Posts Tagged ‘front-page’

Welcome to BerliOS projects

Monday, October 10th, 2011

It’s sad to read that BerliOS will close in December, after nearly twelve years of serving open source projects. One fewer project hosting site means that the open source world is that bit poorer.

If you’ve been hosting your project on the BerliOS Developer platform and you’re looking for a new home, you’ve got plenty of choice.

We’d love to welcome you to Launchpad and here are a few reasons why you should consider Launchpad:

If you have questions, you’re very welcome to join us in #launchpad on FreeNode and the launchpad-users mailing list.

Launchpad now accepts mail commands from gmail

Saturday, October 1st, 2011

If you use gmail, you should now be able to send commands to Launchpad without gpg-signing.

gmail puts a DKIM cryptographic signature on outgoing mail, which is a cryptographic signature that proves that the mail was sent by gmail and that it was sent by the purported user. We verify the signature on Launchpad and treat that mail as trusted which means, for example, that you can triage bugs over mail or vote on merge proposals. Previously you needed to GPG-sign the mail which is a bit of a hassle for gmail.

(DKIM is signed by the sending domain, not by the user, so it doesn’t inherently prove that the purported sender is the actual one. People could intentionally or unintentionally set up a server that allows intra-domain impersonation, and it’s reported to be easy to misconfigure DKIM signers so that this happens. (Consider a simple SMTP server that accepts, signs and forwards everything from 192.168/16 with no authentication.) However, in cases like gmail we can reasonably assume Google don’t allow one user to impersonate another. We can add other trusted domains on request.)

If you have gmail configured to use some other address as your From address it will still work, as long as you verify both your gmail address and your other address.

You can use email commands to interact with both bugs and code merge proposals. For instance when Launchpad sends you mail about a new bug, you can just reply

  status confirmed
  importance medium

Thanks for letting us know!

We do this using the pydkim library.

Note that you do need at least one leading space before the commands.

If you hit any bugs, let us know.

We’re hiring: a Software Engineer and a Usability and Communications Specialist

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

We’re looking for a couple of smart, motivated and experienced people to join us on the Launchpad team at Canonical.

First up is a Software Engineer, to join one of the Launchpad development squads working on both new Launchpad features and maintenance of existing functionality.

There’s also an opening for a Usability and Communications Specialist. This is to join Launchpad’s Product Team, where we’re looking for someone who can run a usability research programme and produce documentation, blog posts and so on.

If you’ve got any questions about either role, feel free to grab me (mrevell) on FreeNode.

Approve your own translation imports

Friday, July 29th, 2011

A road sign in Welsh and EnglishGood news if you run a project’s translation effort in Launchpad!

Until today, when you imported a template or translation file into Launchpad for the first time, you’d have to wait for a member of the Canonical Launchpad team to review and then approve that file before your project’s translation community could make use of it.

Now, if you’re a project maintainer, you can manage your project’s translations import queue yourself. All you need do is follow the “import queue” link on your project’s translations overview page and you’ll see something like this:

Translation import queue

Once you’ve approved a file, and it has been imported, subsequent changes will go through Launchpad’s automatic approval process.

Take a look at our guide to importing templates for more detail.

Road sign photo by Spixey. Licence: CC BY.

No more monthly 90 minute downtime

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

I’m thrilled to be writing this blog post just over a year after starting as Launchpad’s technical architect. During that year we have been steadily improving our ability to deploy changes to Launchpad without causing downtime (of any or all services). Our ability to do this directly impacts our ability to deliver bug fixes and new functionality – our users are very sensitive to downtime.

There has been one particularly tricky holdout though – our monthly 90 minute downtime window where we apply schema changes, do DB server maintenance and so forth.

Starting very soon we will instead have very short windows – approximately 60 seconds long – where we perform schema changes, database server failover (in order to permit DB maintenance on the master server) and so forth.

We expect to do these about 6 times a month based on our historical rate of schema patches, and we are – for now – planning on doing these at 0800 UTC consistently.

This will deliver much less total downtime – 6 minutes a month rather than 90 – at the cost of more frequent interruptions.

If you have API scripts running against Launchpad, you may want to build in a retry mechanism to deal with up to a few minutes of downtime.

We cannot remove downtime entirely for purely technical reasons: Our primary database (postgresql) blocks new readers (or writers) when a schema change is being executed, and the schema change blocks on existing readers (or writers) to complete – it needs an exclusive lock on each relation being altered.

What we can do is automate the process of disconnecting and interrupting existing database connections to let the schema change execute rapidly, and make our schema changes as minimal as possible. Previously, we shut down all the application servers (via a script, but shutting down gracefully takes time), and then ran schema changes which did data migration and so forth. In this new process we will leave the appservers running and just interrupt their connections for the time it take to apply the schema change. That, combined with moving data migration to a background job rather than doing it during the schema change, gives us the short downtimes we’re about to start doing.

More information is available in the LEP and my mailing list post about the project starting.

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 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.