You had opinions on Directory

In Finland, we default to “no feedback is good feedback” – You usually don’t get positive feedback, since everyone assumes everything works great, that perfection is status quo. When we had a questionnaire about Directory, imagine my surprise when many of you actually took the time to take the questionnaire, just to say how much you liked Directory. There might be better ways to start off days, but I can’t come up with one off the top of my head.

Before going into analyzing the feedback, I want to point out some interesting things that popped right out of the survey, as we also asked for some general statistics on how and where you use Vaadin.

Here’s the first surprise. We’ve always assumed that Eclipse is the most popular IDE, and it’s nice to see data to support your assumptions. But that wasn’t the surprise. The surprise was with the second most popular IDE. We thought it being NetBeans, mostly because it’s free. But IntelliJ IDEA seems to have twice the following of NetBeans among Directory users. It’s also a third of Eclipse’s popularity, which is pretty significant. This seems to indicate that we need to make sure that IDEA continues to be well supported.

Another interesting piece statistics that wasn’t as much of a surprise as a confirmation of our vision: About 80% of people use some kind of dependency management, and 70% use the means Directory (and of course Vaadin) has explicit support for. This sounds like it might be a good idea to swap the emphasis on Directory download methods: Make Maven/Ivy downloads the default retrieval means. Nevertheless, 22% is enough of a user base to justify the continuation of the file download feature.

Musing on the future

As nice as this was, we were actually hunting for areas for improvement in our service, and that requires what some might regard as “negative feedback.” I’m very pleased to know that you’re interested in the very same improvements that we’ve already spent some napkins on, for planning purposes.

Reading through the responses I have here, it seems like some, if not most, are content with how Directory works today. Which is awfully nice of you, but we aren’t content. Thankfully there were people who see areas to improve in, and they gave their insights on what they would like to see in the future. There’s no single trend or feature to grab a hold of, but the general feeling seems to be that Directory has grown out of its initial parameters and use cases. We feel the same.

The browsing of Directory is something that needs to be addressed. Currently, a given add-on is too easy to drown in the volume, and it’s still too easy for popular add-ons to remain in the spotlight. Interesting and useful add-ons that don’t have a great initial following are in great danger to simply slip through the cracks into obscurity.

All these things are what we’ve felt like a long time, and I find that the feedback you’ve given us are on the same lines of thought. We currently have no actual plans on this, but I reveal that we’re paving way in our schedules for the time required to make new designs for Directory and the implementation thereafter. I even heard rumors about a future behind-the-scenes blog series about that entire ordeal...

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I also created this a while back regarding Maven support:
Posted on 5/14/13 12:43 PM.