Canonical Voices

Posts tagged with 'notes'

James Mulholland

We sat down with Dekko star Dan Chapman to get an insight into how he got involved with Ubuntu and his excitement for the release of the Pocket Desktop.


Dan has been an active member of the Community since 2013, where he has worked closely with our Design Team to create one of our first convergent showcase apps: Dekko. He also helps out with the Ubuntu QA community with package testing and automated tests for the ubuntu-autopilot-tests project.

The Dekko app is an email client that we are currently developing to work across all devices: mobile, tablet and desktop. If you are interested in contributing to Dekko, whether that be writing code, testing, documentation, translations or have some super cool ideas you would just like to discuss. Then please do get in touch, all contributions are welcomed!

Dan can be reached by email or pop by #dekko on or see his wiki page

Early Dekko exploration

Dekko Phone Retro 1

What inspired you to contribute?

I first got involved with the Community in 2013, where Nicholas Skaggs introduced me to the Quality Team to write test cases for automated testing for the Platform. I can’t remember why I started exactly, but I saw it as an opportunity to improve it. Ever since then it’s been a well worth it experience.

What is it about open source that you like?

I like the fact that in the Community everyone has a common goal to build something great.

How does it fit into your lifestyle?

I study from home at the moment so I have to divide my time between my family, Ubuntu and my studies.

What I do for Ubuntu and my course are quite closely tied. The stuff I do for Ubuntu is giving me real life practical skills that I can relate to my course, which is mainly theory based.

Have you made your work with the Ubuntu Community an integral part of your studies as well?

I’m actually doing a project at the moment that is to do with my work on Dekko, but it’s for interacting with an exchange server and implementing a client side library. Hopefully when that’s done I can bring it into Dekko on a later date. I try to keep my interests parallel.

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

Quite a large proportion of my time goes towards Ubuntu.

How is it working remotely?

I find it more than effective. I mean it would be great to meet people face-to-face too.

Dekko development

Dekko Phone Retro 2

What are you most excited about?

Being able to have a full-blown computer in my pocket. As soon as it’s available i’m having the pocket desktop.

Do you use your Ubuntu phone as your main device?

I do yes. The rest of the family do too. I even got my eldest boy, who’s 9 to use it, as well as my partner and mother-in-law.

How is it working with the Ubuntu Design Team?

It’s been great actually because i’m useless at design. There’s always something to improve on, so even if the designs aren’t ready there’s still enough to work on. There hasn’t been big waits in-between or waiting for you guys as you’re busy. The support is there if you need it.

Have you faced any challenges when working on an app for many form factors (phone, tablet, desktop etc)?

The only challenge is getting the design before the toolkit components are ready. It was a case of creating custom stuff and trying to not cause myself too much pain when I have to switch. The rest has been plain sailing as they toolkit is a breeze to use, and the Design team keep me informed of any changes.

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

I speak to a fair few of them now through Telegram, that seems to be the place to talk now there’s an app for it. It’s nice you can ping your question to anyone and you’ll get an immediate response relatively quickly. Alan Pope, always gives you answers.

What are you thoughts on the Pocket Desktop?

It is exciting as it’s something different. I don’t think there’s competition, as we all have different target audiences we are reaching to. I’m really excited about where the Platform is heading.

The future of convergent Dekko

Dekko Future

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Steph Wilson

We believe that the first impression matters, especially when it comes to introducing a new product to a user for the first time. Our aim is to delight the user from the moment they open the box, through to the setup wizard that will help them get started with their new phone.

Devices have become an essential part of our everyday lives. We choose carefully the ones we want to adopt, taking into account all manner of factors that influence our lifestyle and how we conduct our everyday tasks. So when buying a totally new product, with unfamiliar software, or from a new brand, you want to make the first impression count in order to seduce and reassure the user that this product is for them.

The out of the box experience (OOBE) is one of the most important categories of software usability. It essentially says how easy your software is to use, as well as introducing the user into your brand through visual design and tone of voice, which can convey familiarity and trust within your product.

How did we do it?

We started to look at research around users past experiences when setting up a new device and their feelings about the whole process. We also took a look at what our competitors were doing, taking into account current patterns and trends in the market.

From gathering this research we started to simplify as much as possible the OOBE workflow. Taking into consideration the good and the bad things, we started to define our design goals:

  • Design for seduction
  • Simplicity
  • Introduce the brand through design
  • Transform the setup wizard

What did we change?

