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[PHP-DEV] Confusing Windows Users 101...the download page is UNUSABLE.

Posted by Thomas Hruska 
I've been writing software for Windows in Visual Studio since forever
and also know user-land PHP like the back of my hand and, even after a
few Google searches, I'm still scratching my head over which PHP Windows
binary download I want to use. If *I* can't figure out which version is
appropriate, neither can the average web developer.

Fixing the Windows binary download page so that it is USABLE by the
average user should be priority #1.


If I want to download PHP, I usually go here:

http://www.php.net/downloads.php

Which in turn, because I want Windows binaries, now takes me here:

http://windows.php.net/download/



Here are the specific issues with the Windows binary download page:

* The "Which version do I choose?" box is confusing, out of date,
doesn't actually address all the real questions users will have, and
most users will just give up before getting to that box. Even if they
do get to the box, the end result will be an even more
confused/confounded user. The box should, at the very least, explain in
clear English the difference between the Non-Thread Safe and Thread Safe
builds. Also, assume that most users won't even know what Visual Studio
even is. Hold the user's hand here and you'll have less cruft on the
mailing lists later.

* The ordering of the downloads seems backwards. But until you get the
"Which version do I choose?" box fixed, I won't be able to determine this.

* The "Select an option to direct access..." dropdown is completely useless.

* The previous page says "Windows binaries and installers". In that
context, the user mentally asks: "Why is there source code on the next
page? And why is source code listed first if I'm after binaries?"


And, last, but HARDLY least. Listed last because this item requires
rethinking and redesigning the entire Windows binary download page:

* The two column layout is confusing and not really necessary. If users
are not going to know what they need (which they won't) and you are
going to maintain a complex set of binaries (which it appears there will
be for some time), consider making a "wizard" instead. First step:
"Choose a version of PHP". This step is pretty self-explanatory but
affords explaining which version the user should choose and why. Second
step: "Choose a build type". In this step, explain the differences
between the builds and then *RECOMMEND A BUILD TYPE!* Third step:
"Download". In this step, include the links to the appropriate VC++
runtimes and Apache in addition to the correct downloads for the
previously selected version and build type. This approach also affords
adding a "What do I do next?" section to be on the download page to get
the user started on the right path if they've never used the PHP
binaries or PHP before. Maybe also inject a short blurb somewhere on
the download page discussing ZIP vs. Installer vs. Debug Pack.

--
Thomas Hruska
CubicleSoft President

Barebones CMS is a high-performance, open source content management
system for web developers operating in a team environment.

An open source CubicleSoft initiative.
Your choice of a MIT or LGPL license.

http://barebonescms.com/


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On 2012-03-31, Thomas Hruska <[email protected]> wrote:
> I've been writing software for Windows in Visual Studio since forever
> and also know user-land PHP like the back of my hand and, even after a
> few Google searches, I'm still scratching my head over which PHP Windows
> binary download I want to use. If *I* can't figure out which version is
> appropriate, neither can the average web developer.
>
> Fixing the Windows binary download page so that it is USABLE by the
> average user should be priority #1.

Thank you for letting us know about the potential problems of the
windows download site. Feedback is alwahys appreciated. Why not go
ahead and help out? Feel free to fork the windows website on
https://github.com/php/web-windows and open a pull request.

Thanks

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hi,

On Sat, Mar 31, 2012 at 6:14 PM, Thomas Hruska <[email protected]> wrote:

> Fixing the Windows binary download page so that it is USABLE by the average
> user should be priority #1.


> Here are the specific issues with the Windows binary download page:
>
> * The "Which version do I choose?" box is confusing, out of date, doesn't
> actually address all the real questions users will have, and most users will
> just give up before getting to that box.  Even if they do get to the box,
> the end result will be an even more confused/confounded user.  The box
> should, at the very least, explain in clear English the difference between
> the Non-Thread Safe and Thread Safe builds.  Also, assume that most users
> won't even know what Visual Studio even is.  Hold the user's hand here and
> you'll have less cruft on the mailing lists later.

