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Improvements to the xemacs.org Website

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The xemacs.org web site is the face that XEmacs presents to the outside world. In my opinion, its most important function is to present information about XEmacs in such a way that solicits new XEmacs users and co-contributors. Existing members of the XEmacs community can probably find out most of the information they want to know about XEmacs regardless of what shape the web site is in, or for that matter, perhaps even if the web site doesn't exist at all. However, potential new users and co-contributors who go to the XEmacs web site and find it out of date and/or lacking the information that they need are likely to be turned away and may never return. For this reason, I think it's extremely important that the web site be up-to-date, well-organized, and full of information that an inquisitive visitor is likely to want to know.

The current XEmacs web site needs a lot of work if it is to meet these standards. I don't think it's reasonable to expect one person to do all of this work and make continual updates as needed, especially given the dismal record that the XEmacs web site has had. The proper thing to do is to place the web site itself under CVS and allow many of the core members to remotely check files in and out. This way, for example, Steve could update the part of the site that contains the current release status of XEmacs. (Much of this could be done by a script that Steve executes when he sends out a beta release announcement which automatically HTML-izes the mail message and puts it in the appropriate place on the web site. There are programs that are specifically designed to convert email messages into HTML, for example mhonarc.) Meanwhile, the xemacs.org mailing list administrator (currently Jason Mastaler, I think) could maintain the part of the site that describes the various mailing lists and other addresses at xemacs.org. Someone like me (perhaps through a proxy typist) could maintain the part of the site that specifies the future directions that XEmacs is going in, etc., etc.

Here are some things that I think it's very important to add to the web site.

  1. A page describing in detail how to get involved in the XEmacs development process, how to submit and where to submit various patches to the XEmacs core or associated packages, how to contact the maintainers and core developers of XEmacs and the maintainers of various packages, etc.

  2. A page describing exactly how to download, compile, and install XEmacs, and how to download and install the various binary distributions. This page should particularly cover in detail how exactly the package system works from an installation standpoint and how to correctly compile and install under Microsoft Windows and Cygwin. This latter section should cover what compilers are needed under Microsoft Windows and Cygwin, and how to get and install the Cygwin components that are needed.

  3. A page describing where to get the various ancillary libraries that can be linked with XEmacs, such as the JPEG, TIFF, PNG, X-Face, DBM, and other libraries. This page should also cover how to correctly compile it and install these libraries, including under Microsoft Windows (or at least it should contain pointers to where this information can be found). Also, it should describe anything that needs to be specified as an option to configure in order for XEmacs to link with and make use of these libraries or of Motif or CDE. Finally, this page should list which versions of the various libraries are required for use with the various different beta versions of XEmacs. (Remember, this can change from beta to beta, and someone needs to keep a watchful eye on this).

  4. Pointers to any other sites containing information on XEmacs. This would include, for example, Hrvoje's XEmacs on Windows FAQ and my Architecting XEmacs web site. (Presumably, most of the information in this section will be temporary. Eventually, these pages should be integrated into the main XEmacs web site).

  5. A page listing the various sub-projects in the XEmacs development process and who is responsible for each of these sub-projects, for example development of the package system, administration of the mailing lists, maintenance of stable XEmacs versions, maintenance of the CVS web interface, etc. This page should also list all of the packages that are archived at xemacs.org and who is the maintainer or maintainers for each of these packages.

Other Places with an XEmacs Presence

We should try to keep an XEmacs presence in all of the major places on the web that are devoted to free software or to the "open source" community. This includes, for example, the open source web site at http://opensource.oreilly.com (I'm already in the process of contacting this site), the Freshmeat site at http://www.freshmeat.net, the various announcement news groups (for example, comp.os.linux.announce, and the Windows announcement news group) etc.

Ben Wing

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