Posts Tagged ‘front-page’

Launchpad Answers is faster

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Users of Launchpad Answers will see that asking a question, editing it, or posting a comment to it is faster. Email about question changes is sent a few minutes latter. Many bugs relating to question emails were fixed as we moved the work of sending emails to the new process.

Users and answer contacts saw slow pages or time out errors when working with questions in large projects. Simple actions like asking a question or providing an answer would fail. It was common to see errors converting bugs into questions. A few weeks ago, we saw that 8 of the top 10 kinds of time outs involved questions; though this ratio was caused in part by the tremendous work of making other parts of Launchpad faster.

The root cause of the slow question pages was sending email to all the subscribers before showing the next page. The solution was to queue the the event to notify subscribers, and send the emails later. While updating the code, there were many opportunities to fix related Answers bugs. I am particularly pleased with the changes to the rules to create a question. There were four lines of code, and while I intended to fix one line, I realised there was a bug related to each line of code. In a matter of minutes I had fixed four bugs. The most obvious change you will see is that question emails will now state that you received the email because you asked the question, where previously you were merely described as a subscriber.

Launchpad is Go!

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Go!There’s a new Launchpad client library, called lpad, for the Go programming language.

Gustavo writes:

lpad is based on a two-layered design. The top layer offers a static API which allows a more comfortable interaction with the API with static checks, better documentation, and more. The bottom layer is fully dynamic and enables the developer to access all the features of Launchpad, even those not supported by the top static layer.

There’s still work to do but the library is pretty much complete and it’s well tested, including integration tests which communicate with the real production servers.

You can get hold of lpad with a simple:

bzr branch lp:lpad

Check out the full API documentation.

Photo by Iain Farrell. Licence: CC BY-ND 2.0.

Sharing translations

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

French lessons on floppy diskIt’s incredible to think that more than 57,000 people have used Launchpad to translate software from English into their own language.

Many of them have worked directly on upstream projects, such as the OpenShot video editor. Others have helped translate Ubuntu packages of software. And then there’s a whole group of people who translate upstream software outside of Launchpad.

Today we’ve taken another step in bringing those efforts closer together by making it far easier to get upstream translations directly into Ubuntu.

We want the strings produced by translators working directly on software projects, whether in Launchpad or elsewhere, to be easily available to the Ubuntu translators and we believe it should be just as easy for software projects to take advantage of the work of Ubuntu translators.

How it works

Translation sharing between different releases of a project, or Ubuntu, has been available in Launchpad for some time now. Also, sharing translations between an upstream project translated in Launchpad and its Ubuntu package has been helping to bring those two communities of translators closer together.

What’s changed today is that strings from upstream projects who make their translations outside Launchpad are now just as easily imported and ready for use by Ubuntu.

Now, so long as the upstream project is set up in Launchpad to do this, a change made in an upstream project’s source code — whether hosted directly in Launchpad or elsewhere in Bazaar, Git, Subversion of CVS — will be available to Ubuntu translators just a few hours later.

Previously, Ubuntu took translation templates and files from the source packages as they were uploaded. There was no automated route for those new upstream translations to get into Ubuntu after that initial import. In effect, this allowed Ubuntu translations to diverge from upstream during the six month Ubuntu cycle.

This change has a nice side benefit of making it easier for upstream projects to make use of translation work done for Ubuntu, because the English strings will diverge far less and it will be easier to spot where the Ubuntu community has done new translation work, rather than their being a divergence due to the two efforts drifting apart.

To start with, this is available for projects that use intltools, which includes all of GNOME. To get your project’s translations automatically imported into Launchpad, see our help guide.

Photo by Kino Praxis. Licence: CC BY 2.0

Launchpad is on Facebook

Sunday, April 17th, 2011

Have you seen that Launchpad is on Facebook?

If you want to get Launchpad feature and development news through Facebook, like our page.

There are also our Twitter and identi.ca accounts, if you prefer those.

Let’s explore

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Recently, Ursula and I have been improving the way that we test new Launchpad features.

