Getting Started Guide

Phil suggested adding a getting started guide to the Elgg documentation What should this cover?

  • Let's start at the beginning, remember that post in the g-group?

    It was empty and he didn't have a clue ... so how about telling people to expect that initially. An explanation that the software does rightly, largely consist of user contributions so given that there aren't yet any there, there won't be a huge amount to look at?

    I can't remember now, are any plugins activated automatically or are they _all_ off by default.

    If they're off then that might be the next logical step?

  • Well, being a complete beginner, I can tell you what I am looking for.

    First, I'm told a lot of the information exists on the site, but it's certainly not easy to find or get an overview from.  If you want to build a wide user community, it is vital to get that "Getting Started" guide up. For every person you get downloading & trying to play with Elgg, I guess you get 50 who have heard of it; come to the site, look around, and leave confused without trying it.  Like I did.  It was only because I kept reading so many great things about Elgg that I came back to try it out.

    I think a paragraph or two at the beginning as to what kind of skills are required for what operations would be super useful.  There are some frameworks that don't require coding to get a basic site up and operational, but I get the feeling there's not much you can do with Elgg without opening up and editing a .php file.  Which is fine, but that should be made clear, one way or the other.  What can you configure with the Elgg tools, and what do you need to code/edit.

    Then, a quick guide to customize the start page, (which I did find, sort of, by searching through other groups & finding the comment:

    "You have to edit your index.php file under /mods/custom_index".  A little more fleshing out, a little easier to find, would be great.

    Another thing people might like to get a handle on early is how to customize the general look and feel of the site.  I found a link down at the bottom of the "Views" documentation pages that was just what I was looking for:  Creating a new site theme -- but that link first tried to get me to edit the page, which of course I was banned from; when I took out the edit command, the page contained  nothing anyway.

    I think most newcommers are looking to get a quick feel of what elgg can do and what it is like to work with.  If you KNOW you're going to work with Elgg; just got hired on a project to develop in Elgg, it's worth the time it takes to dig around & figure it out.  If you are skimming the net to find some interesting new technology to develop your next website in, there are an awful lot of choices out there, many of which sound quite good superficially.  Pitty the poor guy that has to evaluate them in face of all the conflicting testimonials.  Make it quick and easy for him to get a quick "Hello World" up and running, and then he/she is more likely to stick it through, and it makes the whole learning process a lot easier to understand if you've just gone through a simple, hands-on example & got it working.

    Seriously, if you have a few developers and you are looking for a significantly larger installed user base, I think you would benefit hugely by adding less features at the moment, and adding more documentation instead.  If each developer took 1 day to write some aspect of introductory documentation, that would go a huge way to improving the documentation, without impacting your delivery schedule seriously.

    I took the trouble for this lengthy response because I took your request for feedback seriously, and I think there's a good chance I'm going to be using Elgg, it seems quite capable; and right now the documentation is my biggest need as a developer; especially since it seems the good only book available on Elgg is for .9 and not very relevant any more.

  • Thanks for the feedback, Chris. I've been working on the Admin documentation (see as an example of what I've done so far). Developer documentation needs to be improved, too. What did you (or anyone else) think of the Getting Started with Development page?

  • I seem to have an issue every time I go into the site as an admin. I'll start keeping track of them. This evening for instance, I copied a formatted document out of a Word file to insert into the terms of service "external page". And when I look at the ToS all of the formatting is gone (ie bold text, para breaks). Something as seemingly simple as that needs to be explained. (Help appreciated).

    I'll be back with more as it happens.

    Thanks very much.

  • I recently became aware of ELGG on a Open Source Project that I'm currently participating in.  I've used Joomla for a year now, and it took me about 3 hours to finally get my 1st live website install done "correctly".  I've managed to install several more in the past year, and now can do it in about 15 minutes assuming all necessary info is available, and files are uploaded (not a big thing for me with 10mb/2mb access).

    Even with all the knowledge I gained installing Joomla in the past year, I knew that installing ELGG probably wasn't going to be that hard.  I had already done about 6 hours of reading in the past 2 days about installing it, and what to expect if you have errors.  Most of my time spent was spinning my wheels was the data directory.  I placed it where the documentation recommended, but until I moved it somewhere else on my server did the install work. 

    The easier it is to install, the more likely you will have new websites using ELGG.  The install process might be even broken down into which host you use for your website.  So far, I like what I can do with this software.  I look forward to more plugin that help enhance the user experience.

  • @ Cash

    You asked what should it cover.

    Well, "where-to-find" is a necessary head.

    For instance, I have a question that fits. In engine/settings.php you can see that Elgg allows us to use 2 databses: one for 'read" and the other for 'write'. Now what are the + and - points? Does any Elgg document give the answer?

    This is not a model question. I really need this info. But it gives you an idea as to what should be covered. Because even well-experienced Elgg users may not be able to answer this type of questions. Some installation problems, posted in several palces, remain unanswered properly. Interestingly a google search shows that dozens of Elgg-sites have reached the dead-end this way.

  • @ OnTheMarkDesign

    I am a well-experienced Joomla user who frequently answers questions at the Joomla site. But all my Joomla installations were done automatically vide Fantastico in Cpanel.

    Elgg and Joomla are built in different ways. At Joomala, I can put whatever I want on any page, and control access element by element, all from the Admin, without any code-hacking. Elgg is not at all flexible to that degree, but I didn't find Elgg installation to be problematic. I just followed the installation instructions in the Elgg doc. Here is the link:

  • @onthemarkdesign

    I think it's worht remembering that different projects have different aims.

    Elgg isn't and nor does ot claim to be an 'out-of-the-box ' product. It is an engine or a framework that people with some knowledge can use to construct a social network.

    It isn't recommended for people with no technical knowledge or expertise at all. I'm not implying that applies to your good self, I'm just pointing out that in reality elgg isn't aiming to be a super-simple solution for everybody to use.



  • @ phil

    People with "technical knowledge or expertise" will make their own Social Networks, they won't have to depend on Elgg for it. At any rate, they won't visit a Getting Started Guide to post a question.

    @ all with "technical knowledge or expertise"

    Can anybody answer my question about using 2 databases posted above?


  • @shillo - the read/write databases is an unfinished feature if I remember correctly - but really this thread shouldn't be used to get answers :)

Feedback and Planning

Feedback and Planning

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