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

Ariel Rokem arokem at gmail.com
Mon Jul 27 01:12:26 CEST 2015


On Sun, Jul 26, 2015 at 9:53 AM, Eleftherios Garyfallidis <
garyfallidis at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi Ariel,
> On Sat, Jul 25, 2015 at 10:58 PM, Ariel Rokem <arokem at gmail.com> wrote:
>> 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!
> Okay.
>> 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.
> Okay but this new website as it is now is not ready to be online too. It
> is still misleading and I find it difficult to understand what the portal
> is about. It needs much more work to be useful.
>> 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:
>> https://github.com/nipy/nipy.github.com/blob/master/images/rect1600x800.png
>> I think from now on when a new website like this is created which affects
> other projects it shouldn't replace immediately the existing website but
> have a link in the existing website saying that there is a new website
> coming. In that way the transition is smoother and it gives you the
> developer the time to make the website better and get more feedback.

The message with the link to the new version of the website went to the
mailing list on May 18th. The redirection wasn't changed for another 3
weeks or so. There wasn't anything but positive indications from the list,
and no reason to think that anyone had any reservations about the new
format until 2 days ago.

>> 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.
>> Yes, you can put a carousel in the website and remove that background
> with many images. You should also remove the mission with the form it is
> now. It doesn't communicate.

I don't know what you are referring to. "Mission"? Are you talking about
https://github.com/nipy/nipy.github.com/pull/1? That was mentioned in a
message asking for feedback on the mailing list on May 22nd. Did you get
any of these messages? Is all this a misunderstanding because the mailing
list was starting to be a bit flaky at that point? I think that others got
these messages, considering that a few people did have comments on this PR,
before it was eventually merged a couple of weeks later.

>> 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.
> As I said in my previous e-mail this website can be created using Pelican
> too or with Sphinx and Bootstrap and it will be more pythonic. About option
> 2. Jetkyll can be good looking because of bootstrap. We have exactly the
> same good looks with Sphinx or Pelican. By the way also Pelican supports
> both markdown and rst.
> What it seems as advantage is 1. but in practice it is not a big advantage
> because even if people submit their markdown scripts the website will be
> updated only when those are merged and still you will need someone checking
> if they render correctly. I prefer if people who submit content check the
> final website first in their machine before updating the final website.
We can still use Jekyll only for the portal but the websites of the rest of
> the projects will have to use sphinx anyway. So, why bother introducing new
> tech.

That's roughly analogous to comparing local test runs to Travis. Another
case in which additional technology is adopted because it removes barriers
to collaboration and productivity. Definitely worth it in the case of
testing/Travis. I think it's worth it here as well.

> So, my final suggestion is to use Pelican for the portal which supports
> everything that Jekyll supports and works in github fine. And for the other
> websites e.g. dipy, nibabel etc. use sphinx with the same or similar theme
> used in the portal but with some alternations to create a unique look for
> each project.
> Some immediate actions:
> a) For now I think you should at least add this information
> http://nipy.org/project-directory/ to the first page and explain what is
> your vision of this portal.

That's the link in the middle of the front page. Or am I missing something?
Do you want me to move the entire project directory to the front page? That
wouldn't look great, I think (but I think we've already established that I
am not a web designer...).

> b) Definitely change this background picture maybe add a neuro-related
> picture. You don't need to wait for others to do that. You can do that by
> yourself too. I am sure you have many cool pictures around.

Vanessa offered help earlier in this thread, so maybe she has an image she
likes? :-)

> c) Then let's set a meeting together and with other people who want to
> help and I can show you how Pelican/Bootstrap work so you can then see the
> benefits by yourself. Don't worry nothing from the content that you added
> in nipy.org is going to be lost. All these markdowns can also be used
> with Pelican.
> I will be available after Wednesday to help you with this.
> Cheers,
> Eleftherios
>> Cheers,
>> Ariel
>> 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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