For those who have been around the D community for a long time, it’s all too easy to look at the website we have today and think how much better it is than anything we’ve had in the past. It’s miles ahead. Unfortunately, that perspective doesn’t lend itself well to recognizing actual problems that newcomers might face when visiting the site for the first time. Their point of reference is quite often the current website of another language, making their perspective on what does and doesn’t work very different.
It goes without saying that D is primarily a community-driven language. It doesn’t have a large company with a dedicated team of paid workers pushing its development. The website is one of the areas where this has a major impact. Its quality is almost entirely dependent on community contributions. Quite often, it’s recent additions to the community, those who have fresh eyes, who step up and push for improvements to the site. Several have been implemented in the past few weeks, thanks to community members who saw a void and took the initiative to get it filled.
André Stein put together an interactive tour of the language and set it up online. Now, that is part of the official site as tour.dlang.org, available from the menu bar at the top of most dlang.org pages by clicking on Learn. This is a tremendous improvement over what existed before, when users had to browse through different link categories to find the resources they needed, none of which were such a quick introduction to the language.
Sebastian Wilzbach has initiated a number of additions and improvements to the website in the short time he has been active in the community. One such addition is a page listing a number of organizations currently using D. Before, this information was only available on the Wiki. Now, it’s a first-class citizen of dlang.org.
Sebastian also put forth a suggestion for a major change in how the website is deployed. Previously, changes to the site had to be manually deployed, a process which caused a delay between when the changes were made and when they became visible. This led to a situation where news on the front page could become horribly outdated. Sebastian’s suggestion was approved and now updates to the site are deployed automatically when they are merged.
Another user, Ozan Nurettin Süel, was looking for the D Foundation website and coming up empty. A post about it in the forum led to a new page being added to the site. Anyone who wants to learn about the Foundation and, once memberships are open, how to join now has somewhere to go for that information under the dlang.org umbrella.
As Andrei said in his DConf keynote this year, the first five minutes become the next five years. The website plays a major role in that first five minutes. It’s up to us as a community to ensure that it meets the needs of potential new users instead of getting in their way. Small changes can often have a big impact. Whether you are an old timer or a newcomer, if you see something that is missing from the site, or have an idea for how to improve it, please let us know. If you notice broken links, incorrect text, or other such issues, please report them. Only then can dlang.org evolve to fully meet the needs of those coming to it for the first time.