Project Snowstorm Our New Open Development Program 
Geschrieben von: Linden Lab   
Dienstag, den 17. August 2010 um 04:25 Uhr
Where We’ve Been

Almost two years ago, we set about revamping the Second Life Viewer and in March of this year we released Viewer 2. Over that two year period, we took a heads-down approach to our design and development process to create a Viewer that would be easier for new Residents to use. This heads-down approach meant we had very limited contact with you, and left many Residents feeling alienated. Now, we are making some big changes to better communicate with you and include you in our development process. Specifically, we’re beginning a new open-source program -- known as Project Snowstorm -- that will show you exactly what we’re working on and will also start to bring Resident contributions into our mainline Viewer build. We’re extremely excited to be firing up this program, and we’re confident it will lead to a better Viewer, one that benefits from the tremendous talent and creativity we’ve seen from the most committed members of our development community.

Fast, Easy, Fun!

As part of Linden Lab’s recent reorganization, we’ve taken a hard look at the way we work together, the way we build software, and the way we interact with the open-source community. We’ve got a lot of improvements we want to make to the Viewer 2 user experience. Some of the Viewer’s workflows are cumbersome for some Residents and this has hurt Viewer adoption. We really can improve the Second Life user experience by rethinking the way our Viewer works and making it (and its features and functionality) faster, easier, and more fun for everyone. But we can’t do it without your help.

Where We’re Headed - Project Snowstorm

As we prepare to make Viewer 2.1.1 the mainline release, I’m really excited to introduce you to Project Snowstorm and the Snowstorm team who will be working on the Second Life Viewer in the open and in way that directly engages you.

Here are our goals:

Show Residents continuous visible progress

  • Work in the open by sharing not only our code, but our process publicly -- this includes our backlog and our discussion about it.
  • Engage with the open source community and aggressively accept contributions from the community into the Second Life Viewer.
  • Release new ‘Development’ Viewers frequently -- our initial target is bi-weekly.  All builds from the ‘Development’ branch are visible and available for testing.

Improve the user experience 

  • Make continuous improvements to the design and implementation of the Viewer’s user interface.
  • Import desirable patches and features from Snowglobe and other Third Party Viewers.
  • Add small features and fixes that have high value and low cost, while still remaining consistent with an overall product vision.

Renew and deepen our relationship with the community

  • Integrate community work directly into the main Viewer rather than routing it through Snowglobe first.
  • Demonstrate rapid responsiveness to feedback and patches from the community.
  • Engage continuously with the community to develop new project proposals and provide resources that open source developers need to be effective.

I should note that it’s not just the Snowstorm team who are working on the Viewer. Several teams throughout the Lab are contributing features and bug fixes to the Viewer -- those teams will also be moving to a model where we work more closely with our Residents. The Snowstorm team will be focused on rapid iteration and constant improvement, while working closely with the open source community and sharing everything we do.

How’s that going to work, Esbee?

I’m glad you asked! Linden Lab has adopted the Scrum framework as a way of allowing our teams to work quickly and feel empowered to introduce new features and functionality to Second Life.

At the heart of our process is the Snowstorm Team Backlog. This is a ever-evolving ranked list of user stories that describe things we’d like to do with Viewer 2. Every team at Linden Lab has a backlog like this and ours will be visible to you. If you look at the list and think of something you’d like to suggest we add, change, or just have questions, please let me know!

As a team, we’ll be gathering every two weeks to pick items off our Backlog to work in our next Sprint. A Sprint is a development cycle where teams create tasks to fulfill a series of user stories and work to design, implement, and test those stories during that cycle. Snowstorm Team Sprints will last two weeks. Each day, the team will gather inworld for a Daily Scrum, where each team member will give a short (2 minute) status update. We’ll publish that status update on the Wiki after our Daily Scrum as well.

We’ll also be encouraging open source developers to work with us on Backlog items - or you’re welcome to propose ideas too! Oz Linden will be posting information about how to propose project ideas on the Wiki. Open source developers will be treated as any other team member and invited to our Daily Scrum to share their status as well.

As the Snowstorm team works with you to make changes to the Second Life Viewer with a focus on improving overall user experience, teams in the Lab will also be working on the Viewer. We’ll be sharing our Viewer Roadmap shortly so you can get an idea of all the work being considered for the Viewer this year, not just from the Snowstorm Team.

The Snowstorm team will be blogging at least weekly about their work, sharing their successes, failures, challenges, and ideas with you. We’ll be holding public meetings, sharing our design ideas, and all documentation.

Who’s on the Snowstorm Team?

As I mention above many teams across the Lab are working on the Viewer. The Snowstorm team will be managing the Development branch, coordinating contributions from the open source community, and will also contribute rapid feature development.

The team consists of:

  • Q Linden - Tech Lead, Team Lead
  • Esbee Linden - Product Lead, Business Lead
  • Oz Linden - Open Source Lead
  • Merov, Aimee, Tofu, Paul, Andrew, Vadim, Anya - Engineers
  • Open Source Community
Where can I learn more?

Snowstorm operates in the open; the home page of the Snowstorm team is on the Snowstorm Wiki page. It has pointers to our various communication channels, processes, and contact information.

The Snowstorm Team presented at the Second Life Community Convention on Aug 15. You can watch the recorded presentation, here.

Let us know what you think!

Do you have questions about what we’re doing, where we’re headed, how we work, our Backlog, processes, etc? The Snowstorm Team would love to hear your thoughts and feedback. Please feel free to respond to this post, Twitter using the hashtag #snowstorm or reply to @snowstormsl, email, or come to one of our weekly open source meetings.

Thanks!
Esbee Linden, Q Linden & Oz Linden

Read on: Project Snowstorm Our New Open Development Program

 

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