The Future of PlusKit


(Isaiah Carew) #1

Hi all,

I know there has been some major issues using PlusKit in recent versions of RapidWeaver.

First I’d like to apologize. I didn’t realize the extent of the problem until recently. I should have seen this coming.

Second, I’d like to tell you, in as much detail as I can, what we have planned to rectify the situation.

I wrote a post on our blog here: http://blog.yourhead.com/state-of-the-pluskit/

If you’ve read that, and still have questions, please feel free to post. I’ll do my best to answer. So, go on then…
ASK ME ANYTHING! :stuck_out_tongue:

Isaiah


PlusKit Update - Beta Milestone
RW7 upgrade - site broken
(Jason Bostick) #2

I don’t use PlusKit myself but kudos on the blog post. I imagine the transparency goes a long way for most on here. Here’s hoping for a speedy PlusKit recovery!

As for a question - do you have visions for new features, or are you strictly focused on stability for now?


(Isaiah Carew) #3

@jabostick - I actually showed off some new features to some developers about a month ago.

However I think you hit the nail on the head – I’m 100% focused on PlusKit stability. Those new bits would only add more chaos.

Those new features are pretty crazy awesome (in my humble opinion) so I’ll probably still release them – but maybe as a standalone plugin. That way we can “have our cake and eat it too” so to speak.

Isaiah


(scott williams) #4

What time does Trick or Treat start? - LOL you said anything :blush:

Now seriously, I agree with @jabostick. Kudos for being transparent about this. If others were it would save a lot of hard feelings and questions.


(Isaiah Carew) #5

Transparency is hard for software developers. Plans are often very fluid.

Admitting mistakes too. I think there should be a university class on it. Just 20 weeks of practicing saying, “My bad. I’ll fix it right now. Sorry.” over and over again. :wink: I’m only half-joking.

Isaiah


(Rob D) #6

Hi, @isaiah, I am happy to report that the new Stacks 3.2.5 which plays nicer with PlusKit, lets me export my site that includes 3 pages that use PlusKit, on the first attempt! That is a great relief after a couple of months of struggling with exporting to a local folder! I was beginning to contemplate abandoning RW and all my investments in addons…

Many, many thanks!:joy:


(Isaiah Carew) #7

Glad to hear it! That’s great news! We made a number of changes to help Stacks help PlusKit – Stacks is a bit more tolerant of PlusKit problems – rather than throwing it’s hands up and refusing to go forward – it checks to see if PlusKit is being used and makes some adjustments instead.

If you ever run into that sort of situation in the future I’d love to have a look at your site file (or even just a piece of it). Something that fails often is a very precious gift for a developer. :smiley:

The more frustrating the problem is to you – the easier it is for a developer to fix. :wink:


(Rob D) #9

Then, I tried to Publish (which never worked for me in the past) – and it worked without a hiccup, too! Now, I am almost certain that both Publish and Export problems had a common base (the combination of RW 7.1.x, Stacks plugin and PlusKit).


(Chet) #10

@isaiah Sorry to report that 3.2.5 actually broke all of my PlusKit imports. Went back to 3.2.4 and all is well.

I’d be happy to send my project file your way if it’d be helpful. Just let me know where to send the download link.


(Isaiah Carew) #11

@chet - thanks for the report. here’s what to send:

  • make a copy of your project. remove anything you can: any extra bits of the project that are unessential to this problem. all custom themes. and any custom stacks.
  • include that, along with any custom stacks that couldn’t be removed. if you’re not sure which to include, then just zip up your whole library folder and send that.
  • include a bit of info about where i should look – often projects that use PlusKit can be quite complex – so to save time let me know which pages i should look at, what i should do to see the problem

you can send the link pretty much anywhere: private message here, twitter DM (@isaiah or @yourheadsupport) or to our support email support@yourhead.com

Isaiah


(LabCoat Guy) #12

Are you going to update RapidBlog. It’s my most invaluable plug-in. I can put any RapidWeaver built cite into a google toip 10 ranking inside of 6 months.


(Isaiah Carew) #13

OK. I did say anything, so I suppose I had that coming.

But I’m afraid I don’t have any significant plans either for or against any major developments there.

We do plan to continue to maintain it and gradually improve some of the usability as long as folks continue enjoying it (and google maintains the API).

I’d be grateful for feature requests or bug reports if you have them. But maybe not in this PlusKit thread. :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

Ok. So from here on out: Ask me anything ABOUT PLUSKIT. :yum:


(Rob D) #14

Since we’ve established already that the stability of PlusKit is of utmost importance, do you have plans to introduce some new features, as well?


(Isaiah Carew) #15

@Rovertek - i did have plans for new features. but now i’ve decided that stability is paramount. so i’m focusing on:

  • stability
  • performance
  • usability

i’m retooling the new features as a simple independent plugin that i’ll release separately. hopefully soon. it’s a good one. :smiley:

as far as pausing…

stability is the key. and that will come first. if i don’t finish that release by the end of the day – it will have to wait for the weekend because i need to do a be more prep for my talk at https://rapidweaverconference.com on Friday

currently @import has a pretty big performance impact that doesn’t scale well with the size of the project. my first goal will be to reduce that cost.

on the usability front i’ve done a major overhaul. the quirky UI in the main content area is gone in the new version. the primary content area will be reserved for helpful project info. the settings are arranged into the Info Sidebar and organized by tab like most other plugins.

and the one big change that we’ve made to the functionality which impacts all three of the above: everything is off by default except for @import.

why?

because each different feature in pluskit: google docs importing, markdown processing, image processing – each of those has a significant performance impact – even if you don’t use them. And most of those extra bits are very rarely used.

leaving them off by default will let the user purposefully enable the things that they do need and gauge how it affects the performance of their site as they go.

