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How do you want to browse packages on GCentral?


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We are currently working on the UX design of the GCentral website and need some feedback from you:

When browsing for packages (not searching), how would you imagine the experience or workflow? What would be useful to you? 

Let's start an open discussion, looking forward to your feedback!

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I'll start the conversation - I was looking through PyPI the other day and found their browsing experience useful in the sense that you could see all the different options for tags or categories of code more or less at once and go through it. Does that sound useful to you guys? This is just one idea.

This is the example from PyPI: https://pypi.org/search/


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I don't think I would find myself browsing packages without first looking for a specific package but I do like using tags as a way to find alternatives I didn't find in a direct search. As an example, at some point I got to the following VS Code plugin page which seemed nice but also had a set of tags on the right which I used to look at a bunch of different alternatives.


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I also wonder if there would be some way to get a "if you liked this package you may like these packages" type of recommendation. I'm not sure if it would be all that helpful for API packages but it's something that might be cool for quick drop shortcuts, right-click plugins, or other editor enhancements like the class method browser.

Having recommended packages could also be helpful for "framework" packages that have plugins or tools associated with them. As an example, if I end up at the JKI SMO package it would seem reasonable to point me to packages like "JKI SMO Template (DAQmx)" or "JKI SMO Template (Graphs)".

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+1 that I mostly use package browsers for search and end up browsing packages based on the search. ie search for json and open the six "top results" in new tabs and start comparing them.

For actual browsing of packages the tool I have gotten the most value out of is curated "awesome-lists". For example this awesome-json list. It's nice because it stretches the boundary around the packages; not only are packages for specific languages listed but similar technologies, helper tools around the concept, tutorials. You get a nice collection not just of the specific package but the ecosystem around the technology the package is related to. Would be interesting to build that curation into the package discovery experience.

Edited by rajsite
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GCentral will definitely have search by keywords and tagging but if you were browsing, trying to discover new things, what would you think could help?  How can GCentral help you find new things you weren't necessarily searching for.  @jacobson's suggestions on GCentral giving you recommendations based on what you have liked and/or what you have downloaded is a possible feature.  Or suggestions on packages that aren't dependencies of each other but do complement each other.

What about physical UI elements on the website like: a tag cloud, tree of topics where the package might be applied, featured lists, application lists, etc.  Any other brainstorming ideas?

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Boring yes, but the best option when designing user interfaces is to make it work the way other sites already work. Then it meets the users' expectations, and will come off as intuitive to use. You can sprinkle it with smartness on top, but just have a look at the various app stores e.g. and copy that. 

For LabVIEW users VIPM and NIPM are established interfaces though - so making something similar to that is good, and then you can get an advantage over it by immediately incorporating the most requested, but not yet implemented GUI-features from their idea exchange...Showing and allowing people to filter based on the type of license is one of those for example.

Personally I either know what I am looking for and search for the name or relevant terms so having a smart search function that will find stuff even though I am not using the correct or full name, or have written something that matches completely with a tag is a necessity. I also want to be able to see what the pricing model is and/or filter based on that. If I am just looking for anything useful, having easy access to lists of the most popular and/or highest rates ones is good. I will then typically want to see the price of the package in that list as well, not have to drill down several layers only to figure out that it costs more than I would be willing to pay.

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My basic thoughts on browsing boil down to what I'm really looking to do.  Usually if I'm just browsing, I'm looking for things that might help me be more productive.  That's usually hard for me to put my finger on to look for search terms.  The ways that I usually find something is through people making suggestions. 

On a website like GCentral that could mean things like:

  1. high ratings
  2. suggestions from people we might "follow"
  3. newly added projects
  4. most downloads
  5. projects that have as dependencies of tools I already have installed
  6. whether there is a video tutorial link. 

Those are all ways that I would be likely to try something.  So I would probably like to see a mix of things show up on the front page when just browsing.  If I also assume that there might be some form of website cookie associated with browsing on GCentral, keeping track of whether I've seen the suggestions before, to keep some percentage of new things rotating through the top of the list would be helpful.

Those are just my initial thoughts.  I hope that helps.

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