Preparing responsive design for Xubuntu

As some of you might know, I was appointed as the Xubuntu website lead after taking a 6-month break from leadership in Xubuntu.

Since this position was passed on from Lyz (who is by the way doing fantastic job as our marketing lead!), I wouldn’t have wanted to be nominated unless I could actually bring something to the table. Thus, the xubuntu-v-website blueprint lists all the new (and old) projects that I am driving to finish during the Vivid cycle.

Now, please let me briefly introduce you to the field which I’m currently improving…

Responsive design!

In the past days, I have been preparing responsive stylesheets for the Xubuntu website. While Xubuntu isn’t exactly targeted at any device that itself would have a great need for fully responsive design, we do think that it is important to be available for users browsing with those devices as well.

Currently, we have four stylesheets in addition to the regular ones. Two of these are actually useful even for people without small-resolution screens; they improve the user experience for situations when the browser viewport is simply limited.

In the first phase of building the responsive design, I have had three main goals. Maybe the most important aspect is to avoid horizontal scrolling. Accomplishing this already improves the browsing experience a lot especially on small screens. The two other goals are to make some of the typography adjust better to small resolutions while keeping it readable and keeping links, especially internal navigation, easily accessible by expanding their clickable area.

At this point, I’ve pretty much accomplished the first goal, but still have work to do with the other two. There are also some other visual aspects that I would like to improve before going public, but ultimately, they aren’t release-critical changes and can wait for later.

For now, the new stylesheets are only used in the staging site. Once we release them for the wider public, or if we feel like we need some broader beta testing, we will reach for people with mobile (and other small-resolution) devices on the Xubuntu development mailing list for testing.

If you can’t wait to have a preview and are willing to help testing, show up on our development IRC channel #xubuntu-devel on Freenode and introduce yourself. I’ll make sure to get a hold of you sooner than later.

What about Xubuntu documentation?

The Xubuntu documentation main branch has responsive design stylesheets applied already. This change have yet to make it to any release (including the development version), but will land at least in Vivid soon enough.

Once I have prepared the responsive stylesheets for the Xubuntu online documentation frontpage, I will coordinate an effort to get the online documentation to use the responsive design as soon as possible. Expect some email about this on the development mailing list as well.

While we are at it… Paperspace

On a similar note… Last night I released the responsive design that I had been preparing for quite some time for Paperspace, or in other words, the WordPress theme for this blog (and the other blogs in this domain). That said, if you see anything that looks off in any browser resolution below 1200 pixels wide, be in touch. Thank you!

Efforts on documentation

On my latest efforts to help the Ubuntu community at large, I have digged into the documentation area. Here’s a quick wrap-up of what I’ve done with the docs.

Earlier this year, I was approved to the Ubuntu Documentation Committers, mostly to be able to maintain the Xubuntu documentation branches and finalize the Xubuntu documentation rewriting. Alongside this big project, we set up a clear communication plan for Xubuntu documentation and marketing, defining where the user- and developer-facing communication should happen. You can see some of the results of these efforts in the Xubuntu documentation which can be found online at docs.xubuntu.org.

In a vUDS session I volunteered for a new project. My motivation to work on the project and hopefully the effect of the project is to make already existing documentation more easily and readily available for end-users. I am glad to announce that the new new landing page for the Ubuntu Community help wiki was released today. I realize that refreshing this page is only scratching the surface of what needs to be updated in the community wiki. For that reason I also applied and was approved as a member of the Ubuntu Documentation Team Wiki Administrators team.

With all these memberships I hope I can be useful for the community and documentation contributors. While my main area of interest lies in Xubuntu, I will try to help with other efforts, especially if those can improve the documentation infrastructure or availability in general.

All of you who are contributing to documentation, step up and share your experiences to motivate new people to join the documentation teams across Ubuntu. All of you who have so far been only lurking around, step up and start contributing. To get in touch with the documentation team, join the IRC channel #ubuntu-doc on the Freenode IRC network or the ubuntu-doc mailing list. Introduce yourself and get started already!