Open Source Style

Ive been working hard trying to learn how to do what came so naturally and easy to me in jQuery in YUI and YUI-ext.  I have been scouring the forums and the documentation.  I can’t understand any of it.  It just isn’t designed for a non-programmer.  But I have no choice.  YUI-ext is the framework I must use.

So just now I found a YUI-ext manual and FAQ. Look at the question near the top, “How do I figure out what error X is and why it’s happening?”  The answers make me so angry.  RFTM?  RTFS?  This is the sort of answer that might as well say, “If you don’t know, then we don’t want you to use this software.”  It’s rude and discouraging.  It has no style.

On the other hand, jQuery has never ever done that to me.  They have tons of examples and tutorials.  The people have been so friendly and helpful.  They have style.

I am so bummed right now.  So discouraged.  I miss jQuery.

UPDATE: RTFM and RTFS were removed from the FAQ.  Thank you. 🙂  Long live the power of the squeaky wheel.

11 replies on “Open Source Style”

Hi Glen, sorry the FAQ wasn’t helpful.  Hopefully you understand that Ext is a bit newer than jQuery and the community, documentation, etc. are really just now starting to gain more contributors than just Jack by himself.  jQuery is a fine lib and has a lot of people directly contributing to its docs, which makes a huge difference.  This is one of the primary areas within Ext that will be changing soon as things start to mature and more people start taking part in the project.By the way, regarding RTFM…. OK, so that could be worded more kindly 🙂 but many people really aren’t aware of the docs or how to get to them (based on many questions that come up in the forums repeatedly), so the point of that FAQ entry really was intended to be helpful, even if the tone did not bear that out.  Thanks for bringing it up though.

Hi Glen,
I can understand some of your frustration and I have made some changes to the page you mention to try and make it more helpful there.
As to the wider availability of examples and tutorials, it’s happening and is just a matter of time. Where jQuery has the benefit of having had a good year of community involvement to get where it is today, we sometimes forget that the Ext framework is only a few months old.
The depth and breadth of the Ext community is really ramping up now that Jack has announced the Ext 1.0 release will be open source and we’re all very exited about the future.
Cheers and see you in the forums

So you don’t know how to program. but you’re using an advanced OO Javascript framework.  You find it discouraging that you’re not getting enough hand holding?  Maybe you should learn to program, if you’re going to build a web site.   What is about web development as opposed to other software development efforts, that makes people think that everything can be done by cutting and pasting someone else’s code?  How it offensive that you be asked to read the documentation for the product you’re attempting to use?  If the documentation’s not complete you read the source code.   Suprisingly, that’s how you learn to program!  You get the software for free and working samples, and you’re complaining because you’re told to expend some effort first!

I understand YUI-ext is new.  About 6 months if I my info is correct?  jQuery is only a little more than 1 year.

I posted to YUI mailing list.
I posted to YUI-ext Forums.
I still haven’t figured out how to do it.  I’ve spent 2 days on it.  I gave up.

In jQuery its:

What’s the way to do that in YUI-ext?

Tim is a complete JackAss. Is it bad to start a comment that way?

I feel I must defend myself:

My job title is UX architect. I am pretty good (8 out of 10) at HTML and CSS. But as a UX designer, I want to incorporate interaction design techniques. These involve animation, motion, opacity changes and other dynamic techniques. This is not programming. This is interaction design. Read The Inmates are Running the Asylum by Alan Cooper for details.

Since 1995, when I started my web development firm, I have had to rely upon programmers to execute the interaction designs that I wanted to provide. Last year, I discovered jQuery (Thank you David Foltz for pointing it out to me and John Resign for his vision). With jQuery, I could build the html/css AND the interactivity into robust prototypes. The engineers THANKED me for doing this because they really weren’t interested in client-side programming or interaction design. They took the prototypes and layered in the dynamic backend calls. The result: Much happier customers, spending WAY more money in much richer experiences. WIN-WIN.

I have read every piece of documentation I could find from the YUI-ext site. Then, I posted politely in the HELP section of the forums. All the while, I spent 2 days trying to figure it out.

I am NOT a programmer. I am a User Experience Designer. Every job I have ever had has required me to build functioning prototypes. In my opinion, JavaScript frameworks are meant to EASE the burden of cross-browser incompatibilities for everyone, not just programmers. Maybe YUI-ext should say right at the top of the page: Those without CS degrees need not enter.

Tim, your attitude is the STYLE that I was talking about in the first place. You are full of yourself and not helpful.

Do you seriously think the web would have grown so quickly if HTML was not easy enough for a non-programmer to make a old-school brochure site? Do you seriously think CSS would have become the gold standard if it was really hard to put a border on a box?

It is jackasses like Tim that will keep people away from YUI-ext. I appreciate the comments from everyone else though. However, I would appreciate MORE the answer to the question. How do I do it?


The manual is a community project made by people using Ext. It is a work in progress and is not publicly linked to because it hasn’t been completed and/or moderated yet. We just recently created a tutorial team that will creating tutorials for the 1.0 release. One of the primary focus points is making it easier for people who are not strong developers.

In general, working with undocumented alpha code is going to be difficult for a non-programmer. If you can’t read the source, you will be lost.

On a side note, since you have a strong opinion about it and are obviously willing to write, I expect that when you do figure out how to do things, we can expect to see you contributing to the documentation and manual?

Jack, I definetely understand the status. I think you (and I have blogged this previously) have a fantastic sense of style in your work, not to mention the incredible quality of your coding. I also think the extensions are a surreal amount of work for one person to create. I don’t think anyone can fault your code or your end-results. I think you are an example of a top-notch programmer who CAN do interaction design perfectly well.

My point is that “RTFM” and “RTFS” says something about the community’s “stance”. It’s style. It was those acronyms that made me feel stupid and want to give up.

Tutorials will help. Hello World Examples will help. But there are MANY open source projects that I have seen that literally ignore or worse yell at newbies in mailing lists and forums. How an open source project treats its newbies is the “style” that I am talking about.

On your side note: Over the years, I have personally trained dozens of people how to use HTML or CSS and introduced many others to it. Once I got comfortable with jQuery, I introduced about a dozen more people to it. If you look on the mailing list of jQuery, I attempt (whenever I know the answer and often when I’m not sure) to answer the question or point people in the right direction. I had put a post in your forums asking that the API be made editable so that I could post an example when I figured something out.

Regarding “Strong feelings”: I have had this blog since 1995. I post lots of different kinds of things. Look at this:,+LAPD+Hacks+or+hoaxes/2100-1023_3-200140.html
That was one of my early blog entries and touched off a ton of debate. That early blog served it’s purpose, which was to say, “hey this is BS.”

I think this blog served its purpose too. That link no longer says RTFM and RTFS. I think the seed of “how do want to treat newbies” has been planted.

I hope no one thinks Im a dick, but it wouldn’t be the first time. 😉


Sometimes you are a dick. I know from experience. And I don’t think you should start comments calling people names. Not a good example for the kids.

However, I apprecaite that you are NOT a programmer. You don’t want to be a programmer. You don’t need to be a programmer. You bridge the gap. You talk to programmers and you talk to business and you talk to users. So I’m glad you’re not apologizing for that.

(I have nothing against programmers. I have relatives and friends who are programmers. My aunt teaches programming. But different people, different strengths.)

You may want to do YUI yourself, but maybe you’re just going to have to manage someone who’s doing it with your vision for a while. And that’s ok. Your new job ROCKS! And you know it, so stop complaining.

Your Wife

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