Canonical Voices

Posts tagged with 'sprint'

Paty Davila

Last week I was invited to Beijing to take part in the China Launch Sprint. The focus of the sprint was to identify action items in our product roadmap for the next devices that will ship Ubuntu Touch in the Chinese market later this year.

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I am a lead UX designer in the product strategy team currently doing many exciting things, such as designing the convergence experience across the Ubuntu platform. I was invited to offer design support and participate in the planning of the work we will be doing with our industry partner, China Mobile, after reviewing the CTA test results.

What is CTA?

CTA stands for China type approval which is a certificate granted to a product that meets a set of regulatory, technical and safety requirements. Generally, type approval is required before a product is allowed to be sold in a particular country.

Topics covered:

  • CTA Level 1-4 test cases and developed a new testing tool for pre-install applications.
    We reviewed the content and proposed design for all five of Migu scopes with design team’s input.
  • Also, we discussed the new RCS (Rich Communication Suite) integration with our Messaging app and prepared demos [link] for MWC Shanghai, Asia’s biggest mobile event happening at the end of this month.
  • And explored ideas around the design of mCloud service integration with our storage framework.

Achievements

The sprint was very productive and a great experience to sync up with old and new faces. We were all excited to explore ideas and work together on the next steps for China Mobile and Ubuntu.

Downtown in Beijing

I had some downtime to explore the city and have a taste of Beijing’s most interesting local dishes and potions with people I met from the sprint…

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Michi has creatively named this one as snake juice.

Team dinner :)

A large team dinner.

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The famous Great Wall of China.

The city lights of Beijing :)

The city lights of Beijing :)

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pitti

This week from Tuesday to Thursday four Canonical Foundations team members held a virtual sprint about the proposed-migration infrastructure. It’s been a loooong three days and nightshifts, but it was absolutely worth it. Thanks to Brian, Barry, and Robert for your great work!

I started the sprint on Tuesday with a presentation (slides) about the design and some details about the involved components, and showed how to deploy the whole thing locally in juju-local. I also prepared a handful of bite-size improvements which were good finger-exercises for getting familiar with the infrastructure and testing changes. I’m happy to report that all of those got implemented and are running in production!

The big piece of work which we all collaborated on was providing a web-based test retry for all Ubuntu developers. Right now this is limited to a handful of Canonical employees, but we want Ubuntu developers to be able to retry autopkgtest regressions (which stop their package from landing in Ubuntu) by themselves. I don’t know the first thing about web applications and OpenID, so I’m really glad that Barry and Robert came up with a “hello world” kind of Flask webapp which uses Ubuntu SSO authentication to verify that the requester is an Ubuntu Developer. I implemented the input variable validation and sending the actual test requests over AMQP.

Now we have a nice autopkgtest-retrier git with the required functionality and 100% (yes, complete!) test coverage. With that, requesting tests in a local deployment works! So what’s left to do for me now is to turn this into a CGI script, configure apache for it, enable SSL on autopkgtest.ubuntu.com, and update the charms to set this all up automatically. So this moved from “ugh, I don’t know where to start” from “should land next week” in these three days!

We are going to have similar sprints for Brian’s error tracker, Robert’s CI train, and Barry’s system-image builder in the next weeks. Let’s increase all those bus factors from the current “1” to at least “4” ☺ . Looking forward to these!

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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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Steph Wilson

Last week the SDK team gathered in London for a sprint that focused on convergence, which consisted of pulling apart each component and discussing ways in which each would adapt to different form factors.

The SDK provides off-the-shelf UI components that make up our Ubuntu apps; however now we’re entering the world of Unity 8 convergence, some tweaking is needed to help them function and look visually pleasing on different screen sizes, such as desktop, tablet and other larger screens.

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To help with converging your app, the Design Team have created a set of predefined grid layouts screen targets: 40, 50, 90 GU (grid units), which makes life a lot easier to visualize where to place components in different screen sizes.

Scheduled across the week were various sessions focusing on different components from the SDK such as list items, date and time pickers; together with patterns like the Bottom Edge and PageStack. Each session gathered developers, visual and UX designers, where they ran through how a component might look (visual), the usability (UX) and how it will be implemented (developer) on different form factors.

Here’s the mess they made…

Here's the mess they made...

