2008-04-02

proposed changes to Mozdev roadmap

I'm on the board of the Mozdev organization, and we're in the process of reviewing our roadmap for development.

We're a small organization with limited resources, so we can't do everything that would be useful, and it makes sense to leverage the tooling taking place elsewhere in the Mozilla community.

At the same time, I want Mozdev to blaze a trail on the usability and functionality of key services like website development/deployment tools and discussion forums.  And it should be super-easy to set up and manage a project on Mozdev.

So I am proposing that we revise the roadmap to make the following three items the top priorities for the organization:
  1. Add one additional revision control system, and deprecate CVS.

    The two systems in the running are Subversion and Mercurial, and they each have their advantages.  Subversion's chief advantages are its similarity to CVS and familiarity to some existing project owners, while Mercurial's are its modern design (including support for distributed development) and its momentum in the Mozilla community.

    Overall, I think we're better off adding Mercurial, which has the full weight of Mozilla tooling efforts behind it and which is on track to become the most popular system in the Mozilla community (until the next one comes along, anyway).

    So I think we should add Mercurial to the site.  But this would not preclude adding Subversion as well at some point if resources became available to deploy and maintain it.

  2. Implement a new website hosting service with simple WYSIWYG wiki publishing and scp/sftp/ftps file upload.

    Here we're tackling two constituencies at once: those who just want a simple hosting option where it is easy to create and edit pages, and those who want complete control over the files that make up their site.

    The file upload option also addresses the needs of users who generally want the simple approach but occasionally need to upload a file or two (f.e. an image to display on a page in the wiki or a presentation in PDF format).

  3. Automate project creation and management so that project creation requests can be addressed in minutes or hours and users can self-manage their projects.

    This item combines the automate project creation process and centralized account management system items from the second and third priority groups, respectively, on the existing roadmap.

    I think we should continue to require approval of new project requests from unknown people but no longer require approval of those from known, trusted people like existing project owners, so that trusted people can have a new project up and running in seconds.
There are certainly many other changes that would be beneficial, like integrating forums, feeds, mailing lists, and newsgroups, so users can pick their preferred delivery format and get the same communications as on every other channel.

But these three changes would make a big difference in the usability and functionality of the site, and I think we should make them our top priorities.

Thoughts?

2 comments:

stevel said...

I'd definitely love to see all 3 of those implemented.

One thing that strikes me is that mozdev offers a ton of features, almost chaotically so. Compare Google Code vs. mozdev. Google Code is admittedly sparse, but it's very minimalistic and easy to use. It's *obvious*. mozdev takes a little more time, partly because I think it offers too much.

How about scaling back down the interface so its clean and simplified for the user/developer?

Myk said...

stevel: that's a very good point. Mozdev is currently designed for power users, but even power users (like me) don't want complexity for basic tasks; I'd love to see a clean, simple interface that makes the basic tasks easy (while still leaving the complex tasks possible).