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Revving up the Ubuntu Manual Project for Maverick

Things have been a bit quiet in manual-land for the last couple of months. We managed to get a couple of translated copies released, but apart from that, the IRC channel and mailing list has resembled a midwestern movie set in the build up to a sweet-as gunfight. All we’re missing is a bit of tumbleweed.

So what’s been going on?!

Well, I’ve been busy with University. I had a couple of weeks off in July that were spent working on my new startup company, Ohso, co-founded with my good friend Joey. A lot of the time I was designing the new OMG! Ubuntu!, OMG! SUSE! and Ubuntu Gamer sites which are currently under development and slated for rollout early next month.

Kevin Godby, our Lead TeXnician has been busy with a new job and writing his thesis, Ryan Macnish has been working on the Ubuntu Developer’s Manual with Rick Spencer, Luke Jennings is settling into his engineering apprenticeship, Vishnoo has been working on papercuts and (actually literally) saving lives in real life, Bryan Behrenshausen has been busy with University and Thorsten Wilms has been… well… being Thorsten Wilms. A few other core members have also been busy with University, school or work as well which sort of reduced the active team member count down to zero.

But never fear! Thanks to the initiative of Josh Holland (dutchie) we had a meeting yesterday (at 4am my time, grumble, grumble) which had a great turnout and the ball was once again set in motion: this time the target is Getting Started with Ubuntu 10.10.

I made a graphical timeline for everyone to see what we’ve got planned for Maverick and when we’ve set deadlines:

Breaking it down, we’re going to continue with the release of the Lucid manual 2nd edition next week, which has seen over 300 bugs fixed since the first edition thanks to the Show us ya Bugs! competition we ran. This should provide a solid manual to go alongside the LTS for the next five years. Then we need to copy across that work to the Maverick branch and start incorporating the new changes, such as the sound menu, MeMenu, Shotwell instead of F-spot and the new installer. The manual is also getting a bit of fat trimmed and the section about the terminal is going to be shortened and combined into another section. The stuff that gets culled will still be saved to be incorporated into the Ubuntu Support and Learning Center when it’s finished.

After that, we hit our writing freeze on September 10 and start going nuts on editing and taking screenshots – which we could always need help with.

Support and Learning Center? What’s happening with that?

We’re still planning it with the docs team and the learning team, it’s such a huge undertaking that we can’t do it all ourselves. Due to lack of manpower and time we’ve decided to push it back until after Maverick, but continue planning for now. It’s still just as cool and will be awesome when it’s finished, but we always need help.

Quickshot

Quickshot is our wicked screenshot-capturing program written in Python. We needed a feasible way of taking lots of consistent screenshots at the same resolution and quality, but across multiple languages. So we developed Quickshot. Right now it’s configured to just work with our project, but it’s getting a complete re-write from scratch to be project-independent so other distros and projects can use it to capture lots of screenshots. If you want to see the results of using Quickshot to take screenshots, just download one of our translated manuals from http://ubuntu-manual.org and you’ll see that they look wicked.

QS deserves an entire post of its own so maybe I’ll get around to doing that some time when version 1.0 comes out. Quickshot is also getting its own website, http://quickshot.org which is also under development.

Quickshot needs an awesome logo for the team that’s project independent. The current one is just a mish-mash of stuff. If you have any ideas, please flick me an email at benjamin@ubuntu-manual.org

Custom bug form

Head over to http://bugs.ubuntu-manual.org and you’ll see some cool work from Josh Holland. It’s missing a CSS style sheet so it’s not very pretty at the moment but the cool thing is it interfaces with Launchpad (probably why it’s so slow) and actually reports bugs in Launchpad using a custom user we set up. This way we achieve two things that Launchpad makes difficult:

  • Our bug reporters don’t need a Launchpad account (lowering the barrier to contributing)
  • We can set custom fields for information that is specific to a book – like page number, chapter, type of error, etc.

There was something else I was going to talk about…

Ah yes our new website!

http://ubuntu-manual.org is getting an entire overhaul!

I’ve been working with Dominic Edmunds from the design team to try and use some of the new design guidelines and I hope that our project will be the first to utilize the new style. More images of the new design (sans the nice pictograms up the top) can be found in this Flickr set. (Take a special look at this this image in particular to see how we’re going to make our project look appealing to new contributors – other projects take note).

I think I’ve only very, very lightly touched on half the stuff that our team is producing. I haven’t even mentioned our work on custom personas or the Quickstart booklets that we want to make as well. I didn’t want to make this post too long but it seems to have been fleshed out quite nicely… well I guess that’s what happens when your team pumps out so much cool work!

Come say hi in #ubuntu-manual on Freenode. We’re a friendly bunch.

Bye for now!