Main topics covered:

– Multi-column layouts, panel behaviors and pagestack

– Header, Bottom Edge and edit mode

– Focus handling

– List item layouts

– Date and time pickers

– Drop-down menus

– Scrollbars

– Application menu

– Tooltips

 

Here are some of the highlights:

 

  • Experiments and explorations were discussed around how the Bottom Edge will look in a multi-column view, and how the content will appear when it is revealed in the Bottom Edge view. Also, design animations were explored around the ‘Hint’ and how they will appear on each panel in a multi-column layout.
  • Explorations on how each panel will behave, look and breakpoints of implementing on different grid units (40,50,90).
  • A lot of discussion was had around the Header; looking at how it will transform from a phone  layout to a multi-column view in a tablet or desktop. Currently the header holds up to four actions placed on the right, a title, and navigational functions on the left, with a separate header section underneath that acts as a navigation to different views within the app. The Design Team had created wireframes that explored how many headers would appear in a multi-column layout, together with how the actions and header section would fit in.
  • Different list item layouts were explored, looking at how many actions, titles and summaries can be placed in different scenarios. Together with a potentially new context/popover menu to accompany the leading, trailing and default options.
  • The Design Team experimented with a new animation that happens during a focused state on the desktop.
  • The new system exposes all the features of a components, so developers are able to customize and style it more conveniently.

Overall the convergence sprint was a success, with both the SDK and Design Team working in unison to reach decisions and listing priorities for the coming months. Each agreed that this method of working was very beneficial, as it brought together the designers and developers to really focus on the user and developer needs.

 

They enjoyed some downtime too…

Arrival dinner at Byron Burgers

Arrival dinner at Byron Burgers

 

Out in Soho

Out in Soho

Wine tasting in the office (not a regular occurrence)

Wine tasting in the office (not a regular occurrence)

 

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Steph Wilson

Community members at the Sprint

Victor and Andrew are two inspiring Community developers that have devoted their spare time to contribute to the Ubuntu Touch Music App team. I sat down with them during the Washington Device Sprint in October where they told us how they drew inspiration from the Design Team, and what drives them to contribute to Ubuntu.

You can read more about Victor and Andrew through their blogs, where they post interesting articles on their work and personal projects.

From left to right: Riccardo, Andrew, Filippo and Victor

From left to right: Riccardo, Andrew, Filippo and Victor

Hey guys, so when did you first get involved with Ubuntu?

Victor: “I started to contribute to the Ubuntu platform in March/April 2013 where I noticed there was no music app, so I started putting one together. It was pretty sketchy to start with, but it worked. I didn’t have a device to test it on so I mostly tested it using the platform on my desktop – so things were a bit hit and miss.

There was also another developer doing a music app, and at the time there was no core capability of playing music through an application for the proposed devices. Michael Hall (Open Source Software Developer) and Alan Pope (Engineering Manager) pulled Daniel Holm and I together, where we merged our core bases and started the music core app.

We didn’t have as much time as other applications, so we more or less sprinted like we are now to get things done. It was very spec driven and specific, which was helpful but sometimes it was hard to put together a full vision of what the designers wanted. So now we are redoing it from the feedback we have gathered, and it’s going pretty well. A little more agile than it was previously as to do thing faster, but it’s been fun the whole time. It’s nice to work on an application that people need and gets visibility, never get sick of hacking at it.”

Andrew: “I’m from North London, where I’m currently studying Software Engineering at Oxford Brookes University. I was working on my own music app where I just taught myself how to do things using my own framework, then I saw that these guys at Ubuntu had a similar problem to me, and so I thought I’d provide a patch. This then built up from there, and now here I am!”

Steph: “It’s amazing that someone can be in their bedroom writing codes and then suddenly your app is on a phone!”

Victor: “The other great thing about it is the Community Managers make it easy and apparent that you can contribute to different projects.”

Andrew: “Yeah someone just got in contact with me and asked me if I wanted to join the team and told me how open source projects work.”

What inspired you to contribute?

Victor: “A lot of my original inspiration was from what the Design Team had previously done. The previous iteration design spec was very large for the music app and it wasn’t as future driven, more just visually pleasing.”

Do you find it hard to implement some designs?

Victor: “We try to make it as close to the designs as we can, but obviously there’s compromises. There was some very flow driven things such as: sized cover arts that were hard to implement, but we can implement them now. It’s nice because they use the same pattern from other applications.”

Andrew: “Usually we just tell the designer that this is just not possible.”

