Today, this issue came up by a simple question: Do we need a Skype Chat for beginner level XPages developers?

If you are using Skype persistent chats, you would know their problems:

1. They are distracting.
2. They don't have search and memory.
3. They are not public.

So the discussion has moved over twitter...

First of all, my personal thoughts:

There is a great wall around XPages preventing newcomers. I am not talking about documentation or learning stuff. There are tons of it. I'm talking about questions and answers here.

Think about a rookie developer trying to learn XPages. He has only one address to go: xpages.info. There are tons of videos, samples and similar resources there. But when our rookie guy starts programming, there would be a great issue. There isn't any effective platform where you ask your questions...

But there is an XPages forum... It lacks some important features. We'll come to that...

Let's define 'effective'...

Think about a streaming discussion, like a chat. People ask questions on this persistent chat and get answers from listeners. Let's put some gamification to that. Authors of right answers would get some scoring. People would 'like' the answer and promote the contributor. It should be searchable and followable.

This can be achieved with a number of additions to watrcoolr, developed by Tim Tripcony for the latest OpenNTF contest. It would be something between watrcoolr and IQJam.

Somehow, another alternative came up with Bruce Elgort's tweet: "I wish more XPages developers would start using StackOverflow"

That sparked a discussion and instantly, many XPagers attacked to StackOverflow, asking and replying questions...

A customized watrcoolr would be extremely useful but comparing to StackOverflow, there are some negative points:

- It needs lots of development.
- It needs to be hosted (OpenNTF? IBM?)
- It needs to be managed and maintained (any volunteers?)
- It's inside the bubble... Only WE, people following xpages.info or planetlotus.org will be able to see it.

Whereas;

- Stackoverflow is ready. No need to manage or maintain. Go and use it.
- It has a great API. We may utilize it to embed our community sites to promote unresolved questions and contributors.
- It's outside the bubble. It's open to thousands of JS, Java and JSF experts. XPages technology needs some visibility around the globe.

What is wrong with the XPages forum?

- Around thousand issues not resolved yet.
- It's still inside bubble, hidden somewhere in developerWorks.
- Contribution is not directly promoted.
- It's not responsive and followable (no e-mail notification, limited RSS support, no site integration)

I am not suggesting abondoning XPages Forum. Either use an enhanced watrcooler or StackOverflow; it has to remain connected to XPages Forum. This forum will still be an entry point for many intermediate and advanced level questions. More importantly, XPages forum will be hosting XPages discussions. Because both ways will not provide a discussion platform and we still need that.

I want to hear more opinions about this. Which method will be more effective according to you?

1. XPages Forum
2. Enhanced version of watrcoolr
3. StackOverflow

If you also think StackOverflow is a meaningful platform to go; many XPagers (including me) started working on some basic widgets for SO.
Serdar Basegmez   |   January 24 2012 11:00:00 PM   |    Community  Development  XPages    |  
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Comments (5)

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Please join the below LinkedIn group.

This group is unique in the sense that it put up XPages Objective questions and we can ask questions and discuss on those question.

{ Link }

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David Leedy    http://notesin9.com    01/25/2012 5:12:45 PM

There's nothing wrong with the DIY approach. It on our blood. But on the other hand there's nothing wrong with using something that's already been built too. How many Notes Bloggers have now moved to Wordpress? Not because they don't love Notes - it's just that it's the most robust platform out there.

Look at me for instance. I'd like to think that I'm as big a proponent for XPages as anyone. I have the screencast thing.. I've done two cheatsheets now... A demo site... etc... My websites are a MESS... it's horrible. As such I'm faced with a choice.. Do I try and build something from scratch in XPages... Do I try to improve my wordpress capabilities via a theme and whatever else... or do I look at something like mediacore.com for content management?

If I did it myself in XPages I'd learn a lot... RSS Feeds... Integrating Video Players... whatever else... but then I'd need to host it and Domino hosts aren't plentiful... OR cheap... It would also take a REALLY long time... I'd think that wordpress or mediacore could be implemented sooner.

My only point is... sometimes it's just about the CONTENT... and not the technology that delivers the content.

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Serdar Basegmez    http://www.developi.com    01/25/2012 12:21:48 PM

David, Tim; thanks for your responses...

Tim, You know how much I appreciate you and your team about technical capabilities. I like the idea behind watrcoolr and I'm sure it will be great (if you are a part of the team!). In this topic, I'm 51% with SO. But it's not about abilities or functionalities.

I am an XPages advocate, like many of us. I want to design my company site, blog site, customer project spaces, everything in XPages. Because I know I can; and I want to show people (customers) how capable and easy it is. This is also valid for watrcoolr. If you complete half of those you mentioned; it will be a killer application that doesn't exist in other platforms, communities or vendors. Streaming Q/A with semantic abilities and gamification! It's huge!

On the other hand; I am being more and more motivated about SO; just because to break the walls around our technology. It seems IBM is primarily targeting to spread XPages around current customers. That's why they are supporting many 'closed' communities. It makes sense; can't argue this. XPages should somehow turn into revenue. If there wasn't an existing customer base; that strategies might be very different.

Using SO would improve XPages visibility around other programmers. It might not work in the future. Because evantually it depends on contributors. If noone contributes; we will be having the same conversation again next time.

Finally, it also scares me that managing such site would be difficult. You know there are not many people volunteer for these duties. It makes sense for me to drive this little workforce to answer more and more questions.

