Problems with CI's tutorials, both the all-text version and the sexy video one

My two cents on this topic...

One problem with Codeigniter is the attraction of multiple user audiences which appears to be the root of the overall problem.

More advanced developers are using it as a glue-like framework to assemble a mix of their own preferred libraries with the framework to create a custom environment for personnel development.

Even more advanced users are hacking the framework code to create private forks of their own.

There appear to be a large number of users who are migrating from procedural coding to coding based on a framework. Many of these users could be considered transients to an extent because they are testing many frameworks in an effort to find a solution they can easily learn or one that meets their needs.

There is also a large audience of template designers in the crowd who appear to be looking for solutions allowing sophisticated client-side code (like Dojo or EXT) to be intermixed with server side code.

Still others are attempting to learn PHP and OOP (object-oriented programming) from scratch using Codeigniter with little or no knowledge of procedural programming.

The forums are really not organized well enough to handle such a diverse accumulation of user audiences.

It would probably make a lot of sense to re-implement the user guide as an actual Codeigniter application, allowing examples to be launched from within the user guide. Aside from enriching the user experience, the user guide application could physically provide an example of a full-blown application.

It is possible to run videos from such an application. It's probably possible to create shorter videos and accompanying narative presented incrementally throughout the user guide as a means of creating a better user learning environment.

EDIT: As a general rule in a technical support environment, frequently asked questions are usually handled using a FAQ or with learning materials specifically designed to eliminate frequently asked questions. On something like the wiki, this could be handled using cross references to other content. For example, a wiki article could present a new library and something like a How To button or link could be provided to send the user to another page where more detailed instructions and examples are provided to solve their needs.

When you are working with multiple user audiences, you need to step back and look at the big picture.

To esra's two pounds... uh, I mean, two cents:

Yours is certainly a meta-level look at CI! It reminds me of the theory of the firm as a non-homogenous collection (or at least a not-necessarily-entirely-homogenous collection) of groups, each vying for power, or influence, to one degree or another, over the firm/organization. Applied to CI, this does not necessarily mean that the various user groups you mention in the above deliberately ("ideologically") attempt to steer the CI forum community in their respective directions, while it may mean that the very fact that a user group "fills up the airspace" on the forums with its particular branch of programming/coding causes other user groups to shy away from participating. This is purely hypothetical musing on my part, I don't know enough about the CI forum community to make any kind of intelligent statement, one way or the other.

In principle, there is no reason why even opposing user groups should not be able to share the forums. I guess it would all depend on how the forums are structured. Maybe it would make sense to divide the forums up into user groups, such that those who are interested in tangent x need not wade through the topics of tangents y & z, looking for topics belonging to tangent x. It would certainly be a good idea to separate "kindergarteners" (novices) from the other groups and to methodically structure the way in which the basics are presented there, so that beginners begin at the "head" and progress towards the "tail", accumulating knowledge and experience along the way. After that, i.e., once one graduates to a more advanced level, one may join any and every sub-forum that reflects one's continued interests.

I also think that it would be a splendid idea to produce a complete, ready-to-insert CI application, especially for beginners (I would say that, wouldn't I?!), such as a form validation application, with examples of how such an application can be modified to suit the most conventional user needs, and such that the beginner can easily extrapolate from the examples given to create a form validation procedure which suits his or her particular needs.

Thanks for your comment, in any case, and I hope that this matter doesn't just remain in the realm of talk, but that it results in concrete actions to improve things here at CI (not to imply that the discussion phase is herewith over and that it is now time for action – nor, for that matter, that things are all that bad here at CI!).


[quote author="buffalobill" date="1188878468"]Thanks for your comment, in any case, and I hope that this matter doesn't just remain in the realm of talk, but that it results in concrete actions to improve things here at CI (not to imply that the discussion phase is herewith over and that it is now time for action – nor, for that matter, that things are all that bad here at CI!).[/quote]

The overall problem could probably be narrowed down to time constraints. The volunteers from EllisLabs who do help here probably do so when their technical support workload for EllisLabs' ExpressionEngine product subsides (reaches low peaks). I believe that Derek Allard spends a lot of his personal time here. The same folks also maintain the ExpressionEngine and Codeigniter site infrastructure. This effort also reduces their free time to help out here.

Anything missing in the form of technical support could probably be handled using a third-party support site to augment everything here. I offered to sponsor such a site on the Kohana forums some time ago by donating a major area on my server, but there seemed to be little interest. Something like this requires community involvement to help manage the site. Again, this could be narrowed down to personal time constraints or a lack of interest on the part of the community. I'm sure that many users would want to see something along these lines occur to fill in any voids here, but there appears to be an unwillingness in volunteering time to make it happen.

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