Talk:Main Page

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Hello - would it be possible to improve the Navigation a bit?

I didn't design the page and therefore don't know but I suspect difficulties in Navigation may be due in part to the fact that a lot of changes have been made to the wiki since it was designed. So, for example, the links in the main box on the right don't always have the same names as the links on the left even though they point at the same pages. Moreover, there are simply more pages now which inevitably complicates things. --CFR 00:45, 26 February 2009 (UTC)
isn't there something like "sitemap" or "menu of subpages" or so? in the wiki? Where does one find the documentation for those things? --Dtbecker 08:10, 26 February 2009 (UTC)

I am looking for the Windows page and the only way to find it is to go to special pages and then to all pages.

You can click on the link "Windows user? Don't be jealous!" --CFR 00:45, 26 February 2009 (UTC)
Ah - thanks. Didn't look there --Dtbecker 08:10, 26 February 2009 (UTC)
I think we need to drive people to use the handy "search" box on the left. Ironically, that's what I use much of the time. --Joseph Slater 13:47, 3 March 2009 (UTC)

Isn't it possible to present all tables somehow at the main page?

Which tables? If you mean all the tables of contents, I think that would make a mess... --CFR 00:45, 26 February 2009 (UTC)
sorry - I meant: present all pages somehow at the main page. --Dtbecker 08:10, 26 February 2009 (UTC)
Nope. It's way way to cluttered. What you see now are all of the original pages. They are intended to be what you say (the top levels), but it's breaking down. I think we need to push for a more spartan front page, and then add instructions to search, and perhaps a list of a few words a user might try. --Joseph Slater 13:47, 3 March 2009 (UTC)

Or at least two or three levels of the page tree (is there one?).

I don't know enough about wikis to know what this is. Could somebody explain? --CFR 00:45, 26 February 2009 (UTC)
I mean the following. Consider the pages being arranged in some logical order:
++ main page ++ issue 1 ++ subtopic 1
++ main page ++ issue 1 ++ subtopic 2
++ main page ++ issue 2 ++ subtopic 1
++ main page ++ issue 2 ++ subtopic 2
etc. this would allow to improve the navigation by presenting the list of issues at the main page. The issue 1 / issue 2 / ... pages themselves the could present the list of subtopics. Best would be if those lists are not to be maintained by manual editing, but are automatic. ("Sitemap of issue 1" or "TOC of issue 1")
These pages use elements I am thinking of: http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/MediaWiki & http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Sysadmin_hub --Dtbecker 08:10, 26 February 2009 (UTC)
The second of these, at least, seems to be maintained by manual editing judging by the page source. The first is calling some sort of template, I think, so I'm not sure how it is done...
One of the problems here is that the sort of structure you have in mind is easier to discuss in the abstract than it is to put it into practice. That is, it isn't entirely obvious what sort of structure would be most helpful here. At the moment, the top level structure is essentially contained under "panel llywio" ("main panel"?) and "software" on the left - mostly under "software" + "Getting Started..." and "Mailing Lists", I think. But the structure below this is getting created as necessary - that is, as the top level pages get too large. (With some exceptions.)
But this structure isn't necessarily a useful guide through the information. It doesn't tell you where to look for information about graphics in TeX, for example. That information is split between different topics. You might want a TeX Helper, a TeX Tool, a GUI Tool or a Reference (at least). This is inevitable. If the wiki was organised so that all the information about graphics was together, that would suit some enquiries better but other enquiries would result in the same problem in terms of information being split between different (possibly not obviously connected) pages. Though the trend seems to be towards reorganising the information in this way which may make sense in terms of suiting the greatest number of queries the best. (E.g. putting all the information about bibliographies together etc.) Since placeholders are getting inserted to replace moved topics, this may end up provided at least two structures for the wiki - according to theme (graphics, bibliographies etc.); according to "type" (command line tool, GUI, helper etc.) - but I don't know if this is the plan or not...
Hmmm... ?? --CFR 21:51, 28 February 2009 (UTC)
Is is possible to modify the wiki to my original "dream" where each "package/software, etc" has its own pages, a "short top" and "the rest". Then instead of editing the short descriptions in referring pages we actually just refer and link. Something like what I've done with the News. I think I've done this on occasion elsewhere. What this would do is allows easier maintainability of pages by reference only. i.e. a package could be on GUI apps AND graphics very easily, but editing of anything about that package would only be on it's own separate page. Thoughts? This would be a lot of work to get set up, but I think worth it in the long run. --Joseph Slater 13:43, 3 March 2009 (UTC)
I'd wondered about that. The main disadvantage I've thought of so far (apart from the effort required) is that I think it would make it more difficult for users unaccustomed to wikis to edit the wiki as looking at the source would often reveal a bunch of templates. But maybe most people are more familiar with modern technology than me and would be familiar enough with the structure. --CFR 02:06, 5 March 2009 (UTC)

