Thinking about design implementation of Chinese ubuntu

Registered by Charline Poirier

In this session, we will review the usability findings from the sessions in Beijing and begin to reflect on their implications for the localisation of Ubuntu

Blueprint information

Not started
John Lea
Charline Poirier
Needs approval
Series goal:
Accepted for natty
Milestone target:
milestone icon ubuntu-11.04

Related branches



Work items:
[johnlea] Design possible ways of catering for the "Refresh" behavior: TODO
[repete] Decide appropriate initial background picture collection for China: TODO
[repete] organize interface design for finding/choosing non-CD background images: TODO
[repete] maintain collection of non-CD background images on a server somewhere (~ Artwork Team?): TODO
[repete] Talk with Colin Watson about localized non-translation stuff for China: TODO
[calumpringle] Investigate integrating typing break settings with keyboard settings: TODO
[mcasadevall] Elliot Murphy, Michael Casadevall: Ensure that it becomes easy to download Ubuntu and updates within China: TODO
[dpm] Investigate why Ubuntu Chinese translations aren't appearing where they should: DONE
[dpm] Investigate how feasible charsetdetect integration is, or find someone more appropriate to do it: POSTPONED
[ivanka] Invite community designs for making Redshift compatible with Ubuntu 11.04: TODO

Session notes: [copied from Gobby document: other-design-n-china]

 * Issue identified
  # One possible solution
   > Work item

What's the environment, and what's important?
What are usability issues?

"A habit is something that's resilient"

* Chinese users want software that is "designed for China and Chinese

 * Habituated to Windows, but not loyally attached to it
  - "It’s just a tool"
 * Missing a "Refresh" context menu item on the desktop (regular habit between tasks)
  - get nervous without it
  - think it makes their Internet faster, but they're not sure
  - Vish says: this habit is also in India
  # Have a "Refresh" item at first that brings up an explanation that it's not necessary in Ubuntu
  # Maybe put a "Next Wallpaper" item in the same place
  # An explanation in the installer or oem-setup
  # Explain it in the help
   > Design possible ways of catering for the "Refresh" behavior: TODO
 * title bar buttons at the top right corner
  - "Having them on the left is not good, because I use the mouse with the right hand"
  - "If I'm going to change those habits, I need something in return"
  - We see this outside China too, but the Chinese see it as a cultural misunderstanding
 * Monetary value of technology
  - software is basically free
   - Windows and applications are usually pirated
   - Ubuntu being free is not a competitive advantage
   - cf. the West where being free may cause suspicion
  - they look for cheap hardware

Boredom: Chinese have a constant need for change
 * Change computer background picture very often, daily <-> monthly
  - Want it to reflect their mood, the weather, etc
  # Low hanging fruit? Can add a config package to tweak background changing frequency or simply advertise it more during installation time?
  > Pete Goodall: Be responsible for ensuring greater findable variety of background pictures
 * Customize page
 * Change phone background picture often too

 * Importance of being Chinese
 * If it doesn't follow the Chinese way, there is nothing to be discussed
  - "Nobody is going to use Ubuntu if you don't localize it"
 * Localization is not just about language, but about interests and values
  # Change standard search provider, localize bookmarks (also an issue in other languages)
   - QQ instant messenger
   - Baidu
    > Talk with Colin Watson about localized non-translation stuff
  - We need to do more research on colors, icons etc
was indicated that a chinese Ubuntu font would be of great benefit

Health issues
 * Eyesight
  # Adjusting the light in some way
   - Redshift does light temparature adjustments <>
    - but it currently assume the notification area will be present
     > Invite community designs for making Redshift compatible with Ubuntu 11.04
 * Radiation
  - Take a rest after a period of using the computer
  # Timer to remind you to take a break etc
   - Typing Break vs. gnome-settings-daemon
   - Workrave does that but could be annoying <>
    > Investigate integrating typing break settings with keyboard settings
 * Hygiene
  - Wash their hands after a period of using the computer

 * They love the beauty and simplicity of Ubuntu 10.10
  # Unity has no desktop

Common uses
 * Data transfer and backup, on an external drive or separate computer
 * Windows updates from (because their Windows is pirated)
  - Helps people bypass Windows validation
 * Difficult to download Ubuntu and its updates in China
  # A team at Canonical is working on this
    > Ensure that it becomes easy to download Ubuntu and updates within China

