Canonical Voices

Posts tagged with 'apps'

Michael Hall

KDE Neon developer Harald Sitter was able to package up the KDE calculator, kcalc, in a snap that weighs in at a mere 320KB! How did he do it?

KCalc and KDE Frameworks snaps

Like most applications in KDE, kcalc depends on several KDE Frameworks (though not all), sets of libraries and services that provide the common functionality and shared UI/UX found in KDE and it’s suite of applications. This means that, while kcalc is itself a small application, it’s dependency chain is not. In the past, any KDE application snap had to include many megabytes of platforms dependencies, even for the smallest app.

Recently I introduced the new “content” interface that has been added to snapd. I used this interface to share plugin code with a text editor, but Harald has taken it even further and created a KDE Frameworks snap that can share the entire platform with applications that are built on it!

While still in the very early stages of development, this approach will allow the KDE project to deliver all of their applications as independent snaps, while still letting them all share the one common set of Frameworks that they depend on. The end result will be that you, the user, will get the very latest stable (or development!) version of the KDE platform and applications, direct from KDE themselves, even if you’re on a stable/LTS release of your distro.

If you are running a snap-capable distro, you can try these experimental packages yourself by downloading kde-frameworks-5_5.26_amd64.snap and kcalc_0_amd64.snap from Neon’s build servers, and installing them with “snap install –devmode –force-dangerous <snap_file>”. To learn more about how he did this, and to help him build more KDE application snaps, you can find Harald as <sitter> on #kde-neon on Freenode IRC.

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Steph Wilson

Back in June we hosted a competition that asked developers to use the AdaptivePageLayout component from the UI toolkit to create an app that converges across devices. We had some very impressive entires that used the component in different ways; choosing a winner was hard. However, after testing all the apps the design team chose a winner: the Timer App.

How does the AdaptivepageLayout work?

The AdaptivePageLayout component eliminates guesswork for developers when adapting from one form factor to another. It works by tracking an infinite number of virtual columns that may be displayed on a screen at once. For example, an app will automatically switch between a 1-panel and 2-panel layout when the user changes the size of the window or surface, by dragging the app from the main stage to the side stage.

You can read more about convergence and how the adaptive page layout works in the App design guides.

Timer app

The Timer app impressed the design team the most with its slick transitions, well thought-out design and ease of use. It used the AdaptivepageLayout well when it translated to different screens.

Design feedback

  • Design: well-considered touches with design, animation and various cool themes.
  • Usability: a favourite is the ability to drag seconds / minutes / hours directly on the clock.
  • Convergence: adjusts beautifully to different screen sizes.

Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 09.10.32

Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 09.14.14

Timer app

Other entries

Thank you to all who participated in making their apps look even more slick. Here are the other entries:

2nd: AIDA64 App

  • Design: clean, readable with clear content
  • Usability: pretty flawless
  • Convergence: Adaptive Page Layout suits this type of application well and is used well

3rd: Movie Time

  • Design: functional with good management of all the content
  • Usability: live results for search works smoothly as well as trailer links
  • Convergence: the gridview of poster art lends itself well to various screen sizes

4th: Ubuntu Hangups

  • Design: clean and follows guidelines well
  • Usability: easy to message / chat, with user-friendly functionality
  • Convergence: easy to use particularly on Phone and Tablet

5th: uBeginner

  • Design: basic and clean
  • Usability: information is well-presented
  • Convergence: uses the Adaptive Page Layout well

Try it yourself!

To get involved in building apps, click here.

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Michael Hall

As most you you know by now, Ubuntu 16.04 will be dropping the old Ubuntu Software Center in favor of the newer Gnome Software as the graphical front-end to both the Ubuntu archives and 3rd party application store.

Gnome Software

Gnome Software provides a lot of the same enhancements over simple package managers that USC did, and it does this using a new metadata format standard called AppStream. While much of the needed AppStream data can be extracted from the existing packages in the archives, sometimes that’s not sufficient, and that’s when we need people to help fill the gaps.

It turns out that the bulk of the missing or incorrect data is caused by the application icons being used by app packages. While most apps already have an icon, it was never strictly enforced before, and the size and format allowed by the desktop specs was more lenient than what’s needed now.  These lower resolution icons might have been fine for a menu item, but they don’t work very well for a nice, beautiful App Store interface like Gnome Software. And that’s where you can help!

Don’t worry, contributing icons isn’t hard, and it doesn’t require any knowledge of programming or packing to do. Best of all, you’ll not only be helping Ubuntu, but you’ll also be contributing to any other distro that uses the AppStream standard too! In the steps below I will walk you through the process of finding an app in need, getting the correct icon for it, and contributing it to the upstream project and Ubuntu.

