Unity, consistency and password-protected web pages

Dylan McCall dylanmccall at gmail.com
Mon Mar 28 03:32:45 UTC 2011


Something I've noticed lately has me a little concerned. I am hoping
you folks can put my fears at ease! When I look at bug reports for
Unity, I often encounter links to what I assume are design documents
internal to Canonical. Here is one of those bug reports:
(I realise this one was filed recently on an issue noticed after
implementation, but let's view it as an example).
The description points at an image:

I'm going to wander out on a limb here and assume Unity's design is
finalized and this isn't a matter of people (sensibly) holding off on
publicizing stuff until it's actually useful. I can understand the
need (and the desire) to do some things internally, but I wonder if
this is always happening intentionally, or if it's something being
done by accident.

This specific bug report looks like it could be a bitesize bug; a nice
first bug fix for somebody. However, because the bug description is
effectively inaccessible to any but those with access to
chinstrap.canonical.com, it has to be fixed by a Canonical employee.
(It rings a bell that the bug report could only have been filed by a
Canonical employee, too). Personally, I think anyone looking at the
bug tracker for a free software project should be able to understand
and solve any publicly viewable bug report given appropriate knowledge
and resources. We would benefit from having a very consistent design
vision (and we have in the past), but with major components discussing
internal design documents on the public bug tracker, it's starting to
appear that only components driven by Canonical will be able to
maintain that consistency.

Of course, that worrying aside, in some places we do this really well!
The branding assets are great, Unity's wiki page
(https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Unity) is up to date with useful _technical_
information, and the NotifyOSD / Indicators stuff has always been a
wonderful example of good communication. So, I hope I don't come
across as grumpy or anything. I just know we can do this a lot better.

Dylan McCall

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