Canonical Voices

Posts tagged with 'design'

Rae Shambrook

Colour palette updates

Over the past few months, we’ve given you a peek into our evolving Suru design language with our wallpaper, convergence and Clock App blog posts.

Suru is based on Japanese aesthetics: minimalism, lightness and fluidity. This is why you will see the platform moving to a cleaner and more modern look.

Naturally, part of this evolution is colour. The new palette features a lightened set of colours with clearly defined usage to create  better visual hierarchy and an improved aesthetic sense of visual harmony.

On the technical side, SDK colour handling has been improved so that in the future colour usage will be more consistent and less prone to bugs.

The new palette has also expanded in scope with more colours to enable the creation of designs with greater depth, particularly as we move towards convergence, and reflects the design values we wish to impart onto the platform.

colour_palette

The new palette

Like our SDK, the colour palette has to be scalable. As we worked on visual designs for both apps and the shell, we found that having a colour palette which only contained six colours was too limiting. When approaching elements like the indicators or even shadows in the task switcher, light grey and dark grey weren’t going to be deep enough to stand out on a windowed view, where you have wallpaper and other windows to compete with.

The new palette is made up of thirteen colours. Some noticeable differences are an overall lighter look and additional greys. Purple is gone and we’ve added a yellow to the palette. This broader palette works to solve bugs where contrast and visibility were an issue, especially with the dark theme.

How we came to choose the colours was by iteratively reworking the visual designs across the whole platform and discovering what was needed as we designed. The greys came about when we worked on the revamped dark theme and shell projects, for example the upcoming contextual menus. While we added several new greys, the UI itself has taken on a less grey look.

App backgrounds have been upped to white, the grey neutral button has been lightened to Porcelain (a very light grey) in order to keep the button from looking disabled. These changes were made to improve visibility and contrast, to lighten the palette across the board and to keep everything consistent.

 

nearby_scopes
The previous design of the Nearby scope (left) and the updated design using the new palette (right) The background is lighter, buttons don’t look as disabled and text is higher contrast against the background.

 

The new palette allows developers to have more flexibility as the theme is now dynamic, rather than the colours being hard-coded to the UI as they were previously. In fact, our palette theme is built upon a layering system for which you can find the tutorial here.

Changing the use of orange

Previously orange was liberally used throughout our SDK, however such wide-ranging use of orange caused a number of UX issues:

  • Orange is so close to red that, at a glance, components could be misconstrued to be in an error state when in fact their current state was nominal.
  • Because orange is so close to red, the frequent use of orange made it harder for users to pick out actual error states in the UI.
  • Orange attracts the eye to wherever it is used, but frequently these elements didn’t warrant such a high level of visibility.

Around the same time as these issues were identified, we were also working on the design of focus states for keyboard navigation.

A focus state needs to be instantly visible so that a user can effortlessly see which item is focused without having to pause, look harder, and think.

After exploring a wide range of different concepts, we settled on using an orange frame as our keyboard navigation focus state.  However the use of this frame only worked if orange in all other areas was significantly toned down.

In order to fix the UX issues with the overuse of orange and to enable the use of an orange frame as our keyboard navigation focus state, the decision was made to be much more selective as to where and when orange should be applied.  The use of orange should now be limited to a single hero item per surface in addition to its use as our keyboard focus state.

This change has:

  • Improved visual hierarchy
  • Made error states instantly recognisable
  • Enabled the use of an orange frame as the keyboard navigation focus state

Usage of blue

For many years blue has been used in Ubuntu to alert the user to activities that are neutral (neither positive or negative).  Examples include the Launcher pips changing to blue to give the user a persistent notification of an app alert, or the messaging menu indicator changing to blue to indicate unread messages.

Previously in some (but not all) cases orange was being used to represent select and activity states but effective keyboard navigation had not yet been designed for Unity.

As part of our work on focus states, we also needed to consider a consistent visual language for select states, with a key requirement being that an item could be both focused and selected at the same time.

After much research, experimentation and testing, blue was chosen as the Ubuntu selected state colour.  Blue has also returned to being used for natural activity, for example in progress bars.  The use of blue for selected and other activity states works with almost all other elements, on both dark and light backgrounds, and stands out clearly and precisely when used in combination with a focus state.

Now that our usage of colour is more precisely and consistently defined (with orange = focus, blue = selected and neutral activity), you will see use of orange minimised so that it stands out as a focus state and more blue to replace orange’s previous selection and activity use.

 

Inbox
The sections headers now use blue to indicate which section is selected. This works well with the new focus frame that can be present when keyboard navigation is active.

The future for the palette

Colour is important for aesthetics (the palette needs to visually work together) but it also needs to convey meaning. Therefore a semantic approach is critical for maximum usability.  Some colours have cultural meanings, other colours have meanings applied by their context.

By extending the colours in our palette and organising them in a semantic way, we have created a stable framework of colour that developers can use to build their apps without time consuming and unnecessary work.  We can now be confident that our Suru design values are being consistently applied to every colour related design problem as we move forward with designing and building convergence.

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Steph Wilson

In the coming months we will be rolling out the new app design guidelines, which will give you the latest toolkit best practices and patterns so you can make your own convergent app for Ubuntu.

Why do we need design guidelines?

The guidelines are a big part of communicating design practices and philosophy to the community and the wider audience. Without it, we wouldn’t have consistency in our design language and people who want to develop or design on Ubuntu wouldn’t be able to maintain the identity we so love.

Throughout the guide you will see the rationale behind our design values through the development our Suru visual language and philosophy.

What’s to come?

We are going to start releasing parts of the Building Blocks section first, which contains all the components you need to start building your application.

