Archive for the ‘Cool new stuff’ Category

More control over your code imports

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

Launchpad’s code imports give you all the benefits of Bazaar’s distributed version control for code that’s stored in CVS and Subversion repositories.

Now you can get far more detail on the progress of individual code imports, direct on that import’s overview page. You can also see when the next import is due and, if that’s not soon enough, request one take place straight away.

For an example, take a look at the Cairo Dock import.

Michael Hudson is the Launchpad developer who’s been working on this. He had this to say:

“The main change is that all the information about the state of the system is now stored in one place. While this in itself isn’t very visible to our users, it means that we can now give them a lot more information about the status of a new or existing import.

“The new system is also better automated, which frees up our sysadmins to get on with other important work!”

Review branch merge proposals in Launchpad

Friday, May 30th, 2008

For some time now, you’ve been able to use Launchpad to propose that a branch of code should be merged with another. This is great if you’ve uploaded a branch that includes a new feature or bug fix and you want to bring it to the attention of the trunk branch’s maintainer.

However, actually discussing the merits of the merger had to take place elsewhere, such as by email or even using a bug tracker to record the conversation.

We’ve now brought that discussion right into Launchpad. Anyone logged into Launchpad can comment and vote on proposed mergers. Take a look at one of the first comments.

There’s more about this new feature in our latest podcast.

Translations searching

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

If you translate using Launchpad, you’ll almost certainly be delighted to read that you can now search for translations!

Take a look at the English (UK) translations for WordPress. There are two search boxes. One at the very top-right of the page: that’s Launchpad’s new site-wide search. Below that, still on the right, is the translation search box.

Using the translations search box, you can search for a word or phrase as it appears in either the original English template or the language you’re currently viewing.

I had a chat with Jeroen Vermuelen, leader of the Launchpad Translations team, to ask about the work that has gone into the feature. He told me:

“This is something that people have wanted for a long time and the new translations search is the result of work we’ve been doing for the past year. We could have done it sooner but we wanted to do it right.

“When you’re searching as much data as we have in Launchpad Translations – around 16 million strings – you have to take the right approach to ensure results are accurate and timely.

“So, this is just what the doctor ordered for translators who are managing a particular translation and want to be able to tweak a specific message quickly.”

Package diffs

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

You can now view diffs for source packages in boths PPAs and Ubuntu’s primary archive.

Celso Providelo, the Launchpad developer who’s been working on this, told me a bit more about it:

“This is a really easy way for anyone to see what changes have been made in a package. Rather than having to download a source package and then manually run a diff, diffs are available directly from Launchpad.

“So, if you want to double-check a source package’s changelog, this is a great way to do it. Whether it’s in a PPA or the primary Ubuntu archive, it allows anyone to check for mistakes. Another really cool thing is that if somebody uploads a package to their PPA and it is derived from something already in Ubuntu, Launchpad provides a diff between the published Ubuntu package and the version in the PPA.

“Ppackage diffs are available for packages uploaded since 01.30 UTC on 29th May.”

Global search

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

No matter how good a website’s interface, when you’re dealing with as much data as there is in Launchpad, search can be the simplest way to get what you need.

Thanks to work by my colleagues Francis Lacoste, Curtis Hovey and Maris Fogels, you can now search through all of Launchpad from a single search box.

This new site-wide search goes into people profiles, code branch information, bug reports, questions, blueprints, project information and more.

Try it: you’ll find the search box at the top right of most Launchpad pages and on its own dedicated page too.

It works just as you’d expect: wrap words in quotes to search for an exact phrase, discount a word by placing a minus sign in front of it, and so on.

Let us know how you get on.

Update: Search links now fixed.

Six plural forms in translations

Friday, March 28th, 2008

Up until this release (1.2.3), Launchpad Translations has supported only four plural forms. This works for many languages but has been a problem for Arabic, in particular, as it has six different plural forms.

I’m pleased to say that Launchpad now supports up to six plural forms in those languages that need them!

