Vvvv ecosystem and design

As briefly mentioned in VVVV.Nodes.AnimAdvanced.dll missing from 50beta36_1 addons here are a few questions about vvvv and its ecosystem and design in general.

Since a few years, I’ve been using vvvv on and off understanding better bit by bit what it is and how everything works.

The best times I had when learning it was when someone was teaching me in person how to use it and how to overcome some the initial barriers. Even though there is still some frustration sometimes, I am enjoying it a lot and feel grateful for its existence and highly appreciate the work of the people making it.

I’m currently diving in deeper without anyone teaching me directly but still coming across loads of questions trying to answer them using all online resources. Some of the things I experience seem to be bugs, which I would like to report to improve vvvv. But sometimes I’m just not sure if a specific behaviour is actually intended in that way. So I’m starting to write posts here on the forum. But to be able to do that effectively and not to upset anyone by having false assumptions, I would like to understand better what vvvv is actually meant to be. I seem to be looking for a few documents regarding this.

One of them could be a kind of “about vvvv” page explaining more about its goals, environment, culture, history and target group. Maybe similar to
Does something like that exist?

I’m also interested in what ideas and rules were leading the current design? What is driving your decisions for future releases? Of course, things are done differently in vvvv. I’m not only talking about visual programming or paradigms like spreads, but also its terminology, user interface and experience or its modularity.
I would love to get a better understanding of this to be able to phrase good questions and give meaningful feedback. Is there some kind of manifesto explaining this? Maybe also talking about what vvvv is not, who it’s not for and comparing it to other similar frameworks?
A roadmap would be excellent as well to get an idea of what you guys (vvvv core team) are currently working on and what to expect in the near future.

Last but not least, I’m also interested in how the community and knowledge transfer work. I know there are a few places to reach out and get updates from, like the shoutbox, forum, comments below contributions/documentation, blog posts, riot, vvvv tv, vvvv academy. Then there are offline events as well, like Node conference or summer camps. Currently, I find it hard to understand: What goes where and which channel to follow to stay updated on the most important stuff? It would be amazing to understand this better.

Thanks a lot in advance!

this might be helpful:

we write devvvv blog posts about things we are working on, of course that is not a general roadmap but it gives you an idea. currently we mainly kick-start VL and the future of visual programming:

Thanks a lot, @tonfilm.

Wow, what a great article on the history of vvvv! Any plans on incorporating a similar page into the vvvv website?
What do you think about the other bits I mentioned?
I believe those things would help new users a lot in becoming comfortable more quickly.

Do you have the impression what I’m describing are common problems to new users and do you have plans to improve the situation?

Blog posts are cool. On the other hand, they will be outdated at some point and make it harder to get an overview compared to one page with a a summary of what’s going in general.

Yes, I know VL. :) It’s fantastic! I also went to one of your workshops in Berlin.

you don’t seem like you’re here to upset anyone. usually peoples questions when approaching vvvv are very individual. i’d find it hard to write a general guide that suits everyone. so please just keep’em coming.

this should be simple: for logged in users the Activities page gives a full overview of things happening. everything that happens in vvvv-land is showing up there.

people who know how to handle RSS have the big advantage that they can also subscribe to a combination of tags on our blog, like e.g. news + devvvv. but this is just an alternative option to the activities which allows you to filter as you please.

and finally i’d recommend to hang out on riot for some more immediate chatter.

hope to see you on our first meetup.

Thanks, @joreg.

That’s good news. :)

Oh yeah, I’d love to come. But am currently living in New Zealand. I’ll be in Berlin for a visit between the end of June and end of July to enjoy summer. Do you plan to have another meetup during that time?

Thanks a lot for pointing this out. I used to use RSS a lot. Unfortunately, it became less popular and made it harder to get news via RSS (certain tools died), and I kind of gave up on it. Anyway, I’m gonna look into it again and will try to make it work.

The ideal and most convenient way for me is to aggregate all news into my email inbox, without the need to manually check certain websites every day.

