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Alan Pope

Ubuntu Core Apps
As we come to the end of 2014, looking forward to new devices running Ubuntu in our immediate future, it’s time for one last set of Hack Days of the year.

Next week, from Monday 8th December till Friday 12th we’re going to be having another set of Core Apps Hack Days. We’ve had a few of these this year which have been a great way to focus attention on specific applications and their dependent components in the platform. They’re also a nice gateway for getting new people into the Core Apps project and Ubuntu development in general.

The Core Apps are community maintained Free Software applications which were created for Ubuntu devices, but also work on the Ubuntu desktop. We welcome new developers, testers, autopilot writers, artists and translators to get involved in these exciting projects.

The schedule

As with previous hack days we’re going to focus on specific apps on each day, which we run from 9:00 UTC until 21:00 UTC. In summary our schedule looks like this:-

  • Monday 8th – Calculator, Terminal & Clock
  • Tuesday 9th – File Manager & Calendar
  • Wednesday 10th – Music & Document Viewer – QA Day Workshop: writing tests for the core apps (18:00UTC)
  • Thursday 11th – Shorts & Reminders
  • Friday 12th – Weather & Dekko (email)

A QA treat

Creating core apps involves close coordination between developers and designers to provide the right set of features, high usability and appealing visuals. All these would be nothing without a suite of automated tests that are run to ensure the features are rock-solid and that no regressions are introduced with new development.

All core apps include Autopilot and QML tests that we are constantly expanding to increase test coverage. Writing tests for core apps is a nice way to get started contributing. All you’ll need is some Python knowledge for Autopilot tests or QML for QML tests. Our quality man, Nicholas Skaggs will be running a live video workshop on Wednesday Dec 10th, at 18:00UTC, as an on-ramp to learn how to create tests.

Join the fest

The Hack Days will be happening live at the #ubuntu-app-devel IRC channel on Freenode

The QA Workshop will be happening also live on Ubuntu On Air. You can watch the video and ask your questions on the same IRC channel.

We’ll blog more details about the apps each day next week with links to specific bugs, tasks and goals, so stay tuned!

As always we greatly appreciate all contributions to the Core Apps project during the Hack Days, but welcome community efforts all year round, so if this week doesn’t work for you, feel free to drop by #ubuntu-app-devel on Freenode any time and speak to me, popey.

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David Planella

image-phone-naturallyneat-medium

The 5 weeks after the Ubuntu Scopes Showdown announcement are coming to an end, it’s time to start putting the pencils down and submitting your scopes for the judges to do their reviews.

While you’ve still got two days to fix some bugs and do some final polish, the 3rd of December is the last day for submissions to be accepted for the Showdown. Remember that to qualify, you’ll need to:

  • Register your scope for the contest
  • Submit your scope to the Ubuntu Software Store

Registering your scope

To register your scope for the judges’ review, you’ll simply need a couple of minutes to fill in the registration form. It might be worth filling it in advance, even if you are planning to upload your app at the last minute.

You can submit the form now and still upload new revisions of your app until the 3rd of December.

Register your scope for participation

Submitting your scope

Submitting your scope to the store should also be quick and easy. The upload workflow is exactly the same as for apps, and with automated reviews it takes just a few minutes from upload to your scope being available for everyone on the Ubuntu Software Store.

To ensure your scope is discoverable and looks good, you might want to check out the scope upload tips ›

And when you’re ready to start the upload, you can follow the 5-step process to get it published ›

Need help?

If you need help with any of the above, feel free to reach out in any of the channels below:

Looking forward to seeing your scopes in the store!

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David Callé

Now that your scope is in a working state, it’s time to get it ready for publication. In this tutorial you will learn how to make your scope look good when the user is browsing the store or the list of scopes installed on the phone.

In the next steps, we are going to prepare a few graphics, edit the <scope>.ini file located in the data directory of your project and package the scope for the store.

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David Planella

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This is a week full of exciting events in the Ubuntu world! Following on the series of Ubuntu Scopes Workshops for the Ubuntu Scopes Showdown, we’re thrilled to announce more Scopes Workshops sessions as part of the Ubuntu Online Summit.

Scopes workshops: learn more and ask your questions

In order to support participants of the Scope Showdown, we’re organizing a series of workshops around different topics on writing scopes. These will be 1 hour hands-on sessions where the presenter will be demonstrating the topic live on video, with real code and using the Ubuntu SDK.

