Launching Mir & UnityNext

The Moonshot for Mir & Unity Next

Convergence! Unity Next is what we’re referring to with our migration from Nux to Qt for our shell rendering. Migration might not be the right term, in a way the migration has already begun …as this is what you’re looking at when you see the Ubuntu Touch preview.  And the Ubuntu Touch preview wasn’t written as a demo, it’s intended to continue going through software development and become a product. Finishing up our change to Qt does give us an opportunity to revisit some other things we’ve been working on…like Mir. So our goal is to effectively have Mir be the master of surfaces, input & application info in the system with Unity Next running on top for all form factors…desktop computers, tv’s, tablets & phones.

Any time you’re trying to converge existing solutions into one, you have some choices to make in terms of what to use as a seed. In our case the journey is going to begin with phones as the first key milestone. There are a couple of reasons. You may have noticed in our recent Ubuntu Touch preview the first form factor to appear was the phone. And if you are a long time user of Ubuntu, the there is a subtle difference in the ui you’ve seen recently on the phone & tablet compared to the desktop. So it’s efficient for us as an organization to leverage that which has been the focus of our most recent effort in the UI stack evolution.  Also, due to the screen real-estate area, the phone presents itself as a virtual subset of the desktop requirements. So we feel that beginning with a focus on the phone will to get to a productizable code base on the phone is the best way to quickly harden what we have & provide the vehicle to convergence.

Approaching it from the phone angle means we’ll be able to harden a subset what’s needed for full convergence & deliver an actual product to use along the way…rather than trying to do everything in one shot. And that’s beneficial in terms of getting “road milage” on the code and making any tweaks especially for “look and feel” topics. It does mean that along the way we’ll need to keep an eye on building in some flexibility to accommodate our desktop….but the good news there, we’ve been delivering Unity for desktop for a while now, so most interested parties are aware of what the desktop needs to deliver.

Devil’s in the blueprints

As you can imagine, there’s plenty to do for full convergence. We’ve captured much of what we think needs to occur in https://blueprints.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+spec/client-1303-mir-phone-iteration-0 & we’ve begun to flesh out work for Unity Next as well here https://blueprints.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+spec/client-1303-unity-ui-iteration-0. If you take a look at the blueprint https://blueprints.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+spec/client-1303-mir-converged you’ll see a see a diagram dependency in the middle of the page…The thinking goes like so…”what do you need for a converged solution?”…”you need a productizable phone base”…”what do you need for a producatizable phone?”…”you need a first integration”. Unity Next has a similar blueprint & diagram https://blueprints.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+spec/client-1303-unity-ui-converged

And so, our milestones effectively match this line of thought.  Its like a 3 stage rocket for Mir & Unity Next… First target is integration of Unity Next & Mir  (we’ll be discussing this at the upcoming UDS)….second is actually creating our Ubuntu for Phone with Unity Next + Mir sometime in 4Q13. Lastly we should hit full convergence in 2Q 2014. And if you poke around you may notice that there is high priority on phone with low priority on convergence, but there’s no confusion convergence is the ultimate target. This is just an artifact planning reality, the nearest required steps are the highest priority…as we deliver the phone, convergence will take its place.

If you’d like to join us on the journey. Look for the Mir session and the Unity Next session in our upcoming virtual UDS http://uds.ubuntu.com/ & you can always find us on #ubuntu-unity