Canonical Voices

Posts tagged with 'sdk'

Femma

We arrived in Helsinki on Sunday evening, ready to start our week long SDK sprint on Monday. Our hotel was in a nice location, by the sea.

The work stuff

The SDK is a core part of Ubuntu and provides an array of components and flexibility needed to create applications across staged and windowed form factors, with good design and user experience in mind.

The purpose of the sprint was to have the designers and engineers come together to work on tools and components such as palette themes, bottom edge, header, scrollbars, focus handling, dialogs, buttons, menus, text selections and developer tasks such as IDE, packaging and application startup.

Monday morning started with walking into our venue that looked somewhat like a classroom.

 

Classroom

The first task of the day required some physical activity of moving all the tables around so that the environment was much more conducive to a collaborative sprint.

Jouni presenting

Each day we broke off into working groups for our respective sessions and ironed out any existing issues, as well as working through new and exciting features that would enhance different SDK components.

Theme palette sessionJamie, Pierre and Zsombor working hard on the colour palette.

Jamie the professor

Old school pointing devices, Jamie gives it a go, looking very much like a professor!

What we achieved

During the course of the week we achieved what we’d set out to do:

  • Amended the theme palette to include any missing colours and then apply these to various components
  • Completed the implementation and release the bottom edge component into the staging environment
  • Completed the section scrolling prototype and have it reviewed by visual design and UX
  • Completed the portrait and landscape edit mode header prototype
  • Worked out behaviour of complex SDK components for focus handling and added some best practice examples to the specification
  • Communicated and gained concensus on the context menu design, who are now gearing up for some pre-requisite work and then implementation of context menus
  • Prepared the visual rules for buttons and made the Ubuntu shape ready to use for buttons
  • Completed the design for sliders  
  • Discussed a tree view component for navigation
  • Created a first draft of tabs wireframes and functionality agreed
  • Created a first draft of text selections visuals and reviewed, UX and functionality was discussed ready to include in the specification
  • Created the Libertine packaging project and containers
  • Tidied up the IDE
  • Created some Snapp packages and got them working
  • Ramped up some new  investigative work that arose in our collaboration

The planets aligned… literally

In the early hours of Wednesday morning  (before breakfast) a few of us managed to witnessed a planetary conjunction (Venus, Mars and Jupiter) which was truly amazing… a surprise benefit of sprinting in the arctic circle.
Even though there were a few hours of daylight, we managed to embrace the cold and stand outside to enjoy the beautiful views during lunch and coffee breaks.

The bay

All in all, it was a very productive and fun sprint. We left with a sense of accomplishment and camaraderie.

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Nicholas Skaggs

Ubuntu SDK Autopilot Plugin

Those of you who have developed an application using the Ubuntu SDK understand how nice it is to have a tool to support your workflow for writing an application. You can code, build, run and iterate on your code easily right from inside the SDK. However, to test your application, it was necessary to open a terminal and execute some commands. Leaving the Ubuntu SDK is an interruption to your workflow! It's even enough to throw you off your coding zen! It certainly may have dissuaded you from running tests. Seeing as testing should be a positive experience, this certainly won't do!


Thankfully Akiva thought the same thing. Thus he created a new plugin for the SDK. I'd like to celebrate and thank him for making all of our lives easier. Thanks Akiva! A big thank you to Benjamin from the SDK team as well for reviewing and helping get the plugin in shape.

The plugin scans your project for autopilot tests, and then creates a run configuration for them. From there, it's as easy as hitting the run button to run the application. See for yourself!

To learn more about how to install the plugin, or how it works, checkout the documentation on running autopilot tests found on developer.ubuntu.com. 

Go forth and test all the things! Try out using the plugin in your existing workflow. I'd love to hear feedback. If you are interested in making the plugin better, or expanding it to include other things, get in touch. As always, code is welcome!

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Nicholas Skaggs

It's never been easier to write tests for your application! I wanted to share some details on the new documentation and other tidbits that will help you ensure your application has a nice testsuite. If you've used the SDK in the past, you understand how nice it can make your development workflow. Writing code and running it on your desktop, device, or emulator is a snap.