First of all we started from the smallest screen, taking the existing screens we have for mobile and assessing the design faults and bugs.

In order to create a consistent experience across all devices, we drew together common first experiences found on the mobile, tablet and desktop:

  • Choosing a language
  • Wifi setup
  • Choosing a Time Zone
  • Choosing a lock screen option

One of the major changes we wanted to achieve was to give the user the same experience across all devices, moving us closer to achieving a seamless convergent platform.

What did we achieve?

  • We achieved our main aim in creating the same visual experience across all devices.



  • We defined two types of screens: Primary screen (left), Secondary screen (right)

Image 1

The secondary screens created more space for forms, which helped us to define a consistent and intuitive animation between screens.


  • All the dialogs were transformed where possible into full screens. We kept the dialogs only to communicate to the user confirmation or error messages.

Image 2


  • The desktop installer was simplified and modernized.

desktop 2

The implementation of the OOBE has already begun and we cannot wait for you to open the box and experience it on your new Ubuntu device.

UX Designer: Andreea Pirvu

Visual Designer: Grazina Borosko

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Robin Winslow

Prepare for when Ubuntu freezes

I routinely have at least 20 tabs open in Chrome, 10 files open in Atom (my editor of choice) and I’m often running virtual machines as well. This means my poor little X1 Carbon often runs out of memory, at which point Ubuntu completely freezes up, preventing me from doing anything at all.

Just a few days ago I had written a long post which I lost completely when my system froze, because Atom doesn’t yet recover documents after crashes.

If this sounds at all familiar to you, I now have a solution! (Although it didn’t save me in this case because it needs to be enabled first – see below.)


The magic SysRq key can run a bunch of kernel-level commands. One of these commands is called oom_kill. OOM stands for “Out of memory”, so oom_kill will kill the process taking up the most memory, to free some up. In most cases this should unfreeze Ubuntu.

You can run oom_kill from the keyboard with the following shortcut:

Except that this is disabled by default on Ubuntu:

Enabling SysRq functions

For security reasons, SysRq keyboard functions are disabled by default. To enable them, change the value in the file /etc/sysctl.d/10-magic-sysrq.conf to 1:

And to enable the new config run:

SysRq shortcut for the Thinkpad X1

Most laptops don’t have a physical SysRq key. Instead they offer a keyboard combination to emulate the key. On my Thinkpad, this is fn + s. However, there’s a quirk that the SysRq key is only “pressed” when you release.

So to run oom_kill on a Thinkpad, after enabling it, do the following:

  • Press and hold alt
  • To emulate SysRq, press fn and s keys together, then release them (keep holding alt)
  • Press f

This will kill the most expensive process (usually the browser tab running in my case), and freeup some memory.

Now, if your computer ever freezes up, you can just do this, and hopefully fix it.

(Also posted on

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Jamie Young

dConstruct 2015


We had a great time at dConstruct in Brighton last Friday. Ubuntu was the premier sponsor of the event, so 15 of us headed down from London in the small hours of the morning to set up our stand and enjoy a day out.

Origami competition



Our stand became a landscape of wolves and unicorns as attendees of the conference took up our challenge to fold one of these animals (with instructions) to win themselves a brand new BQ Aquaris E5 Ubuntu Phone.

The talks



The theme of the talks was ‘Designing the Future’ so we had robots, The Jetsons, various superheroes and The Terminator all making an appearance during the day.

Josh Clark demonstrated real magic on stage. Matt Novak revealed the secret behind robot vacuum cleaners of the 1950s (they were radio-controlled). Nick Foster brought us all back down to earth with a great talk on designing for the mundane and finally Dan Hill encouraged us to look more closely at the planning regulation notices pinned to lampposts.

If you want to hear all the talks from the day you can find them here.

A well deserved lunch!


After a morning of mental sustenance we needed some real food in our stomachs and we all set off for a tasty lunch at the Chilli Pickle, just around the corner from the venue. Feeling energised from the spicy food, it was back for round two of talks…

Positive feedback



From the moment the doors opened we had people coming up to the stand to speak to us about Ubuntu. We had a really positive response from attendees to the stand, where we were showing off demos of both Ubuntu Phones. People were really happy to see us, which was nice! From our end, it was invaluable meeting you all and hearing all the interesting questions you had for us. We hope we managed to answer them all!

A sunny day out

A beautiful sunny day, without a drop of rain, made it for a nice day out of the office: that alone is usually enough to fill anyone with energy and inspiration.

The future is sponsored by Ubuntu

We are inspired to support entrepreneurs and inventors focused on life-changing projects. We’re building open source tools for the next generation of devices, things, desktops and clouds.

Take a look at

Join us

Passionate about good design and creating delightful experiences? We’re looking for people who love to learn and share their knowledge and ideas.

See all the design jobs on

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Inayaili de León Persson

We’re going to be at dConstruct!

Ubuntu is once again sponsoring the excellent dConstruct conference, taking place this Friday, 11th September in Brighton.

This year’s theme is “Designing the future” and we can’t wait to hear what the stellar lineup of speakers has to share.

As ever, if you’re going to be there, come and say hi, and grab a few Ubuntu goodies while you’re at it.

In the meantime, why not listen to the dConstruct podcast, where Jeremy Keith talks to the speakers before the event?

See you on Friday!

Ubuntu at dConstruct 2014

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Inayaili de León Persson

August’s reading list

The design team members are constantly sharing interesting, fun, weird, links with each other, so we thought it might be a nice idea to share a selection of those links with everyone.

Here are the links that have been passed around during last month:

Thanks to Robin, Luca, Elvira, Anthony, Jamie, Joe and me, for the links this month!

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Robin Winslow

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I recently tried to setup OpenID for one of our sites to support authentication with, and it took me much longer than I’d anticipated because our site is behind a reverse-proxy.

My problem

I was trying to setup OpenID with the django-openid-auth plugin. Normally our sites don’t include absolute links ( back to themselves, because relative URLs (/hello-world) work perfectly well, so normally Django doesn’t need to know the domain name that it’s hosted it.

However, when authenticating with OpenID, our website needs to send the user off to with a callback url so that once they’re successfully authenticed they can be directed back to our site. This means that the django-openid-auth needs to ask Django for an absolute URL to send off to the authenticator (e.g.

The problem with proxies

In our setup, the Django app is served with a light Gunicorn server behind an Apache front-end which handles HTTPS negotiation:

User <-> Apache <-> Gunicorn (Django)

(There’s actually an additional HAProxy load-balancer in between, which I thought was complicating matters, but it turns out HAProxy was just passing through requests absolutely untouched and so was irrelevant to the problem.)

Apache was setup as a reverse-proxy to Django, meaning that the user only ever talks to Apache, and Apache goes off to get the response from Django itself, with Django’s local network IP address – e.g.

It turns out this is the problem. Because Apache, and not the user directly, is making the request to Django, Django sees the request come in at rather than This meant that django-openid-auth was generating and sending the wrong callback URL of to

How Django generates absolute URLs

django-openid-auth uses HttpRequest.build_absolute_uri which in turn uses HttpRequest.get_host to retrieve the domain. get_host then normally uses the HTTP_HOST header to generate the URL, or if it doesn’t exist, it uses the request URL (e.g.:

However, after inspecting the code for get_host I discovered that if and only if settings.USE_X_FORWARDED_HOST is True then Django will look for the X-Forwarded-Host header first to generate this URL. This is the key to the solution.

Solving the problem – Apache

In our Apache config, we were initially using mod_rewrite to forward requests to Django.

RewriteEngine On
RewriteRule ^/?(.*)$$1 [P,L]

However, when proxying with this method Apache2 doesn’t send the X_Forwarded_Host header that we need. So we changed it to use mod_proxy:

ProxyPass /
ProxyPassReverse /

This then means that Apache will send three headers to Django: X-Forwarded-For, X-Forwarded-Host and X-Forwarded-Server, which will contain the information for the original request.

In our case the Apache frontend used HTTPS protocol, whereas Django was only using so we had to pass that through as well by manually setting Apache to pass an X-Forwarded-Proto to Django. Our eventual config changes looked like this:

<VirtualHost *:443>
    RequestHeader set X-Forwarded-Proto 'https' env=HTTPS

    ProxyPass /
    ProxyPassReverse /

This meant that Apache now passes through all the information Django needs to properly build absolute URLs, we just need to make Django parse them properly.

