Canonical Voices

Posts tagged with 'canonical'

Iain Farrell

Two weeks into our wallpaper contest we’re seeing lots of really interesting entries for the photographic part. As those of you who read the previous post about the contest will know we’re also reserving at least three places this release for non photographic wallpapers. The plan _was_ to use another site to manage these entries. Unfortunately the dedicated community team working on this site have hit some issues with keeping it running and so we’ve decided to move all entries to Flickr. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them for their hard work and we’ll explore this solution again next cycle.

Metal & Bolts Sculpture SW 6th 1 of 3 by Orb9220

Metal & Bolts Sculpture SW 6th 1 of 3 by Orb9220

In the meantime we’ve a Narwhal who simply has to look Natty and we need something robust and reliable so that you can all focus more on creating and getting your entries to our judging panel and less on trying to upload. As before with the photographic entries simply tag your image NattyWallpaper so we can easily find it when judging time comes.

While you’re hard at it snapping, sketching and creating our future desktops we’ll be contacting previous winners and asking them to prepare to look through all your entries. Good luck and have fun!

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Charline Poirier

??’Appropriation’ – the taking of a product and using it for one’s own purposes, in ways unintended by the product creators – is implicitly at the core of the philosophy of opensource, because openness provides for change, adaptation and innovation.

Design specifications

Last year, I conducted several research projects to understand how developers work and how we can add design and a concern for user experience to their already very complex efforts.  I’ve published some of the results already, for example, those coming out of our study of Empathy.

One of my inquiries asked how developers use design specifications.  This research produced very rich results.  We realized that developers’ approaches to our design specifications documents varied quite a bit, and often the documents were not made as central to the developers’ work as we had anticipated.  So far, we’ve been able to characterize four different ways in which developers use our documents.  These illustrate tendencies and not necessarily rigid approaches.  Yet, they help us understand developers’ frame of mind when they deal with design information.

1) Some developers read meticulously specifications and try to figure out what the designer had in mind. These developers like to work closely and collaboratively with individual designers.

2) Some developers have a more organic approach to understanding specifications. They use them in combination with current conversations on chat networks about development topics and issues, and with other conversations that have taken place during past strategic meetings at UDS.  They essentially make the written specifications a second resource in favor of what their colleagues and managers say about them.  They fit the specifications in a dynamic broader context.

3) Yet other developers almost only look at screen representations of the specifications. They try to duplicate the visual guide that accompanies the specifications or simply to compare existing features of an application to the screen shots included in the document, trying to discern similarities and differences between them. Many of them use specifications documents as a simple reminder of past and current discussions and to get a general idea of what’s expected of them.

4) Finally, another group uses the “try and see” method. These developers implement changes as they see fit and rely on their colleagues to provide guidance once the development has been realized. Effectively, they hardly consider the written design specifications at all but like to follow their intuition.

Research, of course, doesn’t judge what people do because it appreciates that people do what they do for a reason. Furthermore, it doesn’t opine on which behaviour is the best – because people do things in a way that works for them in their situation.  What research does is understand the complexity of individual situations and help designers fit seamlessly in people’s contexts and frame of mind what their products offer.

Based on these, and related, results, we have been rethinking our design specs tools and experimenting with new concepts derived from co-design principles, so that these specs become helpful to all developers and enhance their work and not represent merely an external constraint to the work they do.

This is all good.  However, the issue is not restricted to our Ubuntu developers. We should not forget that, in the wider opensource community, many developers do not have access to the Canonical, or any other, design team or to anyone with solid design training. They are the developers who work on their own free time and produce amazing software. They have to wing design.  Many wish they could access such skills to help beautify and enhance the user experience of their products. These contributors deserve our support.

So what?

To us, the solution appears to be ‘design appropriation’.

Our challenge:  how can we create design specifications and design thinking tools that developers can ‘appropriate’, just as mobile phone users started to use their phones to text because it suited their needs even though texting was not considered by the phone first creators to be a very important feature?

How can we design for the unexpected?

Upcoming research this year will be concerned with what developers can teach us about ‘appropriation’ of design.

This represents for us a first step in the investigation of the potentiality of ‘appropriation’ for all opensource.  Ultimately, appropriation should be possible not only for developers but for all end-users.

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Iain Farrell

We’re back!

Phew! What a fortnight! Did you miss us? We all got back from Orlando, Florida this week and prepared to kick off the Natty development cycle in style. UDS-N was a great event and big thanks should go to Jono, Jorge, the Canonical admin and technical teams and everyone who attended sessions, took notes and participated. I took a lot of photos and I know others did too so go check them out as well as catch up on the planet to see what people talked about while they were there and now they’ve recovered from the jet lag!