An example where I myself have less problems to find the things I am looking for is http://wiki.typo3.org/Main_Page They have those boxes in the main text area that categorize pages with a short description. If you choose extensions, You reach a page that is only dedicated to further explain the content under that topic.

Looks nice. If we wanted to do this, we could turn the blurbs at the top of the main pages into templates and reuse the texts here as a guide to navigation. --CFR 00:45, 26 February 2009 (UTC)

I don't know enough about wiki's to make a more helpful suggestion....

Daniel

I'll add that I think that some of the headings are misleading. For example, the 'software' heading on the left suggests that's where you should look for software. Yet the best place for a beginner to look for software is the "Getting Started..." page which is listed in the upper panel. It would make more sense to me if "Getting Started..." and "Mailing Lists" were grouped with the things under the software heading so that all the things in the top box have to do with the wiki itself and all the things in the next box have to do with the topic of the wiki. But the "software" heading is unhelpful. "Main topics" or something would be better, I think. Or just "Navigation". Or nothing at all, in fact... It is fairly obviously a listing of content of various kinds. --CFR 00:45, 26 February 2009 (UTC)

Navigation

Recall that this site is only 6 months old now. It was a very rapid transition from the www.esm.psu.edu/mac-tex pages. It's gotten large enough that navigation is a major issue. Listing every page is way too much now. I'm wondering if the whole software list on the left, and almost all of the items in the main page area, should be removed. Then users would have to resort to searches, which may be more efficient. The nature of a wiki is amorphous and maybe this is the next major transition... enhancing pages so that searches yield meaningful responses (or just ensuring this) then removing the menu items. The associate editors do have the ability to edit those menus. Maybe we need a "meeting" to discuss this (including other interested parties)? --Joseph Slater 13:38, 3 March 2009 (UTC)