Fortunately, having a nice testsuite for your application can also be just as easy. First, you will notice that now all of the wizards inside the SDK now come with nice testsuites already in place. They are ready for you to simply add-on more tests. The setup and heavy lifting is done. See for yourself!


Secondly, developer.ubuntu.com has a great section on every level of testing; no matter which language you use with the SDK. You'll find API references for the tools and technology used, along with helpful guides to get you in the proper mindset.

For autopilot itself, there's also API documentation for the various 'helpers' that will make writing tests much easier for you. In addition, there's a guide to running autopilot tests. This has been made even easier by the addition of Akiva's Autopilot plugin inside the SDK. I'll be sharing details on this as soon as it's packaged, but you can see a sneak peek in this video.

Finally, you will find a guide on how to structure your functional tests. These are the most demanding to write, and it's important to ensure you write your tests in a maintainable way. Don't forget about the guide on writing good functional tests either.

No matter what language or level you write tests for, the guides are there to help you. Why not trying adding a test or two to your project? If you are new, check out one of the wizards and try adding a simple testcase. Then apply the same knowledge (and templated code!) to your own project. Happy test writing!

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Steph Wilson

Last week the SDK team gathered in London for a sprint that focused on convergence, which consisted of pulling apart each component and discussing ways in which each would adapt to different form factors.

The SDK provides off-the-shelf UI components that make up our Ubuntu apps; however now we’re entering the world of Unity 8 convergence, some tweaking is needed to help them function and look visually pleasing on different screen sizes, such as desktop, tablet and other larger screens.

20150602_100153

To help with converging your app, the Design Team have created a set of predefined grid layouts screen targets: 40, 50, 90 GU (grid units), which makes life a lot easier to visualize where to place components in different screen sizes.

Scheduled across the week were various sessions focusing on different components from the SDK such as list items, date and time pickers; together with patterns like the Bottom Edge and PageStack. Each session gathered developers, visual and UX designers, where they ran through how a component might look (visual), the usability (UX) and how it will be implemented (developer) on different form factors.

Here’s the mess they made…

Here's the mess they made...

Main topics covered:

– Multi-column layouts, panel behaviors and pagestack

– Header, Bottom Edge and edit mode

– Focus handling

– List item layouts

– Date and time pickers

– Drop-down menus

– Scrollbars

– Application menu

– Tooltips

 

Here are some of the highlights:

 

  • Experiments and explorations were discussed around how the Bottom Edge will look in a multi-column view, and how the content will appear when it is revealed in the Bottom Edge view. Also, design animations were explored around the ‘Hint’ and how they will appear on each panel in a multi-column layout.
  • Explorations on how each panel will behave, look and breakpoints of implementing on different grid units (40,50,90).
  • A lot of discussion was had around the Header; looking at how it will transform from a phone  layout to a multi-column view in a tablet or desktop. Currently the header holds up to four actions placed on the right, a title, and navigational functions on the left, with a separate header section underneath that acts as a navigation to different views within the app. The Design Team had created wireframes that explored how many headers would appear in a multi-column layout, together with how the actions and header section would fit in.
  • Different list item layouts were explored, looking at how many actions, titles and summaries can be placed in different scenarios. Together with a potentially new context/popover menu to accompany the leading, trailing and default options.
  • The Design Team experimented with a new animation that happens during a focused state on the desktop.
  • The new system exposes all the features of a components, so developers are able to customize and style it more conveniently.

Overall the convergence sprint was a success, with both the SDK and Design Team working in unison to reach decisions and listing priorities for the coming months. Each agreed that this method of working was very beneficial, as it brought together the designers and developers to really focus on the user and developer needs.

 

They enjoyed some downtime too…

Arrival dinner at Byron Burgers

Arrival dinner at Byron Burgers

 

Out in Soho

Out in Soho

Wine tasting in the office (not a regular occurrence)

Wine tasting in the office (not a regular occurrence)

 

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Nicholas Skaggs

Creating multi-arch click packages

Click packages are one of the pieces of new technology that drives the next version of ubuntu on the phone and desktop. In a nutshell click packages allow for application developers to easily package and deliver application updates independent of the distribution release or archive. Without going into the interesting technical merits and de-merits of click packages, this means the consumer can get faster application updates. But much of the discussion and usage of click packages until now has revolved around mobile. I wanted to talk about using click packages on the desktop and packaging clicks for multiple architectures.

