Since we didn't get rid of manual install tools, theres no trade off involved here, and so why not have it if people want to work on it? Personally I find it quite useful.
So we have it because it's useful to us, not to users?
Unless your girlfriend is an aspiring open source developer, I think this is her loss, but of no concern to us. If people aren't interested in running (let alone developing) Rockbox, I see no reason to care that they dislike a technical front page. In fact, I think a dislike of a technical front page and disinterest in rockbox are likely correlated to a high degree.
Right. Get yourself a cup of tea / coffee / beer and make sure you've visted the bathroom. I've been thinking about this post all afternoon, and conducting some impromptu research.
Before I get going - I want to apologise to any of the badge holders if you feel like any of my contributions to this thread have been some sort of attack on you. It has not been my intention at all. Pixelma particularly - if you still feel by the end of the thread that I've slighted you in some way I give you full permission to slap me when you meet me at DevCon
I guess the crux of my arguments here rest on one decision. Is the front page of Rockbox, once the redesign has been completed, aimed at new users, or new developers? I don't accept that it can be aimed at both.
This afternoon I took the opportunity of conducting a straw poll of around 500 people who'd (mostly) never heard of Rockbox before. I gave them the URLs of both the old and new home page, and asked for their opinions. The audience here was a mix of true geeks, and what I would call "users". Some of those polled I have no doubt *could* develop for Rockbox in the future should they so desire - some of them could not. To a man they all a) preferred the new layout (which is somewhat understandable on it's own given that it has a more professional feel). b) They all said they felt the developer-centric features of the page didn't belong there. The ones who had the smarts to become new developers felt that were they going to become interested in the project, they'd be more than capable of finding the subversion updates by some other means. Be it through another web page, the mailing list, or actually checking the repository out themselves. Unfortunately I can't paste the log of this conversation into this thread verbatim - I'm pretty certain that despite it's non-business related content that it still legally "belongs" to the organisation upon whose infrastructure it took place.
Individual comments that I recall from it though were :
"Were I to come across this site on my own, the new site would give me the confidence to install this on my precious media player. If i were to be confronted with the developer-centric original page, I would feel the product were obviously not polished enough to risk playing with".
"As a user I'm really not interested in the current state of the development for the product. I'm interested in what features it can bring to me personally, and that's about it".
Moving on from this straw pole (which I admit is merely anecdotal, and you can choose to ignore it or not.) I also had the following thoughts. Some of the people in this thread arguing strongly for the inclusion of the svn commit table right on the front page strike me as the sort of IT professional who regard their users as annoyances. I used to be one of those people - but eventually I realised that I'm supposed to be providing those people with a service. Since I've come to that realisation I've had a much better working relationship with users in my career. Now, you can argue of course that this is a different situation to that of open source development. Here at the Rockbox project, where we're all volunteers we have the luxury of choosing whether we're in it for ourselves, or for our users. No-one is paying us, so we're free to do what we choose right? So what's the answer to that question ?
Now, it also occurred to me that users outnumber developers in the world. I would be very surprised if anyone could come up with a convincing argument to counter that statement. If you have one - please by all means let me hear it. My theory is that the more attractive we can make our home page to "users" and not developers, then the large audience we reach. I mentioned earlier that the poll I conducted whilst at work included an audience that for the most part had never heard of Rockbox. Now they have. Now as much as I wear a "coders" badge on the forums, my actual technical contribution to Rockbox has been minimal over the years, so I must really count myself as a "user" and not a "developer". I love Rockbox dearly, and want people to hear about it. I've told people. Some of them are clever enough and talented enough to become developers. Some of them might do - some of them might not. Is it not a grand idea to repeat this exercise through our website? Let more users find it. Let them not be scared. Let them tell their friends, who might turn out to be developers. Hoping that developers find it on their own seems to be a bad idea to me. Some *will* find it on their own - but I submit that a user centric page is less likely to discourage them than a developer centric one is to discourage end users.
Now the key part of why I don't want any of our regulars to feel like this is an attack on them is this :
I think Rockbox is fantastic. I think that all the hard work that all of you guys and girls is awesome. It's polished, and it's professional - and it's READY for end users to play with without having to have a techy to hold their hands. You people are the heart and soul of Rockbox the product, and Rockbox the organisation and Rockbox the community.
I think keeping our page developer focused is belittling the hard work you all do every day. You all deserve more than that.
Now. I'm sure you all have something to say to all that. I shall await your input with great interest.