[wpkg-users] new web-based wpkg manager

Rainer Meier r.meier at wpkg.org
Sun Aug 3 11:32:06 CEST 2008


mscdex wrote:
> Lately I've been tinkering with the idea of creating a new web-based 
> utility to manage wpkg profiles, packages, etc. The existing wpkg web 
> utility is outdated (last updated in mid-2007ish) and the maintainer for 
> it appears to be no longer active. I believe having a decent (and 
> active) frontend project would help a lot of people, even those of us 
> who don't mind manually modifying XML files and such. It might even 
> allow many of us to "sell" wpkg to some of our clients by showing them 
> how easy it is to manage software deployment (for free!)

I absolutely agree. Personally I am still using WPKG WEB even if it is 
unmaintained and I cannot use some features introduced by myself into 
WPKG ;-)
In fact I could export the XML files at any time and continue to use XML 
files. I don't mind editing XML files but WPKG WEB provides a more nice 
interface and it is good if some GUI is available to show to some 
administrators looking for a software deployment tool like WPKG. So I 
really support the idea to develop a new web-based package management tool.

So now let's list some suggestions:
- XML import/export
I think it is important to support exporting the resulting XML files. 
This helps for debugging or in case somebody will switch from GUI to 
manual XML edit.
The import feature seems to be very important to me in order to support 
smooth migration. Probably it does not make much sense to migrate the 
current WPKG WEB database but just export all XML files from WPKG WEB 
and then import the XML files to the new GUI.

- Support XSD
I worked on some XSD files to define the syntax of package and other 
WPKG XML files. By loading the XSD file within the GUI it should be 
possible to provide an editor which displays a nice GUI with pull-down 
lists for enumerated lists, check field contents by XSD definition and 
so on. I am also thinking about a kind of "advanced" button on the 
package edit page which would allow to insert/edit all attributes 
according to XSD (in case the GUI does display only the most frequently 
used ones). This would allow to support new syntax, attributes and nodes 
even if they did not exist when the GUI was created.
There might be a "plain-XML" tab/button as well to allow direct edit of 
the XML source (which is of course validated by XSD). This could even 
convince hard-core XML administrators to use the GUI as it offers full 
flexibility to them.

- Templates
Most packages are based on a small number of installers. For example 
NSIS, MSI and InnoSetup are very common. It would be nice if there would 
be some (customizable and extensible) templates available to the 
administrator. So one could click on "create new NSIS package" and a new 
package which already includes "%SOFTWARE\softXY\setup.exe /S" as the 
installer command and the likely.

- Ajax
Well, nice buzzword. I hate buzzwords. But in this case I see some very 
nice use cases. The current WPKG web interface for example allows to 
re-order checks or commands. However continously clicking on the "^" or 
"v" button to move an item up or down is annoying. The same applies for 
different sections of the XML files. I like the tabbed interface of WPKG 
WEB but it needs to reload the whole page on each operation.
Well, this is not a blocker but could for sure increase speed and usability.

- Usability in general
Unfortunately this is nothing which can be described in general. I think 
it needs to be a process of discussion. Especially developers tend to 
create huge, complicated GUIs which provide very poor usability. I am 
sure we have some people on the list which could then contribute to make 
the GUI better. I just suggest to be open to usability comments or even 
In general I suggest keeping the main GUI slim and easy to use with some 
extension points (like "advanced" or ">" buttons to open an advanced 
edit panel or similar stuff). I would say 90% of the packages can be 
done with very few configuration and 80% of the WPKG features are only 
used in very very rare cases. Try to follow the KISS principle (Keep It 
Simple and Stupid).

Just my five cents for now,

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