Isaiah


(Rob D) #16

Sounds great. I can’t wait to see the actual overhauled product…


(Gnosis Media) #17

So, I read the blog post and am still not clear.

Will you be fully fixing the stack, or are all of the sites we built with PlusKit now required to use older versions of RW for the foreseeable and beyond?

If you are definitely planning to issue an update to PlusKit, can you please estimate by when?

Thank you!


(Isaiah Carew) #18

Will you be fully fixing the stack

Just a point of clarity: PlusKit is not a stack. PlusKit is a plugin. I know that can be confusing to some. And I hate correcting folks on pedantic terms when I understand the meaning – but I just wanted to make sure things are crystal clear to everyone else.

or are all of the sites we built with PlusKit now required to use older versions of RW for the foreseeable and beyond

You’ve given me two choices here – but I have to check the “None of the above” option. :stuck_out_tongue:

What we will be doing:

Step 1: Fix PlusKit

OK. Actually that’s all. Just the one step. :slight_smile:

The only caveat is what we do in the meantime. PlusKit doesn’t just need a minor adjustment or a minor bug fix. Some of the fundamental mechanisms of PlusKit are inherently incompatible with RapidWeaver 7.1 – there is no way to fix them short of burning them down to the ground and rebuilding from scratch.

That much work will take some time. During this interim period there are a few options:

  • Keep things simple
    Simple sites tend to work pretty well. The new threading in RapidWeaver 7.1 tends to break PlusKit mostly on larger sites.

  • If simple is not an option for your project: Revert to RapidWeaver 7.0
    Early versions of RapidWeaver don’t suffer from this incompatibility.

  • Try the beta (soon)
    Soon we’ll release a beta. It will not be a 100% fix and, as it will contain major changes, might contain new bugs. However as the beta testing progresses it should become more robust and reliable.

I hope that clears things up a bit.

Isaiah


(mark hunter) #19

Thanks for the update @isaiah

I’m a long time PlusKit user and it has been invaluable to me me back in the (pre-Stacks) day for, among other things, importing tab and accordion plugins to styled text pages to make concise pages.

I agree with you on having default all off except for @import, but since the advent of Stacks and the proliferation of stacks to do just about anything, I’d be interested in where you see the usecase for PlusKit, and by definition @import, would it just be for non-Stacks users/pages, or do you see Stacks and Pluskit working together going forward (or would an @import stack be a better option for Stacks users)?

Looks like some confusion has crept in between stacks and Plugins too…

Regards

Mark


(Gnosis Media) #20

Thank you! I’m aware that PlusKit not a stack. My bad.

So am I understanding your many words to say that you will, at some point, issue a fully fixed version of the PlusKIt so that we don’t have to continue editing older sites in RW 7.0 indefinitely?

It’s kinda hard to keep past sites simple since they are already developed, and we can only hobble along so long on RW 7.0 before other addons and stacks inevitably won’t work. And, as I’m sure you’re aware, clients don’t really dig paying to recode a site because something called “PlusKit” that they’ve never heard of doesn’t work any more.

Some general idea of a basic “by when” instead of just (soon) sure would be appreciated. Thx!


(Isaiah Carew) #21

where you see the usecase for PlusKit

When I took over the project about 9 months ago I thought, “PlusKit is just for legacy projects.” But the more users I come in contact with the more I see there are some interesting use cases that I had not considered. I think I see four primary use cases (note the fourth should not really count):

  1. Localization
    I was very surprised to learn that there are a number of users that have different content from different languages – and use PlusKit in a clever way to inject the content into Stacks pages.

  2. Importing multiple content copies of a layout page.
    A single stacks page is setup then copied for each page in the site. Content is injected into each page from Styled Text pages.

  3. Legacy use cases
    Many users use it simply because it’s what they’re familiar with or what is already working in their site.

  4. People who are drawn to complexity and cleverness
    Some users mistakenly believe that by using many imports they can somehow make their site easier to maintain.

My Views:

On #1: localization is great. however i think adding pluskit into the mix seems inefficient and overly complicated. i would encourage people to use localization solutions that made use of partials or content management systems.

On #2: this is a great use of PlusKit. and there is no other way to do this within RapidWeaver that I’m aware of. it is, however, very very very inefficient. after even just a handful of pages the site becomes unwieldy to edit and publish. i will definitely be tackling this use-case in future versions of pluskit, new features stacks, and maybe even new plugins.

On #3: legacy is what it is. i try to encourage people to update to more modern practices (like Stacks and Partials) but sometimes that’s not possible or easy. in those cases we just try to make sure we don’t break too much of that old stuff.

On #4: stoppit. adding pluskit just to segment your site into little bits only makes everything a tangle. DONT DO IT!!! maintaining your site will become a nightmare. publishing will slow to a crawl. and all the customer support folks that will surely have to help untangle it will dread your emails. don’t be that guy. :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

OK, I’m going to throw one more out there: OTHER

PlusKit is interesting because it is so flexible. And a healthy percentage of the users who enjoy it don’t fall into any of these categories. They are doing their own thing. And this Swiss Army knife of a plugin helps them out a bit. I think that’s probably the most awesome use case. :smiley: