GNOME Software is finally accepting reviews and votes for applications, and the work has been done with the help of an Ubuntu developer, Robert Ancell.
GNOME Software is finally getting this feature, which has been requested over and over by the community. The software center for the GNOME stack has been around for some time, but it lacked in certain areas. The introduction of comments and votes is a really big step forward.
You might want to know why an Ubuntu developer…
Docker has long relied on Ubuntu Linux as the default host environment for Docker apps, but comments from the company’s CTO recently suggest that might not be the case much longer. “We have hired Natanael Copa, the awesome creator of Alpine Linux, and are in the process of switching the Docker official image library from
There has been a lot of discussion around the future of the Drupal front end both on Drupal.org (#2645250, #2645666, #2651660, #2655556) and on my blog posts about the future of decoupled Drupal, why a standard framework in core is a good idea, and the process of evaluating frameworks. These all relate to my concept of “progressive decoupling”, in which some portions of the page are handed over to client-side logic after Drupal renders the initial page (not to be confused with “full decoupling”).
My blog posts have drawn a variety of reactions. Members of the Drupal community, including Lewis Nyman, Théodore Biadala and Campbell Vertesi, have written blog posts with their opinions, as well as Ed Faulkner of the Ember community. Last but not least, in response to my last blog post, Google changed Angular 2’s license from Apache to MIT for better compatibility with Drupal. I read all the posts and comments with great interest and wanted to thank everyone for all the feedback; the open discussion around this is nothing short of amazing. This is exactly what I hoped for: community members from around the world brainstorming about the proposal based on their experience, because only with the combined constructive criticism will we arrive at the best solution possible.
Improving Drupal’s user experience is a topic near and dear to my heart. Drupal’s user experience challenges led to my invitation to Mark Boulton to redesign Drupal 7, the creation of the Spark initiative to improve the authoring experience for Drupal 8, and continued support for usability-related initiatives. In fact, the impetus behind progressive decoupling and adopting a client-side framework is the need to improve Drupal’s user experience.
To iterate or to disrupt?
To date, much of our UX improvements have been based on an iterative process, meaning it converges on a more refined end state by removing problems in the current state. However, we also require disruptive thinking, which is about introducing entirely new ideas, for true innovation to happen. It’s essentially removing all constraints and imagining what an ideal result would look like.
I think we need to recognize that while some of the documented usability problems coming out of the Drupal 8 usability study can be addressed by making incremental changes to Drupal’s user experience (e.g. our terminology), other well-known usability problems most likely require a more disruptive approach (e.g. our complex mental model). I also believe that we must acknowledge that disruptive improvements are possibly more impactful in keeping Drupal relevant and widening Drupal’s adoption.
At this point, to get ahead and lead, I believe we have to do both. We have to iterate and disrupt.
From inside-out to outside-in
Let’s forget about Drupal for a second and observe the world around us. Think of all the web applications you use on a regular basis, and consider the interaction patterns you find in them. In popular applications like Slack, the user can perform any number of operations to edit preferences (such as color scheme) and modify content (such as in-place editing) without incurring a single full page refresh. Many elements of the page can be changed without the user’s flow being interrupted. Another example is Trello, in which users can create new lists on the fly and then add cards to them without ever having to wait for a server response.
Contrast this with Drupal’s approach, where any complex operation requires the user to have detailed prior knowledge about the system. In our current mental model, everything begins in the administration layer at the most granular level and requires an unmapped process of bottom-up assembly. A user has to make a content type, add fields, create some content, configure a view mode, build a view, and possibly make the view the front page. If each individual step is already this involved, consider how much more difficult it becomes to traverse them in the right order to finally see an end result. While very powerful, the problem is that Drupal’s current model is “inside-out”. This is why it would be disruptive to move Drupal towards an “outside-in” mental model. In this model, I should be able to start entering content, click anything on the page, seamlessly edit any aspect of its configuration in-place, and see the change take effect immediately.
Drupal 8’s in-place editing feature is actually a good start at this; it enables the user to edit what they see without an interrupted workflow, with faster previews and without needing to find what thing it is before they can start editing.
Making it real with content modeling
Eight years ago in 2007, I wrote about a database product called DabbleDB. I shared my belief that it was important to move CCK and Views into Drupal’s core and learn from DabbleDB’s integrated approach. DabbleDB was acquired by Twitter in 2010 but you can still find an eight-year-old demo video on YouTube. While the focus of DabbleDB is different, and the UX is obsolete, there is still a lot we can learn from it today: (1) it shows a more integrated experience between content creation, content modeling, and creating views of content, (2) it takes more of an outside-in approach, (3) it uses a lot less intimidating terminology while offering very powerful capabilities, and (4) it uses a lot of in-place editing. At a minimum, DabbleDB could give us some inspiration for what a better, integrated content modeling experience could look like, with the caveat that the UX should be as effortless as possible to match modern standards.
This sort of vision was not possible in 2007 when CCK was a contributed module for Drupal 6. It still wasn’t possible in Drupal 7 when Views existed as a separate contributed module. But now that both CCK and Views are in Drupal 8 core, we can finally start to think about how we can more deeply integrate the two. This kind of integration would be nontrivial but could dramatically simplify Drupal’s UX. This should be really exciting because so many people are attracted to Drupal exactly because of features like CCK and Views. Taking an integrated approach like DabbleDB, paired with a seamless and easy-to-use experience like Slack, Trello and Backand, is exactly the kind of disruptive thinking we should do.
We shouldn’t limit ourselves to this one example, as there are a multitude of Drupal interfaces that could all benefit from both big and small changes. We all want to improve Drupal’s user experience — and we have to. To do so, we have to constantly iterate and disrupt. I hope we can all collaborate on figuring out what that looks like.
Front page news:
On February 9, 2016, GitHub’s devs made some big announcements for its awesome and acclaimed Atom open-source hackable text editor, which reached stable version 1.5 for all supported operating systems.
As Atom is massively adopted by more and more programmers, it looks like GitHub’s developers have speed up the development cycle of the project, and today they’ve announced the release of Atom 1.5 stable branch an…
Treat yourself this Valentine’s with the Scepter of Enchantment for more XP.
The Rosa Desktop Fresh R series optimizes desktop usage and targets advanced users and enthusiasts looking for rich functionality. Add to that mix the default KDE flavoring and you have a compelling Linux distro. The typical Rosa user already is familiar with basic Linux offerings and wants a product with customization and personalization possibilities. That is what Rosa Desktop delivers.
RebeccaBlackOS is a distribution which provides live media that showcases Wayland running various desktop environments. The latest release of RebeccaBlackOS, version 2016-02-08, includes a number of changes. The Ubiquity system installer has been repl…
Security researchers have found vulnerabilities in Graphite, also known as Libgraphite font processing library, that affects a number of systems. The vulnerabilities, if exploited, allow an attacker to seed malicious fonts to a machine. The Libgraphite library is utilised by Linux, Thunderbird, WordPad, Firefox, OpenOffice, as well as several other major platforms and applications. Security
Even if the OTA 9.5 update for Ubuntu Touch is not ready yet, it doesn’t mean that the developers are not already looking forward to OTA 10, and they have a comprehensive list of changes and fixes in place.
This kind of updates are planned well in a…
While Canonical employees are working hard these days on the enablement of the Ubuntu Tablet device, it looks like we’re getting the Ubuntu Touch mobile operating system on the Fairphone 2 smartphone.
How did that happen? Well, you might have heard about Marius Gripsgård, the skilled developer who managed to port Ubuntu for Phones on the OnePlus One smartphone, right? Sure you did, and today we’re informing you that his is currently working on porting Ubuntu Touch to Fairph…
One of the things that first drew me to Mozilla was this sentence from our manifesto: “The Internet is a global public resource that must remain open and accessible to all.” These words made me stop and think. As they … Continue reading
Shotwell is a simple yet powerful program that comes installed with most flavors of Fedora, such as Fedora Workstation and the Cinnamon desktop spin. It’s also available for install on any other desktop or spin. You can use it as either a photo viewer and… Continue Reading →
Following his talk at FOSDEM last weekend, we present an interview with WikiToLearn founder Riccardo Iaconelli by Google Code-in student Stanford.
Jacque Raymer has announced the release of MakuluLinux 10 "Xfce" edition, a new version of the project’s Debian-based distribution for the desktop: "More than 12 months in the making, Makulu 10 Xfce does not disappoint. The focus on this build was stability, speed, social integration, key features that….
Marius Strobl has announced the availability of the initial beta of FreeBSD 10.3: "The first beta build of the 10.3-RELEASE release cycle is now available." The release announcement provides little information about any new features other than the usual bug reporting and system upgrading notes: "If you notice….
Canonical on Thursday launched the Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition tablet, developed in partnership with BQ. The tablet is the first fully converged Ubuntu device, the company said. It will ship with the latest Ubuntu software and is the first tablet with the Ubuntu OS. The tablet has a 10.1-inch multitactile FHD screen made from Asahi’s Dragontrail glass, which is similar to Gorilla Glass.