The manifest file
Click packages follow a specific format. Click packages contain a payload of an application's libraries, code, artwork and resources, along with its needed external dependencies. The description of the package is found in the manifest file, which is what I'd like to talk about. The file must contain a few keys, but one of the recognized optional keys is architecture. This key allows specifying architectures the package will run on.

If an application contains no compiled code, simply use 'all' as the value for architecture. This accomplishes the goal of running on all supported architectures and many of the applications currently in the ubuntu touch store fall into this category. However, an increasing number of applications do contain compiled code. Here's how to enable support across architectures for projects with compiled code.

Fat packages
The click format along with the ubuntu touch store fully support specifying one or more values for specific architecture support inside the application manifest file. Those values follow the same format as dpkg architecture names. Now in theory if a project containing compiled code lists the architectures to support, click build should be able to build one package for all. However, for now this process requires a little manual intervention. So lets talk about building a fat (or big boned!) package that contains support for multiple architectures inside a single click package.

Those who just want to skip ahead can check out the example package I put together using clock. This same package can be found in the store as multi-arch clock test. Feel free to install the click package on the desktop, the i386 emulator and an armhf device.

Building a click for a different architecture
To make a multi-arch package a click package needs to be built for each desired architecture. Follow this tutorial on developer.ubuntu.com for more information on how to create a click target for each architecture. Once all the targets are setup, use the ubuntu sdk to build a click for each target. The end result is a click file specific to each architecture.

For example in creating the clock package above, I built a click for amd64, i386 and armhf. Three files were generated:

com.ubuntu.clock_3.2.176_amd64.click
com.ubuntu.clock_3.2.176_i386.click
com.ubuntu.clock_3.2.176_armhf.click

Notice the handy naming scheme allows for easy differentiation as to which click belongs to which architecture. Next, extract the compiled code from each click package. This can be accomplished by utilizing dpkg. For example,

dpkg -x com.ubuntu.clock_3.2.176_amd64.click amd64

Do this for each package. The result should be a folder corresponding to each package architecture.

Next copy one version of the package for use as the base of multi-arch click package. In addition, remove all the compiled code under the lib folder. This folder will be populated with the extracted compiled code from the architecture specific click packages.

cp amd64 multi
rm -rf multi/lib/*

Now there is a folder for each click package, and a new folder named multi that contains the application, minus any compiled code.

Creating the multi-arch click
Inside the extracted click packages is a lib folder. The compiled modules should be arranged inside, potentially inside an architecture subfolder (depending on how the package is built).

Copy all of the compiled modules into a new folder inside the lib folder of the multi directory. The folder name should correspond to the architecture of the complied code. Here's a list of the architectures for ARM, i386, and amd64 respectively.


arm-linux-gnueabihf
i386-linux-gnu
x86_64-linux-gnu


You can check the naming from an intended device by looking in the application-click.conf file.

grep ARCH /usr/share/upstart/sessions/application-click.conf

To use the clock package as an example again, here's a quick look at the folder structure:

lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf/...
lib/i386-linux-gnu/...
lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/...

The contents of lib/* from each click package I built earlier is under a corresponding folder inside the multi/lib directory. So for example, the lib folder from com.ubuntu.clock_3.2.176_i386.click became lib/i386-linux-gnu/.

Presto, magic package time! 
Finally the manifest.json file needs to be updated to reflect support for the desired architectures. Inside the manifest.json file under the multi directory, edit the architecture key values to list all supported architectures for the new package. For example to list support for ARM and x86 architectures,

"architecture": ["armhf", "i386", "amd64"],

To build the new package, execute click build multi. The resulting click should build and be named with a _multi.click prefix. This click can be installed on any of the specified architectures and is ready to be uploaded to the store.

Caveats, nibbly bits and bugs
So apart from click not automagically building these packages, there is one other bug as of this writing. The resulting multi-arch click will fail the automated store review and instead enter manual review. To workaround this request a manual review. Upon approval, the application will enter the store as usual.

Summary
In summary to create a multi-arch click package build a click for each supported architecture. Then pull the compiled library code from each click and place into a single click package. Next modify the click manifest file to state all of the architectures supported. Finally, rebuild the click package!