Solving the problem – Django

By default, Django ignores all X-Forwarded headers. As mentioned earlier, you can set get_host to read the X-Forwarded-Host header by setting USE_X_FORWARDED_HOST = True, but we also needed one more setting to get HTTPS to work. These are the settings we added to our Django

# Setup support for proxy headers

After changing all these settings, we now have Apache passing all the relevant information (X-Forwarded-Host, X-Forwarded-Proto) so that Django is now able to successfully generate absolute URLs, and django-openid-auth now works a charm.

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Robin Winslow

We recently introduced Vanilla framework, a light-weight styling framework which is intended to replace the old Guidelines framework as the basis for our Ubuntu and Canonical branded sites and others.

One of the reasons we created Vanilla was because we ran into significant problems trying to use Guidelines across multiple different sites because of the way it was made. In this article I’m going to explain how we structured Vanilla to hopefully overcome these problems.

You may wish to skip the rationale and go straight to “Overall structure” or “How to use the framework”.

Who’s it for?

We in Canonical’s design team will definitely be using Vanilla, and we also hope that other teams within Canonical can start to use it (as they did with Guidelines before it).

But most importantly, it would be fantastic if Vanilla offers a solid enough styling basis that members of the wider community feel comfortable using it as well. Guidelines was never really safe for the community at large to use with confidence.

This is why we’ve made an effort to structure Vanilla in such a way that any or all of it can be used with confidence by anyone.

Limitations of Guidelines

Guidelines was initially intended to solve exactly one problem – to be a single resource containing all the styling for This would mean that we could update Guidelines whenever we needed to update’s styling, and those changes would propagate across all our other Ubuntu-branded sites (e.g.: or

So we simply structured the markup of these sites in the same way, and then created a single hosted CSS file, and linked to it from all the sites that needed Ubuntu styling.

As time went on, two large problems with this solution emerged:

  • As over 10 sites were linking to the same CSS file, updating that file became very cumbersome, as we’d have to test the changes on every site first.
  • As the different sites became more individual over time, we found we were having to override the base stylesheet more and more, leading to overly complex and confusing local styling.

This second problem was only exacerbated when we started using Guidelines as the basis for Canonical-branded sites (e.g.: as well, which had a significantly different look.

Architecture goals for Vanilla

Learning from our experiences with Guidelines, we planned to solve a few specific problems with Vanilla:

  • Website projects could include only the CSS code they actually needed, so they don’t have to override lots of unnecessary CSS.
  • We could release new changes to the framework without worrying about breaking existing sites, allowing us to iterate quickly.
  • Other projects could still easily copy the styles we use on our sites with minimal work

To solve these problems, we decided on the following goals:

  • Create a basic framework (Vanilla) which only contains the common elements shared across all our sites.

    • This framework should be written in a modular way, so it’s easy to include only the parts you need
  • Extend the basic framework in “theme” projects (e.g. ubuntu-vanilla-theme) which will apply specific styling (colours etc.) for that specific brand.

    • These themes should also only contain code which needs to be shared. Site-specific styling should be kept local to the project
  • Still provide hosted compiled CSS for sites to hotlink to if they like, but force them to link to a specific version (e.g. vanilla-framework-version-0.0.15.css) rather than “latest” so that we can release a new version without worry.

Sass modularisation

This modular structure would be impossible in pure CSS. CSS itself offers no mechanism for encapsulation. Fortunately, our team has been using Sass to write our CSS for a while now, and Sass offers some important mechanisms that help us modularise our code. So what we decided to create is actually a Sass mixin library (like Bourbon for example) using the following mechanisms:

Default variables

Setting global variables is essential for the framework, so we can keep consistent settings (e.g. font colours, padding etc.). Variables can also be declared with the !default flag. This allows the framework’s settings to be overridden when extending the framework:

We’ve used this pattern in each of the Vanilla themes we’ve created.

Separating concerns into separate files

Sass’s @import feature allows us to encapsulate our code into files. This not only keeps our code tidier, but it means that anyone hoping to include some parts of our framework can choose which files they want:

Keeping everything in a mixin

When a Sass file is imported any loose CSS is compiled directly to the output. But anything declared inside a @mixin will not be output unless you call the mixin.