Back in November last year we took a look at defining styles for the guide e.g. how to illustrate examples of best practice. The guide will feature UI examples of how the component will look inside an app across screen sizes, as well as breaking them apart so you can see what goes where and how.

Here’s a sneak peak…

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 09.50.13

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 14.35.25

After user testing on the current design guide, users said it was hard to find content as it was lost in the large amounts of text, so we have given the guide a bit of a nip and tuck by balancing visuals and text accordingly.

All new sections

As well as ‘Get Started’, ‘Patterns’ and ‘Building blocks’ we will now introduce: ‘System integration’ and ‘Resources’ to the list, as well as an overview page for each section highlighting key areas.

System integration will feature the number of a touchpoints your app can plug into inside the Ubuntu operating system shell, such as the launcher, notifications and indicators. For example, you can add a count emblem over your app icon inside the Launcher to show unread messages or available updates.

The ‘Resources’ section will feature downloads such as grid layout templates, the new colour palette and our icon set.

Over to you…

We can’t wait to see your app designs and hope that our design practices will help you achieve a great user experience on Ubuntu.

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Grazina Borosko

April marks the release of Xerus 16.4 and with it we bring a new design of our iconic wallpaper. This post will take you through our design process and how we have integrated our Suru visual language.

Evolution

The foundation of our recent designs are based on our Suru visual language, which encompasses our core brand values, bringing consistency across the Ubuntu brand.

Our Suru language is influenced by the minimalist nature of Japanese culture. We have taken elements of their Zen culture that give us a precise yet simplistic rhythm and used it in our designs. Working with paper metaphors we have drawn inspiration from the art of origami that provides us with a solid and tangible foundation to work from. Paper is also transferable, meaning it can be used in all areas of our brand in two and three dimensional forms.

Design process

We started by looking at previously released wallpapers across Ubuntu to see how each has evolved from each other. After seeing the previous designs we started to apply our new Suru patterns, which inspired us to move in a new direction.

Ubuntu 14.10 ‘Utopic Unicorn’’

wallpaper_unicorn

Ubuntu 15.04 ‘Vivid Vervet’

suru-desktop-wallpaper-ubuntu-vivid (1)

Ubuntu 15.10 ‘Wily Werewolf’

ubuntu-1510-wily-werewolf-wallpaper

Step-by-step process

Step 1. Origami animal

Since every new Ubuntu release is named after animal, the Design Team wanted to bring this idea closer to the wallpaper and the Suru language. The folds are part of the origami animal and become the base of which we start our design process.

Origarmi

To make your own origami Xerus squirrel, you can find the instructions here.

Step.2 Searching for the shape

We started to look at different patterns by using various techniques with origami paper. We zoomed into particular folds of the paper, experimented with different light sources, photography, and used various effects to enhance the design.

The idea was to bring actual origami to the wallpaper as much as possible. We had to think about composition that would work across all screen sizes, especially desktop. As the wallpaper is a prominent feature in a desktop environment, we wanted to make sure that it was user friendly, allowing users to find documents and folders located on the computer screen easily. The main priority was to not let the design get in the way of everyday usage, but enhance it aesthetically and provide a great user experience.

After all the experiments with fold patterns and light sources, we started to look at colour. We wanted to integrate both the Ubuntu orange and Canonical aubergine to balance the brightness and played with gradient levels.

We balanced the contrast of the wallpaper color palette by using a long and subtle gradient that kept the bright and feel look. This made the wallpaper became brighter and more colorful.

Step.3 Final product

The result was successful. The new concept and usage of Suru language helped to create a brighter wallpaper that fitted into our overall visual aesthetic. We created a three-dimensional look and feel that gives the feeling of actual origami appearance. The wallpaper is still recognizable as Ubuntu, but at the same time looks fresh and different.

Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus

Xerus - purple

Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus ( light version)

Xerus - Grey

What is next?

The Design Team is now looking at ways to bring the Suru language into animation and fold usage. The idea is to bring an overall seamless and consistent experience to the user, whilst reflecting our tone of voice and visual identity.

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Jamie Young

Ubuntu orange update

Recently, you may have seen our new colour palette update in the SDK. One notable change is the new hex code we’ve assigned to Ubuntu Orange for screen use. The new colour is #E95420.

We have a post coming soon that will delve deeper into our new palette but for now we just wanted to make sure this change is reflected on our website while at the same time touching on it through our blog. Our Suru visual language has evolved to have a lighter feel and we’ve adjusted the hex value in order to fit in with the palette as a whole.

We’ve updated our brand colour guidelines to take into account this change as well. You can find the new hex as well as all the tints of this colour that we recommend using in your design work.

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niemeyer

As much anticipated, this week Ubuntu 16.04 LTS was released with integrated support for snaps on classic Ubuntu.

Snappy 2.0 is a modern software platform, that includes the ability to define rich interfaces between snaps that control their security and confinement, comprehensive observation and control of system changes, completion and undoing of partial system changes across restarts/reboots/crashes, macaroon-based authentication for local access and store access, preliminary development mode, a polished filesystem layout and CLI experience, modern sequencing of revisions, and so forth.

The previous post in this series described the reassuring details behind how snappy does system changes. This post will now cover Snappy interfaces, the mechanism that controls the confinement and integration of snaps with other snaps and with the system itself.

A snap interface gives one snap the ability to use resources provided by another snap, including the operating system snap (ubuntu-core is itself a snap!). That’s quite vague, and intentionally so. Software interacts with other software for many reasons and in diverse ways, and Snappy is a platform that has to mediate all of that according to user needs.