What is it about open source that you like?

Victor: “I have been a user since 2006, but I have never been a large open source developer myself. It is hard to get involved with when you don’t know what you want to contribute to.”

Andrew: “Most applications are so developed already, so you would have to learn the existing code base and develop on it, whereas if you start a new you know everything from the get-go. Seeing your application on the device and knowing it can be on other devices too, is pretty exciting!”

How does it fit into your lifestyles?

Victor: “I’m a software engineer as well, so I write a lot of code. I haven’t really done QML or QT until I started doing these applications with the Ubuntu platform, so it has been a learning experience. I am learning something new from experienced people.”

Have you made any other applications for Ubuntu?

Victor: I’ve made a few games like Piano Tiles, and another that’s kind of like a clone of that but in QML – It’s a simple app but a good time waster haha.”

How much time does it take you to develop an app?

Victor: “It took me like a day. Andrew made a game last night! In 2 hours…”

Andrew: “Yeah we did! Loads of us at the sprint just got together in a room and made a few games.”

So you’re used to working remotely, does that put a barrier against things?

Andrew: “It sometimes delay things. However, you start to build this image of a person, so when you actually get to meet them you start to understand how they are and what makes them tick.

Victor: “Depends on how personal it really needs to be. If you are collaborating together and it’s mostly writing code and coming up with ideas, it doesn’t necessarily need to be face-to-face. It is obviously nicer, but you also get the benefit if the other person is a night owl in a different country where sometimes our hours overlap, two different chunks of time we’re working in.

Andrew: “There’s usually someone on IRC to speak to, it’s like a 24 hour operation haha.”

What’s the vibe like in the Community at the moment?

Victor: “It’s a pretty small Community at the moment, with close ties. Everyone is receptive to feedback, so if it was larger Community I don’t think it would be as receptive.”

Steph: “Thanks for your time guys!”

Here’s a sneaky preview of the music app, more will be revealed soon:

Album detail

Landing page

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Steph Wilson

Last week was a week of firsts for me: my first trip to America, my first Sprint and my first chili-dog.

Introducing myself as the new (only) Editorial and Web Publisher, I dove head first into the world of developers, designers and Community members. It was a very absorbing week, which after felt more like a marathon than a sprint.

After being grilled by Customs, finally we arrived at Tyson’s Corner where 200 or so other developers, designers and Community members gathered for the Devices Sprint. It was a great opportunity for me to see how people from each corner of the world contribute to Ubuntu, and share their passion for open source. I especially found it interesting to see how designers and developers work together, given their different mind sets and how they collaborated together.

The highlight for me was talking to some of the Community guys, it was really interesting to talk to them about why and how they contribute from all corners of the world.

From left to right: Riccardo, Andrew, Filippo and Victor.

(From left to right: Riccardo, Andrew, Filippo and Victor)

The main ballroom.

(The main Ballroom)

Design Team dinner.  From the left: TingTing, Andrew, John, Giorgio, Marcus, Olga, James, Florian, Bejan and Jouni.

(Design Team dinner. From the left: TingTing, Andrew, John, Giorgio, Marcus, Olga, James, Florian, Bejan and Jouni)

I caught up with Olga and Giorgio to share their thoughts and experiences from the Sprint:

So how did the Sprint go for you guys?

Olga: “It was very busy and productive in terms of having face time with development, which was the main reason we went, as we don’t get to see them that often.

For myself personally, I have a better understanding of things in terms of what the issues are and what is needed, and also what can or cannot be done in certain ways. I was very pleased with the whole sprint. There was a lot of running around between meetings, where I tried to use the the time in-between to catch-up with people. On the other hand as well, Development made the approach to the Design Team in terms of guidance, opinions and a general catch-up/chat, which was great!

Steph: “I agree, I found it especially productive in terms of getting the right people in the same room and working face-to-face, as it was a lot more productive than sharing a document or talking on IRC.”

Giorgio: “Working remotely with the engineers works well for certain tasks, but the Design Team sometimes needs to achieve a higher bandwidth through other means of communication, so these sprints every 3 months are incredibly useful.

What a Sprint allows us to do is to put a face to the name and start to understand each other’s needs, expectations and problems, as stuff gets lost in translation.

I agree with Olga, this Sprint was a massive opportunity to shift to much higher level of collaboration with the engineers.

What was your best moment?

