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Thread: A newcomer to pjrc.com

  1. #1
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    A newcomer to pjrc.com

    I got interested in microcontrollers a few months ago, and found out about the various Teensys. But when I visited pjrc.com, I wasn't sure whether it was still in business or not. It was only when I clicked through to the Teensy links and found forum.pjrc.com that I realized there was a thriving community.

    Paul, I'm sure you've got plans to revamp the website, but to redo it thoroughly would be a big job, and you have many, many other things are higher priority. Could I make a few gratuitous suggestions for quick changes that would make it easier for the new PJRC customer/user now, and might take you only a couple of hours?

    • Put Teensy 3.2 and LC on the home page.
    • Remove (and put in an archive area?) the discontinued products from the home page, some of which have not been in stock for 7 (?!) years.
    • Remove the "Community" left-sidebar links to the Yahoo groups and bugzilla (dead link), and replace them with a link to http://forum.pjrc.com.
    • The "Products" link in the left sidebar goes to http://pjrc.com/store/, which says "Complete PJRC Product List", but lists four very old products only.
    • Of the links in the left sidebar, I think only the Teensy menu lists existing stock products; the others are long out-of-stock except for maybe the 16x2 display. So just put all that under "Discontinued Products" or something.

    I think the Teensy is really neat: I own two that I bought at local retail places. But the current website makes me not sure whether I'm looking at a hobby, a secret club, or a thriving small enterprise. I apologize in advance if you feel offended, but I'm trying to report on first impressions. Thanks.
    Last edited by danhalbert; 01-23-2016 at 07:29 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member+ Frank B's Avatar
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    You're absolutely right. When i was new with teensy i had the same thoughts. With a bit, no, with much luck, i found this forum. If i had'nt seen it.. hm maybe i'd gone back to the stm-boards which i used some years before.

    Really, someone should update that thing ASAP. Lol, sometimes I'm still confused which pages belong to teensy 1, 2 or 3.x (there is no info sometimes...)
    Last edited by Frank B; 01-23-2016 at 08:59 PM.

  3. #3
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    +1 Frank: I bought a couple Teensy 3.1's from Sparkfun (padding orders for free shipping) that sat in a box for months - not sure if it was thriving into the future or not. One day I searched and hit on 'PJRC BETA IDE 1.6.0' in some fashion and saw the LIFE I was looking for and popped right to that thread. That was just over 11 months ago and the Teensy and Forum is impressive - without that one late night search it could have been months - if ever - before I knew this was here. As I bugged the other week the Teensy CARD points to a less than inviting entry point into the whole fantastic world that is PJRC TEENSY - - - wow that was 12/20/15 - a full month.

  4. #4
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    Web rewrite - or added Wiki would all make a great difference in accessibility. A few refined examples in a tutorial process with better examples for the use of the differentiating libs/features that Teensy offers would go a long way. A good WiKi would be Once_and_Done ( then self maintained) :: Less distraction answering the same noob questions and those noobs could advance and move on much more quickly without getting disenchanted before they got the gist of the power behind the features/complexity.

    Teensy 3.1 & 3.2 are amazingly resilient and robust and bullet proof. So much power already harnessed in existing libs - but as soon as you get to the point where you have to rtFm, few will survive. So much of that already has been done that it isn't often needed - but not having docs to show proper usage leads to the same brick wall. A WiKi covering all those hidden gems and features could make them discoverable and usable - the website doesn't do that clearly and the forum is great - this is my first real foray into one - luckily I had some good experience with Digistump or I would have been less prepared to get as far as I did down this road.

  5. #5
    Senior Member+ Frank B's Avatar
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    I really do not know how many potential users has pjrc lost lost because of the site (and who did not have the good fortune to accidentally find the forum). It think, quite a few.

    I thought, "whats that?", and i had a hard time to find out which pages are for AVR and which ones are for ARM. (But Ok, thats a bit better now! but there is still (too) much potential..) when i was a Teensy-noob. But i was an "Arduino" newcomer, too. I gave up, until i found the forum, later.

    I don't remember how i found the Teensy.. it was very hard to find in Germany. It is (or was? don't know..) and is not very common here. That website did not help, and instead lead me to think "don't invest more time in this incomplete/wrong/noob stuff"...