1) Pick an App

Because the AppStream data is being automatically extracted from the contents of existing packages, we are able to tell which apps are in need of new icons, and we’ve generated a list of them, sorted by popularity (based on PopCon stats) so you can prioritize your contributions to where they will help the most users. To start working on one, first click the “Create” link to file a new bug report against the package in Ubuntu. Then replace that link in the wiki with a link to your new bug, and put your name in the “Claimed” column so that others know you’ve already started work on it.

Apps with Icon ErrorsNote that a package can contain multiple .desktop files, each of which has it’s own icon, and your bug report will be specific to just that one metadata file. You will also need to be a member of the ~ubuntu-etherpad team (or sub-team like ~ubuntumembers) in order to edit the wiki, you will be asked to verify that membership as part of the login process with Ubuntu SSO.

2) Verify that an AppStream icon is needed

While the extraction process is capable of identifying what packages have a missing or unsupported image in them, it’s not always smart enough to know which packages should have this AppStream data in the first place. So before you get started working on icons, it’s best to first make sure that the metadata file you picked should be part of the AppStream index in the first place.

Because AppStream was designed to be application-centric, the metadata extraction process only looks at those with Type=Application in their .desktop file. It will also ignore any .desktop files with NoDisplay=True in them. If you find a file in the list that shouldn’t be indexed by AppStream, chances are one or both of these values are set incorrectly. In that case you should change your bug description to state that, rather than attaching an icon to it.

3) Contact Upstream

Since there is nothing Ubuntu-specific about AppStream data or icons, you really should be sending your contribution upstream to the originating project. Not only is this best for Ubuntu (carrying patches wastes resources), but it’s just the right thing to do in the open source community. So the after you’ve chosen an app to work on and verfied that it does in fact need a new icon for AppStream, the very next thing you should do is start talking to the upstream project developers.

Start by letting them know that you want to contribute to their project so that it integrates better with AppStream enabled stores (you can reference these Guidelines if they’re not familiar with it), and opening a similar bug report in their bug tracker if they don’t have one already. Finally, be sure to include a link to that upstream bug report in the Ubuntu bug you opened previously so that the Ubuntu developers know the work is also going into upstream to (your contribute might be rejected otherwise).

4) Find or Create an Icon

Chances are the upstream developers already have an icon that meets the AppStream requirements, so ask them about it before trying to find one on your own. If not, look for existing artwork assets that can be used as a logo, and remember that it needs to be at least 64×64 pixels (this is where SVGs are ideal, as they can be exported to any size). Whatever you use, make sure that it matches the application’s current branding, we’re not out to create a new logo for them after all. If you do create a new image file, you will need to make it available under the CC-BY-SA license.

While AppStream only requires a 64×64 pixel image, many desktops (including Unity) will benefit from having even higher resolution icons, and it’s always easier to scale them down than up. So if you have the option, try to provide a 256×256 icon image (or again, just an SVG).

5) Submit your icon

Now that you’ve found (or created) an appropriate icon, it’s time to get it into both the upstream project and Ubuntu. Because each upstream will be different in how they want you to do that, you will need to ask them for guidance (and possibly assistance) in order to do that. Just make sure that you update the upstream bug report with your work, so that the Ubuntu developers can see that it’s been done.

Ubuntu 16.04 has already synced with Debian, so it’s too late for these changes in the upstream project to make their way into this release. In order to get them into 16.04, the Ubuntu packages will have to carry a patch until the changes that land in upstream have the time to make their way into the Ubuntu archives. That’s why it’s so important to get your contribution accepted into the upstream project first, the Ubuntu developers want to know that the patches to their packages will eventually be replaced by the same change from upstream.

attach_file_to_bugTo submit your image to Ubuntu, all you need to do is attach the image file to the bug report you created way back in step #1.

launchpad-subscribeThen, subscribe the “ubuntu-sponsors” team to the bug, these are the Ubuntu developers who will review and apply your icon to the target package, and get it into the Ubuntu archives.

6) Talk about it!

Congratulations, you’ve just made a contribution that is likely to affect millions of people and benefit the entire open source community! That’s something to celebrate, so take to Twitter, Google+, Facebook or your own blog and talk about it. Not only is it good to see people doing these kinds of contributions, it’s also highly motivating to others who might not otherwise get involved. So share your experience, help others who want to do the same, and if you enjoyed it feel free to grab another app from the list and do it again.

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Jouni Helminen

Visual design of convergent apps

It is an exciting time as we’re starting to see more and more of the new, convergence-enabled UI toolkit and features for Unity 8 come to life. Some classic X11 apps (Gimp, Libre Office and a few others) are already running on Unity 8 using new hardware from our partners, including the award winning M10 tablet from BQ – very cool.