Giorgio: “My best moment was when the engineers perception towards the efforts of the Design Team changed. My goal is to better this collaboration process with each Sprint.”

Did anything come up that you didn’t expect?

Giorgio: “Gaming was an underground topic that came up during the Sprint. There was a nice workshop on Wednesday on it, which was really interesting.”

Steph: “Andrew a Community Developer I interviewed actually made two games one evening during the Sprint!”

Olga: “They love what they do, they’re very passionate and care deeply.”

Do you feel as a whole the Design Team gave off a good vibe?

Giorgio: “We got a good vibe but it’s still a working progress, as we need to raise our game and become even better. This has been a long process as the design of the Platform and Apps wasn’t simply done overnight. However, now we are in a mature stage of the process where we can afford to engage with Community more. We are all in this journey together.

Canonical has a very strong engineering nature, as it was founded by engineers and driven by them, and it is has evolved because of this. As a result, over the last few years the design culture is beginning to complement that. Now they expect steer from the Design Team on a number of things, for example: Responsive design and convergence.

The Sprint was good, as we finally got more of a perception on what other parties expect from you. It’s like a relationship, you suddenly have a moment of clarity and enlightenment, where you start to see that you actually need to do that, and that will make the relationship better.”

Olga: The other parties and the Development Team started to understand that initiated communication is not just the responsibility of the Design Team, but it’s an engagement we all need to be involved in.”

In all it was a very productive week, as everyone worked hard to push for the first release of the BQ phone; together with some positive feedback and shout-outs for the Design Team :)

Unicorn hard at work.

(Unicorn hard at work)

There was a bit of time for some sightseeing too…

It would have been rude not to see what the capital had to offer, so on the weekend before the sprint we checked out some of Washington’s iconic sceneries.

The Washington Monument.

(The Washington Monument)

We saw most of the important parliamentary buildings like the White House, Washington Monument and Lincoln’s Statue. Seeing them in the flesh was spectacular, however, I half expected a UFO to appear over the Monument like in ‘Independence Day’, and for Abraham Lincoln to suddenly get up off his chair like in the movie ‘Night at the Museum’ – unfortunately none of that happened.

The White House.

(The White House)

D.C. isn’t as buzzing as London but it definitely has a lot of character, as it embodies an array of thriving ethnic pockets that represented African, Asian and Latin American cultures, and also a lot of Italians. Washington is known for getting its sax on, so me and a few of the Design Team decided to check-out the night scene and hit a local Jazz Club in Georgetown.

...And all the jazz.

(Twins Jazz Club)

On the Sunday, we decided to leave the hustle and bustle of the city and venture to the beautiful Great Falls Park, which was only 10-15 minutes from the hotel. The park was located in the Northern Fairfax County along the banks of the Potomac River, which is an integral part of the George Washington Memorial Parkway. Its creeks and rapids made for some great selfie opportunities…

Great Falls Park.

(Great Falls Park)

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Daniel Holbach

In the Community Q&A with Alan and Michael yesterday, I talked a bit about the sprint in Washington already, but I thought I’d write up a bit more about it again.

First of all: it was great to see a lot of old friends and new faces at the sprint. Especially with the two events (14.10 release and upcoming phone release) coming together, it was good to lock people up in various rooms and let them figure it out when nobody could run away easily. For me it was a great time to chat with lots of people and figure out if we’re still on track and if our old assumptions still made sense.  :-)

We were all locked up in a room as well...We were all locked up in a room as well…

What was pretty fantastic was the general vibe there. Everyone was crazy busy, but everybody seemed happy to see that their work of the last months and years is slowly coming together. There are still bugs to be fixed but we are close to getting the first Ubuntu phone ever out the door. Who would have thought that a couple of years ago?

It was great to catch up with people about our App Development story. There were a number of things we looked at during the sprint:

  • Up until now we had a Virtualbox image with Ubuntu and the SDK installed for people at training (or App Dev School) events, who didn’t have Ubuntu installed. This was a clunky solution, my beta testing at xda:devcon confirmed that. I sat down with Michael Vogt who encouraged me to look into providing something more akin to an “official ISO” and showed me the ropes in terms of creating seeds and how livecd-rootfs is used.
  • I had a number of conversations with XiaoGuo Liu, who works for Canonical as well, and has been testing our developer site and our tools for the last few months. He also wrote lots and lots of great articles about Ubuntu development in Chinese. We talked about providing our developer site in Chinese as well, how we could integrate code snippets more easily and many other things.
  • I had a many chats at the breakfast buffet with Zoltan and Zsombor of the SDK team (it always looked like we were there at the same time).  We talked about making fat packages easier to generate, my experiences with kits and many other things.
  • It was also great to catch up with David Callé who is working on scopes documentation. He’s just great!