    (sorry :-)

    The ARM-Teensys are VERY underestimated, partly due to the website. Here, not much people know that they exist, how much power they have, and how good they are. The website indicates the opposite. Still.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by Frank B; 01-23-2016 at 11:26 PM. Reason: Add pic

  6. #6
    Senior Member adrian's Avatar
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    Teensy's are great. The forum is great, the store website has some awesome resources, but I do tend to agree with the OP (and the other posters)... The store website could use some love, but on the other hand its not my business!!

    There are a bunch of awesome resources scattered around and there is so much knowledge in the forum, its frightening ...I could imagine that some how 'downloading' all that info into one place would be great, but like institutional knowledge databases type projects, it would be a lot of work 'putting it all together', and maintaining relevancy. .... There is a reason why Mr Google made so much money when he invented Googling ....

    On the surface, a wiki / book / guide would be great for uber noobs like me, but just doing the tutorials on the store website was totally excellent for me ...that and getting a book out of the library called "C++ for losers" (it was a real confidence booster, that book)....and then of course the forum ... YAY ... so much good stuff, a respectful balance between help from technical experts, and encouragement to learn and 'DIY'.

    Anyway, the bottom line is that the store website could be tidied up a bit design/organisation-wise ...made a bit more user friendly (maybe a bit more 'adafruit'??) vis a vis resources , from a users perspective.

  7. #7
    Sorry for piling on, but I have to agree with what's been said thus far. I've recommended the Teensy to folks at a local hackerspace for several projects, only to find out later that they used TI chips instead because they did not understand the difference between the Teensy and the Arduino. When I asked why, they blamed it on the website. I'm a real fan of the Teensy, and the forum has been great, so no complaints there, but the website needs to give a more informative first impression.
    Last edited by aaaxon; 01-24-2016 at 02:24 AM. Reason: typo

  8. #8
    Senior Member+ defragster's Avatar
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    Would be nice to get this pushed up the priority list - not a new thing . . . just needs traction and time. Many consistently good things here and in the works - the only problem is finding it when time or skills are lacking coming from the outside. These posts summarize some history . . .

    Wiki-Coming-Please-link-worthy-posts

    PJRC-and-Teensy(s)-need-a-Wiki

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    I could not agree more!
    The website really does a disservice to the awesome product the Teensy boards are and not everyone has the patience or fortune to stumble upon the forum.
    Forum support is one of the strong points, yet it is hidden away from the front page.

  10. #10
    Senior Member PaulStoffregen's Avatar
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    Yeah, the website needs a tremendous amount of work.

    My plan at the moment is to get the prop shield and K66-based Teensy released. Until those are both shipping, the website is getting only minor tweaks and fixes.

    After those are shipping, I'm going to focus on the site's infrastructure. This forum will migrate from vbulletin to xenforo, and we'll add vaultwiki. I'm also going to make changes on the main site that will make it much simpler for us to update the pages. Right now it's all hand-crafted html with some scripts, which hasn't scaled well as PJRC and Teensy have grown.

    Serious work on real debug support is on my radar for after the website infrastructure upgrade.

  11. #11
    Senior Member+ defragster's Avatar
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    Thanks for the timeline and details Paul, good news.

    If one page on pjrc.com were to get a few minutes time I would suggest the 'landing page' found on all the Teeny cards: Teensy-Card-Getting-Started

    I do see this "Update: Discussion / Support Forum " on that page. Having some summary and best links on that page and on the obvious next click Image of "my device" :: teensy32.html might be good. The left frame does open up to different topics on clicking the board - but 'Getting Started' goes away - perhaps dropping that 'Getting Started :: First Use' front and center on both pages under forum might get the ball rolling in short order?

    <edit>: Also somewhere those pages among upfront links ( landing and each device ) could be troubleshoot.html
    Last edited by defragster; 01-25-2016 at 07:31 PM.

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    Why not hire a young intern, or new grad to overhaul the web site and make a good block and wiki.

    Myself included, engineers are b-a-d website builders.

