[ubuntu-art] Having fun with installer slideshow!

Dylan McCall dylanmccall at gmail.com
Thu Jun 5 05:01:13 BST 2008

Hello art team!

It's been a while since I blabbered about this, and it's come some way
since then. I am working on a slideshow system for Ubuntu to work
alongside the installation progress bar in Ubiquity (the Live CD
installer). My goal is to unobtrusively give users an introduction to
Ubuntu. Something I have noticed with a lot of issues people have is
that people have simply not noticed the way things are done in Ubuntu.
Case in point, installing software, for which a shocking number of
people seem to try downloading source code /before/ noticing Add /
Remove Applications. I think having a slideshow that goes over all the
bits and pieces Ubuntu has available will do very good things for the
user experience. In addition, many of the most unique and powerful
features we have, such as custom fonts for applications, are hidden away
in very modest little corners. They have the potential to delight
people, but may never be noticed.

To put it simply, I have been browsing Ubuntu's support forums and
taking mental notes (should have been hard notes, in retrospect) about
all the great things people miss without being pushed in the right
direction first. The goal here is to give those people the right
pointers from the start in a way that does not stink. Obviously, I can't
do this without help, so contributions of any form are welcome.

The project itself is still very quiet, however I have set up the
necessary stuff in Launchpad and I have rearranged how this is done.
Most importantly, I dropped that horror of an idea that was using Glade
for slides. Instead, I am using SVGs! This means it's going to be very
nice for people to contribute to, assuming said people can work their
heads around Inkscape. (More on that later :o [1])

So now that I have decided on a decent file format, and said format is
(-should be-) dead easy, I may as well bring this up as something people
can contribute to Right Now!

At the moment, there is no solid plan for the slideshow itself other
than slide dimensions: 700x420 pixels. In terms of the software for
displaying the slideshow, it is coming along. (I over-engineered it 5
times. How many of me does it take to change a light bulb? Believe it or
not, at least 2; I would probably create a clone of myself for the
task). Nothing visible on that end at the present time, but since these
slides are just simple graphics, said program doesn't really have to be
played with anyway. It should be sufficient to consider that the slides
will be displayed one by one, without user interaction, switching on a
timer. A slide should be readable in a very short time. They should also
all be consistent in general design.

The project for the slideshow is, as mentioned,
ubiquity-slideshow-ubuntu on Launchpad. Just head over to
https://launchpad.net/ubiquity-slideshow-ubuntu for the working files,
blueprints, etc.
As a quick example to get thoughts moving, I have some example slides up
there now. Two versions: One with a bland brownish background, one with
the Hardy Heron simple wallpaper... which actually does not seem a bad
effect. Those are in bzr as SVGs, and I have also uploaded an archive of
raster images
at http://dylanmccall.googlepages.com/Ubuntu_Slideshow_Example.tar.gz

The ideal situation is that lots of ideas get invented and one of them
gets so much love that the slideshow magically builds itself. In other
words, turn on your brains, start inventing slideshow templates and some
slides to go with them. and then get posting!

Sounds like fun!
If you somehow need an extra push of encouragement, consider that doing
this is roughly the same task as creating mockups for GTK themes,
without the work involved in implementing them. (Please don't stop
making themes, though).

If you still need more encouragement, take a look at the design I made
myself. Awful, eh?
Now, if you want to see that horrific artwork razed from the universe,
get cracking!

Bye for now,

[1] One issue while I am here: The SVGs I have rolled out work only in
Inkscape. The thumbnailer, Eye of GNOME, and even Mozilla render them
completely wrong.

PS: Be aware that this is not a normal artwork task; I just know all the
best artists are here! Indeed, there is no telling whether this can
actually make it into Intrepid... so nobody let your hopes up. I want to
make that a stronger possibility by having some good artists help out
here and by having some more hands poking at it so that time is less of
an issue.
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