At the same time, we want to help people write or port more applications to our platform, using our modern UI toolkit designed to smoothly flow the user experience through touch and pointer inputs, a range of screen and keyboard types and all of the permutations in between! It has been an interesting design challenge to imagine, design, and begin to build a world where all interfaces, regardless of input type or form factor, all emerge from the same core user experience and design language.

Where we are now

Our UX and SDK teams have been working on version 1.3 of Qt based UI toolkit, which allows developers to write applications that can be used comfortably with both touch and pointer interfaces. The work is still very much in progress, but some of it can be used today. You can check out the developer docs here.

Suru, our visual design language, has evolved into a new, much lighter, flatter and modern approach. It not only looks great (in our humble opinion), but helps app developers design good looking and well-functioning apps with less effort. Continuous visual and user experience refinements will will be rolling out across the whole OS (scopes, shell and apps) this coming year.

The new design guidelines for UX and UI patterns as well as Suru will be out soon. In the meanwhile hopefully these example apps will inspire you to have a look at the developer docs, get active on IRC and have a go yourself. We will also be releasing design source files and templates for the refreshed UI toolkit so that you can start applying them in your own app designs.

Dekko – Email


The first example app is Dekko – the default email client  for mobile and tablet devices from BQ and Meizu. We have been very lucky to have the incredible talents of our community member Dan Chapman working on the development of Dekko, and the app is progressing at a fantastic rate. James Mulholland helped Dan with the UX and I have been working on the UI.

Like many apps, Dekko uses a list view to represent the primary level, and a detail view to show the secondary level. Where there’s room, these views can be displayed side by side, but on small screen screens or very shrunk windows, a PageStack showing only the list becomes the primary screen. On larger screens or expanded windows, the page stack automatically progresses into the familiar two-panel configuration. This adaptive layout is common on responsive websites, and our SDK team have built a component in the UI toolkit that does most of the hard work for you – AdaptivePageLayout.


The list item, which lives in the list component, is another example of ready made component that helps developers write convergent apps with less effort. The new ListItem in our toolkit has useful, well designed default layouts baked in when using ListItemLayout. It is also optimised for both touch and pointer interaction – via ListItemActions. A common pattern of interacting with list items on touch devices is to drag them left or right revealing key actions such as delete. When using a pointer, however, you would typically right click and use the contextual menu to access the same actions. Our UI Toolkit supports both types of input at all times, so you could drag the item left or right using a mobile or touch-enabled monitor, or right click using a mouse. We believe users should be free to mix how they interact with our components using whatever means is at their disposal and to their liking.

This behaviour is already baked into our ListItem component, so users will have a consistent experience when using apps, and developers will save time not having to roll their own solutions.


The music app is another example of the super talented Ubuntu community getting involved in building some of our core apps together with our internal teams. You might remember Andrew Hayzen and Victor Thompson from a previous interview on this blog. They have since been adding features and functionality to the app, and a convergent music app using multiple panels is currently working in a branch and will be landing in the master release soon. We are also looking at adding support for streaming music functionality, keep an eye out for this in the near future :)


The multi-panel music app reacts to window size changes intelligently – the album cards resize and shuffle themselves on window size changes. On smaller screen devices we have a persistent “Now playing” control bar at the bottom of the screen, but on larger screen sizes we have enough real estate to reimagine the play bar as an extra panel on the right with “Now playing” information, along with cover art, controls and a scrollable queue.



The calendar app has been on the phone for a while but until now it hadn’t really had any UI design love or designs for larger screens.  We wanted to apply our visual language in the context of an app that is by default very minimal, allowing the few design elements to stand on their own.

Suru, our visual language, is light and flat, minimizing distractions, with carefully selected tones of gray, consistent spacing and margins to help the content breathe. We’ve added considered splashes of highlight colours that enhance the visual hierarchy without overwhelming it.

On the calendar app we are again making use of multiple panels, surfacing several layers when we have the real estate available. The same feature set of the app is of course available on all sizes, and the navigation feels intuitive with whatever input method or screen size you are using.


This design hasn’t been implemented yet, and in fact we are looking for new developers to join our Community Team. If you are a developer who would like to get involved in writing some of the core apps people use on Ubuntu – get in touch with – we would love to hear from you!

