup wizard that would make
Interchange as accessible as Yahoo store.  This would be a separate product
you would only have access to by paying, either as a product or a service
(ASP style).  We could also develop purpose-specific templates for
particular types of web sites that could be purchased.  ("cookbook" demos,
as someone mentioned)  So you can either use the generic template that comes
with Interchange or you could select from a library of templates that might
more closely approximate your goals.  We have also thought about making the
process of hiring a consultant to do more complicated work more accessible,
by putting together some kind of flat-rate pricing table for various tasks,
like they have for auto repair.  These prices could be for work performed by
Red Hat or by certified developers (meaning we would put some kind of
referral program together).

Let me be clear that in each of these cases it would be important that
consultants in our community can take part, either by joining some kind of
referral program or by being able to license some technology we develop. We
need to include you in these initiatives, so that's why I'm soliciting your
feedback right now.  Also, let me stress that Interchange's license will not
change; though we may think up all sorts of ways of charging money for
various distributions of Interchange, it will still be GPL, and will always
be available for download free of charge.

4. Making it easier to learn Interchange.  In addition to new documentation
and printed manuals, we'll be offering Interchange training soon.  If you
have any feedback on what you think should be taught, let us know.

David Adams
Red Hat E-Business Solutions
703-456-2924 Office
202-422-3283 Mobile