Therefore, we set a goal of ensuring that all parts of our library can be imported without any CSS being output, so that you can import the whole module but just choose what you want output into your compiled CSS:


To avoid conflicts with any local sass setup, we decided to namespace all our mixins with the vf- prefix – e.g. vf-grid or vf-header.

Overall structure

Using the aforementioned techniques, we created one base framework, Vanilla Framework, which contains (at the time of writing) 19 separate “modules” (vf-buttons, vf-grid etc.). You can see the latest release of the framework on the project’s homepage, and see the framework in action on the demo page.

The framework can be customised by overriding any of the global settings inside your local Sass, as described above.

We then extended this basic framework with three branded themes which we will use across our sites:

You can of course create your own themes by extending the framework in the same way.

NPM modules

To make it easy to include Vanilla Framework in our projects, we needed to pick a package manager to use for installing it and tracking versions. We experimented with Bower, but in the end we decided to use the Node package manager. So now anyone can install and use any of the following packages:

Hotlinks for compiled CSS

Although for in-depth usage of our framework we recommend that you install and extend it locally, we also provide hosted compiled CSS files, both minified and unminified, for the Vanilla framework itself and all Vanilla themes, which you can hotlink to if you like.

To find the links to the latest compiled CSS files, please visit the project homepage.

How to use the framework

The simplest way to use the framework is to hotlink to it. To do this, simply link to the latest version (minified or unminified) directly in your HTML:

However, if you want to take full advantage of the framework’s modular nature, you’ll probably want to install it directly in your project.

To do this, add the latest version of vanilla-framework to your project’s package.json as follows:

Then, after you’ve npm installed, include the framework from the node_modules folder:

The future

We will continue to develop Vanilla Framework, with version 0.1.0 just around the corner. You can track our progress over on the project homepage and on Github.

In the near future we’ll switch over and to using it, and when we do we’ll definitely blog about it.

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Giorgio Venturi

Canonical and Ubuntu at dConstruct

Brighton is not just a lovely seaside town, mostly known for being overcrowded in Summer by Londoners in search for a bit of escapism, but also the home of a thriving community of designers, makers and entrepreneurs. Some of these people run dConstruct, a gathering where creative minds of all sorts converge every year to discuss important themes around digital innovation and culture.

When I found out that we were sponsoring the conference this year, I promptly jumped in to help my colleagues in the Phone, Web and Juju design teams. Our stand was situated in the foyer of the Brighton Dome, flashing the orange banner of Ubuntu and a number of origami unicorns.

The Ubuntu Stand

Origami Unicorns

We had an incredibly positive response from the attendees, as our stand was literally teeming with Ubuntu enthusiasts who were really keen to check our progress with the phone. We had a few BQ phones on display where we showed the new features and designs.

Testing the phone

For us, it was a great occasion to gather fresh impressions of the user experience on the phone and across a variety of apps. After a few moments, people started to understand the edge interactions and began to swipe left and right, giving positive feedback on the responsiveness of the UI. Our pre-release models of BQ phones don’t have the final shell and they still display softkeys, as a result some people found this confusing. We took the opportunity to quickly design our own custom BQ phone by using a bunch of Ubuntu stickers…and viola, problem solved! ;)

Ubuntu phone - customised

Our ‘Make your Unicorn’ competition had a fantastic response. To celebrate the coming release of Utopic Unicorn and of the BQ phone, the maker of the best origami unicorn being awarded a new phone. The crowd did not hesitate to tackle the complex paper-bending challenge and came up with a bunch of creative outcomes. We were very impressed to see how many people managed to complete the instructions, as I didn’t manage to go beyond step 15..

Ubuntu fans

Twitter   Search - #dconstruct #ubuntu

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Benjamin Keyser

Bringing Fluid Motion to Browsing

In the previous Blog Post, we looked at how we use the Recency principle to redesign the experience around bookmarks, tabs and history.
In this blog post, we look at how the new Ubuntu Browser makes the UI fade to the background in favour of the content. The design focuses on physical impulse familiarity – “muscle memory” – by marrying simple gestures to the two key browser tasks, making the experience feel as fluid and simple as flipping through a magazine.


