[Neuroimaging] Nipy.org new website needs a complete remake

Ariel Rokem arokem at gmail.com
Sun Jul 26 04:58:14 CEST 2015

Hi Eleftherios,

I am happy to have you finally chime in on the discussion surrounding the
webpage. The previous email thread was indeed supposed to spur this
discussion, but it did fairly quickly turn into a discussion of github
workflow and technical issues surrounding redirection instead. So - better
late than never!

As I mentioned in my first email in that previous thread (can't link to it,
because the archives on mail.scipy.org are down...), this redesign was the
result of conversations at the Berkeley coding sprint back in May. While
talking to some relative newcomers, we noticed that the content in the old
webpage was really confusing, and gave a somewhat misleading picture of the
current state of affairs in the nipy community. For example, I don't think
that anyone here really thinks that neuroimaging in Python is only 6
projects, or that one of the first projects people should try out is pbrain
(which was one of the six previously mentioned on the front page). So, I
don't think that going to the old version of the page is a good solution.

Like almost everything else around here, the webpage is of course work in
progress. For example, I can relate to the objections regarding the
background image on the front page. I had full intention of replacing the
background image with something (possibly several things rotating?) more
indicative of the subject matter. I just haven't had the time to do that
yet. If someone else wants to jump in and do that, this is the file that
would need to be replaced:


I am sure that a bit of logic could be used to put in several different
attractive images of brain data from which one would be chosen randomly
every time you land on the page.

Concerning choice of design/technology: as Vanessa pointed out, the
technology used for these pages is Jekyll <http://jekyllrb.com/>. It has
the following advantages:

1. It is the 'native' technology on Github's platform. That means that we
can version control on the markdown from which the site gets generated, and
the site itself gets built on Github, rather than needing to be built on
anyone's machine every time changes are made. This makes it relatively easy
to extend the website, work on it collaboratively using the standard github
workflow, and to add additional content. I've even put some instructions in
http://nipy.org/contribute/ on how to add such content, especially
articles/blog posts. Happy to have people write little articles in that
vein, and make things a little bit more lively. It really doesn't have to
be a dissertation - writing down a few lines reporting on some new cool
project you've seen, or reporting from a conference you've attended from
the nipy point of view would be wonderful.

2. Reasonably good-looking, with plenty of customization possible. This is,
of course, a matter of taste, so I don't expect anyone to agree with me.
Whether having more colors on a page or not is better is really not
something I expect anyone to agree with me on. I certainly would not object
to changes to the current design that wouldn't be too gaudy. Concerning a
comment Gael made: what does a "structured" layout mean? Is that a
web-design term? I am (surprise!) not a web designer ;-)

The only disadvantage of Jekyll I can see is that it is Ruby-based. I think
that point 1 above outweighs that disadvantage. Point 2 is really a matter
for some discussion, and additional work. By the way, whether to use Jekyll
is also a discussion that has come up in the context of Software Carpentry.
I think that no one in that community regrets choosing jekyll to manage a
much more complicated network of web sites, but we can ask them for more
advice, if someone thinks that would be useful.



On Sat, Jul 25, 2015 at 6:46 AM, Eleftherios Garyfallidis <
garyfallidis at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi Gael, Vanessa and Ariel,
> Gael I think the previous e-mail thread was about moving the pages into
> github.io and not about the design, the technology or the content of
> nipy.org. This being the portal of all projects needs to communicate the
> ideas better and use libraries that can be used in other projects too.
> Hopefully also be as Pythonic as possible and as useful and attractive as
> possible.
> So, my point is that the new portal, although it has some nice ideas, for
> examle it is using bootstrap which allows for better and more responsive
> viewing
> from different devices, it is not ready for prime time. And it shouldn't
> be online with the form that is now. So, I would recommend to use the
> previous website with updated links to the new github pages until this one
> is in a better form.
> Now about the technology used for creating the website. From my
> understanding Ariel is using the default engine promoted by github which is
> jekyll which at the end is using bootstrap. But bootstrap can be used with
> sphinx and with pelican too which are both Python projects.
> So we could actually have two better options. For the portal we can use:
> a) Pelican which is an alternative of Octpress/Jekyll in Python. I used it
> to make my  own website and it is easy to use for creating static websites
> (like the portal). Link here http://garyfallidis.github.io and here
> https://github.com/Garyfallidis/website-dev . Pelican supports both
> markdown and restructuredtext.
> b) It is now possible to use Sphinx with bootstrap directly. See here
> https://readthedocs.org/projects/sphinx-bootstrap-theme/ and here
> https://pypi.python.org/pypi/sphinx-bootstrap-theme/
> The option is possibly the best solution as we could just update our
> template engine (to use bootstrap) and continue using sphinx as before. But
> now we can use any template we want and have a much more responsive website.
> Ideally the portal should have a main theme and then the different
> projects would make some alterations to this theme to create their
> individual image. For example in Dipy our main colors are black and orange
> so we will alternate the theme so we can use mainly those colors is our
> website.
> Vanessa of course I am writing this e-mail because I am willing up to my
> capacity to help Ariel or anyone else who wants to improve the look and
> feel of the organization.
> Ariel in summary, I think the portal is not well designed right now and
> the content needs some more work before it is presented. I am happy to help
> and I think you will find it useful to have a look in the links that I have
> in this e-mail before we meet. In the meantime, I would strongly suggest to
> upload the old portal until we have something more solid. I hope this is
> okay.
> Cheers,
> Eleftherios
> On Sat, Jul 25, 2015 at 4:41 AM, Gael Varoquaux <
> gael.varoquaux at normalesup.org> wrote:
>> On Fri, Jul 24, 2015 at 08:57:48PM -0400, Eleftherios Garyfallidis wrote:
>> > It seems that nipy.org has recently changed. The previous page was much
>> > better from what we have now.
>> I agree with you that the previous page was much better in term of design
>> (more colors, a more structured layout, and an image that looked like a
>> brain clearly visible) and of content (clear list of main projects and
>> subprojects).
>> However, the change was advertised. I understand that you missed it: we
>> all have too much mails and too many things to do.
>> I think that you could make proposals and maybe pull requests to shape
>> the website toward something that you like better. It would be great.
>> Gaël
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