Subject Website
Hi Mark,
I changed the subject to "website" because that's the part I'd like
to reply to.

> I must admit that I do not believe our web site is just for
> developers but that is is our public face to the world, what we
> want the world to know about us. Developers tend to know the
> direct links. Currently though I think it works quite well (and
> I reaslise yuo diagree :-). The development news traffic tends
> to be in other newslists.

I think prior to release of Firebird 1.0 there's not really a way to
know if it works. I don't expect to get much feedback from visitors
to the site. Most of them will look at it and either they like it and
give it a try, or they'll just leave. So, after release of the
product I can look how it's received in public and that'll tell me
whether it works or not. Of course much will depend on the technical
quality of the product. But the presentation on the web can
contribute something as well.

Indeed, I don't think the current site gives a good presentation of
the community and its product.

> Now I think there are plenty of positive things that can come out
> of this discussion and a new web site design does seem to be one
> of those and I think that follows on nicely from the logo.
> I think the starting place is as Damian is suggesting to start
> designing the proposed new pages. Im guessing that you want to
> contribute to the designer in some fashion, and your help Im sure
> (along with Pavels and others) would I belive be appreciated.
> After this is done then the next step is to determine if "Firebird"
> wants to use them. I suspect that after a design session such as
> you have facilitated with the logo, will resul tin something that
> is pleasing to most people and that it will be an easy decision to
> make.

Yes, that's basically how we can proceed. But creating a website
isn't just page design. Before the webmaster can start working on the
pages, the basic structures and characteristics of the site must be
determined. These reflect the identity of Firebird and depend on what
you want Firebird to be. They also depend on the role of the site
within the community.

I have expressed my opinion on this in earlier messages and will try
to just shortly recapitulate and point out how I believe these things
should influence the layout of the website.

1. Who is Firebird?

a) I see Firebird as the independent open source descendant of
InterBase. Firebird is not just a development department of Borland,
it has its own identity. It is therefore important to use the name
Firebird for products of the community only, just like InterBase is
used for products of Borland only. Firebird is the brand of the
community. It can become its most valuable asset if used properly,
but will get lost (the distinctive value disappearing) if it's used
for products from Borland as well.

Meaning for website:
The name InterBase will inevitably also appear on the website, since
the two products (InterBase and Firebird) are "interoperable" and
certain things to be used with Firebird come actually from Borland or
others. Therefore there is a potential risk that people start mixing
up names, e.g. using Firebird for anything made available on the
Firebird website. This must carefully be avoided and it is one
important role of this website, to be "educative" and show the word
that there is a _clear_ distinction between Firebird and Borland.

That's why I think it would be useful to group things in those
categories. That might look like this:

Firebird User Documentation

Borland User Documentation
InterBase User Manual
InterBase getting started guide

I don't actually know what doc. and other things exist. But this
would be a way of presentation, which makes clear that InterBase is
from Borland and not from Firebird.

I would use such a structure even if there is not a single item of
Firebird documentation. The rubric would simply be empty, that's not
a problem I think.

b) I further see Firebird as a community which cares about all the
aspects of its product (downloads, user documentation,
tools/connectivity components, support), even if part of this can be
done in cooperation with partners (IBPhoenix). For the brand Firebird
a coherent presentation of the community, especially on its official
website, is a big plus.

Meaning for website:
It simply means that the site should contain something about all
these topics. I suggest to have at least one page for each of these
topics on the site, where the basic information is
provided, and from there links to other websites (e.g. IBPhoenix)
for "further information" where apropriate.

For the downloads, I'd avoid to link to the SourceForge download
page. SourceForge is developers area and the ordinary visitor of the site should never have to go there to get what he
wants. So I think the site should have its own download area (with a
link to IBPhoenix for the CDs). Alternatively a link to an ordinary
FTP archive would do as well. I'd just avoid to confront the visitor
with the SourceForge website.

The support page will probably not contain a lot, but again, it
should exist. It will probably show a link to the ib-support group
and for the rest can be used for IBPhoenix publicity, for example.

2. What's the role of the Firebird website?

a) The site will be the official place, where the community makes
informations available to the rest of the world.

Meaning for website:
Since it's the official site, it should be limited to official
communications, all content being provided by Firebird. There are
other, non-official sites like where public discussion
can take place and it's preferrable to keep the official site
a "clean" place.

An official site should also provide some sort of contact
information, at least an email address.

b) The site is for communication with "the rest of the world" and the
persons who will mainly visit it are users of the product, not

Meaning for website:
The "Development" section of the site - if such section exists -
shoud in my opinion be limited to a few basic informations about "how
to contribute" and not really something of interest to those who are
already members.

This raises the question what shall happen with the current PHPNuke
Firebird site. If, as you (Mark) say, development news traffic is
rather in other lists, I think the new site fully
replaces the current one.

The above points give some basic characteristics of the website as I
would recommend it. It actually corresponds pretty much to what you
will find when you look at the sites of some other OSS projects. I
insist on the brand usage issue, which is particularly important for
Firebird due to its close relationship with InterBase.

These points should in my opinion be agreed on so that the webmaster
has an idea what type of site is desired.

Everything just my opinion, comments are welcome...