Article Source jonobacon@home
April 22, 2009, 11:50 am

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.