Now our attention turns to other things. Natty is only 6 short months away. The Natty release schedule is up on the wiki and we’ve started development and design work.

The big news was obviously the move to Unity on the desktop and Mark has been blogging about other changes that will come to your favourite Linux desktop in April 2011.

Oh and finally I saw something exciting today to do with Ubuntu and robots! The Qbo project uses Ubuntu as the base for their development distro and they’ve released their first alpha. Charline, Otto and I sorta love robots and are secretly hoping that by talking about these guys they’ll send us our very own personal open source robot ;)

Qbo robot

Check out their blog post and video.

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Iain Farrell

Introducing Ubuntu screen grab

Almost all of the design team are in Orlando this week taking part in UDS. As well as getting ready for the summit in the last few weeks we’ve also been working on something we’re really excited about. You may have already seen this video we’ve commissioned which explains a little bit about what Ubuntu is. It was made for use by some partners of ours in promoting open source and in particular our favourite distro. As well as the video we’ve also produced an HTML5 based framework which will play the video on a loop. Not only does this play video but it can display anything you tell it to. Create some images or videos, edit the HTML and you can easily create a simple rolling demo with lovely transitions.

This is obviously great for us and events that Canonical goes to but we’ve also already open sourced this and put the project on Launchpad so that loco teams and other groups can use it.

We think this could be a really handy promotional tool so we’re really excited to share it with you and see what people try to add to the framework that accompanies the video. The animation is silent as it’s designed to be shown on a screen in a busy and noisy environment but the assets you choose to put in there could include sound, more images, all sorts of things!

What is Ubuntu? from Canonical Design on Vimeo.

We look forward to seeing how you guys take this forward!

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Iain Farrell

We’ve been talking a lot about UDS but some of you out there might not know what it is. Duncan McGregor, one of my colleagues, has had this very conversation with a speaker who will be attending this UDS. He took some time to compose a blog post explaining what the summit is all about.

It’s well worth a read :)

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Iain Farrell

It’s out! We did it! YES! Well done everyone. Thanks for your support in helping make this latest release a good one. Our Meerkat is all grown up so what’s next?

Well, we have a Narwhal on the way and it’s up to all of us to make him that little bit Natty ;)

For a kick off Andrea, a community member who has worked with us on the enhancements to the theme in the new release, has been hard at work thinking about the future of the Murrine theme engine. This engine is the beating heart of our gorgeous default themes and before we’ve even really started on Natty he’s upgraded it to work with the latest version of GTK. As we’re not sure what’s going into the next release just yet we can’t say for certain if all this work will make it in but what we can say is that if you’re a brave and heardy soul you can head over to his blog and get it for yourself.

The main thrust of our week has been getting ready for UDS in 2 weeks time. That has meant copious amounts of planning and preparation between us and the DX teams as we review the desktop and Unity and start to plan for the next cycle. We’ve also been conducting user research of Unity this week with Charline seeing what Joe Public thinks of our shiny new netbook sofware.

If you’ve not tried it yet you really should!

Have a fabulous weekend and we’ll bring you news from Orlando next week once we’ve prepared ourselves for an outstanding UDS!

Oh and one more little thing before we go. We’re going to have something exciting to talk about next week which can be used by anyone out there wanting to promote their love of Ubuntu. More on that when we’re a bit more ready and I don’t have a report to get out but in the meantime here’s a teaser :)

More on this cryptic image next week :)

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Iain Farrell

Release crew model our new banners

It’s release week! That means that the Millbank London office and home office locations this week are a buzz with activity getting things ready for our big release on Sunday.

The members of the kernel team, and others, are modeling our very swanky new banners which are going out to eligible loco teams in the not too distant future. They should stand out at promotional events and attract some attention :)

Away from cool assets being produced we have been focussed this week on the release and by now the beautiful linux desktop you early adopters are already looking at is hopefully starting to feel like home. We can’t wait to hear what you think and hope that you love using Maverick.

So there’s this big release happening on Sunday but I’ve just heard about another release that’s happening on Sunday that’s just as big! The new theme will hit the Ask Ubuntu stack exchange site and we’re really pleased with it!

You can find out more about the selected style by visiting this page on stack exchange.

Big thank you to Mat on our side for working on this and Jin Yang at Stackexchange for helping realise these designs in glorious HTML in time for the release. You’re a splendid fellow for working so hard and so late into the night!

More next week, we still need to do some work for the release, so enjoy, tell us about your release party and roll on UDS and Natty!

