February 21, 2015

Open Source Web Design Challenges

##New Developments with Learnosm Site

So I’ve been on a hiatus from my internship and I am surprised how much has transpired since I’ve been offline. Currently several learnosm contributors are considering changing the current site design and possibly switching to another static site generator (other than Jekyll).

One of the main complaints about the current Jekyll Github pages site is that the site organization is awkward. The learnosm site has lots of content that is hard to find or needs to be translated or updated and the current Jekyll _posts file naming structure requires files to be organized by date.

I’ve also run into other troubles with adding “category aware” next and previous buttons. I was so delighted to have the code for this “figured out” only to discover that the organization of the site makes it nearly impossible to use without a plugin. I haven’t realized that the file structure of a site’s content is also a part of web design. One contributor described this aspect of web design as “code design.”

Another road block we’ve encountered to customizing the Jekyll site is the incompatibality of custom plugins with Github Pages (More details here). I am reminded of the importance of reading through the documentation before attempting something like creating a custom plugin to find out if it’s even possible or compatiable.

I am excited about helping to test other static site generators to see if they are easier to customize; although, I am not sure this is the best use of my time or who will decide this. Will it be the Training Working Group or the main contributors of the site? I hope to find out more about the decision making process for making such major changes for the site. Although I am not sure what the alternative workflow would be like, this seems like part of the challenge of trying to help with the design of an open source site.

Reading about open source design and some similar problems has been validating and encouraging!