In practice, though, the mechanism is straightforward and pleasant to deal with. Without any snaps in the system, there are no interfaces available:

% sudo snap interfaces
error: no interfaces found

If we install the ubuntu-core snap alone (done implicitly when the first snap is installed), we can already see some interface slots being provided by it, but no plugs connected to them:

% sudo snap install ubuntu-core
75.88 MB / 75.88 MB [=====================] 100.00 % 355.56 KB/s 

% snap interfaces
Slot                 Plug
:firewall-control    -
:home                -
:locale-control      -
(...)
:opengl              -
:timeserver-control  -
:timezone-control    -
:unity7              -
:x11                 -

The syntax is <snap>:<slot> and <snap>:<plug>. The lack of a snap name is a shorthand notation for slots and plugs on the operating system snap.

Now let’s install an application:

% sudo snap install ubuntu-calculator-app
120.01 MB / 120.01 MB [=====================] 100.00 % 328.88 KB/s 

% snap interfaces
Slot                 Plug
:firewall-control    -
:home                -
:locale-control      -
(...)
:opengl              ubuntu-calculator-app
:timeserver-control  -
:timezone-control    -
:unity7              ubuntu-calculator-app
:x11                 -

At this point the application should work fine. But let’s instead see what happens if we take away one of these interfaces:

% sudo snap disconnect \
             ubuntu-calculator-app:unity7 ubuntu-core:unity7 

% /snap/bin/ubuntu-calculator-app.calculator
QXcbConnection: Could not connect to display :0

The application installed depends on unity7 to be able to display itself properly, which is itself based on X11. When we disconnected the interface that gave it permission to be accessing these resources, the application was unable to touch them.

The security minded will observe that X11 is not in fact a secure protocol. A number of system abuses are possible when we hand an application this permission. Other interfaces such as home would give the snap access to every non-hidden file in the user’s $HOME directory (those that do not start with a dot), which means a malicious application might steal personal information and send it over the network (assuming it also defines a network plug).

Some might be surprised that this is the case, but this is a misunderstanding about the role of snaps and Snappy as a software platform. When you install software from the Ubuntu archive, that’s a statement of trust in the Ubuntu and Debian developers. When you install Google’s Chrome or MongoDB binaries from their respective archives, that’s a statement of trust in those developers (these have root on your system!). Snappy is not eliminating the need for that trust, as once you give a piece of software access to your personal files, web camera, microphone, etc, you need to believe that it won’t be using those allowances maliciously.

The point of Snappy’s confinement in that picture is to enable a software ecosystem that can control exactly what is allowed and to whom in a clear and observable way, in addition to the same procedural care that we’ve all learned to appreciate in the Linux world, not instead of it. Preventing people from using all relevant resources in the system would simply force them to use that same software over less secure mechanisms instead of fixing the problem.

And what we have today is just the beginning. These interfaces will soon become much richer and more fine grained, including resource selection (e.g. which serial port?), and some of them will disappear completely in favor of more secure choices (Unity 8, for instance).

These are exciting times for Ubuntu and the software world.

@gniemeyer

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Inayaili de León Persson

Redesigning ubuntu.com’s navigation

Last month, the web team had an offsite (outside of the office) week sprint in Holborn, central London. We don’t all work on exactly the same projects in our day-to-day, so it’s nice to have this type of sprint, where everyone can work together and show each other what we’ve been working on over the last few months.

 

Web team in HolbornThe web team in our offsite in Holborn

 

One of the key items in the agenda for the week was to brainstorm possible solutions for the key areas we want to improve in our navigation.

The last time we did a major redesign of ubuntu.com’s navigation was back in 2013 — time flies! So we thought now would be a good time to explore ways to improve how users navigate Ubuntu’s main website and how they discover other sites in the Ubuntu ecosystem.

Collaborative sketching

On the second day of the sprint, Francesca walked us through the current version of the navigation and explained the four key issues we want to solve. For each of the issues, she also showed how other sites solve similar problems.

While the 2013 navigation redesign solved some of the problems we were facing at the time (poor exposure of our breadth of products was a big issue, for instance) other issues have emerged since then that we’ve been meaning to address for a while.

After Francesca’s intro, we broke into four groups, and each group sketched a solution for each of the issues, which was then presented to everyone so we could discuss.

 

Karl presenting sketches to rest of the teamDiscussing the team’s sketches

 

By having everyone in the team, from UX and visual designers, to developers and project managers, contribute ideas and sketch together, we were able to generate lots of ideas in a very short amount of time. We could move the project forward much more quickly than if one UX or one designer had to come up with ideas by themselves over days or weeks.

Improving the global navigation

 

ubuntu.com global navigation barubuntu.com’s global navigation bar

 

The main things to improve on the global navigation were:

  • Some users don’t see the light grey bar above the main orange navigation
  • Some users think the links in the global nav are part of the ubuntu.com site
  • Important sites sit under the “More” link and do not have enough visibility
  • On the new full width sections, the global nav, main nav and “breadcrumb” form a visual sandwich effect that could create confusion

It was interesting to see the different groups come up similar ideas on how to improve the usability of the global navigation. Some of the suggestions were more simple and others more involved.

The main suggestions for improvement that we discussed were:

  • Rename the “More” link as “More sites” to make it more clear
  • Increase the number of links shown by default by using the full width of the page
  • Explore using different colours for the background, such as a dark grey
  • Explore having a drawer that exposes all Ubuntu sites, instead of the links being on display all the time (like the Bloomberg website)

 

Bloomber's global navigation closed

 

Bloomber's global navigation openOn Bloomberg.com when you click the “Bloomberg the Company & Its Products” link at the top (above) you open a large drawer that exposes the Bloomberg universe of sites.