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Iain Farrell

It’s _almost_ there. Happy “so close to release I can almost taste the Ubuntinis” Day everyone! And if you’ve not tried an Ubuntini, well you should. The next release of Ubuntu releases on the 10th October but the release candidate is out there now and as I write this the final release meeting of the cycle is happening on Freenode in #ubuntu-meeting.

It’s been two weeks since your last update from the design team, so what have we been up to?

smiley face emoticon

Well, for one thing the smiley fella above was born and has started appearing on the design blog. More on him and his siblings from Otto in a later post ;)

Probably the biggest news is that the new Ubuntu font family have made their first appearance in our desktop release and those of you running Maverick will now also notice that the Ubuntu and Canonical websites make use of the regular font as well as this very blog.

The new type face at work in the desktop

You can also read some more thoughts on the type face in Mark’s Blog.

It’s very exciting to see this in the wild and it seems like a good time to say thanks to the people who’ve helped us get here. Thanks to Bruno, Lukas, Amelie, Malcolm and Shiraaz at Dalton Maag who’ve designed the font, Paul Sladen for managing the bugs and liaising with the community and also Ken Vandine and Dan Holbach for helping us package the files, Robbie Williamson for approving exceptions that meant we could get it in after deadlines had passed and finally Scott Kitterman for finally hitting the approval button.

We hope you like it, it’s part of your desktop so get involved over on the project launchpad page. More enhancements are coming so stay tuned for more in the coming months.

So now that our Meerkat is grown up our attention turns to a particularly Natty Narwhal that will need our love and attention before they’re released into the wild about 7 months from now. That’s what we’ll be focusing on and we’ll be sharing more of our ideas in the coming weeks as we prepare for UDS.

And finally, a video treat for you to the end the week with. Those lovely people over at OMG! Ubuntu! reminded me that the Blender Foundation have been working on a new short film called Sintel and they’ve released it online for you to enjoy.

A scene from Sintel

The particularly exciting thing about the work they’re doing is that once it’s finished they’ll share their output with the world not only as a video but also all the source files will be released under a creative commons license meaning that they can be used by others to learn from. You can find out more about the project and the Blender Foundation on their website.

Have a fantastic weekend and here’s to our launch parties in the next week or so!

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Inayaili León

29 days later

It’s been 29 days since I’ve started working at Canonical and, let me tell you, they went by really fast.

In the past few weeks I have worked on lots of projects and there is a lot more in the pipeline. I’ve mainly been working on the “realign” (rather than “redesign”) of canonical.com and ubuntu.com; we’ve also been thinking about how we can make the design toolkit more interactive, making it easier for anyone who needs to use it to find the information they need, to name but a few projects.

More importantly, I have learned that:

  • You shouldn’t use Iain’s favourite mug
  • Marcus takes a long time to decide what he’s going to eat
  • Michael can make origami cranes
  • John has a truck
  • Alejandra eats more chocolate than I do

UDS – Ubuntu Developer Summit

A few days after I’ve started I was told I was going to the next UDS, which will be held in Orlando from 25th to 29th October. No-one has really given me a clear explanation of what is supposed to happen at UDS — I think they want it to be a surprise. So I’d be happy to get any tips that fellow attendees might have for me: What mustn’t I forget?, What should I be expecting?, How I can I make the most of it?

That is all for now, reporting from the design corner of the Canonical Millbank headquarters.

(Oh, and the view is still amazing.)

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Iain Farrell

Sign saying closed for winter used in relation to our final freeze before release
Photo by Ralph courtesy of Flickr

Normally we spend a lot of time thinking about how to work on things in a an open way. This week the big news was all about closure as the final freeze on the desktop for 10.10 is now upon us. This means that we enter a period of bug fixing and the focus of design work shifts more towards 11.04 as we start to prepare for UDS in October.

As this week was the freeze a lot of time has been spent on the desktop filing bugs, submitting content and making sure that the next few weeks are just about refinement.

In support of this Robbie has posted the following video. I await the final edit with glee.

Perfection is coming

Those of you running Maverick already will have noticed the new wallpaper has made it into the release. Maverick final wallpaper
We’re really pleased with the outcome. Otto will doubtless read your comments, we were hoping for some words from him but sadly he’s not well so get well soon chap!

We’ve also been working on the t-shirts for 10.10 to be handed out at UDS – but more on these and an exciting shirt related project soon. In the meantime you’ll have to cope with this teaser ;) What's that!? Mystery image

And finally, I’m away next week* so there will be a bumper double edition of this week in design when I’m back!

Have a great weekend!