Hopefully these examples have given inspiration and pointers to anyone who would like to have a go at designing apps for convergent Ubuntu. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out –


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Michael Hall

Ubuntu has been talking a lot about convergence lately, it’s something that we believe is going to be revolutionary and we want to be at the forefront of it. We love the idea of it, but so far we haven’t really had much experience with the reality of it.

image20150423_164034801I got my first taste of that reality two weeks ago, while at a work sprint in London. While Canonical has an office in London, it had other teams sprinting there, so the Desktop sprint I was at was instead held at a hotel. We planned to visit the office one day that week, it would be my first visit to any Canonical office, as well as my first time working at an actual office in several years. However, we also planned to meet up with the UK loco for release drinks that evening. This meant that we had to decide between leaving our laptops at the hotel, thus not having them to work on at the office, or taking them with us, but having to carry them around the pub all evening.

I chose to leave my laptop behind, but I did take my phone (Nexus 4 running Ubuntu) with me. After getting a quick tour of the office, I found a vacant seat at a desk, and pulled out my phone. Most of my day job can be done with the apps on my phone: I have email, I have a browser, I have a terminal with ssh, I can respond to our community everywhere they are active.

I spent the next couple of hours doing work, actual work, on my phone. The only problem I had was that I was doing it on a small screen, and I was burning through my battery. At one point I looked up and realized that the vacant desk I was sitting at was equipped with a laptop docking station. It had also a USB hub and an HDMI monitor cable available. If I had a slimport cable for my phone, I might have been able to plug it into this docking station and both power my phone and get a bigger screen to work with.

If I could have done that, I would have achieved the full reality of convergence, and it would have been just like if I had brought my laptop with me. Only with this I was able to simply slide it into my pocket when it was time to leave for drinks. It was tantalizingly close, I got a little taste of what it’s going to be like, and now I’m craving more of it.

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Daniel Holbach

What do Kinshasa, Omsk, Paris, Mexico City, Eugene, Denver, Tempe, Catonsville, Fairfax, Dania Beach, San Francisco and various places on the internet have in common?

Right, they’re all participating in the Ubuntu Global Jam on the weekend of 6-8 February! See the full list of teams that are part of the event here. (Please add yours if you haven’t already.)

What’s great about the event is that there are just two basic aims:

  1. do something with Ubuntu
  2. get together and have fun!

What I also like a lot is that there’s always something new to do. Here are just 3 quick examples of that:

App Development Schools

We have put quite a bit of work into putting training materials together, now, you can take them out to your team and start writing Ubuntu apps easily.


As one tech news article said “Robots embrace Ubuntu as it invades the internet of things“. Ubuntu’s newest foray, making it possible to bring a stable and secure OS to small devices where you can focus on apps and functionality, is attracting a number of folks on the mailing lists (snappy-devel, snappy-app-devel)  and elsewhere. Check out the mailing lists and the snappy site to find out more and have a play with it.

Unity8 on Desktop

Convergence is happening and what’s working great on the phone is making its way onto the desktop. You can help making this happen, by installing and testing it. Your feedback will be much appreciated.




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David Callé

A scope is a tailored view for a set of data, that can use custom layouts, display and branding options. From RSS news feeds to weather data and search engine results, the flexibility of scopes allows you to provide a simple, recognizable and consistent experience with the rest of the OS.

Scopes can also integrate with system-wide user accounts (email, social networks…), split your content into categories and aggregate into each others (for example, a “shopping” scope aggregating results from several store scopes).


In this tutorial, you will learn how to write a scope in C++ for SoundCloud, using the Ubuntu SDK. Read…

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Michael Hall

screenshot_1.0So it’s finally happened, one of my first Ubuntu SDK apps has reached an official 1.0 release. And I think we all know what that means. Yup, it’s time to scrap the code and start over.

It’s a well established mantra, codified by Fred Brooks, in software development that you will end up throwing away the first attempt at a new project. The releases between 0.1 and 0.9 are a written history of your education about the problem, the tools, or the language you are learning. And learn I did, I wrote a whole series of posts about my adventures in writing uReadIt. Now it’s time to put all of that learning to good use.

Often times projects still spend an extremely long time in this 0.x stage, getting ever closer but never reaching that 1.0 release.  This isn’t because they think 1.0 should wait until the codebase is perfect, I don’t think anybody expects 1.0 to be perfect. 1.0 isn’t the milestone of success, it’s the crossing of the Rubicon, the point where drastic change becomes inevitable. It’s the milestone where the old code, with all it’s faults, dies, and out of it is born a new codebase.