 

Improving the main navigation

 

ubuntu.com's main navubuntu.com’s main navigation with a dropdown that lists second level links

 

The main ubuntu.com nav is possibly the most crucial part of the navigation that we would like to improve. The key improvements we’d like to work on are:

  • Having the ability to highlight key sections or featured content
  • Rely less on the site’s IA to structure the navigation as it makes it hard to cross-link between different sections (some pages are relevant to more than one section)
  • Improve the visibility of content that lives in the third level (it is currently only accessible via the breadcrumb-style navigation)

Even though the proposed solutions were different from each other, there were some patterns that popped up more than once amongst the different groups:

  • Featured content within the navigation (eg. the original Boston Globe responsive redesign, and Amazon.co.uk)
  • Links that live in more than one place (eg. John Lewis, Marks & Spencer and other retailers)
  • The idea of using the mega menu pattern

 

Boston Globel's original responsive menuIn the first version of the Boston Globe’s redesigned website, the main navigation included simple featured content for each of the sections

 

John Lewis mega menu Home & Garden section

John Lewis mega menu Baby & Child sectionOn the John Lewis website, you can get to nursery furniture from “Home & Garden > Room” and “Baby & Child > Baby & Nursery”

 

Amazon.co.uk displays seasonal ads in their mega menuThe main navigation on Amazon.co.uk includes featured ads

 

Solving the third level links issues

 

ubuntu.com's third level breadcrumb-style navubuntu.com’s breadcrumb-style navigation showing third level links

 

The main issues with the current third level links are:

  • We are using a recognisable design pattern (the breadcrumb) in a not so typical way (as second and third level navigation)
  • When you click on a third level link, you lose the visibility of the second level links, making it harder to understand where you are in the site
  • The pattern isn’t flexible: some of our labels are long, and only a small number of links fit horizontally, even on a large screen

One thing that we are almost certain of is that we will not be able to remove third level links completely from our site, so we need to improve the way we show them.

The most interesting suggestions on how to handle this issue were:

  • Include a table of contents for the section at the top of pages (like GOV.uk)
  • Key third level links could be highlighted in the main navigation menu

 

GOV.uk third level navOn GOV.uk, sections which have sub-sections include an overview of all the sub-sections at the top of every page. This makes it easier to understand the type and breadth of content of that section

 

Improving the footer

 

ubuntu.com's footerubuntu.com’s “fat footer” with three levels of links

 

Ubuntu.com’s footer is certainly the simplest of the problems we want to solve in terms of navigation. But, nonetheless, there are some issues with the current solution:

  • There are too many levels of links in the footer
  • The download section is hidden in the second footer level, despite being one of the main top level links

The most popular idea that came out of the sketching session was to use the space available better, so that sections can be listed in a masonry type grid, rather than one per column like they currently are.

This means we’d need fewer columns to list all important content and expose the IA of the site. It also means we can ditch the middle level of the current footer design (which now holds the About, Support and Download sections).

Next steps

The next step in the navigation redesign project is to build prototypes to test some of the ideas we had in our workshop, and refine the visual direction. We want to see if the assumptions we’ve made are true, and if the patterns are easy and intuitive to use across different screen sizes and devices.

We will then do some user testing and iterate based on the feedback we get.

We might also have to do some IA work alongside the redesign of the main navigation, if we do want to have links that are listed in different sections and if we want to present more curated links based on user tasks in each of the sections.

Stay tuned!

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niemeyer

As announced last Saturday, Snappy Ubuntu Core 2.0 has just been tagged and made its way into the archives of Ubuntu 16.04, which is due for the final release in the next days. So this is a nice time to start covering interesting aspects of what is being made available in this release.

A good choice for the first post in this series is talking about how snappy performs changes in the system, as that knowledge will be useful in observing and understanding what is going on in your snappy platform. Let’s start with the first operation you will likely do when first interacting with the snappy platform — install:

% sudo snap install ubuntu-calculator-app
120.01 MB / 120.01 MB [================================================================] 100.00 % 1.45 MB/s

This operation is traditionally done on analogous systems in an ephemeral way. That is, the software has either a local or a remote database of options to install, and once the change is requested the platform of choice will start acting on it with all state for the modification kept in memory. If something doesn’t go so well, such as a reboot or even a crash, the modification is lost.. in the best case. Besides being completely lost, it might also be partially applied to the system, with some files spread through the filesystem, and perhaps some of the involved hooks run. After the restart, the partial state remains until some manual action is taken.

Snappy instead has an engine that tracks and controls such changes in a persistent manner. All the recent changes, pending or not, may be observed via the API and the command line:

% snap changes
ID   Status  ...  Summary
1    Done    ...  Install "ubuntu-calculator-app" snap

(the spawn and ready date/time columns have been hidden for space)

The output gives an overview of what happened recently in the system, whether pending or not. If one of these changes is unintendedly interrupted for whatever reason, the daemon will attempt to continue the requested change at the next opportunity.

Continuing is not always possible, though, because there are external factors that such a change will generally depend upon (the snap being available, the system state remaining similar, etc). In those cases, the change will fail, and any relevant modifications performed on the system while attempting to accomplish the defined goal will be undone.

Because such partial states are possible and need to be handled properly by the system, changes are in fact broken down into finer grained tasks which are also tracked and observable while in progress or after completion. Using the change ID obtained in the former command, we can get a better picture of what that changed involved:

% snap changes 1
Status ...  Summary
Done   ...  Download snap "ubuntu-core" from channel "stable"
Done   ...  Mount snap "ubuntu-core"
Done   ...  Copy snap "ubuntu-core" data
Done   ...  Setup snap "ubuntu-core" security profiles
Done   ...  Make snap "ubuntu-core" available
Done   ...  Download snap "ubuntu-calculator-app"
Done   ...  Mount snap "ubuntu-calculator-app"
Done   ...  Copy snap "ubuntu-calculator-app" data
Done   ...  Setup snap "ubuntu-calculator-app" security profiles
Done   ...  Make snap "ubuntu-calculator-app" available

(the spawn and ready date/time columns have been hidden for space)

Here we can observe an interesting implementation detail of the snappy integration into Ubuntu: the ubuntu-core snap is at the moment ~80MB, and contains the software bundled with the snappy platform itself. Instead of having it pre-installed, it’s only pulled in when the first snap is installed.

