I'm part of a two person team that just launched that BETA site for http://djangopackages.com, a site that is designed to list all the Django Applications, Frameworks, and Packages created by the Django community. While there are already a few places to look for these things, it is quite easy to argue that they are challenging to navigate, don't give any hard metrics, or are woefully incomplete/unstable/closed. Our goal was to provide an attractive, easy-to-navigate, easy-to-add-data, stable site and share it with the world.
Also, this was our entry into Django Dash 2010, and was the culmination of a few days of brainstorming over paper, a lot of research, and two days of feverish coding/designing. The project was feature complete to our specifications at 5pm the second day, and the rest of the time was spent adding in UI tweaks, usability enhancements, and trying to deploy our creation.
Since then, we've cleaned up a the UI, improved the design, and got the site stable. The code is open source and on github, so fork and contribute!
Design Consideration: No 'Like' button or 'Rate my app' rating systems
We wanted hard metrics. So the package numbers are pulled from the repo sites such as Github, Bitbucket, and Google Code. Otherwise things get weighted funny. Sure, this system can be monkeyed with, but its a good metric for now. We've had suggestions from Django core developers of coming up with a quality check system, things like pypants and/or a formalized approval system.
Design Consideration: Grids
Early on we wanted to duplicate and improve upon the Django CMS Comparison page. There is also a version for Forums, but it would be nice to have a current one for blogs! In addition, recently I heard that 'tag clouds are the mullets of web 2.0'. This really struck a chord in my soul. Since we had metrics on packages, why not compare those metrics, and use those comparisons, which we call 'grids', instead of tags? In fact, we extended our idea and instead of traditional tabs we use grids in the top navigation area as seen below:
Design Consideration: Categories
The site groups packages into three categories, 'Apps' which are individual django applications. 'Frameworks' which are aggregates of apps and python modules. And 'Projects' which are implementations of Apps and Frameworks. We've thought about adding 'Tools' but weren't sure if there was anything that fit that concept, and we are leery about allowing regular Python efforts into the fold.
Design Consideration: Regex vs XML
Slurping data out of Github was easy, especially since I used python-github2. Bitbucket has a RESTful API as well that serves out JSON. I think Google Code does as well. PyPI does not and DOAP on PyPI seems to give little that is useful, so I was forced to do screen scrapes of version numbers and downloads. I'm much faster with Regex and string methods than XML juggling, and speed was of the issue this weekend. I'm not sure what benefit there is to redoing it in HTML5lib or lxml, since what I have works and appears to be stable.
Design Consideration: Leave caching and optimization for later
Besides a tiny bit of memory based template caching on the home page, there is/was no optimization. In time I plan to cache many things using a proper key/value store like redis or memcached. Perhaps not before more design and usability work is done.
Why scared of rabbits?
You wouldn't understand unless you live on the Kansas prairie.
Note: if you have any suggestions, issues, problems with Django Packages please use our issue tracker!
Uber and the Fourth Estate
4 days ago