I trust this explanation and example provides encouragement to include support for x86 platforms when creating and uploading a click package to the store. Undoubtedly there are other ways to build a multi-arch click; simply ensure all the compiled code for each architecture is included inside the click package. Feel free to experiment!

If you have any questions as usual feel free to contact me. I look forward to seeing more applications in the store from my unity8 desktop!

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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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scope_prev_all

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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.

Read…

scope_dep8 scope_dep9

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Michael Hall

A couple of weeks ago we announced the start of a contest to write new Unity Scopes. These are the Dash plugins that let you search for different kinds of content from different sources. Last week Alan Pope posted his Scopes Wishlist detailing the ones he would like to see. And while I think they’re all great ideas, they didn’t particularly resonate with my personal use cases. So I’ve decided to put together a wishlist of my own:

Ubuntu Community

I’ve started on one of these in the past, more to test-drive the Scope API and documentation (both of which have changed somewhat since then), but our community has a rather large amount of content available via open APIs or feeds, that could be combined into making one really great scope. My attempt used the LoCo Team Portal API, but there is also the Planet Ubuntu RSS feed (also feeds from a number of other websites), iCal feeds from Summit, a Google calendar for UbuntuOnAir, etc. There’s a lot of community data out there just waiting to be surfaced to Ubuntu users.

Open States

My friend Paul Tagliamante works for the Sunlight Foundation, which provides access to a huge amount of local law and political data (open culture + government, how cool is that?), including the Open States website which provides more local information for those of us in the USA. Now only could a scope use these APIs to make it easy for us citizens to keep up with that’s going on in our governments, it’s a great candidate to use the Location information to default you to local data no matter where you are.

Desktop

This really only has a purpose on Unity 8 on the desktop, and even then only for a short term until a normal desktop is implemented. But for now it would be a nice way to view your desktop files and such. I think that a Scope’s categories and departments might provide a unique opportunity to re-think how we use the desktop too, with the different files organized by type, sorted by date, and displayed in a way that suits it’s content.

There’s potential here to do some really interesting things, I’m just not sure what they are. If one of you intrepid developers has some good ideas, though, give it a shot.

Comics

Let’s be honest, I love web comics, you love web comics, we all love web comic. Wouldn’t it be super awesome if you got the newest, best webcomics on your Dash? Think about it, get your XKCD, SMBC or The Oatmeal delivered every day. Okay, it might be a productivity killer, but still, I’d install it.

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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.

Read…

scope-blue1scope-blue0

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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…

screenshot20145615_125616591

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Michael Hall

Will CookeThis is a guest post from Will Cooke, the new Desktop Team manager at Canonical. It’s being posted here while we work to get a blog setup on unity.ubuntu.com, which is where you can find out more about Unity 8 and how to get involved with it.

Intro

Understandably, most of the Ubuntu news recently has focused around phones. There is a lot of excitement and anticipation building around the imminent release of the first devices.  However, the Ubuntu Desktop has not been dormant during this time.  A lot of thought and planning has been given to what the desktop will become in the future; who will use it and what will they use it for.  All the work which is going in to the phone will be directly applicable to the desktop as well, since they will use the same code.  All the apps, the UI tweaks, everything which makes applications secure and stable will all directly apply to the desktop as well.  The plan is to have the single converged operating system ready for use on the desktop by 16.04.

The plan

We learned some lessons during the early development of Unity 7. Here’s what happened:

  • 11.04: New Unity as default
  • 11.10: New Unity version
  • 12.04: Unity in First LTS

What we’ve decided to do this time is to keep the same, stable Unity 7 desktop as the default while we offer users who want to opt-in to Unity8 an option to use that desktop. As development continues the Unity 8 desktop will get better and better.  It will benefit from a lot of the advances which have come about through the development of the phone OS and will benefit from continual improvements as the releases happen.

  • 14.04 LTS: Unity 7 default / Unity 8 option for the first time
  • 14.10: Unity 7 default / Unity 8 new rev as an option
  • 15.04: Unity 7 default / Unity 8 new rev as an option
  • 15.10: Potentially Unity 8 default / Unity 7 as an option
  • 16.04 LTS: Unity 8 default / Unity 7 as an option

As you can see, this gives us a full 2 cycles (in addition to the one we’ve already done) to really nail Unity 8 with the level of quality that people expect. So what do we have?

