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Making users in to developers

One of the ways that 37Signals has made Rails such an insane PR success has been the pervasive use of screen casts to show how stupidly simple it is to get started with Rails.

Who wants to work together to do the same for Gnome? IMO, the thing keeping people from jumping in is the appearance of an extremely steep learning curve when in fact, it's not that hard to get started. Do we have the bandwidth on Gnome.org? If not, who can offer bandwidth?

Here are some topics I think would be great. These would all be under 15 minutes. Ideally, under 10.

  • Writing a patch
    • Create a Bugzilla account
    • Check out the source code
    • Twiddle some interesting looking lines
    • Compile, run, rinse, repeat
    • Creating a patch
    • Post patch to Bugzilla
  • Installing debugging symbols on a variety of distros and running a crashing program under GDB
  • Writing a Glade-based UI to do foo and bar with resources on a network.
  • Talking to gconf; installing a schema
  • GTK+ macros seen in code, macros and more macros
  • in that vein, doing i18n correctly in a new project
  • Solving a11y bugs, missing features
  • A separate screen cast for every non-deprecated library in platform: an introduction to developing with them

Again, lets just get started and do this. Istanbul is there; it works. Every Gnome user can stream Ogg Theora; no need to worry about a player, codecs, etc.

So, do we have the bandwidth?


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 12th, 2008 10:54 pm (UTC)
Why not just use youtube (with istanbul-recorded media, of course)?
Jun. 12th, 2008 10:59 pm (UTC)
Re: Youtube?
Because YouTube doesn't provide enough quality or resolution to make screen casting possible. At the very minimum, it needs to be able display a clear, crisp 80x25 terminal window. Ideally, even more real-estate is needed for things like the Glade UI designer. It shouldn't be hard to read the text on a screen cast; that would defeat the purpose.
Jun. 24th, 2008 03:56 am (UTC)
Re: Youtube?
I've been experimenting with blip.tv. They're supposedly friendly to open source. They take .ogg uploads etc. Before suggesting everyone help out you might want to try a few on your own first. The clutter UI tetris, for example.

You may need to do some footwork to determine what resolution / size to record for a viewable terminal etc.
Jun. 12th, 2008 11:08 pm (UTC)
Take a look at blip.tv or archive.org for hosting; you can upload videos there at decent resolutions.
Jun. 12th, 2008 11:52 pm (UTC)
As a completely random user you've never heard of, I think this is a great idea. I have a (limited) programming background in Windows but finding enough initial information to get started with Gnome is a big stumbling block to getting involved.
Jun. 13th, 2008 01:34 am (UTC)
There's always the Ubuntu screencasts setup. Maybe they could donate some hosting resources...
Jun. 13th, 2008 02:05 am (UTC)
How about showmedo for the vids? They like to have a series... so could start with the basics, then build in glade in a simple app?
Jun. 13th, 2008 03:18 am (UTC)
why not use bittorrent to distribute the screencasts (with a main server/tracker acting as a permanent seed too)?
Jun. 13th, 2008 08:31 am (UTC)
Hehe, funny thing that you should talk about Rails. I've actually been drafting a Django-like approach to Gnome application development. More on that later...
Jun. 13th, 2008 08:32 am (UTC)
This is a really good idea Jason! I can only speak for myself, but I will have a lot of free time during the summer and a screencast ressource like the one you're proposing might actually get me more involved with the gnome project.

For example I know how to deal with the bugzilla - done it before - but when it comes to creating or even testing patches I seem to drive against an invisible wall. I then am frustrated and stop investigating into the issuee...

So - please - go for it!
Jun. 13th, 2008 05:07 pm (UTC)
That's a really great idea. This should make at very easy for new users to start hacking.
Jun. 15th, 2008 07:28 am (UTC)
Peer to Peer and the lack of bandwidth
I would be interested in something of this sort as a learner, but it is a pipe dream to expect that I have the bandwidth to download said videos whenever they are produced. Except of course, nice, downloadable PDFs come as an option :)

Secondly, I thought bittorrent was the kind of tool that would take the pains away from distributing bandwidth intensive things...
Jun. 15th, 2008 12:42 pm (UTC)
Debug symbols
It's far too hard for ordinary slobs to install debug symbols. Under Ubuntu, it's even harder as the debug symbols are part of someone's PPA! And, of course, the PPA repositories aren't signed (https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+bug/185625), which is bad for a lot of reasons.

What would be really nice is that if the automatic bug reporting software kicks in, it automatically works out what the package was that crashed and downloads the debug symbols. Heck, this would be something cool for PackageKit to do.
Jul. 1st, 2008 06:08 pm (UTC)
Re: Debug symbols
https://wiki.ubuntu.com/DebuggingProgramCrash doesn't look too complicated to me. The signing part would be nice to have fixed though.
Jun. 15th, 2008 01:05 pm (UTC)
Very good idea indeed. I got my first patch submitted to Gnome a couple of weeks ago and it took many days to figure out how to compile and debug the thing (I'm a Windows developer).
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )


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Jason D. Clinton

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