Another interesting implementation detail that surfaces here is the fact snaps are in fact mounted rather than copied into the system as traditional packaging systems do, and they’re mounted read-only. That means the operation of having the content of a snap in the filesystem is instantaneous and atomic, and so is removing it. There are no partial states for that specific aspect, and the content cannot be modified.

Coming back into the task list, we can see above that all the tasks that the change involved are ready and did succeed, as expected from the earlier output we had seen for the change itself. Being more of an introspection view, though, this tasks view will often also show logs and error messages for the individual tasks, whether in progress or not.

The following view presents a similar change but with an error due to an intentionally corrupted system state that snappy could not recover from (path got a busy mountpoint hacked in):

% sudo snap install xkcd-webserver
[\] Make snap "xkcd-webserver" available to the system
error: cannot perform the following tasks:
- Make snap "xkcd-webserver" available to the system (symlink 13 /snap/xkcd-webserver/current: file exists)

% sudo snap changes 2
Status  ...  Summary
Undone  ...  Download snap "xkcd-webserver" from channel "stable"
Undone  ...  Mount snap "xkcd-webserver"
Undone  ...  Copy snap "xkcd-webserver" data
Undone  ...  Setup snap "xkcd-webserver" security profiles
Error   ...  Make snap "xkcd-webserver" available to the system

.................................................................
Make snap "xkcd-webserver" available to the system

2016-04-20T14:14:30-03:00 ERROR symlink 13 /snap/xkcd-webserver/current: file exists

Note how reassuring that report looks. It says exactly what went wrong, at which stage of the process, and it also points out that all the prior tasks that previously succeeded had their modifications undone. The security profiles were removed, the mount point was taken down, and so on.

This sort of behavior is to be expected of modern operating systems, and is fundamental when considering systems that should work unattended. Whether in a single execution or across restarts and reboots, changes either succeed or they don’t, and the system remains consistent, reliable, observable, and secure.

In the next blog post we’ll see details about the interfaces feature in snappy, which controls aspects of confinement and integration between snaps.

@gniemeyer

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niemeyer

Ubuntu and Snappy community, it’s time to celebrate!

After another intense week and a long Saturday focused on observing and fine tuning the user experience, the development team is proud to announce that Snappy 2.0 has been tagged. As has been recently announced, this release of Snappy Ubuntu Core will be available inside Ubuntu proper, extending it with new capabilities in a seamless manner.

This is an important moment for the project, as it materializes most of the agreements that were made over the past year, and does so with the promise of stability. So you may trust that the important external APIs of the project (filesystem layout, snap format, REST API, etc) will not change from now on.

The features that went into this release are way too rich for me to describe in this post, but you may expect us to be covering the many interesting aspects of Snappy 2.0 in the coming weeks. Rich interfaces between snaps that control security and confinement, comprehensive observation and control of system changes, completion and undoing of partial system changes across restarts/reboots/crashes, macaroon-based authentication for local access and store access, preliminary development mode, a polished filesystem layout and CLI experience, modern sequencing of revisions, and so forth.

Still, the most remarkable aspect about this release to me is that it is a solid foundation. This release exports APIs and is constructed in a way to be proud of, and together with this team I will be delighted to spend the foreseeable future building a platform the world has never seen.

As a final note, I can’t thank the development team enough for the dedication they have put into the project over the past year, and specially over these last two weeks. You were the make it or break it of this project, and you made it.

Thank you!

@gniemeyer

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Jouni Helminen

Visual design of convergent apps

It is an exciting time as we’re starting to see more and more of the new, convergence-enabled UI toolkit and features for Unity 8 come to life. Some classic X11 apps (Gimp, Libre Office and a few others) are already running on Unity 8 using new hardware from our partners, including the award winning M10 tablet from BQ – very cool.

At the same time, we want to help people write or port more applications to our platform, using our modern UI toolkit designed to smoothly flow the user experience through touch and pointer inputs, a range of screen and keyboard types and all of the permutations in between! It has been an interesting design challenge to imagine, design, and begin to build a world where all interfaces, regardless of input type or form factor, all emerge from the same core user experience and design language.

Where we are now

Our UX and SDK teams have been working on version 1.3 of Qt based UI toolkit, which allows developers to write applications that can be used comfortably with both touch and pointer interfaces. The work is still very much in progress, but some of it can be used today. You can check out the developer docs here.

Suru, our visual design language, has evolved into a new, much lighter, flatter and modern approach. It not only looks great (in our humble opinion), but helps app developers design good looking and well-functioning apps with less effort. Continuous visual and user experience refinements will will be rolling out across the whole OS (scopes, shell and apps) this coming year.

The new design guidelines for UX and UI patterns as well as Suru will be out soon. In the meanwhile hopefully these example apps will inspire you to have a look at the developer docs, get active on IRC and have a go yourself. We will also be releasing design source files and templates for the refreshed UI toolkit so that you can start applying them in your own app designs.

Dekko – Email

email-phone-tablet

The first example app is Dekko – the default email client  for mobile and tablet devices from BQ and Meizu. We have been very lucky to have the incredible talents of our community member Dan Chapman working on the development of Dekko, and the app is progressing at a fantastic rate. James Mulholland helped Dan with the UX and I have been working on the UI.