Creating a new tab

For all new browsers, the approach to the URI Top Bar that enables searching as well as manual address entry has made the “new tab” function more central to the experience than ever. In addition, evidence suggests that opening a new tab is the third of the most frequently used action in browser. To facilitate this, we made opening a new tab effortless and even (we think) a bit fun.
By pulling down anywhere on the current page, you activate a sprint loaded “new tab” feature that appears under the address bar of the page. Keep dragging far enough, and you’ll see a new blank page coming into view. If you release at this stage, a new tab will load ready with the address bar and keyboard open as well as an easy way to get to your bookmarks. But, if you change your mind, just drag the current page back up or release early and your current page comes back.


Get to your open tabs and recently visited sites

Pulling the current page downward can create a new blank tab, and conversely dragging the bottom edge upward shows you already open tabs ordered by recency that echoes the right edge “open apps” view.

If you keep on dragging upward without releasing, you can dig even further into the past with your most recently visited pages grouped by site in a “history” list. By grouping under the site domain name, it’s easier to find what you’re looking for without thumbing through hundreds of individual page URLs. However, if you want all the detail, tap an item in the list to see your complete history.

Blog Post - Browser #2 (1)
It’s not easy to improve upon such a well-worn application as the browser, it’s true. We’re hopeful that by adding new fluidity to creating, opening and switching between tabs, our users will find that this browsing experience is simpler to use, especially with one hand, and feels more seamless and fluid than ever.



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Inayaili de León Persson

Latest from the web team — June 2014

We’re now almost half way through the year and only a few days until summer officially starts here in the UK!

In the last few weeks we’ve worked on:

  • Responsive we’ve finished publishing the series on making responsive on the design blog
  • we’ve released a hub for our legal documents and information, and we’ve created homepage takeovers for Mobile Asia Expo
  • Juju GUI: we’ve planned work for the next cycle, sketched scenarios based on the new personas, and launched the new inspector on the left
  • Fenchurch: we’ve finished version 1 of our new asset server, and we’ve started work on the new Ubuntu partners site
  • Ubuntu Insights: we’ve published the latest iteration of Ubuntu Insights, now with a dedicated press area
  • Chinese website: we’ve released the Chinese version of

And we’re currently working on:

  • Responsive Day Out: I’m speaking at the Responsive Day Out conference in Brighton on the 27th on how we made responsive
  • Responsive we’re working on the final tweaks and improvements to our code and documentation so that we can release to the public in the next few weeks
  • Juju GUI: we’re now starting to design based on the scenarios we’ve created
  • Fenchurch: we’re now working on Juju charms for the Chinese site asset server and Ubuntu partners website
  • Partners: we’re finishing the build of the new Ubuntu partners site
  • Chinese website: we’ll be adding a cloud and server sections to the site
  • Cloud Installer: we’re working on the content for the upcoming Cloud Installer beta pages

If you’d like to join the web team, we are currently looking for a web designer and a front end developer to join the team!

Juju scenariosWorking on Juju personas and scenarios.

Have you got any questions or suggestions for us? Would you like to hear about any of these projects and tasks in more detail? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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Inayaili de León Persson

Latest from the web team — May 2014

We’re fast approaching the summer, and the first few sunny days have already arrived in London. The web team cannot slow its pace though…

In the last few weeks we’ve worked on:

  • Responsive we’ve had a sprint to clean up our processes and CSS files after the big responsive release last month
  • we’ve updated our Jumpstart service to include the exciting new Orange Box Micro-cluster and Your cloud product pages in preparation for the OpenStack Developer Summit
  • Juju GUI: we’ve finished creating new personas
  • Ubuntu OpenStack Interoperability Lab: we’ve completed the report design
  • Ubuntu OpenStack Installer: the installer was presented at the OpenStack Developer Summit last week, and we’ve done iterations on the designs based on recent user research
  • Fenchurch: we’ve moved Fenchurch into a proper Django project, nearly completed the first phase of a new asset server with a new Juju charm, and set up a new Fenchurch instance for the new legal website
  • Ubuntu Insights: we’ve made the move from Ubuntu Resources to Ubuntu Insights, and launched the desktop version of the site
  • Las Vegas sprint: we worked on updated, mobile-first bundle and charm details pages and started planning for the next cycle
  • Partners: we’ve completed the final UX and copy for this new Ubuntu website

And we’re currently working on:

  • Responsive we’re now in the process of updating our web style guide documents before the public release of the new styles
  • Ubuntu Insights: we’re adding the final touches before launching the press centre in the next few weeks
  • Juju GUI: we’re planning the work for the next cycle
  • Fenchurch: we’re working on getting the Juju charms in production for the new legal site, finishing up the asset server and planning the development of our new partners website
  • Partners: we’re currently building the new partners website
  • Legal pages: we’re now in the process of building the new hub that will hold all our legal information
  • Chinese website: we’ve finalised UX and copy for this upcoming Ubuntu site

If you’d like to join the web team, we are currently looking for experienced user experience and web designers to join the team!