Already, Launchpad has an extensive test suite but there are some things that automated tests can’t look out for. Rather than just testing the quality of our code, we also want to test the quality of the experience.

To do that, we’ve been doing more exploratory testing. Now, when a feature is getting close to deployment we will try out every part of the feature and make notes of anything in the experience that needs to be fixed before we release it. In particular, we’re interested in the feature’s:

  • ease of use and discoverability
  • completeness
  • quality of implementation
  • suitability to the problem it is solving
  • conformity to Launchpad’s principles and UI guidelines.

We’re also aiming to timebox the testing; something that takes too long to explore is likely too complex. For now, we’re using a 25 minute limit, as borrowed from The Pomodoro Technique, as it seems like a good starting point.

If you’re interested in what we’re doing, you can follow our progress both on the launchpad-dev mailing list and on the Launchpad dev wiki. Also, I’m hoping that we can get your help in testing beta features. I’ll write more about that soon.

Source package recipes

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

A pint of ale

Here’s a quick pub quiz:

Question: How do you make packages for Ubuntu?

You can choose from the following answers:

  1. learn Debian packaging through hours of study and practice
  2. borrow existing packaging from elsewhere, throw a couple of Bazaar branches together and let Launchpad handle the rest
  3. Uruguay in both 1930 and 1950.

If you selected either of the first answers you’d be right.

Okay, so, if you want to do it for real — i.e. become an Ubuntu MOTU or otherwise create Debian-style packages from scratch — then you still need to go through the hard work.

However, for everyone else who really just needs to get something out there and working for, say, a group of beta testers, we now have Launchpad’s source package recipes.

How it works, in three steps

It’s almost ridiculously easy to set up a source package build:

  1. Choose a branch in Launchpad, whether hosted directly or imported.
  2. Write a short recipe that tells Launchpad which other branches to pull in, for example to provide packaging or make the code buildable.
  3. Paste your recipe into Launchpad.

And that’s it. Within a few minutes you can set up a daily build direct from your trunk or any other buildable branch in Launchpad.

Watch how it works in our screencast:

An example

Alvin Hall

Let’s say you’re the developer of a home finance application called Alvin. You track your project’s code using Git and host it on your own server. For the past couple of years Alvin has been packaged in the Ubuntu universe and your trunk has also been imported from Git to a Bazaar branch in Launchpad at lp:alvin.

Just as you’re approaching Alvin’s next release, you want to get some wider testing. In the past, you’ve published a nightly tarball and provided instructions on manual installation. That’s given you a handful of dedicated beta testers but you’re worried that you’re asking too much of people.

With Launchpad’s source package recipes, you write a short recipe that pulls in your trunk branch, adds the packaging from Alvin’s existing Ubuntu package and then builds an installable Ubuntu package in the PPA of your choice:


# bzr-builder format 0.3 deb-version 2.0beta+{revno}
lp:alvin
nest-part packaging lp:ubuntu/alvin debian debian

Paste the recipe into Launchpad and with a couple of clicks you have a daily build of your trunk, that’s published as an Ubuntu package in your PPA.

Now you can ask people to test the latest Alvin code by doing no more than adding your PPA to their system. Launchpad will build a new version of the package on each day it spots a change in your trunk (or the Ubuntu packaging). For your beta testers, any changes will show up just like any other Ubuntu update.

Simple as that!

Here’s a quick recap of how it works: you can take any buildable branch — whether hosted in directly Launchpad or imported from Git, Subversion, CVS or Bazaar hosted elsewhere — merge or nest other branches, add packaging and then leave it to Launchpad to create a daily build that it publishes in your chosen PPA.

Seeing it in action

List of daily builds in Launchpad

During the beta, people added a whole range of source package recipes, with a list of more than 350 daily builds as I write this.

Daily builds on Launchpad right now include Project Neon, who have around sixty recipes providing daily builds of KDE and Amarok. There are also daily builds of the Scribus DTP app, Audacity and the scriptable screen reader Gnome Orca.

