Thursday, August 25, 2011

Announcing the Novacut 11.08 components

I'd first like thank everyone, all 802 of you, who backed us on Kickstarter, and everyone who helped spread the word. And I'd like to thank those who supported us earlier via PayPal: you gave us the benefit of the doubt back when there was less reason to do so. We feel extremely lucky to be able to keep working on Novacut full-time.

Meet our release process

As this is our first release day since Kickstarter, I figure it's a great time to introduce the many newcomers to our release process.

We do monthly, time-based releases. Realistically, a software project can only make a commitment to either what features will be released, or when a release is made. From observing other projects, and from personal experience, I feel a commitment to when is far more productive, so that's what we do with Novacut.

The way to manage time-based releases (without things becoming stressful) is to keep the trunk branches always in a high-quality, releasable state. This helps keep everyone productive as developers aren't slowed down by bugs in the trunk as they work on new features. And new features are only merged to the trunk once they have good test coverage and have reached an acceptable quality level.

For a highly user-focused project like Novacut, time-based releases are great because we never go more than a month without getting a new stable release into our users' hands. This means we can't get too far off track before our users give us a reality check. Actually, as we do automatic daily builds throughout the month, those adventurous enough to use our daily builds PPA wont let us go more than 24 hours without a reality check.

New YY.MM version scheme

Those who having been following things for a while are probably surprised by the 11.08 version number. I mean, wasn't this supposed to be the belated dmedia 0.8 release? Nope, we turned things up to eleven.

Hehe. Okay, a more serious explanation: We're building Novacut as a collection of simple, focused components. For example, novacut builds on dmedia, which builds on filestore. As things are moving so quickly, there will be API changes between the layers fairly often. So for example, a given month's dmedia release will require that same month's filestore release.

Rather than having to remember that dmedia 0.9 requires filestore 0.2, I decided to go with a common YY.MM (year and month) version scheme used across all the components. So next month, dmedia 11.09 will require filestore 11.09, and so on.

What's new in the 11.08 components

For the end user, this release is still boring and rather useless. Sorry, nothing shiny for you to play with just yet! There should be some shinny next month, and substantial shinny in the 11.10 release.

However, for developers 11.08 is a quite exciting release. For one, this is the first release of the novacut component itself, which did its first video renders earlier this month. This also marks the first release of filestore as a stand-alone component, which includes the new Skein-based dmedia hashing protocol.

Packages are available for Ubuntu Natty and Oneiric in the Novacut Stable Releases PPA. And you can download the source tarballs here:

Special thanks

This release wouldn't be possible without the hard work and expertise of the following people:

Contribute to 11.09 and beyond!

Want your name in next month's release notes like all the cool kids above? If you look at the Jump in section on this page, you'll see a link to the Bitesize Bugs for each component. These are bugs that should (in theory) require little coding, but will get you familiar with the Launchpad workflow, running the unit tests, and, importantly, get your name in the release notes.

We always release on the last Thursday of the month. The 11.09 components will be released on Thursday September 29 2011, and development is already underway. To see what's in store for the next releases, checkout the 11.09 milestones:

That's all, folks!

Thanks to everyone who is helping make this dream a reality!

Jason Gerard DeRose

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Crowd-Sourcing Granny Stories

Hanna Sköld, the very talented writer and director of Nasty Old People, is involved in a new film project titled: Granny's Dancing on the Table.  This project has taken on a form that I've never seen in the film-making world before.  It deeply engages the project's audience (through interactive creative process) prior to an actual theater and/or online release of the film.  But how?  How is Sköld and her "granny-universe" community pulling off this feat?

Months ago I wrote about Hanna involving her fans in the actual screen-writing process - about the writing workshops that she's been holding in coffee shops and libraries, as well as the Q & A that she does through Facebook and then incorporates into her character development work.  Well, Hanna hasn't stopped here!  She's continuing to encourage people to participate in this very community-oriented creative process, asking them to contribute stories and photos of their grandmothers.  All of these stories and photos will then be compiled for an online exhibition and a few street exhibitions (from Sweden to Serbia to Germany to Spain).  Hanna told me that the exhibition will be:

A space where grannies can be remembered and exist.  It's also a way to tell a female history through the stories of ordinary woman from around the world, stories that have never been told. I think all of these stories put together will be a powerful manifestation connected to our roots. 

So if this wonderful crowd-sourcing project strikes you as interesting - if you're inspired to honor the spirit and legacy of your granny - take the time to upload a story and photo to the Facebook page Hanna established for these two fast approaching exhibitions (which are happening in about 4 days).  Hanna told me that you're welcome to share any story that touches your heart.  She said it can be about "spectacular happenings or everyday stories".  And if you never knew your granny, she suggested that you upload a photo of your granny, and then write a line or two about what she means to you or how you have pictured her over the years.  

Just a little side note before I click "publish post".  I contributed my granny story a while ago and found the sharing of my thoughts about her an interesting process.  My grandmother has committed a lot of brave and unconventional acts in her lifetime, but the first thing that I wanted to tell the world about had nothing to do with her great adventures.  My first thought, best thought focused on her infectious laugh.  And this made me think, "Is my vision of happiness rooted in how I see my grandmother?"  An interesting question that came from this interesting project.  Thank you Hanna!  

Monday, August 15, 2011

First Novacut Developer Day!

So this Saturday, August 20th, we're going to have our first Novacut Developer Day. If you're interesting in getting involved with Novacut development, or just want to learn more about our development process or technology stack, please join us in the #novacut IRC channel (freenode).

We're planing for a 3 hour event, from 16:00 - 19:00 UTC. In some common time zones:

  • India: 9:30PM - 12:30AM
  • London: 5PM - 8PM
  • US Eastern: Noon - 3PM
  • US Central: 11AM - 2PM
  • US Mountain: 10AM - 1PM
  • US Pacific: 9AM - Noon

If you can't make it, don't worry: the IRC logs will be available.

This developer day is going to be focused on the Python code in our backend components, and the overall Novacut service architecture. You'll be able to ask lots of questions, and we'll walk you through the basics step by step.

We'll have three 1-hour sessions:

Ubuntu is our primary development platform, and so things will be easiest if you have an Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal install handy, even if just running in VirtualBox.

To be ahead of the game, you should add the Novacut Daily Builds PPA and install a few things in advance, which you can do easiest by copy and pasting these 3 commands:

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:novacut/daily
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install bzr couchdb python3-microfiber python3-filestore

And you probably want to read this so you have a bit more background before Saturday.

We hope you to see you then!