Making Beacon Usable

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Making Beacon Usable

Nandeep Mali
Hi folks,

This is regarding the possible GSoC project about "Making Beacon Usable". I wanted to work with the doc folks directly on this one so I can include in my proposal the most wanted feature add-ons/improvements.

Since Beacon isn't widely used currently I was having trouble finding people acquainted with it. So calling out to all Doc people, what can be done to help Beacon float further?

Kind Regards
Nandeep Mali
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Re: Making Beacon Usable

Joshua Saddler
Nandeep Mali wrote:
> Hi folks,
>
> This is regarding the possible GSoC project about "Making Beacon
> Usable". I wanted to work with the doc folks directly on this one so I
> can include in my proposal the most wanted feature add-ons/improvements.
>
> Since Beacon isn't widely used currently I was having trouble finding
> people acquainted with it. So calling out to all Doc people, what can be
> done to help Beacon float further?

1. What is Beacon?

2. Why do you need the documentation team (really) to help you in your
SOC project?


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Re: Making Beacon Usable

Jan Kundrát
Josh Saddler wrote:
> 1. What is Beacon?

Beacon, a GuideXML editor [1].

Cheers,
-jkt

[1] http://www.kix.in/projects/beacon/

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Re: Making Beacon Usable

Matthew Summers
On Thu, Mar 27, 2008 at 4:23 PM, Jan Kundrát <[hidden email]> wrote:
Josh Saddler wrote:
> 1. What is Beacon?

Beacon, a GuideXML editor [1].

Cheers,
-jkt

[1] http://www.kix.in/projects/beacon/

--
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I am interested in assisting with this project.  Beacon will be a very nice tool for my interns to use in doing gentoo documentation.  Please let me know how I may be of assistance.

Regards,

Matt Summers
(QuantumSummers)

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Matthew W. Summers

Chief Executive Officer & Systems Engineer
Liquidus Tech, LLC
[hidden email]
www.liquidustech.com
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Re: Making Beacon Usable

Nandeep Mali
In reply to this post by Joshua Saddler
Thanks for replies. :)

@Josh Saddler
> 2. Why do you need the documentation team (really) to help you in your
> SOC project?

Beacon is a tool for Documentation. Hence I supposed that Doc Team would be the best place to ask my query. The help I require is in terms of advice for the best possible improvements.

@Matt Summers
> I am interested in assisting with this project.  Beacon will be a very nice tool for my interns to use in doing gentoo documentation.  >Please > let me know how I may be of assistance.

I would like to know what improvements would you like in the existing Beacon implementation. That would really help me in drafting a good proposal and would bring up the most required features.

Kind Regards
Nandeep
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Re: Making Beacon Usable

Anant Narayanan-4
In reply to this post by Nandeep Mali
Hi Nandeep,

> This is regarding the possible GSoC project about "Making Beacon  
> Usable". I wanted to work with the doc folks directly on this one so  
> I can include in my proposal the most wanted feature add-ons/
> improvements.
>
> Since Beacon isn't widely used currently I was having trouble  
> finding people acquainted with it. So calling out to all Doc people,  
> what can be done to help Beacon float further?

Thanks for your interest in the project! Although Beacon allows for  
basic GuideXML editing, there is a lot that can be done in the  
usability aspect. Beacon isn't really used by any documentation folks,  
which defeats the purpose of the tool - hence the main focus this  
summer would be to analyze the areas in which Beacon could be  
improved, and implement them.

Some points off the top of my head:

a) UI Spruce-up: Make it easier to edit specific portions of the  
document. Currently there is DOM tree displayed in the bottom-left,  
some enhancement can be made to it, so that a user can jump to any  
portion in the document and make a quick change.

b) Replace text-boxes with a Rich Text Editor: Currently, tags like  
<p>, <b> and <e> have to be manually added by documentation writers,  
as the XML inside a <body> is displayed verbatim in a text-box. This  
text-box can be ideally replaced by rich-text editor like MoxieCode,  
TinyMCE or FCKEditor - which would have to be modified to understand  
GuideXML tags allowed inside <body>

c) Make it easy to author new documents: Editing an existing document  
is certainly a lot easier than creating a new one in beacon; the  
primary reason being that adding new sections and block-level tags is  
not really very easy. Currently, we use a drag-and-drop approach, but  
it's not very easy to visualize where you're actually dropping the new  
element. This aspect could do with a complete overhaul.

d) Easier Deployment: Another reason why beacon isn't used widely is  
because it hasn't been deployed for public use. We need to make some  
changes in the back-end to make sure it can be deployed with minimum  
fuss - see next point.

e) Back-end changes: Currently beacon uses two temporary files - one  
for the actual XML and one for the displayed HTML, per GuideXML file  
being edited. This approach requires a web-server writeable directory,  
which makes it a little cumbersome to deploy. Also, someone had  
discovered a security vulnerability with this (which has been fixed  
since); it's probably worthwhile to take a second look and probably  
rewrite this portion.

f) Support for collaborative editing: Most documentation is written by  
a group of people, so it would be neat if beacon could store the  
document centrally and allow multiple people to collaboratively work  
on it. Google Docs is a good inspiration here, we could throw in  
authentication against Gentoo's LDAP server too :)

All of this is probably not achievable in a single summer, so you  
could probably pick out a few ideas and send in your proposal - I'll  
be glad to mentor the project. You would need to know PHP, Javascript,  
some AJAX concepts and familiarity with XML and XSLT beforehand,  
however, if you don't - we can use the community bonding period to get  
you upto speed!

All the best, and I look forward to reviewing your proposal.

Cheers,
Anant

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Re: [gentoo-soc] Re: Making Beacon Usable

Nandeep Mali
Great! Thanks Anant!

This will really help as a great starting point in whipping up a nifty application.

I'll holler you after the application is up at GSoC website.

Kind Regards
Nandeep