Tue Feb 28 23:35:21 CET 2006

Visiting Hamburg - day 1 (Monday)

This will be unusually long blog entry, but I have so many things I'd like to save for future reference, that I have to type it all (please bear with my English and notify me about errors I have done during typing it all).

I'm without my family at the beginning of this week. I'm in Hamburg, Germany, visiting Sun' StarOffice team and other developers from Intel, Novell, Red Hat and Google (if you sort the names of companies in the right order, you get "OpenOffice.org GRINS", funny - we still need Apple, Toshiba, Mandriva, IBM, Corel, Rational, OKI, SAP, Oracle, Fujitsu, Telia and many other companies to join us...). Sun' offices are approximately 2 hours away from the place I live if you do not count the delays when switching the transport means (10 minutes to the airport, 70 minutes on the flight, 20 minutes down to the city) and 4 hours in total. The traveling is not very effective way to spend time.

Flight was OK, I was even able to read my daily batch of news papers there. Took taxi at the airport. The taxi driver was not able to speak English, so I had to switch my brain to $((today-10 years)) mode and asked him if I can type the street name into his navigating system. Good. After typing "Sachsenfeld", the display shown the distance and estimated arrival time (which was very optimistic, BTW ;-). Interesting point: taxi in Hamburg is a bit cheaper than it is in Prague. We arrived at 9:50, just in time to get a cup of something hot (BTW: thanks go to Sun, the availability of hot drinks saved voices and health for many of us!).

The weather here in Hamburg is not very good these days. A bit colder than it was in Prague and also daily batch of snow mixed with rain is not pleasant. But unfortunately no one can change it.

The first person I have seen from Sun was Matthias H. Guess why...

The first meeting was introductory one - many new faces. I first met Kai B. Great to see you on board, Kai. The group of Intel engineers is getting larger every time. D. K., B. S., M. L. and now Y. L., all using IBM notebooks. If I count correctly, they had 5 of them ;-) One spare build notebook. They were well prepared for developer sessions ;-) (OK, I started with notebooks - to continue: some more IBM notebooks, Dell: me and Caolan - none of them 64bit capable though..., some VAIOs, and Apple only "represented" by our ladies - Zaheda B. from Google and Danese C. from Intel - on the meeting).

I also met with Tino Rachui. We discussed the current status of Mac OS X (!X11) porting (I'll blog about the current status later when I'm back at home with working UI - why VNC doesn't work all the time on Mac OS X, BTW?) and our goals when working on the project. We agreed on almost everything from "political" point of view. We also agreed that we need more developers, mainly skilled ones. Many members of our team do not have deep knowledge of the programming on Mac OS X yet. Including me, unfortunately. But I'm learning pretty fast. We also discussed some technical stuff regarding events and non-bundled applications. Interesting...

The next meeting was with the help writers team. We (Frank, Uwe, Martina and me) discussed many helpcontent related issues. I was well prepared (thanks to Ain and Adam for helping me to collect issues) to discuss problematic issues we had in the past (#i38421#, #i48032#, #i48034#, #i40213# and #i47563# and of course an issue, I never forget to mention everywhere I can: slow HelpLinker). Frank has shown me tools they use for help development and for fixing issues internally. Very interesting stuff. Non-Sun community members are not yet involved in creating new documentation. We also discussed this particular problem and found an eventual solution that could make it easier for non-Sun community members to fix issues in original (English) help. We used very similar approach in the past with child workspaces for community developments (before child workspace tooling was made available outside the Sun environment) - one child workspace opened for community help content writers/proof readers. This could save a lot of issues and time. The problem of creating new help pages is a bit different, but I think we can solve it too in the not very distant future.

Just before I left for Hamburg, I read about Apple's Help Center in Mac OS X. It is using HTML based help thus I took the idea about HTML help for OpenOffice.org. We discussed it more and found out other good ideas why it could be useful for other people as well (think of proofreading the help, much easier spell checking, ...). It should be fairly easy to write XSLT transformation of the current web pages. Some problems that were brought during the meeting or which I have just thought about now (Tuesday, late evening): images could be problematic - we can extract/copy them from default_images anyway, no searching (you can't search static web pages from them anyway), index entries can be generated to one page per help module etc. This is actually worth a small project. Any volunteers?