To sum up, I think I might be ready to sacrifice DIY approach this time :) (only once, I promise...)

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David Leedy    http://notesin9.com    01/25/2012 4:59:05 AM

Tim,

Great response! I've not really played with WatrCoolr myself yet but I'm excited about the progress and the future. Without a doubt it could become something great and unique for the community.

I don't know if there is one right answer.We are capable of building all sorts of tools in Xpages. We can make a stack overflow clone.. we can make forums... blog templates.... project menagement... you name it. Certainly I like the thought of controlling your own destiny. I'm a huge fan of that. But I wonder if historically by creating our own tools so often - if we miss out on what other communities are doing. For example, I don't know of a domino blog template that can use Wordpress Plugins and Themes easily. And as we circle the wagons creating our own tools, even if they are better then what the general public is using, we might end up being hidden from that same general public. Hiding is fine in a Zombie attack, but as the perception of Notes/Domino continues to shrink, even as we get better and better tools in which to build applications, and as we get little to no marketing or "Air cover" from IBM, then I still wonder if it's not best to be using the defacto - standard site like Stack OverFlow to show that we have a vibrant and GROWING community. Is there value in taking our tools, and message and ideas to where "the people are"? I don;t know. I'm sure there's some value to leading our people to a 1 stop place for answers. Many might not know of stack overflow. So one site for their XPages, or CSS, or Java questions. etc.... There has to be SOME value in that.

If WatrCoolr makes the most sense I'm sure hosting wouldn't be a problem. We should put it on OpenNTF but there would be other options. I'd LOVE to see the functionality of WatrCoolr take off. There is an API from SO though I don't really know what we can do with it.

So I don't have any answers... just questions I guess. It feels to me like this might be an opportunity here, but there's nothing that says we have to stay with Stack OverFlow. Ultimately it where come down to where are people comfortable asking questions and where and people comfortable looking for questions to try and answer.

Just my 1 cent.

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Tim Tripcony    http://xmage.gbs.com    01/25/2012 12:25:20 AM

To provide some context, here are just a few of the features already in progress or on the horizon for watrCoolr:

- Bookmarks and tasks: hover over any message in a given chat and mark it either as a bookmark or a task; a new section of the site would show these items, tasks can be marked as completed or removed entirely (bookmarks can also be removed). Clicking on either will take you back to the message in its original context within the chat.

- Message sharing: for public chats, post an individual message to social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn; the published link would navigate directly to the message in its original context within the chat.

- Specific message types: for instance, when submitting a message to a chat, it can be flagged as a question (this could either be determined semantically, for instance, if the message ends in a question mark, or manually by the author); a respondent could then flag a response as being an answer to that question. Visibility into these types could then be infused into other portions of the application... for example, limiting search results to messages flagged as answers to questions that contain the search term(s).

- Badges: individual messages can be flagged as informative, funny, inappropriate, etc. Message author reputation would be shaped by this feedback, generalized to the entire site, but also localized to each chat. Message flags would also be taken into account when locating search results: tags with positive connotations would push results toward the top, tags with negative connotations would push results further down. Searching would also impact author reputation: the more frequently a given term is searched for, the more useful that term is considered to be. So if people keep searching for the same term and the highest rated messages containing that term are consistently from the same person, then the author of those messages would gain additional credit for the promotion they'd already received for those messages.

- Wikify a conversation subset: within the context of a larger, ongoing chat, a single series of messages might prove to be a useful standalone resource. A chat participant could select just those messages and convert them to a wiki article that defaults to the same permissions as the source chat. All participants could then maintain that content going forward, with the ability to export the formatted content to PDF, and for public wiki articles, share a link to the article to Twitter / Facebook / LinkedIn.

So those are just a few of the features I've already been thinking about adding, and in some cases, have already written some of the code. It's likely that we'll be using this tool in-house at GBS sometime in the near future, in which case I would at least have that as a motivation to continue to innovate the tool's feature set.

On the other hand, I'm not entirely comfortable owning the maintenance of it going forward if the entire XPage development community is relying on it to contain the features they want. And I'm fairly confident you wouldn't want it to continue to be hosted from my living room. Then again, it's an open source project; I'll continue to run an instance on my server, and any features I add will be donated to OpenNTF, but there's nothing stopping any of you from hosting your own instance, and adding any features you want... and I'll gladly add chefs to the project to facilitate donation of those features back to the community.

StackOverflow is a well-designed site, and has long had a mature, robust community participating on the site. Of course, if there's a feature you feel is missing from it, I imagine it would be more involved to convince them to add that feature than it would be to simply write it yourself and contribute the code to OpenNTF (or convince me, Nathan, Serdar, Leedy, or any other XPage developer you can find). So if you're looking to use something that already works, just use StackOverflow. There's certainly a wealth of resources there about all manner of technologies that are valuable when developing XPages without being explicitly related to XPages (JavaScript, Java, CSS, XML, JSON, ad infinitum). If you want something that can easily evolve along with the community - and a decent example of what XPages can do that you could show off to non-XPagers... just 'cause it's an XPage app doesn't mean you can't use it to discuss other technologies - use watrCoolr. I'll of course be stoked if people think it's useful enough to serve as that crucial of a resource, but I won't be surprised or offended if you standardize on a tool and community that's long since proven its usefulness.