Launchpad values

Whenever we are thinking about what Launchpad should be, or how we should implement a change, or whether something is a good idea or not, we have recourse to three distinct sets of guidelines.

The first is Launchpad strategy, which reminds us why we are making Launchpad and helps us answer questions such as “How does this help Launchpad meet its goals?”. The second is What is Launchpad?, which helps us answer questions like “Is this in scope?”. Together, they sort out the ‘matter’ of Launchpad.

The third is this document, the Launchpad Values. It tries to address the ‘manner’ of Launchpad. It, perhaps, will not answer specific questions for you. Rather, it will rule out certain options and decisions before they are even considered.

Like the Launchpad strategy, this document is living: it should be changed and improved as we learn more about how to make Launchpad. It is also aspirational: not all of Launchpad lives up to these values.

Better tools help

Launchpad is fundamentally based on the principle that improving the tools that we use to make things will help us make better things than we could before and indeed make better things more cheaply than we could before.

Launchpad should be that “better tool” and be always aiming to smooth and accelerate the process of making software.

Invisible. If not, fun.

Launchpad is a tool to help busy people get important stuff done. It should stay out of the way where possible. Bugs, OOPSes, downtime and slowness all draw attention to Launchpad and away from the interesting problems that our users are trying to solve.

Where it is not possible to stay out of the way, Launchpad should be fun to use. We make next actions obvious and draw attention to users’ achievements.


When a branch is merged into the trunk of a project, that’s generally the end of its story. Launchpad quietly and silently detects that it has been merged and marks the branch and any merge proposals as such. The branch then no longer appears on default listings.

Reveal opportunities

One of the grand things about open source software is that it is open to contributions from total strangers.

Launchpad makes those contributions possible by removing as many barriers as possible to contribution, and highlights areas where contributions would be especially welcome.


When you click the Translations tab of a project that’s translatable, you see a list of all of the languages you speak, together with a progress bar telling you how much translation work is available. You can click a language and start translating right away.

Not our data

The data in Launchpad does not really belong to us, we are merely its stewards. We make sure that users can get their data easily and that they can change it as they see fit.


You can access almost all of the data in Launchpad through the RESTful APIs.

Not just their data

The data people store in Launchpad doesn’t just belong to them, though. It also belongs to the wider open source community. The data needs to be used to link between other projects, and to allow Launchpad to act as a front-end of open source.


Someone who is not actually a maintainer of a project might register that project on Launchpad so they can import code or synchronize bugs or so forth. If the project’s actual maintainer comes along and wishes to take it down, we will not do so.

Cross-project consistency

If you know how to contribute to one project on Launchpad, you ought to be able to quickly and painlessly contribute to any other project on Launchpad. Or, if you can’t, it won’t be Launchpad’s fault.


You can get the trunk branch for any project with ‘bzr branch lp:project’, or the source for any Ubuntu package using ‘bzr branch lp:ubuntu/project’.

All of open source

Any open source project ought to be able to host itself on Launchpad. We do not enforce workflows, rather we allow people to fit their project’s existing workflow into Launchpad.

However, when we can, we encourage people toward best practices. After all, we want to make open source software better.


Launchpad separates whether or not a reviewer approves of code from whether or not a branch is approved to land.

All users are potential contributors

One of the glories of open source is that any user is a potential contributor. Launchpad guides new users toward the ways where they can begin to contribute.

Close the loop

Something magical happens when a feature or a workflow reaches all the way back to where it began. The feature begins to reinforce itself, and make things possible that weren’t possible before.

Another way of thinking about this is that the value is in the output, and Launchpad is always concerned with the output of all of its features.


These are examples of where we aren’t there yet.

Being able to attach patches to bugs is great, but it’s not good enough until developers can easily find those patches. Finding the patches is only good enough when you can merge, comment and reject those patches.

Likewise, importing translations from an upstream is great, but it becomes much, much better when those translations can be improved in Launchpad and then sent back to the upstream.