Try it out

It’s easy to get your own source package recipes and daily builds up and running.

Start at our Getting Started guide and screencast.

I’ll leave the last word to Luke Benstead, who has been using source package recipes while developing a set of game libraries:

I’ve been using LP to develop some small open source game libraries. Because there are quite a few of them, packaging them all is a pain, so the package builds have worked out pretty well for them.

Now I get nightly builds delivered to a PPA, so I know that if I fix a bug it’s reflected to all my machines. And my recipes are only a single line so they’ve been really easy to use. I’m not really sure how they could be easier.

Images:
Beer photo by dearbarbie. CC-BY-SA.
Alvin Hall photo by Phil Guest. CC-BY-SA.

Launchpad needs a command line

Friday, March 18th, 2011

Launchpad has a web UI, an email interface, and a ReST API that exposes every object in the database.

There are also a bunch of client programs, command line and graphical, that talk to Launchpad to do various things.

What we don’t yet have, and what I think would be great, is a systematic client that lets you manipulate
everything
from the command line. There’s some code that starts towards this in Hydrazine, lptools and others, but I think having just a single tool that eventually does everything would be more discoverable and avoid unnecessary fragmentation or duplication.

(That’s not to say there’s not room for others that are guis, that are specialized to particular projects or that encapsulate a lot of policy or opinion about what they’re doing.)

So dobey and I have agreed to gradually merge hydrazine into lptools, and with other people to work towards making lptools cover everything you can do through the web UI or the API. If you have scripts you’ve written yourself, perhaps you’d like to merge them in.

pad.lv: short Launchpad URLs

Friday, March 18th, 2011

Short story: http://pad.lv/12345 takes you to bug 12345, and pad.lv describes more abbreviations.

padlv

Sometimes you’d like to point people to an interesting bug in a project that uses Launchpad, like bug 685380 (that ‘1’ and ‘l’ may need to be more distinct in the new Ubuntu Font).

Typing out https://launchpad.net/bugs/685380 is a bit tedious, and it uses up a fair bit of space in a microblog entry. You can use any of innumerable URL-shortening services, but then the URL’s opaque; which is a shame since it really just wants to represent a 6-digit number.

Therefore: pad.lv (pad love), transparent short URLs for bugs, and other things including projects, people, bug-filing forms, packages, and more.

Maybe someone would like to make bookmarklets that generate these links, or add them into the Launchpad UI?

Thanks to Latvia for letting us use a fraction of their domain name space!

Bug search no longer does substring matching of source package names

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

As part of improving performance we have disabled the substring matching of source package names. This fixes bug 268508 and bug 607960. However its a slightly contentious issue – opinions vary about whether bug 268508 is a valid bug or not.

So we have only disabled it – the code is still present and when we have more leeway on the performance of bug searching we’ll revisit this and look into some design and UI analysis to decide whether substring matching of this sort should be done or not.

For now though, there should be less timeouts in bug searches.

Silencing bug notifications for stuff you did

Friday, February 11th, 2011

Launchpad’s bug mail can be a bit chatty sometimes as I’m sure you’ve noticed.  This cycle the Yellow Squad is working to give you more control about the bug mail Launchpad sends to you.

One problem that we’ve known about for a really long time was reported as bug 548 and has recently been closed thanks to the effort of  Данило Шеган and Gary Poster.  Their fix allows you to globally specify whether you want to receive email about actions you did.

Most people probably do not need to be reminded of something they did a few minutes ago and will want to turn off those emails.  But, since this is new functionality we’ve preserved the old behavior unless a user changes the setting.  If you do nothing you’ll continue to get email about actions you instigate on bugs.

Opting out of those messages is easy.  Simply go to https://launchpad.net/people/+me/+edit and uncheck the box as shown below by the big red arrow.

opt out of bug mail

As mentioned, this is just the first of many features and refinements that we’re working on to help you customize the stream of bug mail coming from Launchpad to suit your needs.