Probably a good idea. I know I could edit the main page but I'm reluctant to do so. Whatever we do, we should agree what we're doing - if only because we are more likely to foresee problems that way. It would be bad for the main page to change structure only to require another change because the first was not well thought out.
I know what you're saying about searches but personally, I resort to searches _within_ web-sites only when forced to do so or when the site is essentially dedicated to searches. Otherwise, I tend to try to figure out where things are in terms of the site's structure. There are lots of reasons for this. One of the most important is probably habit and the fact that many sites don't provide an integrated search. Another is that I may not know which term to search for or I may be generally interested in the topic of the site but not yet know enough to be looking for anything particular anyway. For me, wikis inhabit a strange twilight zone - some I treat more like search pages; some more like "regular" web pages. I can't say I distinguish them according to any principle, though.
Only somebody who knows a bit will be able to search this site effectively. So the priority should be new users when we think about providing navigational routes through the wiki. Not just somebody new to TeX, but somebody who needs to include a graphic for the first time or a bibliography or whatever.
I don't think the "software" menu is very useful but it is hard to tell. It is extremely useful to _me_ but that's because I almost always find things through it. I can do that because I have a fairly good idea of where things are in relation to those headings. I'm not sure the headings would help much otherwise. If we keep these on the main page, I think they should be in the body of the page and include an explanation (e.g. the text from the top of the relevant page) explaining what's there. Templates would be good for this, at least, since we wouldn't probably expect new editors to be changing the description of a top-level page. If that makes sense.
"Meeting" sounds good. Too late to think right now. --CFR 02:06, 5 March 2009 (UTC)
I doubt the average person is more wiki-capable than you. I am speaking of the average, but really, you are well above by now (there's not that much to know, so I think you're almost complete... I'm almost complete, I think).
Do you have iChat? We can iChat a meeting some time. The easiest way to give my time zone is to state my local time (4:35 PM now). My calendar is on Calendar. Tomorrow isn't filled in properly yet, though. As the originating author of the front page... I think it might be best if you "freely" develop a concept without my immediate reactions before we begin a discussion. I have to admit I've almost thrown my hands in the air thinking "there is NO good solution", so I'm hoping you come up with one. --Joseph Slater 21:35, 5 March 2009 (UTC)
Do I have iChat? I have the application. I've never opened it. I've never used any simultaneous chat program (if that's what it is) except talk which probably doesn't count. First time for everything... You're on EST? I'm 5 hours later than you. Probably not much point looking at your calendar yet if (a) it isn't filled in yet, and (b) I'm going to try outlining an alternative first... Where's the other associate editor when needed?! --CFR 03:06, 6 March 2009 (UTC)
React away... --CFR 01:58, 8 March 2009 (UTC)
Should I take the deafening silence as a sign of (a) horror, (b) complete bewilderment, or (c) total apathy? --CFR 20:26, 8 April 2009 (UTC)
Still digging out of a hole form my wife's surgery+work crises. Certainly not apathy. My recent actions have based on acting only on things well past due. I'll get there. Sorry. --Joseph Slater 00:27, 9 April 2009 (UTC)
Sorry. I should have more patience. Though I wasn't especially aiming my comment at you. --CFR 12:00, 11 April 2009 (UTC)
If there is something to do in the categories etc. direction, I could help a bit. But I think I shouldn't just do what I myself think is best. There are already a few pages and categories that maybe should be deleted in a while ... If there is something to do that doesn't interfer with the editors preferred way to handle things, please let me know..... --Dtbecker 11:44, 9 April 2009 (UTC)
So I just found out from looking at Dtbecker's tests about categories. Can we use these somehow to help with the sort of cross-referencing we're talking about in terms of linking pages to multiple categories (e.g. bibliographies and gui tools or whatever). What would be ideal would be super-categories which included not just the name of the page but the contents of the template you thought we might use at the top to summarise the page's contents and then reuse in listing the page elsewhere. What we really need, then, is are existent super-categories but, unfortunately, Descartes' ontological argument was no more valid than it was original and existent-super-category-extensions are likely no thicker on the ground than existent-flying-horses... --CFR 01:55, 8 March 2009 (UTC)

suggestion for some hierarchy in the pages

There is a extension for the mediawiki-software: Mediawiki-Webpage

I like especially their explanation about navigation-concepts (web, sequence, hierarchy)

I tried to organize the existing pages somehow in a hierarchy. I ended up with seven "top-level pages". I think the second level should also be implemented as an hierarchy. From the third level on, navigation would not be possible without an hierarchical organisation of the pages.

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--Dtbecker 22:25, 5 March 2009 (UTC)