*since you asked I’m riding my new motorbike to Scotland :)

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Iain Farrell

I don’t want to sound like a broken record but “PHEW! What a week”. Next Thursday will be our final freeze for Maverick. After this point it’s full steam ahead bug fixing, checking translations and making sure everything is ready for the release on the 10th Ocotober.

The main news from the design team is that a lot of us are working on bug fixes and the last changes to the desktop. Otto’s been hard at it on a new wallpaper and we’ll talk to you more about that next week. The release is really stabalising now and if you’ve not yet upgraded as I’ve said in previous posts hop on over to the dailies server and try it out. At least whack it on a USB stick and boot from it. You’ll be a happier richer human being for it*.

On the font typeface front you’ve no doubt enjoyed the updates this week from our guest bloggers at Dalton Maag. There’s more to come and if you haven’t looked I encourage you to take a look at Bruno’s post about the slant on the Hebrew characters.

As promised Lilly introduced herself in a fine post and followed that with a report on dConstruct. UK readers may be aware of dConstruct, an annual conference on design held in Brighton on the south coast of England. It looks like it was a great event this year and I’d encourage you to go and look up the talks online – you can listen to them in their podcasts section.

And also on the team front we announced that we are hiring!

And finally … we ended this week by taking a look at some of the new things that are and will soon be appearing on the Ubuntu shop. The one that really took our fancy was the travel mouse which is already available!

Lovely Ubuntu merchandise

And on that shamelessly self promoting note thanks for all your comments and feedback. Have a great weekend!

* Canonical and Ubuntu in no way guarantee that you’ll be a happier richer human being once you’ve tried Maverick. Perhaps boot and watch this video. It’s the best I can do … it’s late on Friday and I want to go home …

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Inayaili de León

Allow me to introduce myself…

My name’s Inayaili (most people call me either Yaili or Lily though) and I’m the new web designer in the Canonical’s design team — just started last Tuesday.

It was a busy and exciting week: lots of meetings to become familiar with the company and with everyone working here in the Millbank headquarters, and, of course, there was the dConstruct conference, in Brighton on Friday, which I had the pleasure to attend once again. (Watch out for my next post!)

A little bit about me: I’m Portuguese, I live in London, and I do web design and HTML and CSS. I also enjoy writing about those subjects and about the work that I do, so hopefully I’ll be able to set time aside as often as possible to write here on the design blog.

I’m really excited about working at Canonical: the team is formed by unbelievably clever people, driven and committed to making any project that they’re working on the best possible.

And who wouldn’t be happy about working with a view like this one, right?

The view from the kitchen

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Iain Farrell

Meekat like the sun?!

Today I got another e-mail from a statue. There’s a perfectly normal sentence … This time from a beach where Rick says he’s having an amazing time relaxing after his conference!

Hanging out!

Relaxing by the sea

So what have we learned so far, apart from the fact that an unattended Meerkat is likely to wander off if left for too long? Well he seems to enjoy the beach and is making friends along the way. I think he’s still in Brazil …

If you see Rick please let me know!


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Iain Farrell

In Brazil?!

Came in this morning to a mail from Rick, my Meerkat who went for a walk a little while ago.

Apparently he was giving a keynote at Linuxcon!!

" ... Thanks all for coming, have a great conference!"

More as I get it …


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Iain Farrell

Frozen in time (c) Alyssa NicoleFrozen in time (c) Alyssa Nicole via Flickr

This week we caught a chill in the form of our UI Freeze. That meant that from here on we should only be fixing bugs in the next release of Ubuntu.

A highlight of the design contributions this week was the wonderful user contributed wallpapers!

17 images were added as the new user contributed wallpapers for this release. This isn’t all the images that were shortlisted but the ones we had larger sizes of and felt would make your desktop really shine! We hope you like them. You can review all shortlisted entries in the Flickr group and if none are to your taste then why not take a look in the Ubuntu artwork pool for even more possibilities and share your favorites in the comments.

We have also landed our updates to Ambiance and Radiance in the dailies and those brave enough to be running Maverick will already be enjoying the benefits of Andrea and Otto’s hard work. You can read more in Andrea’s guest post on the matter.

In other team news we received an update to the Ubuntu fonts this week which are unfortunately not quite ready to be given out on general release. However, we’re close and in the meantime if you are interested or need access to the Ubuntu font family then you can make your case over in this Launchpad group.

If successful in your application you’ll get access to the PPA and all the goodies therein for capturing screenshots or making sure your launch materials are all decked out.

