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UI RFD: branches that haven't been pushed to


Hi all,

We keep seeing different problems with our UI and user interaction when a branch has been registered (in the database) but not created (on codehosting). People not familiar with distributed version control fail to figure out how to start a branch. Project owners set up translations exports to nonexistent branches. "Configure a series branch" on a product series can appear to do nothing, with no next steps becoming obvious (bug 567065).

It's a particular nuisance for a user who hasn't worked with our codehosting much. For someone like that, the easiest "fix" is often to shrug and walk away--like you get after watching The Phantom Menace: "I don't get it. Must be me. Oh well, plenty of other stuff to do." We'll have more of these as we build more bridges between Launchpad components.

Without absolving each individual integration point from the appropriate user-experience work, I do think there could be some relatively easy ways to make the situation less confusing by default.

1. For branches that have had no changes scanned yet, lots of places that link to them could benefit from a standardized warning icon and tooltip, or even a full paragraph. Maybe even all places.

My question here is: how would it fit into our UI design? I think a warning icon glued to the link would be more effective than a paragraph of text in that it's easier to repeat in lots of places. Just throwing text at users isn't always effective.

I also feel adding an icon to all links to a branch would give a nicely universal "this branch needs attention" signal to the user, and make it less attractive to leave unfinished branches lying around (and make it clearer why your diff isn't showing up in your MP yet). But it's not something we usually do, so maybe I'm barking up the wrong tree.

2. The branch page itself ought to draw attention to the situation and guide the user towards next steps.

It'd be very comforting to see a more detailed notice on the branch page: "This branch has not been pushed to yet. Here's what you need to do. Here's a link to a help page explaining your options. If you've already pushed, please wait a few minutes for the change to be noticed."


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