(Copied from the issue I created.)
Figuring out if a module will do what you want can be painful. Descriptions are hit and miss. Some modules provide detailed descriptions that give you everything you need. Some are barely understandable. And some are at all levels in between those extremes.
Some modules provide a screenshot. Some don't.
Some modules provide a link to a demonstration install. The demo may, or may not, let you try it out enough to figure the module out. Many times the demo link is broken.
Basically, the only reliable way to try a module out is to download and install it on your own Drupal install. This can take anywhere from 5 minutes for a simple module, to hours for a complicated module that requires the creation of test users and test content.
All in all, trying modules out is a complicated, ineffeciant process. This should be fixed.
Create demo sites for as many modules as we can that users can log into with full administration priviliages and test. Something like http://www.opensourcecms.com/scripts/details.php?scriptid=191&name=Drupal Except a site for each module.
1) Some kind of magic process that can auto create a good demo site with useful demo content, users, and configuration for thousands of different modules.
2) Allow module maintainers to define a demo site profile. The profile would contain all the users, content, and configuration for a basic set up of the module. D.o would take that profile and install it somewhere, and then link to the demo site from the project page. The demo site would be rebuilt periodically.
3) Automatically create a basic site for the module. Do a basic install of Drupal, then download and enable the module and it's dependencies. Also insert a few test users and test nodes. Leave any other configuration to the users trying the module out.
There are thousands of Drupal modules. Hosting demo sites for even a fraction of them would be a challenge.
Module maintainers already have a hard enough time maintaining just the description of their module on the project page. Will they even try to maintain the profile for a demo site?
Dealing with the module's dependencies could be dicey. Do we use the latest version of the depenency? Do we check to see if there are errors with the new version before using it? Etc.
Some modules have nothing to demo. Some only provide an API for other modules to use. Some, like the Services module, might take so long for the user to configure, that their changes get wiped when the demo site is rebuilt automatically. Do we generate demo sites for these anyway?
I know this would be a huge undertaking. But I think it is worth considering.