Jessica Ledbetter

UDS-N: Thursday sessions

And my remote participation in the Ubuntu Developer Summit (UDS) continues! I had the day off so was able to attend as many as I wanted. Here are my notes from: Mentoring women, plenary The Ubuntu Way, plenary Opinionated Design: Choosing a user and choosing features, and session on Improving Accessibility Development and Information.


The community is diverse. We should remember that we are different but all should be treated with respect. When we create an application, we should think of its purpose. That way we can avoid pockets on kilts.

Mentoring women

List o’ links: Blueprint, wiki page, and current mentor list.

One of the IRC channels I hang out in is #ubuntu-women. I think I see the question “Why is there a women project but not for men?” asked a few times a week. Do I think women aren’t welcome in the Ubuntu community? No. But I do think the group does a great job of being a place we can go to if we’re unsure.

What can we do to encourage people (of all genders, really) to be good mentors? How can we form partnerships with other projects to lead people to them? There are some mentoring programs already out there including Ubuntu Beginner’s Team and Debian Women.

Some mentoring concerns:

  • Personality meshing — need to find someone you get along with on both sides
  • Don’t want to be “mentored” — perhaps another word for it
  • Privacy — not everyone wants it known so some way to ask for mentors discretely would be good
  • Need a way to raise concerns — if there’s a problem the mentor or mentored needs a process to ask for help with the partnership

I’m looking forward to seeing this program grow. Plus, the Beginner’s Team looks great too. I’m definitely going to help out as much as I can!

The Ubuntu Way

Ah, yes, one of the reasons I dig Ubuntu so much! Allison Randal had great illustrations of how Canonical, Ubuntu, Debian, Python, etc. work together. Once all the colors come together with the lines that fuzz between projects and members, it becomes a weave — something beautiful. It’s not perfect though and neither are we, but we can make the relationship work.

She recommended a few books to help us design better. One I’ve seen but not the other.

Opinionated Design: Choosing a user and choosing features

Actually, Ivanka Majic changed the subtitle to “Curbing design by enthusiasm.” Enthusiasm is big in Ubuntu. Actually, there are many times I see new developers get excited about a new technology and use it just to use it. Trails on the mouse pointer on websites, for example. Please. No.

She suggested we not say “end users” but say “target users.” “End users” sounds like someone we’d get to use our application, if we’re lucky, she said, but if we program for a target then we can keep the purpose in mind. That way we know whether or not we should add that option. Her examples including putting pockets on kilts. Sure, we could, but should we?

“An excellent interface mantra: never add an option when an opinion will suffice.” via @leisa

Know your audience. Be honest. Is that widget you’re making just so you can play with a hot technology or does your target user need it?

Improving Accessibility Development and Information

This was actually the second discussion and I missed the first. Also, I got a phone call in the middle of it. Here’s the team’s wiki page with links to user descriptions and . And there’s an accessibility blog in the works.

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