Nicolas R.

Update on the new community website

I’m writing this article because, judging the reactions we’ve had since the release of the new community website, I get the feeling we need to give you some insights on what is happening.

Instead of explaining what we have at the moment, and why it’s not working so well, I’ll first thank those of you who took some time to share bugs and feedbacks with us, and explain what is our goal in the end with this revamp.

First of all, the revamp of the site is done in two parts: the first one that was released for PepperTechFes on sept 20th, and a second and final release which should take place before the end of this year. Meanwhile, we’re doing continuous improvements on bugs and features.

new aldebaran community website

There are two main features that are core to this new website: the forum and the projects. Let discuss them one by one:

  • the forum:

There are two types of use cases for the forum: threads where the goal is to start a conversation, and threads where the goal is to get an answer to a question.

For the first case, nothing new, you can use the forum to discuss everything you want as you always did.

For the second case, a new feature will allow the original poster to highlight the most useful answer and Aldebaran to highlight the same or another one (there’s sometime a difference I guess between the official answer and a temporary solution… ;P). This should make it easier for people with the same question to find an answer, without having a full thread to go through. For the rest, as we are aware that simple questions can lead to great exchanges, we’ll make sure that you can still have access to the whole conversation in chronological order.

Of course, we’ll soon also have the option to be notified of new threads by email (category by category like vision or motion for example) and to be notified of new answers on threads you follow. We’ll also try to make it possible to answer on the forum just by answering the notification email.

  • the projects:

Here again, there are two kinds of projects: projects about code and development, and projects that we could also call “groups”, where the goal is to gather people on something that is not necessarily code-related (user-groups for example).

For the first kind of project, we’ll provide a better integration of Github. That feature has been requested by a lot of users who painfully had to support two places instead of one for their projects. Of course, in case you don’t want to use Github, we’ll allow you to upload your files (I know, this feature is not available yet)

For the “groups”, project administrators will be able to create tasks that the members of the project will be able to choose and complete. For those not relying on any external tool, that should allow them to perform the minimum in terms of organization within the group. If we think about a group to manage an event, the administrators can create a list of tasks to perform, and share them with their community (finding a venue, creating a website, managing social networks, finding contacts for catering, etc.). You’ll then be able to see the tasks that have already been performed, those on their way, and those pending.

In both cases, you’ll be able to allow users to use comments. If so, you’ll have some sort of mini-forum to discuss and debate inside of the project.

As a consequence of all of this, since a lot of content will be personalized (topics and projects you follow), the home-page once log in will evolve to a dashboard, offering you dedicated streams, gathering only the topics you’re interested in, classified by categories such as forum, project, and so on.

Apart from these features, the resources section will host links to the documentation, to the FAQ, to the software and to the tutorials. The content should be revamped too at some point, but this won’t be done before the end of the year.

Please, note that even if the website is publicly readable, and just needs you to create an account in order to be writable, some privileges (like downloading our SDKs or the system image) are only available to people pairing a robot to their account, as it was the case before.

Users’ profile will be enhanced, allowing you to share a bit more than just your name: bio, social media accounts, location, etc. This also means that, yes, you’ll get the map back, with all NAO owners displayed (as long as they fill in their location information), so you can get in touch with people close to where you live.

The design will also change. We heard your calls in order to have more information on the screen. We heard that there was too much space left. We’re working on that.

There’s already a quick tour function, in order to help you understand what you can do on the site. We’ll rewrite it at the end to have something more detailed.

Now, there’s one last point to talk about: what about the content of the old community website?

  • We are not going to automatically import the projects. The general feeling is that some of the projects shouldn’t be on the new website. For a simple reason: because they are dead. They were nice projects at the beginning, but now no one really use them now, they’re outdated, no longer in the mood of what could be done with NAO or they were just created to get rid of the app creation constraint for the members of the DevProg. Anyway, we’ll let natural selection work. Any project you want to import is welcome.
  • Regarding the forums, my own opinion was to let them on the old website but in read only. And that was the plan at the beginning. But we’ve been listening to you, and the subject is now back on the table. I can’t tell you which decision will be taken.

To finish, we’ll be happy to answer your questions. Please, just remember that it won’t be possible to make everybody 100% happy. There will always be arguments to discuss the layout, the features, etc. For different reasons, we understand that the version in which it is at the moment is not what you would have expected, but we’re pretty confident is the fact that we’re working on a tool that should be really better than what you previously had.

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