And finally this week in research we also prepared to send Charline on a bit of a tour of Asia as she prepares to user test in China and then head to the Epic conference in Japan to discuss the work we’ve been doing in research. We used the work of UX advocate Jan-Christoph Borchardt and his clever Python application called Pongo to make a mobile user testing rig. Pongo uses Istanbul (see the ubuntu software centre) to record the desktop but also overlays input from a webcam so we can see what people are doing on screen as well as in front of the computer. It also records audio for review later. We’ll report back with how we got on and our findings when she’s back in late September.

And that’s it for this week! Have a great weekend. The design team in London get an extra day of weekend this week thanks to Monday’s bank holiday so we’ll all be back bright eyed and bushy tailed on Tuesday 31st.

Toodleoo!

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Iain Farrell

Rocking out with a guitar

In honour of a comment made about design this week, we are rocking out as the heading to this weeks update on work in the design team.

One area we’re rocking out HARD is the papercuts. Vish now informs me that we’ve fixed over 80 which will hopefully put us on track to get 100 done this cycle. But we’re close to UI and beta freeze which is next Thursday – 26th August. If you’ve been meaning to get involved now’s your time to shine! You can find out more about the project in Launchpad by clicking this link.

While on the subject of collaboration let’s talk type. Our little font is no longer alone and has grown into a small but perfectly formed family. Regular and bold are being tested with their italic versions and the team at Dalton Maag explained to us where that italic variation finds its roots in an earlier post. There will be another update to the files on Monday of next week so keep an eye out for the updated package filtering through to you and check out the release notes. Thanks again to Paul Sladen for helping with the triage and release notes. Much appreciated!

We’ve also been working hard this week on updates to the new theme for Ubuntu 10.10. Otto has had to take a couple of days off but has been working hard with Andrea to continue to work on the theme and we hope to have an update, discussion of some of the user feedback and ultimately new files out to you all to play with next week.

And finally we’re ending the wallpaper contest today. You can still take part by posting your pictures to our flickr group. A few people have asked if there’s a way to get involved in sharing their wallpaper without using Flickr. Sadly there isn’t at the moment. Flickr is home to a lot of great photographers and also a great tool for us managing submissions. It’s also a great place to find wallpapers if you don’t take to the ones we select – although we hope you like them, obviously :)

I’ll be contacting previous winners shortly and starting to gather suggested winners to get these into the release next week.

And I think that’ll do for now. Have a splendid weekend!

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Iain Farrell

In this latest post from Dalton Maag Lukas Paltram updates us on the development thinking that went into the italics in the new Ubuntu font family.

The design of the regular weight of the Ubuntu font, in all three script systems, was a big step forward. All design principles were defined and fixed. We could now proceed to it’s close companion, Ubuntu italic.

Upright and italic characters

The first trials for the Italic were concerned primarily with the question whether this should be simply a slanted and refined version of the regular style, typical for grotesque and geometric font styles, or should it be a classic, true Italic as we know it from serif and humanist sans serif fonts. We felt that only a true italic could satisfy the design of the Ubuntu font.

In typography, the purpose of the italic is to emphasise certain words or sentences. Therefore, a textural difference to the regular is important. The italic angle is of course the most obvious difference but in addition a slight reduction of width further helps to differentiate the italic.

Italic fonts have their roots in cursive handwriting and accordingly some characters have different shapes to the upright version. This is most obvious in the characters a, e, f or g, for example. As Latin script readers we are used to seeing these alternative glyph shapes and they are perfectly legible. Yet Ubuntu is a multilingual typeface, and we also had to consider other scripts and the changes that a switch to the cursive structure would bring to them. So, how does that affect Greek and Cyrillic letters, or other characters that we are not so familiar with?
Changed shapes

The principle of the regular design is simplicity and clarity. This principle needed to be carried across to the italic design,  so we introduced just enough true italic elements to give it its own warm and human character without compromising on simplicity and clarity.

Lukas Paltram

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Iain Farrell

What wallpaper to choose?

It’s that time again! We’ve been accepting submissions on the Ubuntu Artwork Flickr group for a while now but with the deadline fast approaching for Beta we need to get together a shortlist and finalise the photo wallpapers that will be in the next Ubuntu release in October.

There’s still time, we’re looking for submissions to the group by the end of the week – Friday 20th August at 12pm UTC. From then on we’ll have some previous winners shortlist and choose the final photos to be included.

For your entry to be considered it has to be on Flickr or available to be supplied in 1920×1680 resolution or higher and as with previous contests the image has to be your own.

If you have any questions you can find a new discussion thread on Flickr or catch us in the comments and on the usual IRC channels.


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