Design team moving desksThe design team getting ready to move desks, at the end of April.

Have you got any questions or suggestions for us? Would you like to hear about any of these projects and tasks in more detail? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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Inayaili de León Persson

Latest from the web team — April 2014

Ubuntu 14.04 LTS is out and it’s great! The period after release tends to be slightly less hectic than the lead up to it, but that doesn’t mean that the web team is not as busy as ever.

In the last few weeks we’ve worked on:

  • Ubuntu 14.04 LTS release: we’ve published the latest updates to that go alongside the latest release of Ubuntu
  • is now responsive! Stay tuned for a more in-depth post on this, and keep following our series on how we made responsive; we’ve also launched a new and improved cloud section
  • Juju GUI: we’ve moved the inspector to the left of the screen, which should be live in the coming weeks, and we’re finalising user research
  • Fenchurch: we moved downloads, contributions and search to Fenchurch, so we’re now effectively off our old Drupal site, with a better geolocation solution for download mirrors
  • Ubuntu Resources: we’ve released the beta version for large screen sizes of Ubuntu Resources
  • Future of Web Design: I attended and spoke at the Future of Web Design conference, in London, where I talked about letting mechanisation into our work as web designers, and how we can move further in our profession

And we’re currently working on:

  • Responsive we’re currently working on tweaks and improvements following the release on 17 April
  • Web style guide: we’re updating the Ubuntu web style guide (still in alpha) to reflect the changes from making responsive
  • Ubuntu Resources: we’re currently working on making the transition from Ubuntu Resources to Ubuntu Insights, after that we’ll be working on creating a press centre on the new Ubuntu Insights
  • Fenchurch: we’re working on a new front-end for our asset server and upgrading the CMS to the version running
  • Las Vegas sprint: a few of us are travelling to the USA next week for some intense Juju planning and work
  • Legal pages: we’re in the process of defining the information architecture and wireframing for a new hub that will hold all our legal information
  • Partners: we’re finalising wireframes and content for a new Ubuntu partners site

And, if you’d like to join the web team, we are currently looking for an experienced user experience designer to join us! Send us an email if you’d like to apply.

Delicious treats for the Ubuntu releaseDelicious treats on release day

Do you have any questions or suggestions for us? Would you like to hear about any of these projects and tasks in more detail? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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Inayaili de León Persson

Latest from the web team — March 2014

Spring has officially (but not technically…) arrived, and we’re getting busier and busier in preparation for Ubuntu 14.04 LTS release next month.

In the last few weeks we’ve worked on:

  • Ubuntu Resources: we’ve just launched a new version of the site
  • we’ve launched a localised Chinese homepage that highlights Ubuntu Kylin
  • Juju GUI: Matthieu has worked on a new icon set for charms which will be released in the next few weeks
  • Fenchurch: we completely rewrote the Juju charm that updates
  • Landscape sprint: Carla has been to Rome for the Landscape team’s sprint, where she helped to wireframe changes for 14.04 and beyond

And we’re currently working on:

  • Ubuntu Resources: we’re now working on expanding the styles of the site to accommodate desktop screen sizes and adding even more features
  • Ubuntu 14.04 release: we’re reskinning the OpenStack Horizon dashboard for the OpenStack 14.04 release, and we’ve started working on updated images for the release
  • Responsive we’ve been testing on various devices and fixing lots of little rendering issues; we’ve also been tackling larger challenges like the navigation and footer; you can follow our progress in the series of posts we’re publishing on this blog!
  • Fenchurch: we’re currently updating the contributions and download pages so that it works on Fenchurch
  • Juju: we’re doing some user research to understand engineer workflows
  • Cloud section: we’ve finished wireframing and the first round of designs for the 14.04 refresh of’s cloud section
  • Partners section of we’re at the wireframing stage of this project

This month we’ve also welcomed a new member of the team: Robin is our new back-end developer.

