I just wanted to let you all know about an interesting project kicking off in the form of Ayatana.

Ayatana is the term that refers to the collection of user interface, design and interaction projects started by Canonical. Ayatana’s goal is to build a set of well researched and defined projects to help extend, improve and refine the Open Source desktop. More specifically, the focus of Ayatana is to improve the perception and presentation of information in the desktop, hence the name of the project; the Buddhist term for a “sense base” or “sense sphere.

I am really excited about this. When I first read The Design Of Everyday Things by Don Norman, he makes it clear in example after example that perception is a key consideration in great design. One of his examples is the thermostat. How many have you have walked into a cold house and turned the thermostat straight up to 10? Of course, cranking it up doesn’t do a jot to heat the house any quicker, but the perception of the interface and the expectations around similar devices suggests it will. There are countless examples of this kind of perception in devices, interfaces and across the desktop. I am excited that the project is starting out with this approach.

What I find exciting about Ayatana is that it is really putting design at a top level. Over the years we have seen collaboration in our community really evolve: at one time it was heavily programming led, but now we see contributions across a wealth of diverse skill types: translations, documentation, advocacy etc. Ayatana is going to be an interesting vessel in which design plays a real role accompanying these other skill sets.

The Ayatana community are keen to encourage contributors to get involved in the design, hacking, translations, documentation, and other areas. Canonical has also invested a team of developers who are actively contributing to the project. This team includes rock stars such as Mirco Muller, Ted Gould, Cody Russell, Bo Thorsen, Aurelien Gateau and Neil Patel. In addition to this a team of designers will be contributing to the project including some familiar faces such as Matthew Paul Thomas, Martin Albisetti, Ken Wimer and David Siegel as well as some new faces such as Ivanka Majic and Mat Tomaszewski.

Currently Ayatana comprises of the following Open Source projects:

  • notify-osd – a set of guidelines for organising user interactions with notifications and dialog windows
  • indicator-applet – an improved message indicator and its underlying indicators framework

The first point of contact for getting involved is the Ayatana mailing list here and the archives are available here. To kick things off the team have organised their very first Ayatana IRC meeting on the 5th May at 17.00 UTC. The meeting takes place in #ayatana on irc.freenode.net. The agenda for the meeting will be fleshed out in more detail on the mailing list.

  • LaserJock

    Can we get an announcement sent to a mailing list? Blogs don’t make a very good forum for announcements on their own. Lots of people don’t read Planet Ubuntu and it’s hard to archive.

    I joined the Ayatana list today, should be lots of fun and I look forward to some good discussions!

  • http://harangozo.net TheOV

    Looks interesting, Jono! Thanks for the heads up. I’ll be keeping an eye on the progression of the project.

  • https://launchpad.net/~flimm Flimm

    Sounds great! Who says Open Source projects don’t care about design? This, (and d7ux), proves we do.

  • http://boycottnovell.com/2009/04/23/malaysian-government-foss/ Links 23/04/2009: Malaysian Government Moves to Free Software, Ubuntu 9.04 Released | Boycott Novell

    […] Ayatana […]

  • http://jonathancarter.co.za Jonathan

    So is there a project website or any other information available yet? Does Ayatana really exist?

  • http://www.mswillis.com Ms Willis

    There is nothing like the excitement of starting a new project your interested in. I wish you the best on luck on launching this Ayatana!

  • Phrodo_00

    Hey, looking nice, I’m actually looking forward to the ports of the improvements to Arch. Speaking of which, what are the plans to merge this with upstream gnome? will you propose the stuff you make for inclusion in it?

  • Cobalt

    What troubles me, is the absolute lack of configuration options for those things. Sure, I don’t mind the OSD, but I would like to customise a few things there. Position and possible colour. It’s impossible to find one solution that fits everyone. I’d love to be able to customise the indicator applet also, there are things in there that I will never use. Does it need, for example, to be displaying the username on a one-user system? On a netbook, it’s wasted screen realestate.