Wrapping up Outreachy

Last Monday ( March 6) was the last day of my Outreachy internship. And I wouldn’t be exaggerating at all if I said I have learnt more in the past 6 months ( including the application period) than all of the knowledge combined in my four years of engineering. Sad but true.

During the internship period I worked on the design of the Firewall UI for Cockpit. I started with Pencil for making the mockups and moved on to Inkscape. Although I worked on implementing the UI simultaneously,it didn’t turn out to be as good as I expected it to be. We also did a lot of usability testing on remote as well as local users and this was one of the high points of this internship.

  • UX design is all about details and consistency!

Initially,while using Pencil I would miss out on a lot of important details since there wasn’t room for much modifications. But once I moved to Inkscape,it was overwhelming to keep in sync with all the details and yet to remember the larger picture. It is easier to start with the larger elements such as frames and placeholders and then moving on to the other smaller details like text details and font. Also,fixing the small details like width,height and alignment in the end can be a pain. It is less time consuming to keep modifying the changes along the way since it would also maintain consistency and there are lesser chances of missing out other elements that had the same specifications.

  • Usability feedback is the key!  

I wrote about this in my previous post and I am saying it here again. The usability testing provided excellent and unbiased feedback about the user interface and the design. A different perspective from possible users helped us to identify the pain points and work on it in the further iterations.

  • Open source is all about community!

When I started my application process,I was absolutely terrified of talking on the IRC. Not only because I was an absolute stranger but here I was in a room of experienced people who are experts in their fields. I would check my message a hundred times before sending it. Although now I don’t over-think as much as I used to before sending a message,I still have to reach the point where there is no over-thinking before participating in the IRC. But I had awesome mentors who helped me at every point and made me confident about interacting more with the community 🙂 I think this is something that probably all newcomers go through.A helpful pointer would be to remember that everyone is very helpful.

  • Take chances!

When Outreachy was suggested to me by a friend,I thought I would never be able to get an internship with Outreachy. The bar was set high and judging myself,it seemed that I still had a long way to go. But I took a chance and applied because learning more about the open source community and contributing to it was important to me. So,to all the future applicants to Outreachy,I would only say that give your best and a bit more than that.

What next?

While I will continue to contribute to Cockpit,I am more than ever excited to learn more about design and how open source perceives and implements design. Then there is also a goal to spread more awareness about user experience and how it affects our day to day life. Since I am still a newcomer to the world of user experience,there is a lot to learn and implement. Also,I signed up for a UX specialisation on Coursera so there will be updates about that too. There might be a lot of other side projects too that I might work on but we’ll talk about that when we come to it.

 

Usability testing and feedback!

We are in the last phase of Outreachy and to be more specific,the last week of the internship. Time has flown by since my last post and I have no idea how it went by so fast. Anyhow,we have progressed a lot more since then.

Post working on the mockups in Inkscape,we started working towards usability testing of the mockups we had done so far. While it is easy to keep iterating the current designs,it is important to get feedback from real users. I was hoping to get more insight into the workflow and the elements that weren’t as obvious as we expected them to. And it worked like a charm. While working on any project, we get so invested in it and sometimes need a new unbiased perspective to move forward.

I did the usability testing with a few people I know from my college and also a couple of team-members from Cockpit. While I used paper prototypes to get feedback from the users in my college,we went with sharing images of the UI for remote testing with the users from Cockpit team. We did run into a bit of issue since screen-sharing the images of the UI would not work and we had to ultimately resort to sharing images via GitHub. I wish the screensharing worked since it might have led to easier access.

Tasks

Users were asked to perform the following tasks after I gave them pre-defined scenarios:

1.Allow new ports through the firewall.

2. Close ports from the current firewall rules.

3. Control the traffic log and infer data from it.

An example of the scenario was,”You are hosting an instant messaging app on your server, but you are unable to access it from the other computers in the network. It is probably due to the firewall settings. See if you can find out the port number and allow it through the firewall.”

User Feedback:

I gathered the user feedback and have listed them in their order of frequency ( from high to low):

  1. Need to see more filters ( especially, blocked traffic) in the traffic log.
  2. Include names of common services and ports to choose from instead of having to enter the port number.
  3.  Confirmation dialogue before port rule is removed.
  4. Add access rules for particular subnets.

Implementing the feedback:

From the above listed issues,number 3 is a very obvious issue and something that should have been included in the earlier iterations too! While we are working on the mockup to add more filters to the traffic log and a “Suggestions DropDown” for the port number and services,adding access rules for particular subnets has been kept for further iterations of the UI.

The final tasks for me is to implement the UI from start to finish and perform usability testing with the working prototype to get more feedback.

 

( I know I always say this,but there is definitely a new post next week. Meanwhile,check Outreachy’s website for applying to their next round of internships.)

 

First Open Source Contribution and Outreachy!

Hi there! This is my first post on the blog and an introduction is mandatory. I am Bhakti and I am in my final year of engineering undergrad. Although I have been using open source operating systems since almost 6 years,I did not know how to actually contribute to open source projects until a friend taught me the basics.

The first step before even finding a project to contribute was to prioritise in what way I could contribute. There is design,documentations and of course,coding. Although I have done a bit of programming during my graduation,I am much more passionate about UX( User Experience)  and wish to continue in UX. After focussing on one field,it became fairly easy to choose an organisation, that was design-driven,to contribute to.

For newcomers like me,Gnome has an extremely resourceful page at Get Involved. Similarly,you can also browse the organisations that had previously participated in Outreachy and GSoC. 

My first contribution in the open source world was for Cockpit . Cockpit is an interactive server administrator interface. The installation for Cockpit is fairly simple:

1.Install Cockpit:

sudo dnf install cockpit

2. Enable Cockpit:

sudo systemctl enable --now cockpit.socket

3.Enable the ports through firewall,if required:

sudo firewall-cmd --add-service=cockpit
sudo firewall-cmd --add-service=cockpit --permanent

My mentors Dominik Perpeet and Andreas Nilsson helped to narrow down the task for my contribution. I designed the UI for the Network Manager. The current user interface contains jargons for the different modes. Our aim was to describe the modes for beginner users or system administrators.

Current UI
Current UI
Proposed UI
Proposed UI

The fonts in the proposed UI isn’t in sync with the current fonts used ,but that will be changed when making the final changes. The backend code is still under progress and I will get to it on one of the coming weekends.

Now would also be the time to mention that I have been accepted into Outreachy internship with Cockpit and I am ecstatic.

Outreachy is intended to help newcomers and new contributors to open source applications and projects. Outreachy specially focusses on providing equal opportunity for under-represented groups in the open source community. This is a full time internship for three months and participants work remotely from home. The Cockpit community has been very welcoming and has helped me to get involved in contributing to the Cockpit project. Being accepted into Outreachy is an honour and it has only motivated me to learn more  and contribute to the open source community.

Not only do I get to contribute to the project but also learn more about user experience. My Outreachy project is to build a UX focussed interface for the firewall in Cockpit. The internship started on 6th December 2016 and I have started working on my project. So far,I have listed similar applications that have a GUI for firewall and the user stories. The next step is to search for patterns in all the applications listed which will be followed by shortlisting the requirements,workflow and then the mockups.

Although I will be blogging regularly about my project,you can also find all the information about the firewall support here.