[development] Being noisy on installation...

Florian Loretan floretan at gmail.com
Fri Apr 11 05:31:15 UTC 2008

On Thu, Apr 10, 2008 at 9:29 PM, Earl Miles <merlin at logrus.com> wrote:

> Right now, our module install process is <b>horrible</b> about giving
> feedback. When installing a new module, <b>I</b> still have trouble figuring
> out what to do next. This is an area that desperately needs improvement. I
> agree that splashing up a "this has been installed" message isn't the
> answer, but some feedback is better than no feedback; but it's not really
> enough. We need to be telling users what to do next.

The problem is that we use drupal_set_message() with messages of type
"status" for anything from notification messages to help text and links
supposed to guide the users. The problems with that are:

 1. It's impossible to distinguish between them programmatically, forcing
developers to use hacks such as calling drupal_get_message() to alter
messages by resetting the whole array.

 2. Every user gets the same information, no matter of their needs. When my
dad installs drupal he will want that help text that chx is trying to get
rid of.

 3. It's not a good location for help, because users cannot go back to it.
Users associate messages with the page they see it on, not the submit
handler of the form they just submitted.

Some discussions at drupalcon led to the idea of having a tutorial module
providing a tutorial hook, with an interface similar to the tutorials in the
Eclipse IDE. By defining a sequence of actions, we can walk the user through
a specific task (example: create a content type and assign a taxonomy term
to it), and display the progress in a block with as much information as is
needed. The key difference here is that the verbose help is triggered when
the user makes the decision to start a tutorial instead of being directly
tied to the actions being executed.

I already have a semi-functional prototype sitting on my laptop, and with
the help of some people this could really be turned into a killer feature in
terms of usability: better help for new users, and a cleaner interface for
the others.
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