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: Domino Designer
: domino, designer, tutorials, education, lotusscript, java, javascript
: Samuel Allen488 29 Nov 2007
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This is applicable to the Notes and Administrator clients too, but I only get to pick one IdeaSpace.  :(
 
As a 'relatively' new entrant to Notes design and administration (I've only been doing it for a few years off and on), I'm incredibly frustrated by the poor learning materials for new developers.  Coming from the Linux/OpenSource community I am consistently drawn to PHP/AJAX/MySQL solutions because there is far more competent learning materials all over the web, available on Amazon.com, and on the bookshelves at Borders, etc.
 
While the blogosphere is rich with ND grey-beards who know the system inside and out, the knowledge is dispersed and touching one nugget or another, with little big-picture vision tying it all together.  Redbooks CAN be useful, but are again, addressing only one piece of the puzzle, and are often terse, turgid tomes which are dizzyingly complex in explanation, and often give code examples which aren't particularly useful enough that developers (speaking for myself, of course) would care to implement or build off of them. 
 
The help files are useful as a reference, but don't provide much assistance, or a followable narrative about the platform.  It's cross-referencibility combined with it's lack of bookmarkability or tabbed interface make it impossible to define a recommended sequence of learning to maximize understanding and productivity.  Barring about three books, the content in the off-the-shelfer's are ~10 years old, often repeat themselves, and limit themselves to the same scope of development examples.  How about a chapter on "how do I develop W3C valid xHTML & CSS - based Domino applications?"  Or, "how do I build apps where activity in one frame update the contents of another using only NATIVE code (ie no composite apps frameworks)?"  I know there is an article here and there that touch on these, but there's no way to trace the necessary skills back down the chain to see what I need to know how to do in order to make sense of the tutorial I want to implement.
 
As a solution, I think it would be really cool to have an IBM sponsored (or if not, so be it) educational wiki where dynamic educational resources can be published, commented on, edited (by users with the appropriate privliges), and cross-referenced.  Ideally, it would be an NSF which could be viewed on the web, as a locally replicateable client app, or shoved in the new sidebar.  Not only would it be a great place to have a constantly evolving Notes/Domino educational system, but it would be a place for ND gurus to share their knowledge which can bring traffic back to their site, allow people to note where there are implementation bugs, discrepencies, or misconceptions, and it also can grow the developer base.
 
Tutorials could be indexed in such a way that there would be an "official" learning order, comments, alterations, and offshoots could be marked as supplementary, and periodically, the "official" narrative could be released as a digest, or a printable book, or some such thing.
 
I also think it'd be cool to train content creators using the "Head First" style of authoring.  Those books have allowed me to start using all kinds of technologies within a week or two because of how simple it is to absorb the material.



1) Harkpabst Meliantrop3248 (30 Nov 2007)
Don't forget that IBM sells their own training and associated materials. There is an "official" learning order (don't want to comment on the quality here), but they want you to spend $$$.
Also, there already is an idea for a pattern wiki.
{ Link }
2) Slawek Rogulski8874 (30 Nov 2007)
@1. Strictly speaking that is no reason not to create "open source" documentation.
3) Harkpabst Meliantrop3248 (30 Nov 2007)
@2. I didn't say it would be. Otherwise I wouldn't have mentioned the proposed pattern wiki. It just drastically reduces the chances of IBM contributing to it.
Interestingly, current discussions seem to indicate, that IBM might be moving the whole RedBook area to a wiki based platform. Any other platform would have to compete with that (not to say, that it was impossible).
4) Axel Janssen5023 (30 Nov 2007)
I think we should join forces: Please set a link to my earlier proposal, which is allready linked by Fab eh Harkpabst.
5) Ben Langhinrichs7009 (30 Nov 2007)
Axel - For what it is worth, I didn't promote your "pattern wiki" and did promote this because your proposal was fairly incomprehensible to me due to the use of jargon. I have been a developer for 25+ years, and while I have heard of patterns and anti-patterns, they don't mean much to me, whereas this Idea was expressed in terms that are far more clear. Additionally, the idea of a strongly moderated wiki is generally unsuccessful, in my experience, because if the experts who could moderate it have that much time, they can write it themselves, but if they don't, the moderation becomes an obstacle. Finally, a wiki that is too general is unlikely to succeed with the size of active community we have, whereas the educational wiki seems a bit more focused and therefore useful. I'll post a version of this comment on your post as well, since I couldn't figure out where to put it. - Ben
6) Axel Janssen5023 (30 Nov 2007)
One of the proposals should be deleted. Doesn't matter which. A wiki is more community driven and so the initial concepts might not be too important.
Ben, as a consultant/hired coder jargon works fine for me, as you really get into contracts easier. At least here in Germany. For me personally pattern/anti-pattern has some meaningfull reference to the real world. Other people may see that different.
7) Samuel Allen488 (03 Dec 2007)
@1 I think you are making my point for me. Microsoft throws development tools and incentives in front of it's base ALL THE TIME. That they also hamstring them at every major release is irrelevant. They're building a large dev pool, and as a result more software gets built for Microsoft platforms which gives them market credibility and momentum.

Sometimes you can't make money on every component of your portfolio. Sometimes certain products have no saleable value other than that they generate excitement and creativity, and thus momentum for the ACTUAL product that invariably has BETTER POTENTIAL to make you money. There's far more money to be made in expanding one's market penetration (albeit indirectly) and attractiveness to developers than in selling educational tools to a niche development pool. I'm just continually surprised that IBM hasn't done the math on that. Or who knows, maybe they have and I'm wrong, it just seem like a glaringly obvious investment that would pay serious dividends. If they give the educational resources away and democratize them, the development community will likely become more vibrant and more attractive to non-Domino developers who wouldn't otherwise have dipped their toes in the water.

@2 While I use mostly open-source software and and am a devotee, I am concerned that there needs to be an 'officially recommended' (and hopefully evolving) methodology for learning. Whether the official authority who decides ends up being a Board of Trustees for an open-source non-profit foundation assembled for the project, or IBM, or a team of OpenNTF cooks, doesn't really matter to me.

Though an open-source project would be awesome, I think such a learning model could be a tremendous cash saver and dev pool generator for IBM, and if they want to put resources into the project and have it be 'their' project, I'm not against that either so long as no political stranglehold is held over the content of or comments about published materials.

@6 Why merge or sudden death one of our ideas? This is a place where people vote on ideas... Let people vote. The ideas can be refined as we talk about them, can't they? Perhaps these ideas might someday become complementary tools, but tackle different aspects of learning, or the community might one day merge them in a natural process based on what we'd all like to see happen.

I'd prefer to see what people's perspectives are before we do something potentially rash.










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