So now I’m going to start on uReadIt 2.0, starting fresh, with the latest Ubuntu UI Toolkit and platform APIs. It won’t be just a feature-for-feature rewrite either, I plan to make this a great Reddit client for both the phone and desktop user. To that end, I plan to add the following:

  • A full Javascript library for interacting with the Reddit API
  • User account support, which additionally will allow:
    • Posting articles & comments
    • Reading messages in your inbox
    • Upvoting and downvoting articles and comments
  • Convergence from the start, so it’s usable on the desktop as well
  • Re-introduce link sharing via Content-Hub
  • Take advantage of new features in the UITK such as UbuntuListView filtering & pull-to-refresh, and left/right swipe gestures on ListItems

Another change, which I talked about in a previous post, will be to the license of the application. Where uReadIt 1.0 is GPLv3, the next release will be under a BSD license.

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Michael Hall

As part of the continued development of the Ubuntu platform, the Content Hub has gained the ability to share links (and soon text) as a content type, just as it has been able to share images and other file-based content in the past. This allows applications to more easily, and more consistently, share things to a user’s social media accounts.

Consolidating APIs

Thanks to the collaborative work going on between the Content Hub and the Ubuntu Webapps developers, it is now possible for remote websites to be packaged with local user scripts that provide deep integration with our platform services. One of the first to take advantage of this is the Facebook webapp, which while displaying remote content via a web browser wrapper, is also a Content Hub importer. This means that when you go to share an image from the Gallery app, the Facebook webapp is displayed as an optional sharing target for that image. If you select it, it will use the Facebook web interface to upload that image to your timeline, without having to go through the separate Friends API.

This work not only brings the social sharing user experience inline with the rest of the system’s content sharing experience, it also provide a much simpler API for application developers to use for accomplishing the same thing. As a result, the Friends API is being deprecated in favor of the new Content Hub functionality.

What it means for App Devs

Because this is an API change, there are things that you as an app developer need to be aware of. First, though the API is being deprecated immediately, it is not being removed from the device images until after the release of 14.10, which will continue to support the ubuntu-sdk-14.04 framework which included the Friends API. The API will not be included in the final ubuntu-sdk-14.10 framework, or any new 14.10-dev frameworks after -dev2.

After the 14.10 release in October, when device images start to build for utopic+1, the ubuntu-sdk-14.04 framework will no longer be on the images. So if you haven’t updated your Click package by then to use the ubuntu-sdk-14.10 framework, it won’t be available to install on devices with the new image. If you are not using the Friends API, this would simply be a matter of changing your package metadata to the new framework version.  For new apps, it will default to the newer version to begin with, so you shouldn’t have to do anything.

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Michael Hall

It was less than a month that we announced crossing the 10,000 users milestone for Ubuntu phones and tablets, and we’ve already reached another: 100,000 app downloads!


10k_downloads_by_countryThe new Ubuntu store used by phones, tablets, and soon the desktop as well, provides app developers with some useful statistics about how many times their app was downloaded, which version was downloaded, and what country the download originated from. This is very useful as it it lets the developer gauge how many users they currently have for their app, and how quickly they are updating to new versions.  One side-effect of these statistics is that we can see how many total downloads there have been across all of the apps in the store, and this week we reached (and quickly passed) the 100,000th download.


app_storeWe’re getting close to having Ubuntu phones go on sale from our partners at Bq and Meizu, but there are still no devices on the market that came with Ubuntu.  This means that we’ve reached this milestone solely from developers and enthusiasts who have installed Ubuntu on one of their own devices (probably a Nexus device) or the device emulator.  

The continued growth in the download number validates the earlier milestone of 10,000 users, a large number of them are clearly still using Ubuntu on their device (or emulator) and keeping their apps up to date (the number represents new app installs and updates). This means that not only are people trying Ubuntu already, many of them are sticking with it too.  Yet another datapoint in support of this is the 600 new unique users who have been using the store since the last milestone announcement.


pioneers_shirtTo supply all of these users with the apps they want, we’re continuing to build our community of app developers around Ubuntu. The first of these have already received their limited edition t-shirts, and are listed on the Ubuntu Pioneers page of the developer portal.

There is still time to get your app published, and claim your place on that page and your t-shirt, but they’re filling up fast so don’t delay. Go to our Developer Portal and get started today, you could be only a few hours away from publishing your first app in the store!

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Michael Hall

ubuntu-phone-three-1As we enter the final months before the first Ubuntu phones ship from our partners Meizu and Bq, the numbers of apps, users and downloads continues to grow at a steady pace. Today I’m excited to announce that we have more than ten thousand unique users of Ubuntu on phones or tablets!


Ubuntu phone (and tablet) users sign into their Ubuntu One account on their device in order to download or update the applications on their phone. This allows us to provide many useful features that users expect coming from Android or iOS, such as being able to re-install their collection of apps on a new phone or after resetting their current one, or browsing the store’s website (coming soon) and having the option to install an app directly to their device from there. As a side effect, it means we know how many unique Ubuntu One accounts have connected to the store to in order to download an app, and that number has this week passed the 10,000 mark.


