• Launchpad Entry: UbuntuSpec: Social Communication Stack

  • Created: 2010-04-07

  • Contributors: Frederik Nnaji

  • Packages affected: empathy, dbus, xdg-utils

  • See also:


This specification describes the way existing free software applications distributed with Ubuntu 10.04 LTS can connect to each other in an environemt of dynamic social communication ..


Social communication has become the focal point of internet device usage. A brief observation alone already reveals that most of the usage of desktop computers depends strongly on the availability of social networking services to the user.

Proprietary services such as Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo Messenger, MSN, Skype and AIM as well as proprietary calendar management clients such as iCal, Google Calendar and Yahoo Calendar are becoming natural default applications to every desktop OS, de facto part of a 21st century dektop computer informal norm.

A free operating system making use of the features described in this work enables a machine with a GUI and standard HID to serve as an intuitive social communication device capable of text, file, image, streaming data, audio and video communication theading, display and service logging.

It will also make the desktop operating system that employs it more efficient in

1) overall performance & stability 2) usability 3) security & privacy 4) artwork 5) network usage

Bottom line: Focus interface design and network management on the support of social communication and awareness applications in order to evolve your OS to a 21st century social OS.

Use Cases

  • my mother wants to send my sister fotos taken wih her new high resolution digital camera.

My mother intuitively starts tries the desktop button called "Contacts" to view a list of thumbnails and nicks for her closest circle of family and friends. She there selects my sister's intuitively accessible social profile and asks it to accept a filetransmission of image data containing high resolution pictures from her new camera. My sister's computer is on, online and set to automatically accept and receive all incoming filetransfer requests from family member's profiles. My sister, upon returning to her office desk after lunch, is notified by the desktop notification system that a batch of new files has arrived in the social filetransfer inbox, ready to be shown upon click.

  • Nicholas is Eugene's manager. Since he doesn't know if it is okay to call Eugene right now in this moment, in order not to disturb Eugenes creativity with small talk, he consults Eugene's social profile for live information about his availability, location and current occupation.

Eugene's calendar has deployed an automatic status notification via facebook, which is intercepted by the social microblogging client on Nicholas' dynamic social profile engine, saying "movie theatre tonight". Nicholas decides not to bother Eugene anymore that evening.

  • Mike is a 4 year old, who would like to practise social communication via Cheese on his mommy's tablet.

His father is in Iraq and desperately wants to conduct a video-call effectively with the little boy. New accessibility settings permit for the child to use the computer as an intuitive video communication device, so Mike can place a video call to his dad and receive one, even when his mother is at work, at sleep or elsewhere occupied.


This specification covers performance, human interface and application interoperability improvements for Ubuntu and Gnome. It is not meant as an instruction to develop a new application or to replace existing ones.


A specification should be built with the following considerations:

  • The person implementing it may not be the person writing it. It should be clear enough for someone to be able to read it and have a clear path towards implementing it. If it doesn't, it needs more detail.
  • That the use cases covered in the specification should be practical situations, not contrived issues.
  • Limitations and issues discovered during the creation of a specification should be clearly pointed out so that they can be dealt with explicitly.
  • If you don't know enough to be able to competently write a spec, you should either get help or research the problem further. Avoid spending time making up a solution: base yourself on your peers' opinions and prior work.
  • Specifications should be written in clear, concise and correct English. If you're not a native speaker, co-editing the spec with somebody who is might be a good idea.

Specific issues related to particular sections are described further below.


The summary should not attempt to say why the spec is being defined, just what is being specified.


This should be the description of why this spec is being defined.

Scope and Use Cases

While not always required, but in many cases they bring much better clarity to the scope and scale of the specification than could be obtained by talking in abstract terms.

Use Cases

Use cases are positive statements which (loosely) conform to a pattern like

  • A person and their role
  • The objective they want to achieve
  • The steps they go through
  • The positive result

Specifically, describing the current unsatisfactory state of affairs is not a use case; that belongs in the Rationale section.

Implementation Plan

This section is usually broken down into subsections, such as the packages being affected, data and system migration where necessary, user interface requirements and pictures (photographs of drawings on paper work well).


To implement a specification, the assignee should observe the use cases carefully, and follow the design specified. He should make note of places in which he has strayed from the design section, adding rationale describing why this happened. This is important so that next iterations of this specification (and new specifications that touch upon this subject) can use the specification as a reference.

The implementation is very dependent on the type of feature to be implemented. Refer to the team leader for further suggestions and guidance on this topic.

Outstanding Issues

The specification process requires experienced people to drive it. More documentation on the process should be produced.

The drafting of a specification requires English skills and a very good understanding of the problem. It must also describe things to an extent that someone else could implement. This is a difficult set of conditions to ensure throughout all the specifications added.

There is a lot of difficulty in gardening obsolete, unwanted and abandoned specifications in the Wiki.

SocialCommunicationStack (last edited 2010-04-07 11:57:54 by 89)