Articles / Category Reviews

Category Reviews

One of the problems with a software index like freshmeat's projects database is that people who wander into a category for the first time have difficulty determining which of the listed projects best suit their needs, which are ready for use, and which are in the early stages of development. They resort to downloading deadends and waste a lot of time before they find what they need, or they just give up. Today, we're starting a new series of articles that hopes to counter this problem with insights from people who are knowledgeable about specific types of software.

These will be reviews not of individual applications, but of types of applications. We want to offer information on the history of the given type of software, which apps are the old favorites, which are under the most active development, how all the pieces fit together, etc., so that people know how to get started with the topic at hand.

Imagine that you're looking at "Internet :: Log Analysis" for the first time, and everything looks equally good (or bad) to you, or that a friend stopped you in the hallway and said "I just started using Linux and know nothing about Unix word processors. What do I need to know?" These are the sorts of problems we hope to alleviate with a little helpful advice from experts.

Our first review is on the topic of financial software, and is by Christopher Browne, the man whose name pops up when you type "Linux finance" into Google's search box. After today, anyone who finds her way to one of our financial categories will find a link to his review and your comments on it. I hope you'll find this helpful.

There are 298 categories to go, so I'll welcome your help in finding qualified people to review them. Start at http://freshmeat.net/browse/, see if anyone leaps to mind as the obvious person to do a review, and let me know.

Thanks, and enjoy.

RSS Recent comments

04 Aug 2001 08:58 knud

Another solution
The problem you describe is one off the problems
I see with freshmeat.

Another problem is information overload ;-)

Typical I want to know about new releases of
software i use.

But freshmeat make it hard to find them
because the is so many releases every day
and the is no smart way to only see those which
interest you.

Here is what I will suggest as a solution.

Make a hot list for every user can add the project
which interest them.

When the use access freshmeat make sure that new release on
the users hotlist is displayed first on the frontpage.

Now you can also use this information to rank the projects
after how many hotlists the project is on.

An with every project you could generate a list with this:
"User how have hotlisted this project also hotlisted the following projects"
this would typical be a list off related projects.

and for user you could generate a list of projects most related to project
on there own hotlist.

I think such a system would help a lot on the problems.

Knud

04 Aug 2001 10:56 jeffcovey

Re: Another solution
You can already subscribe to projects you want to know about and
filter out those you don't want to know about. You're just not paying
attention. :)

04 Aug 2001 11:20 scoop

Re: Another solution

> You can already subscribe to projects
> you want to know about and
> filter out those you don't want to
> know about.

Plus: by switching the trove filter mode (/filters/list/trove/) to "limit your view to specified categories" the system will only display applications listed in the pre-defined categories. I added a lot of additional features over the past weeks, just look around and you will spot them.

04 Aug 2001 11:48 kpd

Re: Another solution
This is a marvelous idea. I don't want to filter out categories necessarily - one of the great things about freshmeat is it lets me get a feel for what people are working on - world-wide brainstorming if you will. I often don't know I'm looking for a piece of software. The 'people who watch this project also watch...' links would be especially valuable. Audio Galaxy has a similar idea in that they suggest related artists. It's a nice way to explore the database.

Reviews are nice too. Can you add a section to the reviews shoing what version of the software package was reviewed, and what version is current (and a link to the changelog?)

Freshmeat is great, but the original author is correct - it takes too much time to keep up with it.

06 Aug 2001 12:17 knud

Re: Another solution
Thank,
Now that I were looking for it finaly found it.

There is a problem that the is no subscription
link on the project page.

If your enter the project via the right bar
or dircet hit via search you can't subscripe.

Knud

06 Aug 2001 13:58 lutris

Multiple catagory trees might help

One small suggestion: maby in the next revision of the Freshmeat engine it might be a good idea to have multiple catagory trees, and have a project fit into one (or more) place in each tree. That way, users could quickly sort through for what the user interface is (console : ncurses, X : gtk, etc) seperate from what it does (say, internet : web : user apps : browsers for netscape-like things vs internet : web : user apps : fetchers for things like wget, and either have internet : web : servers for things like apache or maby have servers as a seperate branch of the UI tree), and other such criteria that aren't inherrantly related (possibly OS, though that would affect the UI). That could make finding things a lot easier, especially if you have several criteria that you're selecting for.

