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Thoughts on Amaya

From: Michael Friedman <michael.friedman@parellax.com>
Date: Thu, 17 Dec 2009 15:16:56 +0800
To: <www-amaya@w3.org>
Message-ID: <4b29dad3.9713f30a.4a0a.79c3@mx.google.com>
I have been trialing the Amaya template features for a month now and I have some thoughts I would like to share with the community:


1.       The template functionality is frankly awesome.  The only comparable product out there that I can find is Altova StyleVision and Altova Authentic

a.       The Altova products are definitely more powerful, but also much harder to work with

2.       Template functionality is a critical requirement for people who are developing standardized documents directly in HTML.

a.       I am using it now to develop software documentation.

b.      The templates allow me to define a standardized look and feel and then farm out the authoring process to multiple people without worrying that they will all do things their way instead of the standard way.

3.       Unfortunately, Amaya still has a long way to go.

a.       Frequent crashes

b.      Significant bugs that impact users during work (ie. the template path is not always saved when you create a new document from a template, which makes the file uneditable unless you hand edit the source to add back the path.)

c.       Significant bugs in the template implementation (ie. I found several times that I was only able to get a USE directive to work reliably by adding a null component (with no content) into its types)

d.      Significant important functionality is missing

                                                               i.      The template path should allow relative paths

                                                             ii.      There needs to be some kind of macro language to automatically add content based on other content

                                                            iii.      There needs to be a way to add string components into the middle of text.  I should be able to create sets of standard strings and then use them within any string element.

                                                           iv.      You need to be able to cut and paste USE elements, especially within a “repeat”.  So if I create one element in a “repeat” I should be able to copy and paste it.

                                                             v.      Documents should be more robust with respect to template changes.  For example, why does a “use” element in a document include the “types” attribute?  It should just include the “label” and any content.  The information that controls its behavior should come from the template file so its behavior should change if I change the template file.

                                                           vi.      Documentation of the Templates module is not complete enough – I had to figure out many things by trial and error.

e.      There has not been a lot of thought given to supporting the community.  Why not develop a user contributed library of templates and libraries?  I searched on Google for templates to use as examples and found almost nothing besides the three on the Amaya site.

4.       Finally, there does not seem to have been any effort to publicize Amaya, increase the size of the community, and get it used with other open source projects.  Obvious possibilities include:

a.       Any content management system can use Amaya – define page types with templates and then author them within Amaya.

b.      What about Google Sites?  Can something be done there?  Imagine being able to define a page template in Google Sites and then creating pages based on the template in Amaya?

c.       Documentation projects for other systems, especially collaborative documentation projects.


I think Amaya has huge potential if it can take the next step to improve reliability, add functionality, and develop its community.




Michael Friedman
Parellax Ltd.
 <mailto:michael.friedman@Parellax.com> michael.friedman@Parellax.com
Skype: Mike.Friedman
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Received on Thursday, 17 December 2009 07:17:10 UTC

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