Meizu-MX3Not only is this a milestone, but it’s down right amazing when you consider that there are currently no phones available to purchase with Ubuntu on them. The first phones from OEMs will be shipping later this year, but for now there isn’t a phone or tablet that comes with the new Ubuntu device OS on it. That means that each of these 10,000 people have purchased (or already had) either a supported Nexus device, or are using one of the community ports, and either wiped Android off them in favor of Ubuntu, or are dual booting. If this many people are willing to install the beta release of Ubuntu phone on their device, just imagine how many more will want to purchase a phone with Ubuntu pre-installed and with full support from the manufacturer.


In addition to users of Ubuntu phone, we’ve also seen a steady growth in the number of applications and application developers targeting Ubuntu phone and using the Ubuntu SDK. To celebrate them, we created Ubuntu App Pioneers page, and the first batch of Pioneers t-shirts are being sent out to those intrepid developers who, again, are so excited about a platform that isn’t even available to consumers yet that they’ve dedicated their time and energy into making it better for everyone.

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David Planella

As part of the Ubuntu App Developer Week, I just ran a live on-air session on how to internationalize your Ubuntu apps. Some of the participants on the live chat asked me if I could share the slides somewhere online.

So here they are for your viewing pleasure :) If you’ve got any questions on i18n or in Ubuntu app development in general, feel free to ask in the comments or ping me (dpm) on IRC.

The video

The slides


The post Internationalizing your apps at the Ubuntu App Developer Week appeared first on David Planella.

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Michael Hall

Ubuntu has always been about breaking new ground. We broke the ground with the desktop back in 2004, we have broken the ground with cloud orchestration across multiple clouds and providers, and we are building a powerful, innovative mobile and desktop platform that is breaking ground with convergence.

The hardest part about breaking new ground and innovating is not having the vision and creating the technology, it is getting people on board to be part of it.

We knew this was going to be a challenge when we first took the wraps off the Ubuntu app developer platform: we have a brand new platform that was still being developed, and when we started many of the key pieces were not there such as a solid developer portal, documentation, API references, training and more. Today the story is very different with a compelling, end-to-end, developer story for building powerful convergent apps.

We believed and always have believed in the power of this platform, and every single one of those people who also believed in what we are doing and wrote apps have shared the same spirit of pioneering a new platform that we have.

As such, we want to acknowledge those people.

And with this, I present Ubuntu Pioneers.

The idea is simple, we want to celebrate the first 200 app developers who get their apps in Ubuntu. We are doing this in two ways.

Firstly, we have created which displays all of these developers and lists the apps that they have created. This will provide a permanent record of those who were there right at the beginning.

Secondly, we have designed a custom, limited-edition Ubuntu Pioneers t-shirt that we want to send to all of our pioneers. For those of you who are listed on this page, please ensure that your email address is correct in MyApps as we will be getting in touch soon.

Thank-you so much to every single person listed on that page. You are an inspiration for me, my team, and the wider Ubuntu project.

If you have that pioneering spirit and wished you were up there, fear not! We still have some space before we hit 200 developers, so go here to get started building an app.

Original by Jono Bacon

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Michael Hall

Bicentennial Man PosterEver since we started building the Ubuntu SDK, we’ve been trying to find ways of bringing the vast number of Android apps that exist over to Ubuntu. As with any new platform, there’s a chasm between Android apps and native apps that can only be crossed through the effort of porting.

There are simple solutions, of course, like providing an Android runtime on Ubuntu. On other platforms, those have shown to present Android apps as second-class citizens that can’t benefit from a new platform’s unique features. Worse, they don’t provide a way for apps to gradually become first-class citizens, so chasm between Android and native still exists, which means the vast majority of apps supported this way will never improve.

There are also complicates solutions, like code conversion, that try to translate Android/Java code into the native platform’s language and toolkit, preserving logic and structure along the way. But doing this right becomes such a monumental task that making a tool to do it is virtually impossible, and the amount of cleanup and checking needed to be done by an actual developer quickly rises to the same level of effort as a manual port would have. This approach also fails to take advantage of differences in the platforms, and will re-create the old way of doing things even when it doesn’t make sense on the new platform.

Screenshot from 2014-04-19 14:44:22NDR takes a different approach to these, it doesn’t let you run our Android code on Ubuntu, nor does it try to convert your Android code to native code. Instead NDR will re-create the general framework of your Android app as a native Ubuntu app, converting Activities to Pages, for example, to give you a skeleton project on which you can build your port. It won’t get you over the chasm, but it’ll show you the path to take and give you a head start on it. You will just need to fill it in with the logic code to make it behave like your Android app. NDR won’t provide any of logic for you, and chances are you’ll want to do it slightly differently than you did in Android anyway, due to the differences between the two platforms.