Like many apps, Dekko uses a list view to represent the primary level, and a detail view to show the secondary level. Where there’s room, these views can be displayed side by side, but on small screen screens or very shrunk windows, a PageStack showing only the list becomes the primary screen. On larger screens or expanded windows, the page stack automatically progresses into the familiar two-panel configuration. This adaptive layout is common on responsive websites, and our SDK team have built a component in the UI toolkit that does most of the hard work for you – AdaptivePageLayout.

email-desktop

The list item, which lives in the list component, is another example of ready made component that helps developers write convergent apps with less effort. The new ListItem in our toolkit has useful, well designed default layouts baked in when using ListItemLayout. It is also optimised for both touch and pointer interaction – via ListItemActions. A common pattern of interacting with list items on touch devices is to drag them left or right revealing key actions such as delete. When using a pointer, however, you would typically right click and use the contextual menu to access the same actions. Our UI Toolkit supports both types of input at all times, so you could drag the item left or right using a mobile or touch-enabled monitor, or right click using a mouse. We believe users should be free to mix how they interact with our components using whatever means is at their disposal and to their liking.

This behaviour is already baked into our ListItem component, so users will have a consistent experience when using apps, and developers will save time not having to roll their own solutions.

Music

 convergence-music
The music app is another example of the super talented Ubuntu community getting involved in building some of our core apps together with our internal teams. You might remember Andrew Hayzen and Victor Thompson from a previous interview on this blog. They have since been adding features and functionality to the app, and a convergent music app using multiple panels is currently working in a branch and will be landing in the master release soon. We are also looking at adding support for streaming music functionality, keep an eye out for this in the near future :)

music-closeup

The multi-panel music app reacts to window size changes intelligently – the album cards resize and shuffle themselves on window size changes. On smaller screen devices we have a persistent “Now playing” control bar at the bottom of the screen, but on larger screen sizes we have enough real estate to reimagine the play bar as an extra panel on the right with “Now playing” information, along with cover art, controls and a scrollable queue.

Calendar

convergent_calendar

The calendar app has been on the phone for a while but until now it hadn’t really had any UI design love or designs for larger screens.  We wanted to apply our visual language in the context of an app that is by default very minimal, allowing the few design elements to stand on their own.

Suru, our visual language, is light and flat, minimizing distractions, with carefully selected tones of gray, consistent spacing and margins to help the content breathe. We’ve added considered splashes of highlight colours that enhance the visual hierarchy without overwhelming it.

On the calendar app we are again making use of multiple panels, surfacing several layers when we have the real estate available. The same feature set of the app is of course available on all sizes, and the navigation feels intuitive with whatever input method or screen size you are using.

calendar-closeup

This design hasn’t been implemented yet, and in fact we are looking for new developers to join our Community Team. If you are a developer who would like to get involved in writing some of the core apps people use on Ubuntu – get in touch with alan.pope@canonical.com – we would love to hear from you!

Hopefully these examples have given inspiration and pointers to anyone who would like to have a go at designing apps for convergent Ubuntu. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out – jouni.helminen@canonical.com

 

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Steph Wilson

MWC stand: open for business

Take a look at the final pictures of the stand taken yesterday before we opened for business today!

Pods at MWC

Phone demo pods ready to be played with :)

Entrance to stand MWC

Entrance to the stand  “Phone + OpenStack + NFV + IoT”

Canonical meeting room MWC

The Canonical meeting room

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Steph Wilson

With MWC just two days away, the final preparations are now in full swing. The stand is looking bigger and brighter than ever and we cannot wait to share it with you.

Final preperations: MWC

IMG_4176

Final prep: MWC

 

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Steph Wilson

It’s day 3 and the stand is nearing completion. The funky lights have been fitted, the meeting rooms have curvaceous walls inspired by the Ubuntu shape, and the cloud and phone demo pods are ready to rock some products for you to try.

Stay tuned tomorrow for some final pictures of behind the scenes at MWC!

Canonical-Build-Photos-9

One of the meeting rooms

photo_2016-02-19_15-55-27

 

Canonical-Build-Photos-7

Rectangular demo pods that will feature various cloud products

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Steph Wilson

It’s day two behind the scenes at MWC and the stand is starting to take shape. The iconic orange Ubuntu flags are up, the walls and doors have been assembled, and the flooring has been put down. We are nearly there…

Day 2: MWC

 

Day 2: MWC

Day 2: MWC

Stay tuned tomorrow to see our final preparations for the stand.

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Steph Wilson

With Mobile World Congress just around the corner, work has now commenced on our biggest stand to date!

Over the next week we will be posting pictures of the stand so you can see how it all comes together.

Day one:

Day 1 MWC

This year we are in the Main Hall – taking up more space :)

Day 1 MWC

Day 1 MWC

The flags are up!

Stay tuned for more pictures of the stand tomorrow

 

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Inayaili de León Persson

A new look for tablet

Today we launched a new and redesigned tablet section on ubuntu.com that introduces all the cool features of the upcoming BQ Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition tablet.

Breaking out of the box

In this redesign, we have broken out of the box, removing the container that previously held the content of the pages. This makes each page feel more spacious, giving the text and the images plenty of room to shine.

This is something we’ve wanted to do for a while across the entire site, so we thought that having the beautiful, large tablet photos to work with gave us a good excuse to try out this new approach.

 

The overview page of the tablet section of ubuntu.com, before (left) and after

 

For most of the section, we’ve used existing patterns from our design framework, but the removal of the container box allowed us to play with how the images behave across different screen sizes. You will notice that if you look at the tablet pages on a medium to small screen, some of the images will be cropped by the edge of the viewport, but if you see the same image in a large screen, you can see it in its entirety.

