UDS Karmic – Day One
I’m in Barcelona to attend the Ubuntu Developer Summit for Karmic Koala, thanks to the kind sponsorship of Canonical, and I thought I’d use the last bit of energy I have left from the first day to post short summaries of the sessions I attended.
Increasing Apport Coverage
This QA session was about increasing the coverage of the Apport automated bug reporting tool. One obvious way to do this will be to increase the amount of packages with Apport package hooks, so the QA team will lead a drive to do exactly that. The target will be to make sure that packages to which a sampling (likely by a 50% reduction) of the last 1000 bugs filed belong have hooks by the next release. The #1 blocker leading to the current situation where we have few packages with hooks was identified to be the fact that few people know that the feature exists at all or is useful to the extent that it actually is. Assuming that there’s a free time slot, a plenary tutorial will be held about this in an effort to remind attending developers and QA people of this relatively simple yet rather important task.
Design and Usability Clinic
This was a hands-on session where the Canonical Design and User Experience Team offered aid to people who needed design/UX advice for their projects in a “clinic” setting. After about quarter an hour of introductions and roundtable talk, the attendees divided up into several groups discussing usability issues in their respective projects. A nice and apparently improvised byproduct was the permanent “UX Clinic” table that got set up in the lounge, around which similar discussions went on intermittently in the rest of the day.
Specialization Within Bug Control
Having more specialist members on the Ubuntu Bug Control team has been a recurring wish. This session focused on the new mentoring program aimed at getting more specialist (and otherwise) people from the Bug Squad into the Bug Control team. Christophe Sauthier and Emmet Hikory from the MOTU team were present to share their experiences with the mentoring model at length, which was beneficial.
Meet Your Users
This design/UX session revolved around (I choose the term advisedly) the theme of “personas”, that is, hypothetical audience stereotypes whom Ubuntu should be designed for. The premise Ivanka Majic, the session lead, put forward was that basing design decisions on the requirements of the more “peripheral” users in terms of association and attachment to Ubuntu and free software would both cover various specialist bases, and ensure that the more central area which has requirements that are more homogeneous and already better catered for would be covered as well.
Attendees suggested various stereotypes along the lines of “students”, “children”, “administrators” and “media producers” on post-it notes, part of which were later evaluated on scales according to criteria such as age, social status, influence level, cultural background, so on.
My only gripe with this session was paradoxically also the major highlight of it: the talk seemed to stay hung up in the air, with no real conclusion or points to act from (the Gobby server failing and the consequent lack of collective notes certainly didn’t help). Of course this was the start of what we hopefully all expect to be a long conversation; the abrupt interruption of time running out only underlined the hunger I felt, and felt that others also felt, for more in-depth discussion of the audience factor in free software design and usability, and that in itself is promising, given that it’s actually gaining traction in Ubuntu now. Had Troy Sobotka, who has been an outspoken, if unforgiving, proponent of audience-aligned design in free software attended, he might have burst into tears of joy.
Finding Tasks For New Developers
Daniel Holbach this session, which focused on coming up with new means of offering “bitesize” work to new contributors to Ubuntu, mainly in the development area, which would further lower the barriers of entry and attract different sets of would-be contributors.