Do you want to make a "shadow front page" using this as a starting point?--Joseph Slater 16:57, 6 March 2009 (UTC)
I thought about that. But I am not so sure. One way to go would be to to categorize all existing pages (and there are also subcategories). The categories could then be used to improve the navigation. Sometimes long pages should then be split into several pages. For example: Front Ends should be a category with subcategories like TexShop, ITeXMac etc.... What do you (editors) think?
A page can easily belong to more than one category. It is possible to have other sort orders than alphabetical. But the category pages are maybe not the greatest way to make use of categories for more structured navigation.... --Dtbecker 10:07, 8 March 2009 (UTC)
So this answers one of my questions above. Splitting the pages is already part of the Chief Editor's vision (but will take a while and break a lot of links).
I'm not sure how useful the <category> pages are likely to be for navigation either. On some wikis, page titles are almost self-explanatory but that's not true of a wiki like this. (And you can't have page titles like "Software which provides both editing and previewing functionality" because they are simply unwieldy and, in any case, still not terribly informative.) You really need page titles with abstracts.
Consider a page TeXShop. Once it is categorized Editors, Viewers & Frontends -> Frontends, where BBEdit is in Editors, Viewers & Frontends -> Editors, this help a lot to understand what one can learn on a page TeXShop. --Dtbecker 21:50, 8 March 2009 (UTC)
But does it help as much or more than the sort of structure I proposed for the main page? I'm worried that it doesn't help a real novice very much and I think we should be most concerned about those who know the least because they are the readers who are in the worst position to search or to navigate any structure. I think the Categories structure could be very useful to slightly more experienced/knowledgeable users.
I guess I'd suggest linking to the tree, say, from the main page but not necessarily including it there. I'll alter my test page in a minute, I think... --CFR 23:12, 8 March 2009 (UTC)
You say the <category> pages may not be the best way to use Categories to structure navigation. Do you have an alternative use for them in mind? --CFR 21:16, 8 March 2009 (UTC)
May that was a bit too negative. I think the category tree should be used on the main page as it allows to get an overview. The category pages are ok, but really need an explanatory text. For example, the category page "Editors, Viewers & Frontends" should have definitions of all three. The "editors" category a short explanation why some people choose an editor, not an FrontEnd, and that you need a previewer and synchronization. --Dtbecker 21:50, 8 March 2009 (UTC)
I'm worried that this is going to overcomplicate the structure. Which is to say: if this is a good way to do it, we should delete some of the current structure rather than just adding this. Templates will let us reuse the text, of course, but I think we should reduce repetition where possible. At the moment, this sort of information is already included in at least two different places. I'd propose two as a working maximum. That is, a template which contains contentful information - information about TeX rather than about the wiki - should appear no more than twice. For example, the description of the page on installing fonts currently appears twice - once on the Fonts page and once on the page itself - so it shouldn't also appear somewhere else. (But the description of the Fonts page itself could be turned into a template and used both there and on another page, perhaps.)
I think it would be more useful to create, say, an Editors/Viewers/Front Ends page along the lines of the Fonts page than to augment the category page itself. That is, I would tend to put the categories structure into the background by categorising current pages and letting the structure emerge to create a tree but not making the category pages themselves something that gets worked on directly. I don't see what working on them directly adds right now.
Or, rather, I would prefer to be able to say that the current Fonts page should play the role of <category>:Fonts and to get the tree without having to have actual <category> pages. I guess that's not how it works, though... I don't find the listing of pages on <Category>:Fonts as useful - or as user-friendly - as the listing on Fonts and I dislike the idea of having both...
I'd like to be able to have a site-map, if you like, organised according to Categories and looking like the tree of Categories but in which the <category> pages themselves were just regular wiki pages... --CFR 23:12, 8 March 2009 (UTC)
The good things about categories is that they are easy to maintain: As an editor, make sure that every page belongs to at least one category and that's it - The category tree allows navigation to alle pages of the wiki. But this is really something I don't want to decide. It seems that I am the type of a user that insists on a specific wish, causing a lot of work. As I have a bit of experiece with www-ContentManagementSystems, I know that not everybody can be made happy. Still, I think that having categories as a second way to navigate the wiki could be useful. If I can help, please let me know what actually IS helpful. --Dtbecker 10:34, 9 March 2009 (UTC)
Why if I type {{int:category}} do I get <category> but if I type {{int:categories}} I get Categories? (Or do both work in English?) --CFR 23:12, 8 March 2009 (UTC)
Is it possible to link to a <category> page without adding the current page to it? --CFR 23:18, 8 March 2009 (UTC)
I think so: This is a Category:Starting Points for Intermediate and Experienced Users, Initiates and High Priests.

Joseph's Dream

Please excuse the title - Joseph Slater's Dream just doesn't have the same Biblical ring to it...

Joseph Slater said:

Is is possible to modify the wiki to my original "dream" where each "package/software, etc" has its own pages, a "short top" and "the rest". Then instead of editing the short descriptions in referring pages we actually just refer and link.

If we plan to do this we should consider altering the way we edit and altering the editing guidelines to facilitate the switch. In particular, headings should not be links. In many cases, a different heading may be desirable on different pages and for the sake of consistency it might better to make this a general rule.

We would want, eventually, to remove all headings from templates. Otherwise, the template must always be used at the same level in a page. This is another reason against the use of links in headings.

We want, generally, to separate the structure of all pages from the content. Page elements should be one or the other but not both. (This isn't a good way of saying what I mean but I can't think of a clearer one at this moment.)

I would like to suggest the use of nested templates but I'm not sure how to make this work because anything bar bottom-level templates would need to contain structure... Too bad there's no way to say "the next sub-level" as opposed to "sub-level 4" or "sub-level 3"...

Relatedly, but not only relatedly, I don't think templates should be in categories if we use categories. But I don't consider myself to be getting on very well with categories at the moment, so I am likely an especially poor judge. (And, yes, I know 'relatedly' isn't a word but this is a talk page...)

--CFR 01:49, 10 March 2009 (UTC)

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