mr mr cote

Educational, Investigative, and Absurd Writings by M. R. Côté

Phabricator and Lando November Update

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With work on Phabricator–BMO integration wrapping up, the development team’s focus has switched to the new automatic-landing service that will work with Phabricator. The new system is called “Lando” and functions somewhat similarly to MozReview–Autoland, with the biggest difference being that it is a standalone web application, not tightly integrated with Phabricator. This gives us much more flexibility and allows us to develop more quickly, since working within extension systems is often painful for anything nontrivial.

Lando is split between two services: the landing engine, “lando-api”, which transforms Phabricator revisions into a format suitable for the existing autoland service (called the “transplant server”), and the web interface, “lando-ui”, which displays information about the revisions to land and kicks off jobs. We split these services partly for security reasons and partly so that we could later have other interfaces to lando, such as command-line tools.

When I last posted an update I included an early screenshot of lando-ui. Since then, we have done some user testing of our prototypes to get early feedback. Using a great article, “Test Your Prototypes: How to Gather Feedback and Maximise Learning”, as a guide, we took our prototype to some interested future users. Refraining from explaining anything about the interface and providing only some context on how a user would get to the application, we encouraged them to think out loud, explaining what the data means to them and what actions they imagine the buttons and widgets would perform. After each session, we used the feedback to update our prototypes.

These sessions proved immensely useful. The feedback on our third prototype was much more positive than on our first prototype. We started out with an interface that made sense to us but was confusing to someone from outside the project, and we ended with one that was clear and intuitive to our users.

For comparison, this is what we started with:

And here is where we ended:

A partial implementation of the third prototype, with a few more small tweaks raised during the last feedback session, is currently on There are currently some duplicated elements there just to show the various states; this redundant data will of course be removed as we start filling in the template with real data from Phabricator.

Phabricator remains in a pre-release phase, though we have some people now using it for mozilla-central reviews. Our team continues to use it daily, as does the NSS team. Our implementation has been very stable, but we are making a few changes to our original design to ensure it stays rock solid. Lando was scheduled for delivery in October, but due to a few different delays, including being one person down for a while and not wanting to launch a new tool during the flurry of the Firefox 57 launch, we’re now looking at a January launch date. We should have a working minimal version ready for Austin, where we have scheduled a training session for Phabricator and a Lando demo.