 



From the top: the same row on a large, medium and small screen

 

How we did it

This project was a concerted effort across the design, marketing, and product management teams.

To understand the key goals for this redesign, we collected the requirements and messaging from the key stakeholders of the project. We then translated all this information into wireframes that guide the reader through what Ubuntu Tablet is. These went through a few rounds of testing and iteration with both users and stakeholders. Finally, we worked with a copywriter to refine the words of each section of the tablet pages.

 

Some of the wireframes

 

To design the pages, we started with exploring the flow of each page in large and small screens in flat mockups, which were quickly built into a fully functioning prototype that we could keep experimenting and testing on.

 

Some of the flat mockups created for the redesign

 

This design process, where we start with flat mockups and move swiftly into a real prototype, is how we design and develop most of our projects, and it is made easier by the existence of a flexible framework and design patterns, that we use (and sometimes break!) as needed.

 


Testing the new tablet section on real devices

 

To showcase the beautiful tablet screen designs on the new BQ tablet, we coordinated with professional photographers to deliver the stunning images of the real device that you can enjoy along every new page of the section.

 

One of the many beautiful device photos used across the new tablet section of ubuntu.com

 

Many people were involved in this project, making it possible to deliver a redesign that looks great, and is completed on time — which is always good a thing :)

In the future

In the near future, we want to remove the container box from the other sections of ubuntu.com, although you may see this change being done gradually, section by section, rather than all in one go. We will also be looking at redesigning our navigation, so lots to look forward to.

Now go experience tablet for yourself and let us know what you think!

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Rae Shambrook

In the coming months, users will start noticing things looking more and more different on Ubuntu. As we gradually roll out our new and improved Suru visual language, you’ll see apps and various other bits of the platform take on a lighter, more clean and cohesive look.

Why refresh apps at all?

As Ubuntu brings convergence to life—embracing today’s as well as future devices—our visual style and UI Toolkit need to evolve to support the new world. The changes taking place platform-wide make it simpler for designers and developers to integrate convergence from inception, and help apps come to life equally on mobile or desktop without a lot of additional work. As we apply new convergence UI and UX patterns to general-purpose components like lists and checkboxes, we also seek out opportunities to work with community developers and designers to put the thinking and new components into practice. The Clock app has been one such opportunity.

 

clock_old_design

The Redesign

Our clean, crisp and lucid Suru visual language and style works well with the added functionality required for convergence. There’s less visual distraction and noise than ever, providing a clear pathway to making the most of the new toolkit’s convergence functionality.

Our Suru visual design language is based on origami, with graphic elements containing meaningful folds and shadows to create the illusion of paper and draw focus to certain areas. Using the main clock face’s current animation (where the clock flips from analog to digital on touch) as inspiration, it seemed natural to place a fold in the middle of the clock. On touch, the clock “folds” from analog to digital.

clock_new_design

To further the paper look, drop shadows are used to give the illusion of layers of paper. The shadow under the clock face elevates it from the page, adding a second layer. The drop shadows on the clock hands add yet another layer.

As for colours, the last clock design featured a grey and purple scheme. In our new design, we make use of our very soon-to-be released new color palette. We brightened the interface with a white background and light grey clock face. On the analog clock, the hour and second hands are now Ubuntu orange. With the lighter UI, this subtle use of branding is allowed to stand out more. Also, the purple text is gone in favor of a more readable dark grey.

The bottom edge hint has also been redesigned. The new design is much more minimal, letting users get used to the gesture without interrupting the content too much.

In the stopwatch section, the fold is absent from the clock face since the element is static. We also utilize our new button styling. In keeping with the origami theme, the buttons now have a subtle drop shadow rather than an inward shadow, to again create a more “paper” feel.

stopwatch_design

This project has been one of my favorites so far. Although it wasn’t a complete redesign (the functionality remains the same) it was fun seeing how the clock would evolve next. Hope you enjoy the new version of the clock, it’s currently in development so look out for it on your phones soon and stay tuned for more visual changes.

Visual Design: Rae Shambrook

UX Design: James Mulholland

 

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Femma

We arrived in Helsinki on Sunday evening, ready to start our week long SDK sprint on Monday. Our hotel was in a nice location, by the sea.

The work stuff

The SDK is a core part of Ubuntu and provides an array of components and flexibility needed to create applications across staged and windowed form factors, with good design and user experience in mind.

The purpose of the sprint was to have the designers and engineers come together to work on tools and components such as palette themes, bottom edge, header, scrollbars, focus handling, dialogs, buttons, menus, text selections and developer tasks such as IDE, packaging and application startup.

Monday morning started with walking into our venue that looked somewhat like a classroom.

 

Classroom

The first task of the day required some physical activity of moving all the tables around so that the environment was much more conducive to a collaborative sprint.

Jouni presenting

Each day we broke off into working groups for our respective sessions and ironed out any existing issues, as well as working through new and exciting features that would enhance different SDK components.

Theme palette sessionJamie, Pierre and Zsombor working hard on the colour palette.

Jamie the professor

Old school pointing devices, Jamie gives it a go, looking very much like a professor!

