Bubli (hedgehogpainter) wrote,

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openSUSE Conference 2009 Impressions

Yes, it's been a month since openSUSE Conference 2009 took place. And yes, I've been buried in other work to write my account of it any sooner. So - here it finally is. As there has already been a lot of posts like this, I'll just cherry-pick the things that were the most interesting for me.

I gave  "Libyui - three interfaces for the price of one code" talk and received some valuable feedback (on the conference and later too, as I reiterated the talk for SUSE Prague employees) on making the library even better - how to improve packaging (from Pavol and Martin) and how to modify event handling (from Reinhard). As evaluating myself and the things I do objectively has never been my strength (which means, in other words, that I really suck at it), I'll deliberately not say anything more on topic :) ;) Enjoy libyui slides

Software portal in new costume

I was really looking forward to Benji and Pascal's talk on Software portal as I'm YaST webpin frontend maintainer (which is, contrary to some beliefs, not a beta version anymore - it has its own package and also a brand new chapter in openSUSE 11.2 docu :) ) They introduced concept and architecture of new improved software portal and also described some issues they face. Too many package repositories, lot of package duplication and lack of concise rating system were among the most prominent ones. I was also happy to learn that susetags repo parsing and indexing is on the way, so soon also Factory will be webpin-searchable.

Cute (Qt) community

I couldn't have missed Alexandra Leisse's presentation on Qt community and contributions as it's always delighting to find some of one's own species among tech conference speakers and not to be the only one standing out in the crowd.
Alexandra is web community manager and we learned that even though uploading videos to youtube, tweeting and feeding news to Facebook looks like funny job, it can be hell of a hard work :) She explained how they manage public relations with wannabe developers (in a sense of well accessible developer documentation, contribution how-to, tutorial and feature videos etc.), which ways they took in opening up the code to public (their cooperation with gitorious.org was especially interesting bit) and how they handle community contributions and code reviews. She also described some of the problems they had to tackle.

opensuse.org in the eyes of eye-tracking device

With software usability being my area of interest, I decided to pick one of unconference tracks led by SUSE's usability expert Sigi Olschner. I've never seen usage of eye-tracking device in practice, so I was really curious what feedback it can provide to user interface designer (oddly enough, I couldn't be the guinea pig myself, as I wear contact lenses and the device just failed to calibrate my pupils with lenses on :) ). As sophisticated as eye-tracker is, it can record eye movement, mouse pointer movement and keyboard focus movement and later present data in various forms - such as heat maps, or "movies" (where one can replay the sequence of how user moved the mouse and where s/he looked during the test).

Test tasks this time were really simple. "Go to openSUSE forums and try to find some information on driver for Radeon gfx card" and "Go to openSUSE wiki and find out the date of 11.2 GoldMaster release".

Weeeell ... one does not need an expensive device to find out how much opensuse.org (in a sense - "anything on opensuse.org beyond the title page") sucks^W improvement would be needed and how cumbersome it is to find what you're looking for in there (you're far better off googling for "$searchphrase site:opensuse.org"). But seeing the final video of an attempt to find openSUSE 11.2 GM release date, with user's eye focus running chaotically up and down on the page in combination with mouse pointer zig-zag track revealed opensuse.org's bad usability in its essence (at the end, he was unable to find the date at all - from the title page he correctly navigated to the page announcing milestone7, but couldn't spot the link to full release schedule at its very bottom).

Suggestion: could Pascal's next release countdown applet be moved to some more prominent place e.g. to the opensuse.org title page?

Moreover, in the light of previous talk on Qt community I surfed on Qt community pages later at home and their proffesional appearance, easily accesible information and intuitive navigation were really in sharp contrast with our pages. I wonder how many more users would improved navigation and look&feel of opensuse.org (wiki and forums) win us ...

A movie with package dependencies as main stars

Everyone knows package dependency browser in YaST Qt package manager. So I was rather curious what more on visualizing package dependencies Klaus Kaempf has to show. And that was really something. More sophisticated 2D graph, 3D graph and even a movie, visualizing how GNOME basesystem is being installed and how packages are gradually pulled in (as it really looked like a star galaxy, we can say that GNOME packages were the main stars of the talk :)).
Klaus however left ideas where to use package dependencies visualizations up to the audience and at the end of the brainstorming, there were quite some useful proposals. I really liked one of the build service integration ideas, where I could view which packages block the build of my package when I see its status as "blocked".

.... and that's all, folks. I had to leave early on Saturday. But not early enough to miss out lunch, which was really excellent. Praise goes to conference catering.
Tags: opensuse, people

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