I agree people are gonna have different questions depending on their skillset and the problems they are working.
I was more thinking of a very general manifesto rather than a guide because there already are a few tutorials out there:

Thank you. I’m going to do that.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, that I had a tough time to overcome some initial barriers with vvvv. I believe the reasons are some very different approaches vvvv is taking with its user interface and other things I mentioned earlier. I don’t think that’s bad, I like diversity and believe some of those approaches are making vvvv super powerful and are the reason for me to keep going. On the other hand, I think if I didn’t have people in real life teaching me how to overcome those initial barriers I would probably have dropped it quickly.

Of course, I can only speak from my own experience and the experience of some fellows who were/are struggling in similar ways. Most of them have a background in visual design and have some good experience with textual programming. Part of my background is in UX/UI, by the way. I also tried other visual (and textual) programming frameworks like Quartz Composer, Vuo, Max/MSP. Some of them are not as powerful as vvvv and therefore probably more straightforward to learn in some ways. And still, I think there are a few things vvvv could learn from their approaches.

More bluntly spoken: My feeling is, that vvvv currently targets more advanced users. It’s hard for beginners to step into it. I don’t think vvvv itself is the main problem (although I see room for improvements there as well), but more in the way its special characteristics are communicated. In it’s current ecosystem, with an overwhelming website and lots of scattered information and in some cases outdated information. I’m sure people who use vvvv on a daily basis more comfortable with those systems and don’t have issues with it anymore.

I’m thankful for your answers pointing me to the things I need. But wouldn’t it be wonderful to have those things popping into new users eyes straight away to pave their ways?

As I sometimes find it hard to understand the reasoning behind vvvvs design (ecosystem and UI) I tried to have a few conversations with more experienced vvvv users in person. The answer I usually got was something like: “Everything in vvvv is designed to be like that on purpose. It’s perfect.” Or, “Don’t know. Just deal with it. It’s never going to change.” It sounded like there is not much of an open ear for suggestions and improvements regarding the general design of vvvv and its ecosystem in the vvvv community.
What is your opinion about it? I like to give feedback, but only if it’s being heard and considered.

I think it’s important to keep a platform very friendly for new users to maintain a healthy community. For me, it starts with excellent user experience, and I do see ways to improve things. I’m ultimately writing this to understand how the driving forces behind vvvv work and how much I want to commit to vvvv.

I can also live with answers like: “No, it’s too hard to cater for both pros and beginners, and we want to focus on pros.” Or, “Sorry mate, we are a small team, and we just don’t have the time.”
But my central questions are: Do you share my opinion, and see room for improvements when it comes to the overall UX which affects beginners the most? Are you interested in making changes to the platform in the future to address this?

When coming to Berlin next month, I’m happy to have a chat in person. Let me know if you are interested. Might be easier.

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we’ve actually had a “getting started” guide in the works which we’ve never finished. thanks for the reminder, will revive that one and ask your input on it…

if you’ve followed vvvv over the past years you’d have noticed a massive overhaul and cleanup of the information we have on the wiki. but unless we have a fulltime person on this it will always lack behind the state of art. i took your reminder to finish cleaning out left-over wikipages last night. so a search will now find much less outdated pages.

absolutely, we’re always happy to get to know enthusiastic users like you. if you can fit it in late june that would be perfect. i’d argue we have a track-record of having an open ear for the past >15 years. we’re available online ~24/7/365 and usually quick to respond. then we have the burden of merging all the different ideas of everyone with our own. and obviously not everything can be realized upon a quick request. but definitely always up for a challenge…

here you go: any thoughts on this?

I’m a bit confused since it now appears to me that the getting started page has always been linked to from some locations on the website. But @joreg, thanks a lot for looking into it! That’s awesome and a great start.

While analysing the structure of the website I realise it might be a good idea to restructure some of the content to highlight some content hidden in subpages other more prominent places one level up in the sitemap. But that’s a more extended conversation. I’m happy to help, but can’t spend this much time right now. I feel Dominik Koller (can’t figure out his forum name) of the vvvv academy could also be a good help with all of this here as well.

