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Proposed additional info for Contributor's Guide 6.1, Introduction to we

From: Karlin High
Subject: Proposed additional info for Contributor's Guide 6.1, Introduction to website work
Date: Sat, 3 Dec 2016 20:05:38 +0000

So far on the lilypond-user list, I have witnessed 2 website-redesign 
discussions. I gather there have been more in the past. Apparently the 
usual pattern for these starts when someone with web development skills, 
but no LilyPond contributor experience, looks at www.lilypond.org and 
thinks, "This place needs help. Have they not heard about 
$MYFAVORITECMS?" A sizable discussion results, with long-time LilyPond 
contributors needing to repeatedly explain that lilypond.org has a lot 
going on below the surface that is powerfully resistant to large-scale 
changes. After various frustrations, the would-be contributor usually 
gives up.

I like Urs Liska's idea of having a wiki or contributor guide entry for 
what LilyPond web development work requires. Then future proposals for 
website work could get a response with a link to the requirements, as 
routinely as lilypond-user reminders about Minimal Working Examples, and 
hopefully helping avoid further 100+ message discussions.

Although I don't have great experience with the LilyPond project, I'll 
propose something based on what I've gathered so far, maybe it could go 
on Contributor's Guide 6.1, Introduction to website work.
Apparently the LilyPond source file is

This is slightly repetitive of other parts of the Contributor Guide such 
as section 5, Documentation work, in keeping with the Guide's title page 
statement about contributors only reading sections relevant to them.

What you see in your browser at www.lilypond.org is not just a website. 
It is the product of a vast system of technical documentation. The 
documentation is written in a language called texinfo, which is standard 
for GNU projects. Texinfo allows generating different output formats 
from a single set of source files. This avoids needing different 
documents maintained for online information and printed manuals. Since 
there are currently 11 manuals for LilyPond, not including the 
translations, having a single-source documentation format is very 
important. At this point, LilyPond's texinfo output formats include HTML 
for the website, PDF for printing, and the Info format used by UNIX-like 
operating systems. Keeping information on the website updated is 
automatic, as the web pages are generated when the documentation is 
built using the GNU make system. But it also means that the web 
development environment is unusual, and based on texinfo rather than 

It is quite common for a skilled web developer to look at the 
lilypond.org website and reflexively propose a different system for 
maintaining it. Such proposals may have great merit when considering the 
website in isolation. However, the LilyPond project has limited 
resources for maintaining and translating its documentation, which makes 
up a major portion of the website. The idea of having to maintain the 
website apart from the documentation is unlikely to be supported by the 
developers and translators. Although there may be systems other than 
texinfo that would meet the needs for generating the documentation and 
website, there would need to be a compelling reason to make such a 
change. Simply doing the same thing in a different way is unlikely to be 
enough. This is a little like signage for highways and airports, where 
current fashions are largely disregarded in favor of long-established 
standards for presenting messages. Large-scale changes are rare and only 
done with great effort.

For any such large-scale structural change to be considered seriously, 
it would almost certainly require that its proposer have a considerable 
track record with maintaining LilyPond's documentation and show evidence 
of long-term commitment to the project.

But, smaller changes to the formatting and appearance of the website are 
also needed, welcome, and much easier to have accepted. If you have 
never contributed to the LilyPond project before, and want to work on 
the website, a good starting point would be incremental changes to the 
CSS file. This file can be found on the website at 
http://lilypond.org/css/lilypond-website.css or in the LilyPond source 
code at ./Documentation/css/lilypond-website.css

The Texinfo source files that generate HTML for the website are

End proposal. Following would be the @example box with the file paths; 
perhaps the paths for CSS files just preceding would get something 
similar. Accept, modify, reject, ignore with crickets - I'll be OK.
Karlin High
Missouri, USA

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