[MERGE/RFC] Userdoc Driven Design on the Bazaar 2.0 UI

Ian Clatworthy ian.clatworthy at canonical.com
Wed Apr 15 15:40:51 BST 2009

With our shiny new repository format almost ready to go, we're
fast approaching the time for calling something Bazaar 2.0.
Think June/July as a likely line in the sand IIUIC.

And high on the list of things many of us want to see as part of
2.0 is a gentler on-ramp for new users. While we have a deliberate
policy of maintaining backwards compatibility 99% of the time,
releasing 2.0 though is a rare opportunity for us to take a
hard, objective look at our *overall* usability, making changes
if they are warranted. It's fine to add feature after feature
over time but does the net whole still make sense to new users?
Recently, we've been hearing otherwise.

Numerous ideas have been put forward recently to improve the
new user on-ramp, e.g. my draft spec on easier workspace setup,
Robert's email re implicit shared repo creation and the (poorly
titled) email thread re hard-linking local repositories. This
patch throws some more ideas into the mix, namely:

1. checkouts should be lightweight by default (ala svn)

2. a branch could reuse the repository of a dependent branch
   without needing to explicitly create a shared repo in a parent

Both of these ideas came from Mark Shuttleworth, a rather big
fan of ours. :-) In the spirit of Userdoc Driven Design, Mark has
put together an excellent tutorial explaining checkouts, branches
and repositories to "2.0" users. I've spent much of the day cleaning
up his initial document and expanding it with more information about
existing features (like stacked branches, shared repositories,
heavyweight checkouts and sharing a working tree across branches).
*I'm* really happy with the end result. I hope Mark doesn't mind my
changes too much and you like it as well. See attached!

FWIW, I'm 100% in agreement about checkouts being lightweight
by default. I also like Mark's second idea *but* I'd like to be
convinced by others that we need it. Maybe we're better off
making existing features (stacking & shared repositories) Just
Happen rather than adding more ways of doing things, how ever
good those new ideas might be? OTOH, maybe Mark's suggestion
provides a gentler transition from standalone branch to
"shared" repository and we ought to run with it and run with it
hard? Please comment!

Finally, I'd like to make the point that *new* users are the
key thing to keep in mind when evaluating the many ideas
floating around. Us "experts" and long-time users can suffer
from being too close to the product and driving it to suit
people like us. If you are a new user or are responsible for
teaching new users about Bazaar, we want to hear from *you* on
this topic. We need to make Bazaar 2.0 the best VCS for the
masses - the early adopters are already onboard the DVCS train,
our carriage or otherwise.

Ian C.

PS: The tutorial does look a little nicer when themed like the
rest of our doc. Apply the attached patch and run "make docs"
if you'd like to see it that way.
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