Note: all references to "website" below refer to the proposed flashy front end pages not the WIKI.
I think the WIKI is a fantastic device for collaborative technical presentations. However it's not well suited to different organisational policies, searching or casually formatted questions. For general discussion the mailing list has also proved inadequate as the material is basically lost once the discussion is completed and again it's not searchable. As such I propose a tiered support infrastructure that should give everyone from the unwashed masses to the technical architects of Genboard their much needed support.
Ranked from back office to end user.
1. Developer. The WIKI is invaluable as a device for collaboration and information dissemination in a formal format. Once the WIKI pages have stabilized these should be available to the public in a write protected flashy presentation state.
2. Function Developer. Again the WIKI should be used.
3. Knowledgeable tuner. Should have access to both the WIKI and a forum for which he/she can post a quickly formatted question, and receive an answer in an equally casual manner.
4. "Billy Bobs garage" tuner. As a right has access to the website and should be permitted to post questions without disrupting the flow of the WIKI (ie on another interface) or the knowledgeable tuner.
5. The average "boy racer" will want direct access to evaluate the product for purchase and eventually attempt to discover why his engine stalls / blows smoke after a Genboard install by "Billy Bob".
We also need to think on why the MegaSquirt appears to be so popular. It most certainly is not because it's a better product and it's not drastically cheaper. There is obviously far superior written support, tuning aids and at present marketing, however its also got a massive following in the Yahoo pages. And I think that is part of the MegaSquirt's success. If you are to purchase a MegaSquirt you sit in the Yahoo group for a week or so to evaluate problems - well I did anyway - and there is currently no such support device for Genboard. There is a support list, called genboard-steps list ( see http://www.vems.hu/wiki/index.php?page=ListsAndForums ). The difference is that for megasquirt, issues are asked again and again and again 100 times, because the forum and emaillist archives are inefficient by their very nature. That is inefficient information flooding, I strongly oppose anything like that.
As such I propose we use some webspace to construct some searchable forums. I'm a member of a forum that works very well for supporting your average boy racer punter. http://forums.toyspeed.org.nz/ which uses the http://www.phpbb.com/ engine.
I strongly disagree. Someone who wants to ask question, can do it on genboard-steps list or the relevant wiki page, his own wiki page. Someone who cannot ask a question, should not mess with engine management before learning that. Actually, someone, who cannot collect the details of his system or his thoughts to a page, shouldn't go further. Fragmenting information in traditional forums to produce trash instead of organized thoughts is very bad idea IMNSHO. Wiki can be used (stupidly) like a forum, but a forum cannot be used (efficiently) like a wiki. It's as simple as that.
Rich says... On the MS popularity topic, I think it's the simplicity and tunability factor that appeals to most folks. That and it's been around for a while now so everyone knows about it. I've got a drag racing buddy that wants one, a) because it's fairly cheap, b) because it'll let him tune his fueling, and c) it's a near "bolt on" upgrade. EFI is still a "black art" in some circles, so anything simple is seen as more do-able. Eg, Autronic is better, but MegaSquirt is more approachable to most old school hot-rodders. When folks are paying $3000 USD for Holley systems, I think the cost is almost secondary for many people.
Another aspect is the community. People seem to like to follow the crowd and MS has a few leaders and many followers - the idolisation that happened on the lists, and the near instant transition to the msefi.com forums are good illustrations of how it (sometimes) worked. Genboard doesn't have the population yet for this to happen, so if you're involved you're probably contributing rather than leaching, and you're probably going to have to "pave your own road" to some extent - folks may not have a quick answer to your problems. Perhaps this paragraph is a little cynical, but I'm just calling it as I see it.
For Genboard to work with a small community population, I think we need to layout a top-level support structure, along with regional support (YES!).
Most local shops baulk at the idea of tuning anything other than a Link (what??), and putting a DIY system on their rollers is *very* hard to do. Finding friendly shops is worthwhile, as is providing local (by country at least) contacts / user list. If it's not working, folks can maybe get someone local to have a look, and maybe arrange some pay-for support if needed. Some sort of formatted "standard build" doco, along with build / install / tuning guides would help enormously here.
On the popularity topic... Bruce and Al are the original EFI guys dating back to EFI332 era (history back to over ten years). They certainly know the theory (fex see the Precision Wide Band controller pages) and explains it very well. So they have - I would say, better experience - controlling internal combustion engine and developing hardware (fex. upcoming Router Board). Community is very large (you get support and most of the times/cases on your native language, like Finnish, German, Spanish...). Options are wide fex. your could setup traction control, switchable maps. There are prototype area (at least this counts for some people) and you can tweak the code freely for your own purposes (fex. one could develop an dwell time vs. load map). Simpler tuning, Megatune works with options also, no Perl etc. hassles. Certainly Vems has its advantages too (mainly direct knock and WBO signal processing, config.txt/tables.txt idea is also nice) but, there are certain things which limits useability. Nowadays (during couple of last year in time frame) I have installed, configured and tuned 5 VEMS systems and just bit over 10 MS and/or MSII systems (bearing in mind that this is not my profession, but 'just a hobby').
Summary of what we need
- better tuning software so the advanced functions can be tuned via GUI, not via numbers (this is good, because people will think they understand things that they don't => WebShop sales ++)
- and documentation, better than MegaManual
- the small frontend brochure (PDF seems to be the agreed format, for the printables)
- flashy website
- write some mails to the target crowds
and the rest will take care of itself, see GenBoard/Marketing.
Yes, this last task involves writing to their forums and lists too (which are a big waste of efforts anyway, too bad those forums exist at all in that trash format)
What we don't need too badly
flow of unfollowable fragmented unconfirmed, badly searchable, outdated incomplete unstructured information via traditional forum horror
- I have seen a few pages written about assembly on the wiki. Less and less of assembly is needed in the docs as we are standardizing and raising the factory-assembly level accordingly. But installation should involve testing.
- These should be combined, including the OnlineCourse stuff. nope... the OnlineCourse is definitely a wiki thing, it is targetted for the most skilled who don't benefit from freezing it in the PDF format. The OnlineCourse is independent from the installation manual.
- Then we can add FAQ to that document. As for the wiki, we can clean alot of pages off and then include a more thoughtful FrequentlyAskedQuestions section that we can transfer some of the questions into the PDF as we see fit, etc.
Problems with documentation
What is the main cause that there is almost no organised documentation going on anywhere regarding VEMS?
I would like to suggest the following as reasons
1. Lacking communications between developers and retailers
2. Outdated compensation scheme that does not work
3. Amount of interested people is becoming less and less
1. Simplify and organise development to retailers communications
Who are the developers? How to converce with them quickly using todays tools (not Wiki and not IRC).
2. New updated compensation scheme where individuals are able to earn Euros from direct input and work that does not require them to handle installs and tuning or any customer/end user relationships. For instance firmware, website, software and documentation work.
It should not be a problem to draw up a current VEMS organisation chart so that the people know who runs VEMS
and people will know how decisions are made and where they come from. This should actually already be a given for any business.
3. A new website is years overdue. A well maintained support structure is needed (forum , vems manual that is upto date, and updated as new things come out). An incentive to get people involved.