Usability issues
 * Critical issues (which challenge adoption)
  - Chinese language input: people can't find out how to turn it on
  - Localization: menus etc are half in English, half in Chinese
   - Most people know some English, but refuse to deal with English interface
   - Warning messages in English, people don't know which button to click
   - Firefox
    > Investigate why Ubuntu translations aren't appearing where they should
  - Could not find OpenOffice
   - Were looking for "Word" or an icon that looks like writing
   - Wrote in gedit instead, thought "this is not too cool, not what I expected"
  - Compatibility problems
   - Using QQ
   - Internet banking, many sites use ActiveX for security
   - Shopping
   - Playing Windows games, e.g. World of Warcraft

 * Medium issues
  - [from UDS session] Ubuntu browser doesn't time out quickly on Great Firewall
  - Orientation in the desktop
   - There's no equivalent to "My Computer" on Windows
   - No-one could find how to eject a USB key
    # Indicator for ejecting
    # Why can't we just put a Nautilus icon on the desktop?
    # An Eject mini-button on the UBS key's icon itself
   - Click on the workspace switcher, everything disappears
    # Why didn't the Compiz slide effect work?
    # Have a first-time-only hint about what's happened
    - Once they worked it out, they were really excited about it
  - Opening a music file played it in Totem, rather than a jukebox e.g. Rhythmbox
  - Codecs were already installed; we don't know how hard it will be to discover how to install them if they're required
  - Very difficult to figure out how to change the wallpaper.

How can Ubuntu be different from Windows while still making Chinese users comfortable?
 * Respect habits for common things, e.g. position of Start button, window buttons
 * Have something obviously better than Windows

Other problems identified during the session:
 * Appearance settings offers many fonts that don't even have Chinese glyphs (with same fallback)
  # Perhaps show fonts that have distinct Chinese glyphs first in the list
 * No current fonts are both complete and beautiful
  # Finish the Ubuntu font for Chinese
   * This is really hard. Can't do it piecemeal for both design and engineering reasons.
 * Do we need different applications?
  # Different default selection?
  # develop a native QQ?
  # Canonical is working with ISVs in China
 * Legacy files use old Chinese encodings, e.g. GB 2312
  # Integrate charsetdetect with more programs (e.g. Nautilus, OOo) to auto-detect old encodings

 * It would help for Chinese themselves to be in charge of the overall project.
 * Launchpad (except for Answers) is unlocalizable; a Chinese localization might help.

Taiwan community members don't have same reaction that the mainland
China groups did.

We can't do customized images for every language, but we could customize
based on language pack.

- happyaron kindly provided some feedback about "charsetdetect integration":
You might know what's charset, like "utf8"
Windows for Chinese uses GBK(and GB18030) for zh_CN, and Big5 for zh_TW
Many MP3 files' tags (like artist/band info) are encoded in GBK
No application is able to detect it and assume it's utf8, so the messages are garbled.
And .zip archives do not store the encoding information, so the filenames are also garbled.

There have been many attemps to implement something that can detect the correct charset, but none of them is a universal solution (meaning all of them have problems that make valid utf8 being wrongly detected)
Let me try to list them:
1. A good thing in audacious is that it can set a sequence of charsets to detect, so users are able to set GBK before UTF8, then it works for many people
2. And amarok has a similar ability
3. The best auto-detect implemention of gbk/utf8 is in the Bangarang music player,, but it's not bug-free

* Nautilus is unable to preview text files
* Gedit is unable to open .txt files created on Windows, because most Windows applications save textual files in GBK, and gedit assumes they are UTF8
* Also, files saved by gedit are unable to be correctly opend by Windows's notepad, because linux and windows uses different settings for line's endings.
* Some subtitles cannot be shown correctly, either in totem or smplayer. smplayer is better, though.
* Wine is another important thing for Chinese users, new comers are usually asking "can my favorite xxx application run on Ubuntu?" then she/he goes to try wine, and find the messages are not shown correctly.
* People will also encouter charset problem when accessing FTP servers which have GBK encoded filenames

All items mentioned above should have covered most of the problems, their might be others still


Work Items