Right VC6 could be removed. However I kept it so that users still
downloading older PHP 5.2 or 5.3 still needs this notice, it has been
proven to be useful.

> * The ordering of the downloads seems backwards.  But until you get the
> "Which version do I choose?" box fixed, I won't be able to determine this..
>
> * The "Select an option to direct access..." dropdown is completely useless.

Right, now that we have only two kind of binaries, NTS (fastcgi) or TS
(apache SAPIs and co). But in a few months, that wil change again with
the re introduciton of the x64 binaries.

> * The previous page says "Windows binaries and installers".  In that
> context, the user mentally asks:  "Why is there source code on the next
> page?  And why is source code listed first if I'm after binaries?"

The box, clearly visible, contains the binary. We can indeed move the
src link down the box.

> And, last, but HARDLY least.  Listed last because this item requires
> rethinking and redesigning the entire Windows binary download page:

Feel free to provide a patch for a wizard.

btw, I, for one, am not BLIND. Thanks.


Cheers,
--
Pierre

@pierrejoye | http://blog.thepimp.net | http://www.libgd.org

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Hi!

> btw, I, for one, am not BLIND. Thanks.

Coincidentally, just read this:

http://thingist.com/t/item/4372/

I think makes a useful reading.
--
Stanislav Malyshev, Software Architect
SugarCRM: http://www.sugarcrm.com/
(408)454-6900 ext. 227

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Hi

2012/4/1 David Soria Parra <[email protected]>:
> On 2012-03-31, Thomas Hruska <[email protected]> wrote:
>> I've been writing software for Windows in Visual Studio since forever
>> and also know user-land PHP like the back of my hand and, even after a
>> few Google searches, I'm still scratching my head over which PHP Windows
>> binary download I want to use.  If *I* can't figure out which version is
>> appropriate, neither can the average web developer.
>>
>> Fixing the Windows binary download page so that it is USABLE by the
>> average user should be priority #1.
>
> Thank you for letting us know about the potential problems of the
> windows download site. Feedback is alwahys appreciated. Why not go
> ahead and help out? Feel free to fork the windows website on
> https://github.com/php/web-windows and open a pull request.
>
> Thanks

You would probably want to read these to contribute.

https://wiki.php.net/vcs/gitfaq
https://wiki.php.net/vcs/gitworkflow

Regards,

--
Yasuo Ohgaki
yohgaki@ohgaki.net

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On Sat, Mar 31, 2012 at 1:54 PM, Yasuo Ohgaki <[email protected]> wrote:

> Hi
>
> 2012/4/1 David Soria Parra <[email protected]>:
> > On 2012-03-31, Thomas Hruska <[email protected]> wrote:
> >> I've been writing software for Windows in Visual Studio since forever
> >> and also know user-land PHP like the back of my hand and, even after a
> >> few Google searches, I'm still scratching my head over which PHP Windows
> >> binary download I want to use. If *I* can't figure out which version is
> >> appropriate, neither can the average web developer.
> >>
> >> Fixing the Windows binary download page so that it is USABLE by the
> >> average user should be priority #1.
> >
> > Thank you for letting us know about the potential problems of the
> > windows download site. Feedback is alwahys appreciated. Why not go
> > ahead and help out? Feel free to fork the windows website on
> > https://github.com/php/web-windows and open a pull request.
> >
> > Thanks
>
> You would probably want to read these to contribute.
>
> https://wiki.php.net/vcs/gitfaq
> https://wiki.php.net/vcs/gitworkflow
>
> Regards,
>
> --
> Yasuo Ohgaki
> yohgaki@ohgaki.net
>
> --
> PHP Internals - PHP Runtime Development Mailing List
> To unsubscribe, visit: http://www.php.net/unsub.php
>
>
Isn't Apache still building under VC6, or have they finally switched to VC9?

--Kris
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