Anyway here are some thoughts for improvements:

First of all, I think the guide could be more obvious on the website:

  • add a link on the landing page
  • move the one on the download page up straight to the top. All info there is mostly interesting for beginners everyone else is familiar with most of the info on that page anyway.
  • make the link to the guide on the documentation page stand out more. I’ve not recognised it before. Maybe give it a separate highly inviting paragraph, ideally, with an introductory video (perhaps from vvvv academy). Some of this (the video) might also have a better spot in the guide itself.

Regarding its content and incomplete list in no particular order:

  • add link to the glossary:
  • add link to the how to find help page:
  • add link to troubleshooting:
  • add link to documentation:
  • add link to learning section of the documentation page
  • explain how the community works: e.g. asking lots of questions is the way to go.
  • encourage people to become part of the community and help improve vvvv, e.g. by writing/updating documentation and creating help patches at the end of the document.
  • create a short about section on the top. This should include the link to the propaganda page with a sentence like: “Is vvvv the right tool for you? Get an overview of vvvvs main capabilities and features.”
  • The guide should relate to the new users rather then vvvv itself. We should ask ourselves what kind of questions new users are having (maybe by talking to vvvv teachers) and answer them in the guides. One example: “Do you have experience in other frameworks or textual coding? Check out this page to learn about the differences and how to make the transition into the beautiful world of vvvv” (not sure if this page exists already somewhere)
  • add text or link to a separate page(s) about how the community works and encourage to become part of the community by getting involved in the forum or improving the documentation
  • Add a warning about how vvvv is different to some other software, how it might be confusing in the beginning, but how much cooler it’s going to be later, once you quickly learned and understood. Encourage people to stick to vvvv!
  • Change the “before you ask” into a separate “What do I need to work with vvvv?” section and add a three-button mouse to the list.

I’m afraid. I always avoided the website in the past, because I was soo hard to find answers to my questions. I talked to people who were more experienced than me instead. Great to hear about all those improvements though.

If there is not enough money to pay someone for this, maybe the community could help with this? Especially teachers would profit from this quite a bit, but everyone else too of course. I feel like the, e.g. Processing community is onto it when it comes to improving documentation. So maybe outreaching to the vvvv community with a dedicated blog post and adding a page about how to help to improve the website could help with it?

Good on you and great to hear! I can definitely feel how responsive you are at this conversation and highly appreciate it.

I spent some time today reading the whole Girlpower folder thread. It was great to get an image of the different opinions and attitudes within the community. It showed me, that there are a lot of open-minded people caring about beginners. But also the opposite is present which confirms some of my earlier thoughts on why and how vvvv is hard to access for beginners.

Again, to make sure no one even get’s some of those negative impressions I had, I think it would help to write some kind of mission statement / code of conduct / manifesto or guideline (my English is probably not good enough to nail the terminology, but I hope you get the idea). Having a clear vision of what vvvv is supposed to be, how decisions are made, what its strengths are and where it sucks, what the social environment of the community should look like and what everyone can expect from each other (devvvvs, community, contributors, …) can really help to have meaningful discussions and make quick decisions while always referring back to those documents.
Writing these documents can be a tedious process and is hard to realise or can even put some people off. I think it’s well worth it though. I reckon start with only a few sentences everyone you know can agree with and then extend it to something bigger over time.

I feel I sound like the schoolmaster while still being a newbie. I’m sorry if I come across arrogant while not understanding the big picture. Really just want to help and understand better.

One good example is the Vuo.
They have a pretty transparent way of letting the community vote for new requests which will be included later:
They have (by the looks of it) a fair and unbiased comparison to similar software (including vvvv):
The way they are presenting the system is more clear and straightforward compared to vvvv in my opinion.

Thank you. :) I’m gonna contact you when I’m in Berlin.

thanks for the feedback on “getting started”. we tried to incorporate most of your suggestions. please check again.

regarding the “mission statement…” i’m not convinced yet. lets better talk this in person maybe…

Thanks so much guys for incorporating my thoughts! It looks heap better.

Let’s talk more in person. Looking forward to our meeting. :)

moments later: here is the first part of our roadmap. the early years. still more to come.

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