Site goals?

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webfork
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Site goals?

#1 Post by webfork » Mon Feb 27, 2017 7:27 pm

Over the winter holiday I spent some time on the topic of what direction I might want to take the site in the long term. It's a very long post and I'm not sure how seriously I take many of these ideas, but someone might find it interesting or useful.

My Current Goals
  • More of the same – just keep moving, keep adding.
  • Visionary Goals: better software, more of it, happier users and developers.
  • Better explanations – this is something I've been working on off and on: a project to explain the our site, our project, or the general story of portability. It never quite blossoms because I don't really feel like writing a comprehensive guide that might quickly stop being relevent if the industry (or our project) shifts.
  • HOWTO focus – a more grandular version of the above goal, push things towards more of addressing clear, specific problems. How do I format a USB drive? What do I put on it? How do I compress data? How do I access that on a Mac? How do I secure files I put on a cloud drive?

Minor shift
  • Data focus – start data mining site activity and focus on whatever is popular.
  • More developer focus – more outreach, more focus on collaboraton to bug test and improve programs, using the site as a forum for devs.
  • More open source focus – projects come and go but open source seems to stick around. Start giving open projects priority.
  • Launcher focus - More active, direct effort to find a replacement for Pstart, making building a launcher program the center of the site. Maybe try to fund development/activity. Would really like to see either a successor or a replacement to Pstart. ASuite seems to have gone offline and WPP's Net Launcher seems to have gone quiet.
  • Portablizer focus – rather than describing behavior, come back to forcing programs into a portable system (YaP, JauntPE, etc.)
  • Feature monster programs – focus on beast programs that have loads of features. This would include MultiCommander, PeaZip, LibreOffice, etc. This is really counter to some of the appeal of this website, which covers some great niche freeware, but it would be one way to focus on improving already successful, working, and stable programs.

Media shift
  • Video first – I've done a few videos but considered pushing hard into this with a full video series making a case for portability and showcasing how freeware is so important and useful.
  • Podcasts – I have a little background in this and would need assitance, but could definitely come up with a lot of material to discuss.

Major shift
  • Integration with sister projects PortableApps / WinPenPack - I don't know what this would entail but years of this work has made me wish more similar projects could play nice. I know I'm part of the problem in this.
  • Distribute the site – build a huge archive of the best programs all chosen and carefully organized. This is basically restarting the Kitchen Sink project. I think I could resolve some of the issues that held up this project and the huge amount of manual work it required. This would create an ongoing "best of" freeware tool and would resolve the problem of projects constantly going offline.
  • Privacy Focus - Some kind of response to Windows 10 selling user data. This would push the site in overtly against Microsoft's new move to become data-centric company, evidenced by their purchase of LinkedIn. This would probably hurt traffic long term and pull away some of our core support. If it's one thing that seems unavoidable, it's the way the industry as a whole is moving against privacy. On the other hand, it could boost our standing in helping users be (more) anonymous and secure.
  • Exit Windows – assuming Microsoft finally drops the ball and other operating systems move in for a kill (arguably this is happening with Android right now), start a transition to other operating systems via WINE and similar tools.
  • Linux or Android focus – similar to the above effort but with a clear destination.

Current Focus

Right now as I see it, the site has a few goals already in place:
  • Low strategy, high flexibility – right now we have a format in place (portable means you save settings locally) and a few concepts surrounding it (stealth, folder/drive portability, etc). This is important because so many programs claim portability without thinking what that might mean.

    As such, the implicit goal of the site is to keep checking programs to see if they're portable, add them to the database, and then maintain that database. Alongside that we have some program usage discussion/assistance and developer outreach. This isn't necessarily a bad thing since anyone who comes to the site can sort of make it their own, but it might be too vague to grab the interest of new users.
  • Low integration, Windows-only – there hasn't been a lot of effort to integrate with mobile devices or other operating systems. This is dramatically counter to the work of so many software programs over the past 5-10 years where mobile integration was crucial.
  • Local device focus, high privacy – we don't have a lot of programs that utilize cloud or online services. It's very much about doing work on your local network or the machine you're on. Again, this is counter to almost every other group out there, but doesn't risk putting your data where you don't control it.
  • Professional focus / low game effort – this is partly my doing as I've completely ignored our games selection and I don't think I've ever tested a game for portability. That has been great up at work but again might not be attracting new users.

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SYSTEM
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Re: Site goals?

#2 Post by SYSTEM » Tue Feb 28, 2017 12:50 am

Personally I like what TPFC is like right now and don't see a need for changes. :)
webfork wrote:Professional focus / low game effort – this is partly my doing as I've completely ignored our games selection and I don't think I've ever tested a game for portability. That has been great up at work but again might not be attracting new users.
As a gamer myself I'd like to address this point.

I play mostly AAA games, and they are almost never portable. A "portable game collection" wouldn't make much sense to me because it would be missing way too many games I want to play.