These are also meant to be interactive, so during and after the session the presenter will be answering the questions posted in real time by developers on the chat widget on each session page. Here’s the schedule for the workshops:

Workshop Time Presenter
Online Accounts for Scopes Developers Thursday, 13th Nov at 14:00UTC Alberto Mardegan
Scope Development How-Tos Thursday, 13th Nov at 15:00UTC Thomas Strehl & the Unity API Team

In a nutshell:

  • WHAT: Scopes workshops at the Ubuntu Online Summit
  • WHEN: Thursday, 13th November, starting at 14:00 UTC
  • WHERE: At the Ubuntu Online Summit

Looking forward to seeing you there!

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David Callé

Departments are a way for the user to navigate the data source exposed by a scope. A music scope can use them to allow browsing by genre, a Youtube scope could list channels and playlists, a news scope could use them for listing topics, etc. Departments can also display a full hierarchy of sub-departments.

In this tutorial, you are going to learn how to create and add them to your scope.

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David Planella

More content coming up for app and scope developers targeting Ubuntu on devices: this time around Online Accounts!

Learn the concepts on how to write account providers for online services using the Ubuntu Online Accounts API (UOA), and let the API take care of all the complexity and security for you, so that you can concentrate on your code.

Go to the Online Accounts Developer Guide >

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Rupinder Mann

The Ubuntu scopes contest has kicked off and we’re getting you geared up on how to develop scopes with on air workshops. We’re now bringing you another opportunity to share your views on Ubuntu development by entering the latest Developer Economics Survey.

Our friends at Vision Mobile are aiming the latest survey at mobile and IoT developers. We’d like to invite you to take part in this 10-minute survey and contribute your thoughts on Ubuntu development.

The key findings from the survey will become available as a free research report in February 2015.  Enter the survey now and you’ll also have the chance to win some great prizes, including an iPhone 6, an Oculus Rift DevKit, and a Samsung Gear Smartwatch! Don’t miss out, complete the 10-minute survey now!

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David Planella

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image-phone-naturallyneat-medium

Hot on the heels of the Ubuntu Scopes Showdown start, we’re thrilled to announce the Scopes Workshops sessions to get developers kickstarted and ask all of their questions!

Scopes workshops: learn and ask your questions

In order to support participants of the Scope Showdown, we’re organizing a series of workshops around different topics on writing scopes. These will be 1 hour hands-on sessions where the presenter will be demonstrating the topic live on video, with real code and using the Ubuntu SDK.

These are also meant to be interactive, so during and after the session the presenter will be answering the questions posted in real time by developers on the chat widget on Ubuntu on air. Here’s the schedule for the workshops:

Workshop Time Presenter
Setting up your scopes development environment Thursday, 6th Nov at 16:00UTC David Planella
Introduction to scopes development Thursday, 6th Nov at 17:00UTC David Callé
Adding location support to your scope Thursday, 6th Nov at 18:00UTC Kyle Nitzsche

In a nutshell:

  • WHAT: Scopes workshops
  • WHEN: Thursday, 6th November, starting at 16:00 UTC
  • WHERE: On Ubuntu on air

More on scopes at the Ubuntu Online Summit

Next week another key event in the Ubuntu world is coming: the Ubuntu Online Summit (UOS): 3 days of discussions, workshops and presentations about the upcoming work and plans for the next Ubuntu release.

As part of UOS, we’ll be running another set of workshops, so stay tuned for the schedule to learn more about scopes. Register to attend UOS >

Looking forward to seeing the scopes everyone comes up with!

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David Callé

Ubuntu has a solid location stack, allowing users to select which applications have access to the device location. This also applies to scopes and is very easy to add to your code.

In this short tutorial, you are going to learn how to bring location awareness to your scope.

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Michael Hall

With all of the new documentation coming to support the development of Unity Scopes, it’s time for us to have another development shodown! Contestants will have five (5) weeks to develop a project, from scratch, and submit it to the Ubuntu Store. But this time all of the entries must be Scopes.

Be sure to update to the latest SDK packages to ensure that you have the correct template and tools. You should also create a new Click chroot to get the latest build and runtime packages.

Prizes

prizesWe’ve got some great prizes lined up for the winners of this competition.