  13. #13
    Senior Member+ Frank B's Avatar
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    Red face

    Quote Originally Posted by stevech View Post
    Why not hire a young intern, or new grad to overhaul the web site and make a good block and wiki.

    Myself included, engineers are b-a-d website builders.
    LOL, me too

  14. #14
    Senior Member+ defragster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevech View Post
    Why not hire a young intern, or new grad to overhaul the web site and make a good block and wiki.

    Myself included, engineers are b-a-d website builders.
    Steve - my only disagreements would be that (qualified) engineers by definition 'build' good websites - but are A-W-F-U-L-L-Y___B-A-D website designers.

    But agree on whole with your point - that poor design by engineers comes partially from a lack of artistic expression/vision - and perhaps more so from overt understanding of the material making the trivial 'unseen' and the complex seem 'apparent' - and the bottom line it is 'documentation' and not real productive work - but punishment for doing a good job.

  15. #15
    Senior Member+ Frank B's Avatar
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    As a first step, some very simple but important changes ? They are not much work:

    - remove all old stuff (or move it somewhere else) and dead links (bugzilla)
    - Instead a nice picture of all Teensys on the startpage, and maybe some of the other products.
    - Most important, a LINK TO THE FORUM ON THE STARTPAGE , and to the shop-area with the newer products.

    *..even if only the startpage gets an update, that would be very good as first step.

    You could consider a CMS (Content-Management-System) later..
    Last edited by Frank B; 01-25-2016 at 08:36 PM.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by defragster View Post
    Steve - my only disagreements would be that (qualified) engineers by definition 'build' good websites - but are A-W-F-U-L-L-Y___B-A-D website designers.

    But agree on whole with your point - that poor design by engineers comes partially from a lack of artistic expression/vision - and perhaps more so from overt understanding of the material making the trivial 'unseen' and the complex seem 'apparent' - and the bottom line it is 'documentation' and not real productive work - but punishment for doing a good job.
    I/we engineers don't do well at Web site making because it's tedium to an engineer. Not so for those that are artsy-fartsy and not dorky.

    Some of the microprocessor web sites are very impressive. Some aren't larger than PJRC in sales, I suspect, but they recruit a near-volunteer to do good work.
    Like
    https://www.microduino.cc
    http://www.espruino.com/Pico
    http://microjs.com
    http://micropython.org
    https://www.particle.io
    Last edited by stevech; 01-26-2016 at 01:53 AM.

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    Perhaps we should not generalize ;-)

    I've been an Engineer for 30 years and have been called an Artist more than once. I don't like building websites either though

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    My school principal bro' in law thinks my computer software smarts is an art. Hmm, I think of it as an erector set with too many parts!

  19. #19
    Senior Member adrian's Avatar
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    I get called a dork all the time, but nothing to do with electronics and the like....Its just who I am.

  20. #20
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    This whole thread is offensive.
    It should be offensive to Paul (whom I don't know, never met I'm not related to and never have had a conversation with), because his work on the website is not even the tip of the iceberg, it's the shadow of a bird flying over the tip of the iceberg.
    Most of Paul's work is not "seen" unless someone goes digging through the libraries. Maybe the website could use a revamp and maybe it's fine the way it is. But to pollute paul's brain with web site revamp requests is offensive in my book.
    Worse case a revamp means "make you website look like everyone else's. ikes. That's what we "REALLY" need. Another cookie cutter website!!!!

    It should be offensive to all the hard working capable "graphic designers" out there that for some over here it is work that can be done by an unpaid or paid next to nothing young intern". Huh?? If this is so trivial a "young intern" could handle, why is it even the subject of a discussion?
    I'm sure there are some "you interns" out there that can spew libraries like there is no tommorow too. Maybe we need some of those too?

    It should be offensive to every "young" person out there to read that their work is not worth "real money".

    And finally thiss thread should be offensive to everyone that places more value on the product than the website. And those people that although they migt have ideas, suggestions , imrprovements for the website, ignored them put them on the back burner, decided in a binary fashion that libraries and shields vs website revamping pollution in Paul's head is just not worth mentioning.

    (A website that BTW worked fine for me when I stumbled on it, placed my order , paid for it and never for one second thought anything along the lines of a cult, out of business or anything else other than "NEAT! Now if I can figure out how to use all those interrupt properties!!!).)

