Thursday, July 3, 2008

Where's the Modeling Package?

I'm a little disappointed now that Ganymede is finally out. Of course I'm generally in a funk whenever I actually reach whatever goal I've ever tried to achieve.

It helps to remind me that goals are nice for setting direction but are generally disappointing when you get there; it's best to enjoy the journey itself as much as possible because it lasts a lot longer than does the goal. But I digress, and so quickly too. Speaking of which, our neighbor had a very nice Canada Day party complete with spectacular fireworks.

Getting back to my disappointment, have a look at the Eclipse home page with its lovely moon shot that includes a "you can't miss it" link to the Ganymede downloads. It's just so clickable and soon you'll be at the Gaymede download page itself. But where the heck is the modeling package? And since I don't see it there, how do I find it? The navigation bar has a Download Packages link, but isn't that where I am already? As an exercise to the reader, see if you can figure out how to find it...

Well, if you hunt long enough, perhaps you'll find the "More Packages..." link in the far right hand column; it's not listed under the names of the other packages in the left column where you might find it more easily. This link takes you to the annex where the second class packages live; the ones not popular enough for the main download page with its precious real estate that's carefully tailored based on the "less is more" principle. You have no idea how much I dislike the "do more with less" principle; I'm sure many readers will understand exactly what I mean, but I digress yet again.

If we really wanted to do more with less on the main download page, isn't it a little odd that the page has a banner with a link that navigates back to the same page itself? Doing more with less seems to argue that a circular link along with a big banner are actually doing less with more.

Now have a close look at the 10 most popular projects on the right. Given EMF and MDT on the list, it's a little odd that the modeling package is so unpopular. And speaking of popularity, given that accurate download statistics can't be computed, 239389, what exactly does determine popularity? It seems to me that making something hard to find might well impact its popularity.

It's been argued that adding more packages would move the member distros farther down the page and make them less reachable. But if that's such a big concern, perhaps we should put the member distros at the top, and hey, we might even add a link for it in the navigation bar. After all, member revenue drives the foundation's budget and having your distro be prominently displayed helps derive value from Eclipse membership fees. Or perhaps the distros could be put side by side with the packages to make better use of the precious real estate. In any case, on a 1050 line monitor, the distros aren't visible anyway, so it seems like a weak argument at best.

Note that Borland, Itemis, and Obeo are strategic developers heavily invested in modeling so I expect some board discussions on this topic of membership value on the main download page. I think the random appearance of distros along with their own separate overflow page is also kind of bogus.

It all makes me wonder if it wouldn't be better to have an expansion swizzle that lists additional packages/distros on the same page rather than having to navigate to a different page? Or even just to make the overflow link be more noticeable? Of course I'm far from being an expert on marketing or proper web page design, but I'm disappointed that the main download page is picking favorites. No matter how you look at it, it's certainly clear that the current approach doesn't market Modeling well at all, and that fundamentally disappoints me.


Eric Rizzo said...

Are you watching ?

Ed Merks said...

Eric, yes I am and that discussion didn't make me any happier either.

Scott Lewis said...

Hi Ed.

FWIW, I think your experience with lack of marketing for EMF is shared among several projects/project leads, including my own. For example, just try to join an existing package...or create a new one now that that's at least technically possible...without corporate support or marketing.

varioustoxins said...

For what its worth I totally agree, So here is a thought about the current situation

It seems the biggest problem is that the 'More packages...' link is small and not visually aligned with the other download packages and so gets lost. I have published a mockup of a 'quick fix' on my blog for what its worth.

There are other things that could be said about the general look of the page but I guess that's for another time.


Ed Merks said...

I think that's a great suggestion. I've opened 239601 with a link to your blog. Thanks!