  • 1st place will win a new Dell XPS 13 Laptop, Developer Edition (preloaded with Ubuntu)
  • Runners up will receive one of:
    • Logitech UE Boom Bluetooth speakers
    • Nexus 7 running Ubuntu
    • An Ubuntu bundle, featuring:
      • Ubuntu messenger bag
      • Ubuntu Touch Infographic T-shirt
      • Ubuntu Neoprene Laptop Sleeve
    • An Ubuntu bundle, featuring:
      • Ubuntu backpack
      • Ubuntu Circle of Friends Dot Design T-shirt
      • Ubuntu Neoprene Laptop Sleeve

Judging

Scope entries will be reviewed by a panel of judges from a variety of backgrounds and specialties, all of whom will evaluate the scope based on the following criteria:

  • General Interest – Scopes that are of more interest to general phone users will be scored higher. We recommend identifying what kind of content phone users want to have fast, easy access to and then finding an online source where you can query for it
  • Creativity – Scopes are a unique way of bringing content and information to a user, and we’ve only scratched the surface of what they can do. Thinking outside the box and providing something new and exciting will lead to a higher score for your Scope
  • Features – There’s more to scopes than basic searching, take advantage of the departments, categories and settings APIs to enhance the functionality of your Scope
  • Design – Scopes offer a variety of ways to customize the way content is displayed, from different layouts to visual styling. Take full advantage of what’s possible to provide a beautiful presentation of your results.
  • Awareness / Promotion – we will award extra points to those of you who blog, tweet, facebook, Google+, reddit, and otherwise share updates and information about your scope as it progresses.

The judges for this contest are:

  • Chris Wayne developer behind a number of current pre-installed Scopes
  • Joey-Elijah Sneddon Author and editor of Omg!Ubuntu!
  • Victor Thompson Ubuntu Core Apps developer
  • Jouni Helminen Designer at Canonical
  • Alan Pope from the Ubuntu Community Team at Canonical

Learn how to write Ubuntu Scopes

To get things started we’ve recently introduced a new Unity Scope project template into the Ubuntu SDK, you can use this to get a working foundation for your code right away. Then you can follow along with our new SoundCloud scope tutorial to learn how to tailor your code to a remote data source and give your scope a unique look and feel that highlights both the content and the source. To help you out along the way, we’ll be scheduling a series of online Workshops that will cover how to use the Ubuntu SDK and the Scope APIs. In the last weeks of the contest we will also be hosting a hackathon on our IRC channel (#ubuntu-app-devel on Freenode) to answer any last questions and help you get your c If you cannot join those, you can still find everything you need to know in our scope developer documentation.

How to participate

If you are not a programmer and want to share some ideas for cool scopes, be sure to add and vote for scopes on our reddit page. The contest is free to enter and open to everyone. The five week period starts on the Thursday 30th October and runs until Wednesday 3rd December 2014! Enter the Ubuntu Scope Showdown >

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David Callé

A scope can provide persistent settings for simple customizations, such as allowing the user to configure an email address or select a distance unit as metric or imperial.

In this tutorial, you well learn how to add settings to your scope and allow users to customize their experience.

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scope-settings_coffeenearby2 scope-settings_visitparis2 scope-settings_indieconcerts1

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David Callé

Scopes come with a very flexible customization system. From picking the text color to rearranging how results are laid out, a scope can easily look like a generic RSS reader, a music library or even a store front.

In this new article, you will learn how to make your scope shine by customizing its results, changing its colors, adding a logo and adapting its layout to present your data in the best possible way. Read…

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David Callé

The SDK and Unity teams are constantly looking for ways to improve the overall performance and battery life of Ubuntu. Your app should be written in the same spirit: lightweight and fast.

The Ubuntu SDK performance overlay.

This article will show you how to measure performance in your QML app and give you some tips on avoiding common pitfalls and resource hogs. Read…

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David Planella

OSM GPS dump

We’re very excited to announce an agreement with Nokia HERE to provide A-GPS support on Ubuntu. The new platform service will enable developers to obtain accurate positioning data for their location-based apps in under two minutes, a significantly shorter Time To First Fix (TTFF) than the average for raw GPS technologies.

Faster positioning

While Ubuntu already features GPS-based location, it has always been a key requirement for the OS to provide application developers with rapid and efficient location positioning capabilities.

The new positioning service will be a hybrid solution integrating A-GPS and WiFi positioning, a powerful combo to help obtaining a very fast and accurate TTFF. The system is to be functional by the Release To Manufacturer (RTM) milestone, and available on the regular Ubuntu builds and for retail phones shipping Ubuntu.

Privacy and security

With the user’s explicit consent, anonymous data related to signal strength of local WiFi signals and radio cells can be contributed to crowd-sourcing location services, with the purpose of improving the overall quality of the positioning service for all users.