    So yeah..there you have it. This is the coooled down version of my response in case anyone was wondering.

    Take care everyone and may none of your libraries ever share interrupts!!!

  21. #21
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    Before you let of steam here it would probably behoof you to be more observant :/

    Most of the folks that posted agreement with the initial statement that the website could do with a re-vamp have several hundred to well over a thousand posts here. That would mean we are interested, engaged and participating users that have a vested interest in Paul's work and quite a few have contributed code to these libraries as well. Many help out on the Forum to answer user questions.

    I did not read any statements that that the work on a website should be unpaid. It does not take a graphic designer to revamp the web-site - even though it would certainly not hurt -as the tips listed above are mainly concerned with a more understandable structure and removal of old, inactive content.

  22. #22
    Senior Member adrian's Avatar
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    the force is strong in this one

    I think that a good website is part of the product, when it comes to hitech knowledge intensive stuff like microcontrollers etc.

    But its not my business or product. I am a consumer, but I always want better products (cheap) ... and that includes cool websites.

    Which brings me to young interns etc. ... I think that website design is an 'art' that should be highly remunerated ... not as highly as bankers or politicians ... but none the less 'well-paid' ... Everyone should be 'well-paid' if they do a good job that other people want done ...

    Of course everyone wants everything for free on the internet, and maybe one day people will get over that (or suffer unending invasive advertisements ...) .... So, I agree with y'all.

    Taking advantage of a young person who is doing a good job is not cool ... it does seem to be the way of the world, if some of the stories out there are to be believed, but that does not make it right.

    On the other hand, entreprenuership and opportunity, starting at the bottom etc, are all facilitated by 'internship'.

    It has a long history ... barristers used to have devils who would work for free in their practice ...

    I've never been young myself, and when I get taken advantage of, I usually send flowers.

    This is so offtopic... but anyway, today is a day of whimsy.
    Last edited by adrian; 01-30-2016 at 02:24 AM.

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    @int13: I am the original poster. I was expressing my confusion at finding a website that included a lot of obsolete information on its front page and the major pages that linked from it. I made some very specific suggestions about some minor tweaks that I thought would make it clear what the current products are and where to find info about them. I did not suggest a wholesale revamp. I know Paul has a huge amount on his plate. Paul responded and said improving the website is on his list, but that he has higher priorities. He wants to do more than just fix a few links for now. I respect his choice of priorities. I am sorry you thought I was being disrespectful, but that was not my intention in any way.

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    Pondering the obvious:
    Could it be, that if a much better web site would lead to more sales/revenue which would more than recoup a small investment in paying a contractor/intern to do most of the work?
    Last edited by stevech; 01-30-2016 at 04:37 AM.

  25. #25
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    Agreed stevech - that is my implied if not stated expectation on general use and usability - and I think it has been said before - even perhaps in this thread.

    Instant gratification is a wonderful thing. Something that causes frustration seems like a bad thing and ends up in the 'unused drawer'.

    The WiKi got traction and is Marked on PJRC schedule now as noted above.

    I would say the Website just needs to be a pretty glossy sales brochure with pointers to a healthy Wiki (Forum). Even great Website effort wouldn't keep up with a well done WiKi with regard to complete and searchable, current, accurate details - examples and specifics. I wouldn't say this one is perfect or well done - but you can get to every product and topic of interest: http://digistump.com/wiki/digispark.

    And once the WiKi takes shape it would be a content database for building a true website [cart .vs. horse?]. You can't get a good website running without material to draw from - that is either Paul's head (and time)- or Paul and the collective forum filling out a WiKi and then perhaps a good designer could - without knowing any true details of the product - artfully bring up a website.

    So I'm seeing the WiKi as the website SPEC. The WiKi will be a dynamic repository - the website just needs to represent the product and link to the information for each product. The end website might have a pretty image of each Teensy card - and in the end each of the pin functions could link to the WiKi : SPI, Serial, I2C, CAN Bus, Touch Sense, PWM, Digital, Analog, etc. That page would host the details and forum links or examples etc.

    ... my 2 cents

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