When it comes to this blog, I'm generally posting articles about projects that took hundreds of hours of effort across months or even years. Most of the time I'm discussing an update to Ubuntu Touch or a partner project's new device. Either way, the work leading up to my posts always dwarfs that in creating the post itself.
Today is no different.
I'm happy to announce at last our new Ubuntu Touch devices website. Redesigning this site has been a formidable task over the past year, and I could not be more proud of the final product. This new site explains itself better, has more functionality, and above all looks class across all screen sizes.
But even better than that (as if anything could be better), this redesign was a special community effort. Kaizen looked at our old site, said "I don't like this," and started work on changing that. He called out for other community members who didn't like the old site and Capsia and Lehkeda joined in. Giving their free time, over a period roughly described as "April 2020 to February 2021," they've created the site that's gone live today.
Actually, the period from November 2020 to January 2021 was more like "waiting for Dalton to get his act together so the site could go live" but we'll just gloss over that little detail...
I could write for pages about how much I appreciate the site's authors' work, but I should probably talk about the site itself before I bore everyone.
For those unfamiliar with it, Ubuntu Touch devices -- shortened to Devices most of the time -- is our website that aims to answer your most common question... "Can I install Ubuntu Touch on my device?"
The redesigned Ubuntu Touch devices website solved a couple of huge problems we had with its old version.
The most obvious change is the new design, which is truly beautiful, and it helps guide the eye to its useful information as directly as possible.
The next huge challenge was to make our "device maturity" score more meaningful. The device maturity score is a single, at-a-glance representation of how ready a device is for your pocket. Previously, the maturity score was decided by a device's porter, and there was no way to find out how it was derived. It was really more of an "assessment of completeness" on a rather subjective basis as opposed to a useful metric. With the new site, the maturity value is calculated from the features marked as "working" or "not working" on a device. Porters are able to mark these features using YAML configuration inside their device's markdown, and they can add links to an issue report so interested parties can read up on them.
Another important addition is the external links area. Here, porters can add links to documentation, forum categories, issue trackers, or anything else they feel is relevant to their devices. This should help users find the appropriate places to discuss the device port with other users and the porter. It's an excellent first step to solving one of our longest standing issues: "Where do I go to get help when I'm using Ubuntu Touch on this device?"
This site is able to determine independently whether a device is supported by the UBports Installer. This will help improve data consistency across our projects and makes it way easier for a porter to maintain their device's page. They can add manual installation instructions when the device has no Installer support, then the page will automatically switch over to instructions for using the UBports Installer when support becomes available.
There's a lot to love about this site, so we hope you enjoy.
Porters -- help us update your devices!
I've been adding feature compatibility information to devices that I own, but I only have so many. Now that the site is live, I'm comfortable with asking porters for their help! Please head over to devices.ubuntu-touch.io on GitLab and take a look at the new syntax for the embedded yaml. An excellent example device is suzu (the Sony Xperia X), but please make sure you add all of the available features applicable to your device.
This site has room to grow and has an excellent contributor body around it. If it stayed like this for years I'd be content, but we've got more to do.
First and foremost, the maturity score needs more work. Every feature could be assigned a unique "weight" value, indicating how much it affects the overall maturity. Right now, every feature has been given a default weighting of "1". We know that some features are inherently more important to users, and therefore should have a larger impact on the score. Using data from a user survey we made, we should be able to come up with weights that make the score a real reflection of everday usability.
We've already received feedback that there ought to be a "half-credit" for features that 'work' but only subject to caveats. We'll need to determine how to present this information to users in the most useful way before we implement that feature.
Finally, I'm sure we'll get lots of feedback on aspects of this site. The best way to make sure we hear your opinion is to file an issue (or, even better, a pull request!) on devices.ubuntu-touch.io on GitLab.
I'd like to sing the praises again of those who brought this site to fruition. Kaizen, Capsia, and Lehkeda —excellent work! It's been a pleasure to work with you.
I'd also like to thank Netlify for providing us with the CI and hosting for devices.ubuntu-touch.io and other UBports web properties. In return for this, they only requested to be listed on our homepage... but I like to get a little mention of them in when I can. Thanks, folks!
Finally, thanks to everyone who has ever contributed to devices.ubuntu-touch.io. It's had a *long* life and gone through many revisions, each better than the last. It has always been built on the shoulders of those who contributed before.
Ultimately, that's why I felt like I had to write about this project today. While it's only been on the periphery of attention of most of our contributors, Devices receives the heaviest traffic of all our web properties. It's where anyone who wants to use Ubuntu Touch has gone, or probably will go, at some point during their journey. By improving it steadily over the years, we've been able to help people find an answer to that age old question... "Will Ubuntu Touch run on my device?"
Here's to answering that question for many, many years to come.