As you may well be aware, Canonical and BQ unveiled the world’s first Ubuntu Tablet, the BQ Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition, which also happens to be the fi…
You can find the release here: http://forum.simutrans.com/index.php?topic=15226 This version is mostly a bugfixing release with fixes for multiplayer desyncs, some crashes, and building docks on flat land.
Look at our Roadmap highlighting how this work falls into our priorities set by the Drupal Association staff with the direction from the Board and collaboration with the community.
Following the Conversation
One of the most requested features from a wide swath of the community has been a better way to follow content on Drupal.org and receive email notifications. The issue queues have had this follow functionality for some time, but the implementation was quite specific to issues, and not easily extensible to the rest of the site.
Because of the volume of content on Drupal.org we have to be careful that our implementation will scale well. We now use a notification system based on the Message stack which functions much more generically and therefore can be applied to many content types on Drupal.org.
Follow functionality is now available for comments on Forum topics, Posts (like this one), Case Studies, and documentation Book Pages.
In the future we intend to extend this follow functionality to include notification of new revisions (for relevant content types, particularly documentation).
Community Elections for the Board
Nominations for the position of At-Large Director from the community are now open. There are two of these positions on the board, each elected on alternating years. For this year’s elections process we’ve made several small refinements:
We encourage members of the community to nominate themselves!
A number of smaller enhancements made it into the January sprints as well. One of the key ones was the ability to configure an arbitrary one-off test in the issue queues against a custom branch. This is a small step towards ensuring that the DrupalCI testing framework will support the wider testing matrix required for feature branching, so that Drupal can always be shippable.
We also spent some time in January reviewing the results of the documentation survey that was placed on all existing documentation pages on the site. This information is helping to inform the next big item on the roadmap – improved Documentation section on Drupal.org.
Finally, we’ve continued our battle against spam with the help of Technology Supporter, Distil Networks. We’ve seen some very promising results in initial trials to prevent spam account registrations from happening in the first place, and will continue to work on refining our integration.
Sustaining support and maintenance
DrupalCon New Orleans Full -Site Launched!
In January we also launched the full -site for DrupalCon New Orleans with registration and the call for papers. As part of this launch, Events.drupal.org now supports multiple, simultaneous event registrations with multiple currencies, payment processors, and invoice formats. This was a significant engineering lift, but has made Events.drupal.org even more robust.
DrupalCon New Orleans is happening from May 9-13th, and will be the first North American DrupalCon after the release of Drupal 8!
The next European DrupalCon will also be here before you know it, and we’ve been working with the local community and our designer to update the DrupalCon Dublin splash page with a new logo that we will carry through into the design for the full-site once that is ready to launch.
Permissions for Elevated Users
In January we also focused on auditing the users with elevated privileges on Drupal.org, both to ensure that they had the permissions they needed, and to enforce our principle of least-access. Users at various levels of elevated privileges were contacted to see if they were still needed, and if not those privileged roles were removed.
The following privileges were also fixed or updated: webmasters can now view a user’s’ public ssh keys; content moderators can administer comments and block spam users without user profile editing privileges. We also fixed taxonomy vocabulary access and now both content moderators and webmasters have access to edit tags in various vocabularies such as Issue tags, giving more community members access to clean those up and fight duplicates or unused tags.
Updates traffic now redirects to HTTPS
SSL is now the default for FTP traffic from Drupal.org and for Updates.drupal.org itself. This helps to enforce a best practice of using SSL wherever possible, and helps to address an oblique attack surface where a man-in-the-middle could potentially hijack an update for someone running their Drupal installation on an unprotected network (i.e. development environments on a personal laptop in a coffee shop).
Drupal.org pre-production environments were affected by some instability in January, particulary the devwww2 server. A combination of a hard restart due to losing a NIC on the machine and some file-system level optimizations in the database containers lead to corruption on the dev site databases. Drupal.org infrastructure engineers restored the system and recovered the critical dev sites, and while some instability continues the system has been recovering more cleanly as they work to resolve the issue permanently.
As always, we’d like to say thanks to all the volunteers who work with us, and to the Drupal Association Supporters, who made it possible for us to work on these projects.
Mozilla is making some changes to the Firefox schedule, and it looks like they are going to give more time to developers between releases.
One of the biggest changes for Firefox was the switch to a train model, which meant a lot more flexibility This happened four years ago, and the last version was 3.5 back then. Now we’re at Firefox 44, and they keep on going with this crazy schedule. The main difference is that they are no longer tied to a six-week release schedule.