Screenshot from 2014-04-19 14:44:31To test NDR during development, I chose the Telegram app because it was open source, popular, and largely used Android’s layout definitions and components. NDR will be less useful against apps such as games, that use their own UI components and draw directly to a canvas, but it’s pretty good at converting apps that use Android’s components and UI builder.

After only a couple days of hacking I was able to get NDR to generate enough of an Ubuntu SDK application that, with a little bit of manual cleanup, it was recognizably similar to the Android app’s.

This proves, in my opinion, that bootstrapping an Ubuntu port based on Android source code is not only possible, but is a viable way of supporting Android app developers who want to cross that chasm and target their apps for Ubuntu as well. I hope it will open the door for high-quality, native Ubuntu app ports from the Android ecosystem.  There is still much more NDR can do to make this easier, and having people with more Android experience than me (that would be none) would certainly make it a more powerful tool, so I’m making it a public, open source project on Launchpad and am inviting anybody who has an interest in this to help me improve it.

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Daniel Holbach

Shortly before the submission deadline last night we had some small technical hiccups in the Ubuntu Software Store. This was fixed resolved very quickly (thanks a lot everyone who worked on this!), but we decided to give everyone another day to make up for it.

The new deadline is today, 10th April 2014, 23:59 UTC.

Please all verify that your app still works, everythings is tidy, you submitted it to the store and filled out the submission form correctly. Here’s how.

Submit your app

This is obviously the most important bit and needs to happen first. Don’t leave this to the last minute. Your app might have to go through a couple of reviews before it’s accepted in the store. So plan in some time for that. Once it’s accepted and published in the store, you can always, much more quickly, publish an update.

Submit your app.

Register your participation

Once your app is in the store, you need to register your participation in the App Showdown. To make sure your application is registered for the contest and judges review it, you’ll need to fill in the participation form. You can start filling it in already and until the submission deadline, it should only take you 2 minutes to complete.

Fill out the submission form.


If you have questions or need help, reach out (also rather sooner than later) to our great community of Ubuntu App Developers.

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Daniel Holbach


Here’s the final reminder. The App Showdown is almost over and you can win some beautiful devices if you get your app in tomorrow, Wednesday, April 9th 2014 (23:59 UTC).

Getting your app in is very easy: just follow these two steps.

Submit your app

This is obviously the most important bit and needs to happen first. Don’t leave this to the last minute. Your app might have to go through a couple of reviews before it’s accepted in the store. So plan in some time for that. Once it’s accepted and published in the store, you can always, much more quickly, publish an update.

Submit your app.

Register your participation

Once your app is in the store, you need to register your participation in the App Showdown. To make sure your application is registered for the contest and judges review it, you’ll need to fill in the participation form. You can start filling it in already and until the submission deadline, it should only take you 2 minutes to complete.

Fill out the submission form.


If you have questions or need help, reach out (also rather sooner than later) to our great community of Ubuntu App Developers.

Good luck everyone, we’re looking forward to lots and lots of great apps! :-)

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James Westby

We’ve recently rolled out some changes to the submission process for Click Applications that should make it easier for you to submit new applications, and allow them to be approved more quickly.

Previously when submitting an application you would have to enter all the information about that application on the website, even when some of that information was already included in the package itself. This was firstly an irritation, but sometimes developers would make a mistake when re-entering this information, meaning that the app was rejected from review and they would have to go back and correct the mistake.

With the new changes, when you submit an application you will wait a few seconds while the package is examined by the system, and you will then be redirected to the same process as before. However this time some of the fields will be pre-filled with information from the package. You won’t have to type in the application name, as it will already be there. This will speed up the process, and should reduce the number of mistakes that happen at that stage.

We’ve also been working on a command-line interface for submitting applications. It’s not polished yet, but if you are intrepid you can try out click-toolbelt.

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Michael Hall

I’ve been using Ubuntu on my only phone for over six months now, and I’ve been loving it. But all this time it’s been missing something, something I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Then, Saturday night, it finally hit me, it’s missing the community.

That’s not to say that the community isn’t involved in building it, all of the core apps have been community developed, as have several parts of our toolkit and even the platform itself. Everything about Ubuntu for phones is open source and open to the community.

But the community wasn’t on my phone. Their work was, but not the people.  I have Facebook and Google+ and Twitter, sure, but everybody is on those, and you have to either follow or friend people there to see anything from them. I wanted something that put the community of Ubuntu phone users, on my Ubuntu phone. So, I started to make one.