In line with Ubuntu’s privacy policy, no personal data of any nature is to be collected and released. Users will also be able to opt-out of this service if they do not wish their mobile handset to collect this type of data.

The positioning system will also be run under strict confinement, so that the service and its data cannot be accessed without the user explicitly granting access. With Ubuntu’s trust model, a confined application has to be granted trust by the user to gain access to security- or privacy-relevant system components.

Mapping capabilities

As the new service is to be focused on positioning, it will be decoupled from any mapping solution. Ubuntu Developers, as before, will have a choice of mapping services to use for their applications, including Nokia HERE, OpenStreetMap and others.

Header image based on “openstreetmap gps coverage” by Steven Kay, CC-BY-SA 2.0.

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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

facebook-sharing
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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David Planella

Ubuntu loves HTML5Here’s a reminder about next Monday’s 7th of July Ubuntu HTML5 apps session in Barcelona.

At this free event, I’ll be presenting Ubuntu’s HTML5 development story, together with a live coding session and a Q&A round at the end. You’ll learn how to use the Ubuntu SDK and the UI toolkit to easily reuse your web skills to create stunning Ubuntu apps.

HTML5 is the other side of the coin of the Ubuntu app developer offering, where both web and native are first class citizens, offering a very flexible yet focused approach for application development. Teaming up with BeMyApp meetups, the session will start at 7 p.m. at Barcelona’s Mobile World Centre.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Register here for the HTML5 session >

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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!

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.

Users

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

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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Alan Pope

As previously blogged we’re inviting the community to hack on Core Apps and Community Apps this week.

All the details are in the post above, but here’s the executive summary:-

  • Hack days run from 30th June till 4th July
  • We’re hacking on the Core Apps Music, Calendar, Calendar, Clock, Weather & Calculator
  • In addition we’re also hacking on community apps including Beru Ebook Reader, OSM Touch mapping software, and Trojita email client
  • Join us in the #ubuntu-app-devel IRC channel on freenode, and on the ubuntu-phone mailing list to get started
  • Get all the details from the hack days wiki page

As always we welcome new contributions during the Hack Days, but also beyond that.

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Alan Pope

Ready for RTM*: Ubuntu Touch Core App Hack Days!

* Release to Manufacturing

device-2014-06-25-121330

We’re running another set of Core Apps Hack Days next week. Starting Monday 30th June through to Friday 4th July we’ll be hacking on Core Apps, getting them polished for our upcoming RTM (Release To Manufacture) images. The goal of our hack days is as always to implement missing features, fix bugs, get new developers involved in coding on Ubuntu using the SDK and to have some fun hacking on Free Software.

For those who’ve not seen the hack days before, it’s really simple. We get together from 09:00 UTC till 21:00 UTC on #ubuntu-app-devel on freenode IRC and hack on the Core Apps. We will be testing the apps to destruction, filing and triaging bugs, creating patches, discussing and testing proposals and generally do whatever we can to get these apps ready for RTM. It’s good fun, relaxed and a great way to get started in Ubuntu app development with the SDK

We’ll have developers hanging around to answer questions, and can call on platform and SDK experts for assistance when required. We focus on specific apps each day, but as always we welcome contributions to all the core apps both during the designated days, and beyond.

Not just Core Apps

This time around we’re also doing things a little differently. Typically we only focus attention on the main community maintained Core Apps we ship on our device images. For this set of Hack Days we’d like to invite 3rd party community app developers to bring their apps along as well and hack with us. We’re looking for developers who have already developed their Ubuntu app using the SDK but maybe need help with the “last mile”. Perhaps you have design questions, bugs or feature enhancements which you’d like to get people involved in.

device-2014-06-25-122105 device-2014-06-25-122334

We won’t be writing your code for you, but we can certainly help to find experienced people to answer your questions and advise of platform and SDK details. We’d expect you to make your code available somewhere, to allow contributions and perhaps enable some kind of bug tracker or task manager. It’s up to you to manage your own community app, we’re here to help though!

Get involved

If you’re interested in bringing your app to hack days, then get in touch with popey (Alan Pope) on IRC or via email [popey@ubuntu.com] and we’ll schedule it in for next week and get the word out.

You can find out more about the Core Apps Hack Days on the wiki, and can discuss this with us on IRC in #ubuntu-app-devel.

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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!

Users

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.

Excitement

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.

Pioneers

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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