3.2, Help wanted. Now we're getting somewhere.
voiklis at redfigure.org
Thu Jun 27 23:45:22 UTC 2002
I would like to offer my help.
One major bug (or, more accurately, one thing that bugs me) in version 3.2
and all versions of Squeak, is that, after a year of working with Squeak, I
still don't know how to use 95% of the built in Morphs. Forget about how
those Morphs are developed or how to customize them (this mailing list is
actually great about that), I don't know how to even use them--what are they
for and how do they work (e.g. how does one use all those chat tools).
Let me back up a bit and lavish all of you with some praise. I love Squeak:
I love the interface (it's much more in tune with how I and most of my
colleagues work); I love that it functions like a guest OS (everything can
be done in squeak); I love that Squeak can be user-programmed to be anything
that user wants. In fact, I have based much of my recent professional work
on Squeak: as a Web developer, I promote the use of Swiki and Seaside; and
as the head of an educational technology NPO, I have made the Squeak Plugin
the basis for all our projects. I have no complaints about how Squeak looks
What I and, quite likely, the entire user population needs is documentation,
i.e. a user manual. I agree, as many on the list have argued, that the rate
at which Squeak changes may make the writing of a user manual a fools
errand. While that may hold true for how various Morphs are implemented and
extended, that is rarely true about what they are for and how they function,
especially for those Morphs in the Morph Catalog. I find it important enough
to have such a manual that I am willing to volunteer a life-time's worth of
free time to compile and edit a Squeak User Manual.
I envision something that both goes beyond yet is more basic than the
current opening screen tutorials and bubble help: something akin to the
Squeakland tutorials, though more prosaic. An illustrated catalog describing
what each morph is, what problems it solves, it's basic functionality
(version 1 of the manual should probably be limited to the Morph Catalog).
The manual could be kept in a flap (preferably default), and, to assure that
the manual is obvious to users, it could interject itself every time a Morph
is instantiated--whether from the supplies/widgets flap, or from the Morph
catalog, or from the World Menu, or, even, from the workspace. What do I
mean by interject: every time a Morph is instantiated the User Manual flap
opens and scrolls to the correct description. To keep this from annoying
those who don't need or who outgrow such a help feature, I imagine a help
on/of button in the Navigator bar.
If the community and SqueakCentral agrees with such a project, this is how I
see the writing/editing process working:
1) Pick a Morph that you either authored or mastered and write a description
detailing what the morph is, what problems it solves, it's basic
functionality, and instructions on how to use it.
2) Send it to me.
3) I will try those instructions on the latest iterations of Squeak and,
where applicable, the SqueakPlugin (I have access to boxes running Windows
2000, Red Hat Linux 7.1, and Mac OS9)
1) I will write back reporting on my success/failure and appending any
suggestions or requests for clarification.
2) You write back with clarifications.
3) I retest and, if necessary, resubmit requests for clarification
4) I compile the descriptions; clean up, correct, and create consistency in
language; layout descriptions with some "pretty" graphics.
5) I post the User Manual for peer review and QA.
6) I correct as necessary.
1) I hand it over to Squeak Central for the coding of the pop-up
functionality and for inclusion in the next build.
As to my qualifications: I have earned a BA in English and MFA in Poetry. I
have worked as an editor (at OUP) and freelance writer (a bunch of places).
I have worked as a Web developer for 6+ years during which I have cultivated
varying levels of expertise with a variety of technologies (Java, SQL,
Python, and recently Squeak/Smalltalk). I spent much of my time during those
6+ years translating between the tech savvy and the tech hostile. In
addition, I co-authored and edited the specification for the Open eBook
Publication Structure (www.openebook.org), the XML format readable by
Microsoft Reader, among others.
I hope people will agree that this proposal addresses a dire need in the
progress and evangelism of Squeak, and that we can begin work immediately.
Red Figure Foundation
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