Community Cast

Community Cast is a very simple, very basic, public message broadcasting service for Ubuntu. It’s not instant messaging, or social networking. It doesn’t to chat rooms or groups. It isn’t secure, at all.  It does just one thing, it lets you send a short message to everybody else who uses it. It’s a place to say hello to other users of Ubuntu phone (or tablet).  That’s it, that’s all.

As I mentioned at the start, I only realized what I wanted Saturday night, but after spending just a few hours on it, I’ve managed to get a barely functional client and server, which I’m making available now to anybody who wants to help build it.


The server piece is a very small Django app, with a single BroadcastMessage data model, and the Django Rest Framework that allows you to list and post messages via JSON. To keep things simple, it doesn’t do any authentication yet, so it’s certainly not ready for any kind of production use.  I would like it to get Ubuntu One authentication information from the client, but I’m still working out how to do that.  I threw this very basic server up on our internal testing OpenStack cloud already, but it’s running the built-in http server and an sqlite3 database, so if it slows to a crawl or stops working don’t be surprised.  Like I said, it’s not production ready.  But if you want to help me get it there, you can get the code with bzr branch lp:~mhall119/+junk/communitycast-server, then just run syncdb and runserver to start it.


The client is just as simple and unfinished as the server (I’ve only put a few hours into them both combined, remember?), but it’s enough to use. Again there’s no authentication, so anybody with the client code can post to my server, but I want to use the Ubuntu Online Accounts to authenticate a user via their Ubuntu One account. There’s also no automatic updating, you have to press the refresh button in the toolbar to check for new messages. But it works. You can get the code for it with bzr branch lp:~mhall119/+junk/communitycast-client and it will by default connect to my test instance.  If you want to run your own server, you can change the baseUrl property on the MessageListModel to point to your local (or remote) server.


There isn’t much to show, but here’s what it looks like right now.  I hope that there’s enough interest from others to get some better designs for the client and help implementing them and filling out the rest of the features on both the client and server.


Not bad for a few hours of work.  I have a functional client and server, with the server even deployed to the cloud. Developing for Ubuntu is proving to be extremely fast and easy.


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Michael Hall

Screenshot from 2014-03-20 21:57:06Yesterday we made a big step towards developing a native email client for Ubuntu, which uses the Ubuntu UI Toolkit and will converge between between phones, tablets and the desktop from the start.

We’re not starting from scratch though, we’re building on top of the incredible work done in the Trojitá project.  Trojitá provides a fast, light email client built with Qt, which made it ideal for using with Ubuntu. And yesterday, the first of that work was accepted into upstream, you can now build an Ubuntu Components front end to Trojitá.

None of this would have been possible without the help up Trojitá’s upstream developer Jan Kundrát, who patiently helped me learn the codebase, and also the basics of CMake and Git so that I could make this first contribution. It also wouldn’t have been possible without the existing work by Ken VanDine and Joseph Mills, who both worked on the build configuration and some initial QML code that I used. Thanks also to Dan Chapman for working together with me to get this contribution into shape and accepted upstream.

This is just the start, now comes the hard work of actually building the new UI with the Ubuntu UI Toolkit.  Andrea Del Sarto has provided some fantastic UI mockups already which we can use as a start, but there’s still a need for a more detailed visual and UX design.  If you want to be part of that work, I’ve documented how to get the code and how to contribute on the EmailClient wiki.  You can also join the next IRC meeting at 1400 UTC today in #ubuntu-touch-meeting on Freenode.

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Michael Hall

Starting at 1400 UTC today, and continuing all week long, we will be hosting a series of online classes covering many aspects of Ubuntu application development. We have experts both from Canonical and our always amazing community who will be discussing the Ubuntu SDK, QML and HTML5 development, as well as the new Click packaging and app store.

You can find the full schedule here:

We’re using a new format for this year’s app developer week.  As you can tell from the link above, we’re using the Summit website.  It will work much like the virtual UDS, where each session will have a page containing an embedded YouTube video that will stream the presenter’s hangout, an embedded IRC chat window that will log you into the correct channel, and an Etherpad document where the presenter can post code examples, notes, or any other text.

Use the chatroom like you would an Ubuntu On Air session, start your questions with “QUESTION:” and wait for the presenter to get to it. After the session is over, the recorded video will be available on that page for you to replay later. If you register yourself as attending on the website (requires a Launchpad profile), you can mark yourself as attending those sessions you are interested in, and Summit can then give you a personalize schedule as well as an ical feed you can subscribe to in your calendar.

If you want to use the embedded Etherpad, make sure you’re a member of

That’s it!  Enjoy the session, ask good questions, help others when you can, and happy hacking.

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