Testing Ubuntu Resources on a Kindle Fire HDTesting Ubuntu Resources on a Kindle Fire HD

Have you got any questions or suggestions for us? Would you like to hear about any of these projects and tasks in more detail? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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Inayaili de León Persson

Latest from the web team — February 2014

Time flies! February is mostly behind us now and hopefully spring won’t take too long to show up in London.

In the last few weeks we’ve worked on:

  • Ubuntu Resources: we’ve released a new iteration of the site this week — have a look and let us know your thoughts!
  • MWC 2014: we’ve created a few homepage takeovers and updated the /phone and /tablet sections of in preparation for this event
  • Cape Town sprint: a few of us have been to the cloud sprint in South Africa earlier this month, where work focused on planning the next iterations of Juju
  • Fenchurch: we’ve been improving the Fenchurch Juju charm

And we’re currently working on:

  • Ubuntu Resources: we’ve already started working on the next iteration of the site, which should be released in just a few weeks — this time we’re focusing on medium screen sizes
  • Ubuntu 14.04 release: we’ve started to go through the long list of updates to make the site ready for the upcoming release, mainly creating and updating image assets and copywriting
  • Responsive we’re now moving full speed ahead, updating our front end framework, which powers and other sites, to be mobile-first and responsive; a lot of the work in the next few weeks will be focused on creating new image assets and lots and lots of testing
  • Fenchurch: we’ll be finalising Fenchurch’s Juju charm auto-updating
  • Videos: we’re putting the final touches and testing the updated version of our web video player
  • Juju: in the last few weeks we’ve released a new design for relationship lines and we’ve added local charm support — you can now import local charms into an environment using the import function or by dragging a YAML file from your computer onto the Juju canvas

Here are a few photos that Luca took of the week in Cape Town, where the sun was shining.

Luca's Cape Town photosSome moments from Cape Town, earlier this month.

Have you got any questions or suggestions for us? Would you like to hear about any of these projects and tasks in more detail? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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Vesa Rautiainen

In January when the winter weather was at its worst in London we packed our laptops, designs and prototypes and headed to Cape Town, South Africa for Client Platform Sprint. This design sprint was a mid cycle checkpoint and the target was to get some important 14.04 designs, including Dash and Right edge swipe, reviewed and finalized.

It was an intense week with lots of review sessions and a tight schedule. But after the day’s work was done we tried to make most of our time in this astonishing place. The trip wouldn’t have been complete without visiting those vineyards, white-sand beaches and of course THE Table Mountain.

All in all it was a great work week in the sun with some bits of free time activities. Easily beats a regular week at the office. Some pictures from the trip:

Right Edge designRight Edge design

Trying to nail the DashTrying to nail the Dash

Camps Bay

Camps Bay

Table Mountain

Table MountainCape Town

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Inayaili de León Persson

Latest from the web team — January 2014

We’re now well into 2014 and working on several exciting projects that will be released throughout the year.

In the last few weeks we’ve worked on:

  • Ubuntu Resources: we’ve been working on designs for a new homepage and topic landing pages for the upcoming beta release
  • Canonical website: the new is now live!
  • Videos: we’ve finalised the designs for a web video player, which should soon be added to
  • Front end mini sprint: we discussed what we’ve learned from making and how it might impact the update of and of the Web Style Guide

And we’re currently working on:

  • Ubuntu Resources: we are making improvements based on feedback we’ve received and adding some new features, like filtered search
  • Ubuntu 14.04 release: we’ve finalised all the planning for the 20th Ubuntu release and have started to work through the long to-do list in the run up to April
  • we are in the process of updating our Web Style Guide to become responsive, which will mean a responsive
  • Juju GUI: we’re working on improved relationship lines
  • Fenchurch: an initial Juju charm has been released and we’re now enhancing it with additional hooks
  • Cloud sprint: many of us are getting ready for a cloud sprint taking place next week in Cape Town, South Africa

Office before holidays The design team’s corner right before the holidays

Have you got any questions or suggestions for us? Would you like to hear about any of these projects and tasks in more detail? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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Matt Turnbull

New year links

Happy new year!

Here are a couple of links that have been flying around the London office since we returned. The Verge did a recap of their most influential people of 2013.



And there’s a report from JWT pointing at some nice trends, manifestations and insights for 2014 (thank you, Daniel, for the link).


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