What we achieved

During the course of the week we achieved what we’d set out to do:

  • Amended the theme palette to include any missing colours and then apply these to various components
  • Completed the implementation and release the bottom edge component into the staging environment
  • Completed the section scrolling prototype and have it reviewed by visual design and UX
  • Completed the portrait and landscape edit mode header prototype
  • Worked out behaviour of complex SDK components for focus handling and added some best practice examples to the specification
  • Communicated and gained concensus on the context menu design, who are now gearing up for some pre-requisite work and then implementation of context menus
  • Prepared the visual rules for buttons and made the Ubuntu shape ready to use for buttons
  • Completed the design for sliders  
  • Discussed a tree view component for navigation
  • Created a first draft of tabs wireframes and functionality agreed
  • Created a first draft of text selections visuals and reviewed, UX and functionality was discussed ready to include in the specification
  • Created the Libertine packaging project and containers
  • Tidied up the IDE
  • Created some Snapp packages and got them working
  • Ramped up some new  investigative work that arose in our collaboration

The planets aligned… literally

In the early hours of Wednesday morning  (before breakfast) a few of us managed to witnessed a planetary conjunction (Venus, Mars and Jupiter) which was truly amazing… a surprise benefit of sprinting in the arctic circle.
Even though there were a few hours of daylight, we managed to embrace the cold and stand outside to enjoy the beautiful views during lunch and coffee breaks.

The bay

All in all, it was a very productive and fun sprint. We left with a sense of accomplishment and camaraderie.

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Matthieu James

An expanded device mono icon set

We will soon push an update of the Suru icon theme that includes more device icons in order to support the Ubuntu convergence story.

Because the existing icon set was focused on mobile, many of the new icons are very specific to the desktop, as we were missing icons such as hard disk, optical drive, printer or touchpad.

When designing new mono icons, we need to make sure that they are consistent with the graphic style of the existing set (thin outlines, rare solid shapes, etc).

A device, like a printer or a hard disk, can be quite complex if you want to make it look realistic, so it’s important to add a level of abstraction to the design. However the icon still has to be recognisable within the right context.

At the moment, if you compare the Suru icon theme to the symbolic mono icons in Gnome, or to the Humanity devices icons, a few icons are missing, so you should expect to see this set expand at some point in the future — but the most common devices are covered.

In the meantime, here is the current full set:

Device icon set

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Steph Wilson

Today we celebrate our amazing Ubuntu Community and show our appreciation for all the hard work put into making Ubuntu what it is today.

Ubuntu is not just an operating system, it is a whole community in which everybody collaborates with everybody to bring to the life a wonderful human experience. When you download the ISO, burn it, install it and start to enjoy it, you know that a lot of people made magnificent efforts to deliver the best Ubuntu OS possible.

To show our appreciation, the Community Managers and Designers have nominated several community application developers to receive a special thank you for their outstanding work:

  • Dan Chapman (dekko)
  • Boren Zhang (dekko)
  • Kunal Parmar (calendar)
  • Stefano Verzegnassi (docviewer)
  • Riccardo Padovani (calculator, notes)
  • Bartosz Kosiorek (calculator, clock)
  • Roman Shchekin (shorts, docviewer)
  • Joey Chan (shorts)
  • Victor Thomson (music, weather)
  • Andrew Hazen (music, weather)
  • Nekhelesh Ramananthan (clock)
  • Niklas Wenzel (terminal, dekko/platform)

We’ll send everyone an official Ubuntu keychain and sticker pack.


 

We also got hold of some other special Ubuntu items and because it is impossible to pick favourites, names were drawn out of a hat:

1 

 

The following folks will be receiving a special Ubuntu gift from us:


3rd prize: An official Ubuntu hat – Niklas Wenzel

 

2nd prize: An official Ubuntu pad from Castelli – Andrew Hazen

 

1st prize: An official Ubuntu wireless mouse from Xoopar – Joey Chan

 

Well done guys!

Community Appreciation Day merchandise pack

Models not included.


Show your appreciation:

  • Ping an IRC Ubuntu channel and leave a thank you
  • Send an email to a mailing list; you can do it to a LoCo mailing list
  • On social media:
  • Or if you see a community member in the street, go up to them and give them a well-deserved pat on the back :)

For everyone who works out of passion and love for Ubuntu: we thank you, and hope it will encourage more contributors to join and make Ubuntu even better!

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Elvi

After many hours of research, testing and never-ending questions about structure, design, aesthetics and function, we’re very happy to announce that Jujucharms has a new homepage!

All through this site redesign, our main aim has been to make complex content easy to digest and more fun to read. We’ve strived to create a website that not only looks beautiful, but also succeeds in thoroughly explaining what Juju is and the way it can improve your workflow.

Key content is now featured more prominently. We wanted the homepage to be illustrative and functional, hence the positioning of a bold headline and clear call to action which users immediately see as they access the site.

One of the key change between the old homepage and the new is the addition of two visual diagrams, which we have made sure to optimise for whichever device users may be accessing the site with. The first diagram explains the most relevant aspects of the service and how users can incorporate it into their workflow (Fig. 1). The second explains the different elements that compose Juju and the way the service works at a technical level (Fig. 2).

jujucharms-home-diagramFigure 1.

jujucharms-home-2Figure 2.

After scrolling, visitors encounter a section which allows direct access into the store, encouraging them to explore the wide range of services it offers. This allows for a more hands-on discovery and understanding of what Juju is – users can either start designing straight away, test it, or explore the site if they wish to find more information before trying it out.

Jujucharms.com homepage discovery

Overall, we’ve made sure to re-design our homepage in a way that truly benefits our audience. In order to do so we conducted numerous user testing sessions throughout the development of the site and re-iterated the designs based on our user’s feedback. This approach enabled us to understand which content and elements should be prioritised and define the best way to evolve the design.

We collaboratively reviewed and analysed our findings as a team throughout the process and made decisions on next steps to take. After quite a few iterations we hope to have designed a homepage which reflects the core concept and benefits of Juju, and that it becomes something that users will want to come back to.

We hope you like it and look forward to hearing your thoughts about it!

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