Also, breaking the catagories up a bit more might help. Sure, it may take a few more pages of browsing to find exactly what you are looking for, but you'd have a much shorter and likely more pertinent list.

06 Aug 2001 14:06 jeffcovey

Re: Another solution

> There is a problem that the is no subscription link on the project
> page.

Yes, there is. Why do you think there isn't? It's labeled "Subscribe
to new releases".

06 Aug 2001 14:17 jeffcovey

Re: Multiple catagory trees might help
Your comment is very confusing to me because it seems to describe
what's already there -- you can filter your searches to remove the X
applications, etc. Could you explain what new feature you're
suggesting?

06 Aug 2001 17:28 lutris

Re: Multiple catagory trees might help
How? The closest I can find to do that for a given search is either to browse through the trove for a particular catagory and then run a search from there (admittedly quite usefull, but not what I was thinking of, and sometimes you loose thigs that are missing a given keyword in their descriptions), or otherwise modify your my Freshmeat settings each time you are trying to search to filter for a specific search (and even then the filters in my are somewhat course; good for filtering the new items page, not so great for a specific search)

I may be missing something, but I had a fairly thourough search of the trove browing pages. It's not obvious how to do this w/o entering a lot of things into the search box. (What I was thinking of would be used to filter results, which would hopefully make using the search box unnecessary in many cases)

06 Aug 2001 17:56 jeffcovey

Re: Another solution

> Can you add a section to the reviews shoing what version of the
> software package was reviewed, and what version is current (and a
> link to the changelog?)

A link is made to each project's page on freshmeat, so you can go
there to see what's happened since the review was written. I assume
people will add comments to the bottom if they think what's said in
the review is wrong or outdated. :)

06 Aug 2001 18:12 jeffcovey

Re: Multiple catagory trees might help
I may not understand what you're trying to do. Here's what I'm
picturing:

You want an email client, so you search for "mail client" in the
projects database and get 168 matches. You want one that licensed
under the GPL, so you click "[filter]" next to "License :: OSI
Approved :: GNU General Public License (GPL)" on one of the matches.
That brings the matches down to 24. (A sign people haven't properly
categorized their apps; grrrr.) You want one for the console, so you
add a filter for "Environment :: Console (Text Based) :: Curses",
which gives you two matches. Yay! You found mutt. :)

Of course, this is dependent on people having their projects properly
categorized. We can't do anything about that except encourage them to
do it, which we will be doing shortly.

Is that not what you were looking for? How is your idea different?

Thanks,

Jeff

13 Aug 2001 11:15 prescience

Reviewer criteria?
Other than someone who 'leaps to mind', what other criteria are you looking for in a reviewer?

Are active developers in a category welcomed to review their own category? It would seem logical that they would know their area best, but does that have too much potential for bias?

Does the review merely have to be well written and informative to be considered?

Have you considered some sort of "Freshmeat's choice" labels for apps that are 'best of class'? Or is that a headache you want to avoid altogether.

BTW: the popularity and ratings are excellent additions. I hope the reviews take off as well. I've always wanted a quick way to find the 2 or 3 'best of class' apps.

13 Aug 2001 18:33 jeffcovey

Re: Reviewer criteria?

> Other than someone who 'leaps to mind', what other criteria are you
> looking for in a reviewer?
%
> Are active developers in a category welcomed to review their own
> category? It would seem logical that they would know their area
> best, but does that have too much potential for bias?

I'd prefer someone who doesn't have ties to one of the projects in the
review, but wouldn't turn down a good review from someone if he made
his association clear and was fair to the other projects.

Where possible, I'd like to find the person who is "obviously" the one
to review a given topic. For example, I've asked Grant Taylor of linuxprinting.org to write a
review of printing software and Dave Phillips to write sound and music
reviews because his site is the
de facto authority on Unix audio applications.

> Does the review merely have to be well written and informative to be
> considered?

That sounds good. :)

> Have you considered some sort of "Freshmeat's choice"
> labels for apps that are 'best of class'? Or is that a headache you
> want to avoid altogether.

I don't think we want to get into voicing our personal opinions, but
thanks for checking. :) It's better to let the readers do the voting.

> BTW: the popularity and ratings are excellent additions.

Glad you like them; thanks, scoop! :)

Screenshot

Project Spotlight

List My Apps

App lister

Screenshot

Project Spotlight

ECMA-55 Minimal BASIC

A minimal BASIC compiler.