[Moin-user] Occupy Moin Street!

Paul Boddie paul at boddie.org.uk
Mon Nov 21 17:39:22 EST 2011

On Monday 21 November 2011 08:55:04 Radomir Dopieralski wrote:
> Incidentally, anybody with the necessary skills is already using those
> skills in their day job and possibly a dozen of side projects. Sure,
> it would be great to have a dedicated contributor with some design
> skills who cares about the looks and usability, and loads of free time
> to spare (making themes is a really time- and attention-consuming
> task). Any project would love to have such a person. It's probably not
> going to happen.

Having done some themes for Moin, I agree that it's a lot of work, but taking 
what Thomas wrote about getting all the details right, I think that Kai has a 
point about testing. One thing I did find better about Moin than, say, 
MediaWiki was that covering the special cases in the theme is easier with 
Moin: with MediaWiki, there are a bunch of special pages with their own 
layout that you have to check, whereas Moin re-uses a lot of the same styles 
and also doesn't tend to invent so many special pages for things. The problem 
then is the stylesheets for extensions, but that's another matter.

> From my own experience with MoinMoin themes I can say it is a very fun
> and rewarding work, but it takes a lot of time and some concentration
> -- you cannot really do it after work. I was lucky enough to organize
> things so that I could work on MoinMoin during my day work at the
> university -- I made them use MoinMoin. Unfortunately, that changed
> when I changed jobs, and currently it's hard to convince my boss that
> I need to work on a project that is not ready to be used and it is not
> sure if it's any better than the paid tools we already use. That's all
> about a moderately-skilled programmer with some basic experience in
> design. A real pro would be completely impossible to get (they often
> even have to choose between important projects inside the company).

I've been fortunate in that the suggested designs in my workplace (for 
MediaWiki) did not appeal to my boss, and after people thinking that they 
were looking at Wikipedia instead of our department's site, I managed to do a 
quick design that my boss liked which was inspired by some older site designs 
for the organisation's pages. With some refinements, I think I've been able 
to make the case for keeping the theme as it is, and making a Moin version 
was not too much work once the stylesheets were done. But yes, it's tricky to 
justify spending time on such stuff, although people are often happy after 
it's done.

> So, unless you will improve something yourself, there is little chance
> of a miracle happening.

I don't want to criticise Web designers, and I certainly don't want to claim 
that I'm any good at it - it's a frustrating exercise most of the time, and I 
actually try and re-use existing designs wherever possible, maintaining 
whatever coherent font, colour, spacing rules that those designs mandate - 
but a lot of products of Web designers can actually be quite poor, too, or at 
least the ones I see regularly: layout requiring JavaScript, ultra-narrow 
content regions, distracting dynamic effects, and so on. So I don't think 
people should shy away from trying to make nice themes, but the case for 
maintainability is very important: there are plenty of themes already 
available that need fixing up for recent Moin versions; someone has to do 
that work.


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