In addition, when I'm not using my own PC (especially when I'm at work), I can't exactly play games anyway. Thus, portability is significantly less useful for games than for utility programs.

Not focusing on games is the right choice IMO. (Of course, since TPFC is run by volunteers, anyone can add games to the database if they feel like it.)
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Re: Site goals?

#3 Post by smaragdus » Tue Feb 28, 2017 1:23 am

@SYSTEM
If a program is designed to handle (open, edit, save) for example PGN files- is it classified as a game or as a game tool? The same question for programs connecting to chess servers- are they games?

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Re: Site goals?

#4 Post by SYSTEM » Tue Feb 28, 2017 2:43 am

smaragdus wrote:@SYSTEM
If a program is designed to handle (open, edit, save) for example PGN files- is it classified as a game or as a game tool? The same question for programs connecting to chess servers- are they games?
The definitions I use:
  • PGN tools are game tools.
  • Programs which connect to chess servers are games.
Again, they are just my definitions. Other people may disagree here.
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Re: Site goals?

#5 Post by Midas » Tue Feb 28, 2017 5:00 am

Wow, impressive work, webfork, obviously resulting from long hard thinking of TPFC's contours and (mostly) implicit motivations. 8)

My own two cents: I'm not a conservative by any means, but the section labeled "Current Focus" pretty much sums up what makes TPFC web presence and community unique.

I would be happy to see it broaden its reach and scope -- I occasionally participate in fora with millions of users (https://forum.xda-developers.com/ anyone?) -- but would be very disappointed if that came at the cost of the deeply ingrained identity that has made TPFC so fit to purpose, as well as characteristic and genuine for over a decade now.

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Re: Site goals?

#6 Post by webfork » Tue Feb 28, 2017 11:56 am

SYSTEM wrote:Not focusing on games is the right choice IMO
Thanks for the feedback.
SYSTEM wrote:Personally I like what TPFC is like right now and don't see a need for changes. :)
Agreed. There's a part of me that doesn't want to try and fix something that's not broken. However, assuming we're still active on the site in another 5 years, I'd like to influence it in a positive direction.
Midas wrote:impressive work, webfork, obviously resulting from long hard thinking of TPFC's contours and (mostly) implicit motivations
Thanks. I put a lot of time into the site.
Midas wrote:... would be very disappointed if that came at the cost of the deeply ingrained identity that has made TPFC so fit to purpose, as well as characteristic and genuine for over a decade now.
There is a nice community here that I really enjoy and also want to protect. If something we suddenly became very interesting to the computing community at large and saw a surge of users, I wonder if it wouldn't lose some of that charm.

Still, it's just as important to acknowledge that things could go the other direction; if we don't have something useful and interesting both now and in the future, we risk losing people.

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Re: Site goals?

#7 Post by Midas » Tue Feb 28, 2017 12:29 pm

webfork wrote:... if we don't have something useful and interesting both now and in the future, we risk losing people.
  • I kind of made that my personal take from the get go, so I'll stand behind whatever changes you want to try. :)

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Re: Site goals?

#8 Post by Emka » Tue Feb 28, 2017 12:58 pm

My two cents:
+ more of the same
+ better software
+ more happiness
+ more low-threshold explanations to attract new users
+ we (sometimes) have developers around here
- reduction of complexity, oversimplification, dumbing things down (beware!)
? exit Windows, switch to Cloud/Linux/Android (would be a totally different site)
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Re: Site goals?

#9 Post by webfork » Tue Feb 28, 2017 4:10 pm

Emka wrote:more low-threshold explanations to attract new users
Okay, thanks for that. I'll see if I can focus more time there.

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Re: Site goals?

#10 Post by Andrew Lee » Thu Mar 02, 2017 10:33 pm

Wow webfork, you're the man. I wish I have the ability to articulate things like you do. I have a very engineering mindset and tend to have problems seeing the forest sometimes. :D

I know your writeup is more of a strategic plan, but I'd always had this thing that I want to do for TPFC but never get to because it requires a little too much time and effort. I wish TPFC has a better search function, one that approaches the level of Google's prowess. Spell correction, clustering, synonyms etc. cool shit like that. Well, one can dream....

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Re: Site goals?

#11 Post by webfork » Thu Apr 13, 2017 3:14 pm

Sorry Andrew, I totally missed this reply ...
Andrew Lee wrote:Wow webfork, you're the man. I wish I have the ability to articulate things like you do. I have a very engineering mindset and tend to have problems seeing the forest sometimes. :D
Thanks :) I do like that this site pays attention to details as several of our extract processes are pretty detailed, but I try to think big picture as well.
Andrew Lee wrote:I know your writeup is more of a strategic plan, but I'd always had this thing that I want to do for TPFC but never get to because it requires a little too much time and effort. I wish TPFC has a better search function, one that approaches the level of Google's prowess. Spell correction, clustering, synonyms etc. cool shit like that. Well, one can dream....
I feel certain with some additional time and ambition we could do that and much more. As it stands, I'm comfortable pushing the ball forward in small ways.

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