Awesome Projects

This is part three, in my ongoing series on the Awesome window manager. For an introduction to what Awesome is, read part one, and for some of my complaints/gripes about Awesome. This post is more a collection of "things that should be done about awesome."

In a lot of ways this post brings up a number of points that aren't necessarily specific to Awesome, but rather provide a good (start) to and an idea of what people who aren't programers can contribute to open source projects.

User Guides/Documentation Most open source projects need help

writing documentation, so anyone whose good at understanding technical concepts (or figuring them out, which is, I think a good chunk of my remaining readership,) can probably write pretty good documentation. Perhaps most difficult in open source projects is editing old documentation to reflect changes and revisions/expansion. If you're interested in doing this, you can basically take your pick of any open source project and go to town. Everyone needs help with documentation just about, and to publish a GNU GFDL/BSD-Style manual isn't the kind of thing you need to get approval for.

The truth is that programs like Awesome don't need formal documentation. The man pages are pretty complete with all the formal functions/features pretty well documented. The problem is that the initial learning curve is pretty tough, and the man pages can be pretty unsympathetic. The truth of the matter is that a lot of times what isn't needed as much as formal documentation, but rather shorter more accessible documents that explain key features and help new users get acclimated to the system. Let's call them "user guides," and Awesome needs them.

More Configuration Files Configuration files in unix/linux programs

are almost always these really simple, straightforward lists of various settings and key-bindings. In awesome, you have to describe and create the interface in the configuration file, so configuration is non-trivial. While I think there are various merits to this kind of setup, like it allows more flexibility and the user base is pretty high level so super-usability isn't a big concern, the down side is that it's hard to know where to start.

To this end, I think it would be really great if there were (even more) different and well commented example configuration files so that interested users could "try out" a number of different settings, and have a basis for starting to modify their own config files. I proposed in a previous entry that I thought a more modular/segmented approach to the config file might be good to separate widgets, key bindings, and hooks/etc. into separate files, and while this might be a good idea, I think having examples around would make this easier.

Special Use Case Reports Aside from the initial learning curve, I'd

say the biggest problem with Awesome is the name. Odd complaint you say? Well it makes it really hard for google to index information about Awesome. So it's hard for users like you and me to find blog posts about how to do cool things with awesome. Outside of the Awesome Wiki, its hard to figure out what cool things folks are doing with Awesome, or even how most awesome users are overcoming every-day-use challenges.

I'm calling these sorts of things "special use case reports," but it's really just blogging. I'd love to hear and be able to collect discussions and blog posts from other Awesome users about what they're doing with the software. I think the collection of this knowledge would be a great resource.


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