2016-01-14 | 1229 words | Announcement of Perl 6's User Experience repository.
A person's experience with a programming language involves many aspects: how a user first learns that a language exists, their first steps in that language, their process of learning more about it, developing in it, contributing to it, and spreading the word about it are all part of that experience. In short, it's a huge swath of elements, which is why it's important to have a means to efficiently identify any issues in that experience, so that it can be improved.
I'd like to announce the creation of The Perl 6 User Experience Repository. Its main page enumerates various aspects of the Perl 6 User Experience and the sub-pages will outline plans to overcome any of the identified problems, or perhaps serve as a documentation repository for protocols, lists of contacts, or other additional files.
A valuable aspect of that repository is the Issues tab where anyone can bring up an issue with any aspect of the Perl 6 User Experience, for possible consideration and improvement. A set of Issue labels corresponding to main sections listed on the main page has been created, so the Issues can be tagged approprietly.
Having a centralized place to raise such issues should prove more useful than an occasional grumble on an IRC channel, a blog post, or a Reddit comment. Those things tend to slip through the cracks and get forgotten.
Here are the main sections currently available. At the moment, they're the result of one mind's work, and thus I fully expect changes: more sections added, sections removed, changed, or expanded. PRs are welcome.
Finding Out Perl 6 Exists
The rest of the User Experience can never exist if no one knows Perl 6 exists. Are there any issues that need to be addressed when it comes to people finding out Perl 6 is a thing? Do the marketing materials deliver their point? Do blog articles, social media posts, and news items about Perl 6 ever reach the ears and eyeballs of those who aren't familar with Perl 6?
Getting Perl 6
Once interest sparks up, how does a person get to the point where they can run some Perl 6 code and have it work? If they care, can the person understand the difference between, say, Perl 6.c the language, Rakudo 2015.12 the compiler, and Rakudo Star the distribution? And if they don't care, is it still easy for them to "install Perl 6"?
At the time of this writing, this is a section where a definite problem has been identified and a plan of action has been put in place.
Running Perl 6
Installation is just one step. How easy is it for a user to run a Perl 6 program? Such a program may require the functionality offered by a module in the Ecosystem. Is the search feature functional enough to find such a module? Is the toolchain usable enough to correctly install that module?
Developing in Perl 6
A Perl 6 programmer produces modules and programs. Is there a toolset available to simplify that process (e.g. a dist-minting toolkit like Dist::Zilla in Perl 5)? Is it easy to package a Perl 6 program so that it can be sold to a customer or deployed by someone not knowledgeable about Perl 6?
Getting Help and Training
Efficiently programming in Perl 6 is tough if you can't get help when you run into issues or don't receive proper training. Do Perl 6 and its ecosystem modules offer useful and complete documentation? Do Perl 6 users know where to ask for help? Can they easily access those channels, even if they don't have experience with things like, say, IRC? Is it easy for them to find out about and attend Perl 6 conferences and workshops?
If a user has any issues with Perl 6 or its compilers or modules, or even something else, how easy is it for them to report those problems? Will they get notified when the reported problems get resolved?
This is an area where The Perl 6 User Experience Repository itself falls under and can itself have issues to be addressed.
Contributing to Perl 6
Should a user wish to give back to the Perl 6 community, how easy is it for them to find out what needs to be done and to contribute their work? Is it easy for them to get commit bits, if their work is of stellar quality? Do contributors get proper recognition?
Interacting with the Community
A strong community doesn't just talk code all the time. They chat about other things and go out for a drink. Is that available in a Perl 6 community?
Are there any community participation barriers—whether deliberate or accidental—for persons of a particular gender, sexual orientation, race, age, creed, nationality, or physical, mental, or technical abilities?
Is there a Standard of Conduct that sets the bar for the expected way the members of the Perl 6 Community treat others? Is there a particular person one can safely contact in private, when that Standard of Conduct is violated, or when other members of the community are being abusive?
Being a Perl 6 Programmer
The last section completes the circle the first section started. A Perl 6 Programmer exists in a larger world and tells that world about Perl 6; whether it is by working at a job that involves Perl 6, by interacting with communities of other languages, or by simply spreading the word about Perl 6 on blogs, social media, and conferences.
Are there resources allowing to post or search for Perl 6 job offerings? Are there any issues with other communities? Do Perl 6 markerting materials—like printable brochures or a well-written "sales pitch"—exist and is it easy to obtain them? Is there Perl 6-styled merchandize, like mugs, pens, or shirts, one could either get to keep for themselves or to hand out at some event? Are there places someone can blog about Perl 6, if they don't have a blog space of their own?
The Frustrated Reporter
The nature of what this repository wishes to address begs an obvious question: won't we end up with a whole bunch of low-quality Issues created by frustrated users banging on their keyboards while foaming at the mouth?
Well, we probably will. If I spent "three f#$(!ng hours" trying to install a Perl 6 compiler just to get "this stupid script" to run, I'll be quite angry, I'll use colourful terms in the Issue I create, and I'll likely blame the creators of whatever I tried to use for my frustration. Those responding to such Issues must be aware of where The Frustrated Reporter is coming from. Something made that user this aggravated and it's possible that something can be improved.
"So little time, so many things undone..."
The Perl 6 User Experience covers a lot of things. Big things. Huge things! I suspect most Issues won't be closed with a simple and quick one-line fix. Some will require an extra army of Volunteers. This is what this blog post—and, indeed, the repository itself—is all about: inviting people to pitch in. Not only to report the issues, but to attempt to resolve them, and... to become a part of The Perl 6 User Experience itself.