What also liked a lot was being able to debug issues with the phone on the spot. I changed to the proposed channel, set it to read-write and installed debug symbols and voilà, grabbing the developer was never easier. My personal recommendation: make sure the problem happens around 12:00, stand in the hallway with your laptop attached to the phone and wait for the developer in charge to grab lunch. This way I could find out more about a couple of issues which are being fixed now.

It was also great to meet the non-Canonical folks at the sprint who worked on the Core Apps like crazy.

What I liked as well was our Berlin meet-up: we basically invited Berliners, ex-Berliners and honorary Berliners and went to a Mexican place. Wished I met those guys more often.

I also got my Ubuntu Pioneers T-Shirt. Thanks a lot! I’ll make sure to post a selfie (as everyone else :-)) soon.

Thanks a lot for a great sprint, now I’m looking forward to the upcoming Ubuntu Online Summit (12-14 Nov)! Make sure you register and add your sessions to the schedule!

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Peter Mahnke

So I am stretching the metaphor a bit, but I think it accurately explains my experience of the recent cloud sprint in San Francisco.

The week starts with some presentations and talks about where we are now and where we want to be from a company, marketplace and product perspective.  This lasts about two hours, then all 115 of us are set free to figure out what we can do to help best achieve these visions. Things are more organised than at an unconference , there are tracks and rooms and sessions planned, but it is all very fluid.  Each day reveals itself and  the week gathers its own momentum.

Spencer, Ale and Luca looking at a wireframe
Some people are here to finish off some work and coordinate releases. Some people are trying to plan the next six month cycle with team-mates they only see a few times a year. Some people have just joined the company and some people are trying to design for the next year or more.  That’s us.

While most here are looking at April, we are brainstorming, paper prototyping, grabbing stakeholders, talking to users, meeting with developers and trying to build that shared vision for a set of products and where they might go in the future — inspiring, chaotic, impossible, crazy, amazing.

set of wireframes and post-it notes

But we are also trying to finish things off from the last cycle, pay some technical debt, polish up a few things.  We are trying to listen to what else is happening, it all moves so fast. We also sign-up to get at least four other smaller things done in the next month.

At the end of the week, a few things are finished. Even better, a few more big things are planned. Dozens of drawings, hundreds of post-it notes are photographed. We shake hands with friends and colleagues that we will only talk to online for a few months and head home to get building.

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Martin gz

Last week was the Bazaar sprint, which was fantastic and tiring. Somehow even the people who’d been at UDS just before made it through five packed days of fixing bugs, preparing releases, and debugging package imports. We were most hospitably hosted at the Canonical offices a long way up Millbank tower. But even those who couldn’t be there in person to enjoy the view were part of the experience. At home in the Ukraine Alexander wore his Bazaar shirt in support during the first day. On IRC larstiq and santagada ran the test suite on pypy and investigated incompatibilities. And all week we had a small robot John sitting in the middle of the table on the line from the Netherlands, working on performance bugs and offering helpful advice.

There were two new faces introduced. Max has been a stalwart maintaining the ~bzr PPAs and getting daily builds working. Jonathan is joining the Bazaar team on rotation from Kubuntu, which is very exciting for fans of qbzr. He started getting to know bzrlib by taking on some bugs tagged ‘easy’ and pair programming on harder ones. It was a bit tough to keep track of everything going on, but good progress was made on the Ubuntu Distributed Development front, the translation framework branches Naoki put together were landed, and lots of pet bugs were fixed. Download bzr 2.4b3 now to see the rest of the results for yourself.

After these long days in front of screens a nice meal out was a welcome treat. Over dinner we even managed to get on to topics other than code on occasion. On Thursday evening everyone went to As You Like It at the Globe as groundlings. Even with the language barrier to overcome for some of the sprinters, the comedy lived up to the categorisation. Trying to use the cycle hire scheme to travel there and back proved more of an obstacle. The bikes themselves were fine, provided you could get past the terrible computer interface and persuade the system to let you rent them. Now, if only they took patches for that…

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