Over the past month Harvest has started receiving a lot of attention. This is primarily due to recent talks at various conferences, the Harvest manuscript publication in JAMIA, and a new series of webinars being held here at CBMi. This has resulted in more website traffic, demo usage, and email inquiries. We wanted to put more communication channels in place to make it easier for new users to become integrated in the community within their comfort level. We now have the @HarvestNews Twitter account for short announcements and links to important content, a Google Groups discussion list for lengthier discussions and musings about the future of Harvest, a chatroom for live discussion with the Harvest team, and even a Google+ community as a supplementary method for posting content about or related to Harvest.
This is all good, but it became apparent that these channels merely supplemented the website, but did not act as an alternative to its content. The root cause of confusion for most after visiting the site and trying the demo was not knowing what to do next (which is also confirmed by our Google Analytics behavior). In assessing the website, it became clear the home page was informative and enticed users to try the demo, but the navigation from then on was severely lacking.
So we decided to fix the problem.
The new website (which you are on now) has a lighter and simpler design so the content is more of the focus rather than unnecessary styles and graphics. There is now a Docs page that serves as an entry point for getting to all the documentation for all the components in Harvest. The new Articles section is new and will contain release announcements, general news, and articles on best practices, data modeling techniques and other interesting topics.
The biggest feature of the website is that it is built on top of Jekyll and is now BSD licensed. This combines a very familiar static-site generator and an open license for making it trivial for people to contribute to the site. GitHub makes it very easy to make contributions now that you can create and edit files right from the repository. It will automatically fork the repo for you and allow you to start adding content. Once done, it will send a pull request back to the main repository for review. This makes it trivial to fix grammatical errors or even guest author an article!
Harvest is inherently difficult to explain.
Our hope with this website is to make it immediately obvious what Harvest is and isn't. Only then can new users assess whether Harvest is a good fit for their needs. The problem before was that users never even got to this point and Harvest lost before it even got a chance. No longer will this be the case.
Want to make the site better? Head over to the site's repository to start fixing stuff!