Mailing lists in Launchpad!

Friday, March 28th, 2008

Mailing lists are one of the main ways we communicate in the free software world. They’re crucial to the day to day work, as well as the planning and debate, of most projects.

Now, each Launchpad team can have its own mailing list hosted and managed by Launchpad. If you run a team in Launchpad, simply visit your team’s overview page to request your list. If you want to subscribe to a list, first join the team that owns it and then subscribe. Full details are in our guide.

Let’s look at some of what Launchpad brings to mailing lists:

  • Simplified administration. As someone running a list, Launchpad does everything for you: you don’t need to manage a server and there’s no mailing list software for you to patch.
  • Simplified subscription management. As a list subscriber, all you need are your Launchpad login details and your team memberships. Nothing more to it. Change your email address? Update it once in your Launchpad profile and it’s automatically effective for your mailing list subscriptions. To subscribe to a list, all you need is to be a member of the relevant team.
  • Post from any email address. You can post to your Launchpad mailing lists from any email address registered in your Launchpad profile.
  • Automatic archiving and distribution. Launchpad lists are automatically archived for history, in a format that is easily cataloged by search engines. Copies are also archived on, a popular long-term list archive site.

The full details on creating and joining mailing lists in Launchpad are available in our guide.

File downloads on project overview pages

Friday, March 28th, 2008

After all the work that’s gone into a release, you want to get your software out to users.

One way is to use Launchpad to make your release files available for download. Now, Launchpad makes it even easier for users to get the files from your latest release, by listing them on your project’s overview page.

Let’s take a look at the Bazaar project, as an example:

Files for download on the bzr project overview page

Here you can see files from Bazaar’s recent 1.3 release.

To distribute your project’s files through Launchpad, first you need to register a series and then register a release on the series overview page.

Once you’re on the release page, in Launchpad, there’s a link to upload files.

There are a few things to bear in mind when uploading files. They should be:

  • code release tarball
  • installer files
  • README or other documentation
  • changelog file
  • release notes
  • no more than 60MB per file.

Let us know how you get on using Launchpad to distribute your project files.

New branch listing pages

Friday, March 28th, 2008

We’ve given branch listing pages a major overhaul, giving you more information about each commit.

In particular, the start of the commit message is quoted in the Last commit column, with the full thing available when you hover your mouse over it. If the author’s email address is registered in Launchpad, their name is hyperlinked to their Launchpad profile page.

Take a look at the Bazaar branch list page for an example.

Personal Package Archives

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007

A few years back, I switched from Red Hat to Debian for one main reason: apt. I loved the ease with which I could install and remove software that had been packaged specifically for my operating system.

Now I use Ubuntu and I still think apt rocks. I can’t even remember the last time I thought about dependencies.

Your own apt repository

Recently, we’ve been working on a new Launchpad feature: Personal Package Archives. With PPAs, you can build Ubuntu packages and make them available to other Ubuntu users in your own apt repository. Whether you’re packaging brand new stuff or creating your own versions of existing Ubuntu packages, PPA takes care of the building and hosting.

It works like this:

  1. You create an Ubuntu source package.
  2. You upload your source package to Launchpad.
  3. Launchpad builds your package for X86 and AMD64 architectures.
  4. You invite testers, friends, end-users or whoever else to add your PPA’s address to their sources.list.

Your apt repository is hosted by Launchpad and works just like any other. For example: if you upload a newer version of one of your packages, your users will automatically get the update.

Teams can also have their own PPAs. MythBuntu is one of the teams that have started using their PPA. You can view the overview of their PPA and the archive itself is at:

Beta testing PPA

If you want to start building and distributing Ubuntu packages using your own PPA, the first step is to make sure you’re familiar with packaging for Ubuntu. Other than that, you simply need to join the Launchpad Beta Testers team and then follow our PPA quick-start guide.

Let us know how you get on – post a comment here and join us on the launchpad-users list.