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Report from Debian WWW Sprint 2010

   Hello, everybody!

 I hope you are aware that we held a Debian WWW Sprint on the weekend of
17th to 19th of December 2010 over here in Vienna, Austria.  This is the
delayed report that goes with it.

Basic Information

 As mentioned above, the sprint was held during the weekend before
Christmas in Vienna.  We are happy that we were able to find a nice
place to flock together: Sektor5[1] - it's a flexible workspace that one
can book on a daily basis, and their servers are running Debian.  This
of course helped to convince them to host us for the weekend. :)

 Given that the announcement[2] was sent out on rather short notice,
I am very glad that I wasn't alone there but we managed to have five
people attending: David Prévot (a very active French translator who also
extends his impact to overall quality related fixes), Kalle Söderman
(the proposer of the new design for the website), Kåre Thor Olsen
(long-standing and very-active Danish translator, Martin Zobel Helas (an
early adopter of the new design for the DSA pages[3]), and of course
myself. Some of us were hit on the way back home by the snow-chaos all
over Europe.

Things discussed/done

Working on the new design

 Naturally much time was spent on discussing some fineprint and remarks
related to the new design for the website.  We made good progress on
that front and managed to find common ground in discussions that started
out with different opinions but were well covered with proper reasoning.
We also discussed which services we want to switch in the first round,
and decided to work mostly only on end-user related services due to time
constraints. We hope to switch a fair amount of these sites to the new
design mostly at the same time as the release will happen, to hopefully
get a nice reaction from our users.

Working on bugs

 We also managed to sneak in the time to go through a fair amount of the
outstanding bugreports against the www.debian.org pseudo-package.  We
either closed the bugs or started to tag them confirmed to get a better
overview of bugreports that might or might not be valid (anymore).
Confirmed for us means that we have a certain understanding of the
bugreport and plan to fix it. Also a good amount of bugs were
reassigned, as people seem to file bugs for all kind of website related
services (lists.d.o, alioth.d.o, PTS, ...) against the www.debian.org
pseudo package.

Migration away from CVS?

 This seems to be a hot topic that comes up regularly.  Actually, some
people in the past started working on that already[4][5], and we already
have an abstraction module for the VCS part since a while.  One
precondition for moving away from CVS is dropping a certain amount of
translation-check complexity because it's too CPU intensive for other
VCSes.  Amongst the proposed solutions[6], use of PO files may be an
improvement, either using directly with po4a, or via ikiwiki (it is
possible to add specific paragraphs in translation via addendum support
in po4a, and some tools already make use of gettext --previous option to
hilight differences).

 This all needs someone to do the implementation and test environment
to be able to come up with a properly informed decision.  CVS might be
ancient but it works extremely well in the current environment,
something which might not be the case after a switch.  A fair amount
of the technical benefits from a switch aren't relevant in the way we
use the version control system, and CVS works reliably well even over
smaller bandwidth, something that benefits some of our contributors.

Working on broader todos

 There was an ancient todo list on the website that we got down in size
too.  Also, one of the results of discussions was the request to the DSA
team to move all the www.debian.org mirrors to DSA administered machines
to be able to use custom error pages and be able to more easily find
dead areas in the website and leave pages, in the light of being able
to improve the overall navigation experience.

Nice side effects of the Meeting

 Besides Martin and Gerfried already being DD, all the others are now
either in the NM process (David and Kalle) or became DD (Kåre) shortly
after the meeting.  This will hopefully bring new blood to the Webmaster
Team soonish, please already welcome Kåre as an additional webmaster!

Join the Force

 We are always looking for people interested in working on the website,
on various different areas:  Maintenance and bug triage, improvements
in CSS and navigation experience, and last but not least in translation
work.  The website wouldn't be so good without all the translators - and
whatever direction we are going to turn for the future with the website,
I can assure you that I'll give my best to not make things more
complicated for translators.

 Thanks, sorry for the delay in sending the report, but now let's
release squeeze!


[1] <http://www.sektor5.at/>
[2] <http://lists.debian.org/debian-project/2010/11/msg00189.html>
[3] <http://dsa.debian.org/>

[4] <http://wiki.debian.org/WebsiteVCSEvaluation>
[5] <http://wiki.debian.org/WebsiteSVNTransition>
[6] <http://wiki.debian.org/DebianWebsitePO>
"What are the differences between Mark Zuckerberg and me? I give private
 information on corporations to you for free, and I'm a villain.
 Zuckerberg gives your private information to corporations for money and
 he's Man of the Year."         -- Julian Assange

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