Side-note: Just when I'm writing this, I realized we have allfiles.tree file in the helpcontent2 module. God, its useful! Why we haven't heard about it before!? It is so simple and so brilliant idea, that I'm ashamed of the whole QA process we have created for Czech translators and proof-readers (the only excuse is that this file was created only in December last year)! Just simply put this file into your installed OpenOffice.org, in the directory help/language where language is the ISO code of your language (e.g. cs for Czech) and launch the help browser in the OpenOffice.org, select the Contents tab and browse through "All Help Documents for Debug Purposes" section. Brilliant. We have to work more closer together to prevent such ineffective work on both sides! Only minor enhancements: it is not needed to show the full path of the help page because when you already are in the section sbasic/guide, there is no need to have the full path to the file (sbasic/guide/control_properties.xhp) there, the filename is enough. And of course this file should be generated during build time anyway to prevent manual maintenance in the future.

The next scheduled meeting was about general (not only OpenOffice.org) localization issues. I found out that were not very well prepared for this meeting. But it was interesting to hear about Pootle, Rosetta, Open Translation Editor etc. in one session ;-)

The next meeting was the most productive meeting I had here so far. We (JJ, Monica, Rafaella, Ivo, Ause, Vladimir and me) discussed various translation related topics and we agreed on several things. I described the processes how community translators work, what they expect to get and what various tools and formats they use for translation. We agreed that we can't provide the native format and environment for everyone (PO is good for many teams, but not for all, web based service is good for some people but not for all etc.). But we also agreed we will try to make it very easy for every team to get their work done their way and we will provide clean English-US master GSI file directly somewhere (so I'm again able to include UI related patches for testing in my build system). I'll continue to provide POT files for PO format based translators (who can use kbabel, poedit, po-mode in GNU Emacs or various web based PO translation tools) because we have many teams (in fact, almost all of them) using this method of translations. (On Tuesday, I also had an interesting brain session with Ivo which was related to translations, so please do not forget to read about it too).

We also discussed the current way of submitting translations for inclusion. It is not optimal. For both translators and also for people doing the actual merge. During the session we (Ause argues it was me, I think it was Ause ;-) have got a brilliant idea how to speed up the whole process of integrating translations back to the source code so that we will be able to do this several times during the development of every release and not only once per release which was not very optimal way for translators - imagine you have only one chance to merge your strings in the source code and you do not have a chance to fix errors there, typos, make them consistent etc. It will be much easier in the future. We even discussed a possibility to make it more automated to merge translations. The future is bright. These ideas were brilliant enough that we skipped our long awaited discussion "complete GSI in the source" (remember jj+ihi+hjs+vg speak much faster than me ;-). If the above mentioned process will be implemented sometimes this year, I can even remove large part of my build system (regularly updated translations directly in the source code mean that there is no longer the need for fetching updated GSI files and it is only one step away from having every milestone available in every "active" language which is my goal right now) and I can finally come back to things I *really* would like to work on.

We scheduled the second part of the meeting for Wednesday because we were not able to talk about all points we wanted to discuss. The one major thing is Damien's proposal for web based service for translators.

Another meeting was ESC (Engineering Steering Committee) team meeting, with complete team in one room and with Volker on the phone. I think Michael will blog about ESC meeting or we will have meeting minutes anyway, so I'll skip it.

Unfortunately Volker was not able to join us for the last "official" part of the day ;-) Visiting "brauhaus", brewery. Before we went there, Stefan T. invited me for a small round trip near the center of Hamburg and we eventually also found my hotel, Junges Hotel Hamburg ;-) BTW: quite good hotel, but the only real connectivity there is Hamburg Hotspot network available only in the ground floor and not available in hotel rooms. But better than nothing. I was so tired during the nights, that I haven't used it at all.

Those who know me well, can imagine how I was feeling while we were in the brewery :-) And Florian even tried to convince me that he has seen me drinking beer in Koper last year! But people who love beer (in fact almost everyone except me) were happy - large glass "tanks" (I never seen beer served in such large volumes ;-) with light and also dark beer... You can imagine. And what was worst, no P-C there. I had do drink C-C. But very good pepper steaks. Caolan still has the vegetables before him - I have never seen him so white as when they put the full plate of vegetables before him after he ordered the largest steak they had. But it was only supplement :-) Nice discussions with Caolan, Florian, Eike, Malte, Stefan, Heiner and Joost. Planning for tomorrow's meetings.

When we left the restaurant/brewery, I decided to walk around the center of the city. Hamburg is very nice after midnight ;-) Took some photos using my mobile phone, back to the hotel. Very tired.

Posted by Pavel | Permanent link | File under: OpenOffice.org