uds

currently on the plane on the way back home from uds. it’s been a pretty great week, but i’m glad to be getting home.

first thing: props to canonical. when i was checking out of the hotel the guy at the desk said something to the effect of “and canonical has everything covered”. that stuck with me.

earlier this year i was considering a job with canonical. it turns out that my interests were more aligned with work elsewhere and i ended up working for codethink. despite being employed elsewhere, canonical still invited me to uds. when you take a step back to consider that, you really realise that we live in a special sort of world. “normal companies” don’t tend to do things like that.

in any case, twice a year canonical flies a bunch of us out for this awesome event that they put on. this year i also attended fosscamp. for both events, the gnome group, as usual, spent a good deal of time on the hallway track getting things done.

a few hilights from this week:

notifications: by the end of the week many of us were refering to uds as “nbs: notification bikeshed summit”. in a way, it was a little bit demotivating to spend so much time talking on this subject. on thursday, however, christian hammond drove up to the googleplex from vmware and we all had a sitdown meeting. we came to a good compromise and — even better, as a result of the compromise — canonical’s changes are going upstream this cycle. in the end, i think this ended up being a pretty big win. also: awesome to see that rob carr is back. during uds he wrote what is probably the most awesome patch ever.

trash: i rewrote the gvfs trash backend and committed it to trunk on thursday. awalton (cool hacker who i met for the first time) is working on some associated UI changes to nautilus. seb will be rolling a jaunty package shortly after he arrives home. please try to break it — you know where to send the hatemail. :)

gnio: downloaded and started poking at gnio, which is a library to do networking in a way similar to gio (using the same stream abstractions, etc). started hacking on it a bit. christian and i are aiming to have this included in gio during this cycle (ie: by guadec time).

gritty: jono had one of the first sessions of fosscamp. his idea is that we’d have a lot more experimentation with the development of cool new software if it wasn’t so damned difficult to get your hacks on to other people’s machines. lowering the barrier to distribution would encourage people to share ideas. early exposure to users will encourage hackers to develop their ideas into proper projects. mvo and i have started hacking on a prototype for how this might work. gritty is a name chosen at random by mvo picking a number and me going to that line in /usr/share/dict/words (+/- about 10 lines… “groans” wasn’t such a good name). with any luck we can have a first version of this in jaunty.

in non-uds/fosscamp news, i’ve also heard word from rob that work on dconf will be starting within the next couple of weeks.

after a week, i am returning home with excitement and a renewed focus. i have a whole lot of projects that i’m pretty excited about.

time to start hacking!

3 Comments

  1. Posted December 14, 2008 at 5:37 am | Permalink

    “earlier this year i was considering a job with canonical. it turns out that my interests were more aligned with work elsewhere and i ended up working for codethink. despite being employed elsewhere, canonical still invited me to uds. when you take a step back to consider that, you really realise that we live in a special sort of world. “normal companies” don’t tend to do things like that.”

    boy, sure must be nice to have all that money.

  2. Posted December 14, 2008 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Regarding gritty, that sounds very cool. Are you planning on increasing the visibility of new projects with a downloads website (e.g. http://www.apple.com/downloads/) or are you taking an entirely different approach altogether?

  3. Posted December 15, 2008 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    > lowering the barrier to distribution would encourage people to share ideas. early exposure to users will encourage hackers to develop their ideas into proper projects

    Firstly, the question I think that needs asking is: “What’s the lowest barrier of entry, such that anyone with a good design idea can easily showcase it and get feedback from the greatest number of people?”

    Second, I feel it’s important, as well, to take the focus off of coding, and place it on visuals and interaction flow. You expect a plummer to be able to give you running water and fix leaks, but you don’t expect them to be able to design a beautiful bathtub and faucet. Similarly, I think we shouldn’t expect programmers to necessarily be elequent at the art of good user interface design – though some certainly are.

    The solution for these two issues is simple: Instead of coding, we should be *drawing* and sharing our drawings with each other, and getting comments and feedback on them. Using Gimp, or Inkscape, it’s quite easy to create a quick sketch of a new design concept. If you post a series of sketches, you can show how a user might interact with your design – as if it were an actual working prototype. If there were a Brainstorm-type website to showcase these drawings on, you could easily attract a large audience of Ubuntu users, who would provide plenty of feedback on how well that design might be received, and how it might be improved.

    Drawings are also good because it’s a lot easier to scrap them and start from scratch than it seems to be with code. This “lack of attachment” to one’s ideas is great, because it invites greater experimentation.

    I recently spoke to Ted Gould, of the Desktop Experience Team. He’s working towards creating design(dot)ubuntu(dot)com. Perhaps it will be similar to what I’m suggesting.

    Just my $0.02

    PS – this is essentially I repeat of what I just posted on jono bacon’s blog, under his article “The Gritty World Of User Interface Exploration”

4 Trackbacks

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