Taking Notes at UDS

The Ubuntu Developer Summit is coming up real soon now, starting Monday 9th May. For those not familiar with it this is a week long summit where developers and contributors to the Ubuntu project figure out what they are going to work on over the course of the next 6 month release cycle leading up to the Oneiric Ocelot release in October this year (11.10). I am not going to this UDS, it is over in Budapest and I just haven’t got the time available because we are just too busy doing OpenERP implementations for our customers. I may have a bit of time here and there to join in the live audio sessions and collaborative notetaking and action planning that goes on. Historically this has been done using the collaborative text editor “Gobby” which has been a source of frustration and lost data for several UDS events 🙁

This year we have a new plan, the Gobby server is still available as a fallback, but we also have an etherpad server which I have been helping to get integrated into the main summit schedule. So the way this works is the summit website is a series of pages like this one: http://summit.ubuntu.com/uds-o/2011-05-09/ which list all the sessions going on. Each one has a little pen and pad icon on it, click that and you get to a page providing all the information about that one session, the time, room etc at the top, and the list of attendees and links to blueprints and wiki pages at the bottom. In the middle is the pad, where you can type stuff. There is no save button, everything is saved all the time.

For example have a look at http://summit.ubuntu.com/uds-o/meeting/community-o-unity-developer-participation/ you can see at the top I have put some hashtags (they will become clickable links when that bit gets turned on) and you can just type freeform text. If you are the first person to open a particular notes page there is a big button to click on to create the pad. We might jiggle the theme about in the next few days to add a panel at the side where you can see the names of the people typing in the pad. This approach means that the schedule itself is the index to the notes pages, the notes just work in a browser, on any platform and through firewalls and proxies with no special configuration. I hope (and I am pretty confident) that this will enhance the work done at UDS by people there in person and following on remotely.