How will we deliver Unity 8 with better quality than 7?

Continuous Integration is the best way for us to achieve and maintain the highest quality possible.  We have put a lot of effort in to automating as much of the testing as we can, the best testing is that which is performed easily.  Before every commit the changes get reviewed and approved – this is the first line of defense against bugs.  Every merge request triggers a run of the tests, the second line of defense against bugs and regressions – if a change broke something we find out about it before it gets in to the build.

The CI process builds everything in a “silo”, a self contained & controlled environment where we find out if everything works together before finally landing in the image.

And finally, we have a large number of tests which run against those images. This really is a “belt and braces” approach to software quality and it all happens automatically.  You can see, we are taking the quality of our software very seriously.

What about Unity 7?

Unity 7 and Compiz have a team dedicated to maintenance and bug fixes and so the quality of it continues to improve with every release.  For example; windows switching workspaces when a monitor gets unplugged is fixed, if you have a mouse with 6 buttons it works, support for the new version of Metacity (incase you want to use the Gnome2 desktop) – added (and incidentally, a lot of that work was done by a community contributor – thanks Alberts!)

Unity 7 is the desktop environment for a lot of software developers, devops gurus, cloud platform managers and millions of users who rely on it to help them with their everyday computing.  We don’t want to stop you being able to get work done.  This is why we continue to maintain Unity 7 while we develop Unity 8.  If you want to take Unity 8 for a spin and see how its coming along then you can; if you want to get your work done, we’re making that experience better for you every day.  Best of all, both of these options are available to you with no detriment to the other.

Things that we’re getting in the new Ubuntu Desktop

  1. Applications decoupled from the OS updates.  Traditionally a given release of Ubuntu has shipped with the versions of the applications available at the time of release.  Important updates and security fixes are back-ported to older releases where required, but generally you had to wait for the next release to get the latest and greatest set of applications.  The new desktop packaging system means that application developers can push updates out when they are ready and the user can benefit right away.
  2. Application isolation.  Traditionally applications can access anything the user can access; photos, documents, hardware devices, etc.  On other platforms this has led to data being stolen or rendered otherwise unusable.  Isolation means that without explicit permission any Click packaged application is prevented from accessing data you don’t want it to access.
  3. A full SDK for writing Ubuntu apps.  The SDK which many people are already using to write apps for the phone will allow you to write apps for the desktop as well.  In fact, your apps will be write once run anywhere – you don’t need to write a “desktop” app or a “phone” app, just an Ubuntu app.

What we have now

The easiest way to try out the Unity 8 Desktop Preview is to use the daily Ubuntu Desktop Next live image:   http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/ubuntu-desktop-next/daily-live/current/   This will allow you to boot into a Unity 8 session without touching your current installation.  An easy 10 step way to write this image to a USB stick is:

  1. Download the ISO
  2. Insert your USB stick in the knowledge that it’s going to get wiped
  3. Open the “Disks” application
  4. Choose your USB stick and click on the cog icon on the righthand side
  5. Choose “Restore Disk Image”
  6. Browse to and select the ISO you downloaded in #1
  7. Click “Start restoring”
  8. Wait
  9. Boot and select “Try Ubuntu….”
  10. Done *

* Please note – there is currently a bug affecting the Unity 8 greeter which means you are not automatically logged in when you boot the live image.  To log in you need to:

  1. Switch to vt1 (ctrl-alt-f1)
  2. type “passwd” and press enter
  3. press enter again to set the current password to blank
  4. enter a new password twice
  5. Check that the password has been successfully changed
  6. Switch back to vt7 (ctrl-alt-f7)
  7. Enter the new password to login

 

Here are some screenshots showing what Unity 8 currently looks like on the desktop:

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The team

The people working on the new desktop are made up of a few different disciplines.  We have a team dedicated to Unity 7 maintenance and bug fixes who are also responsible for Unity 8 on the desktop and feed in a lot of support to the main Unity 8 & Mir teams. We have the Ubuntu Desktop team who are responsible for many aspects of the underlying technologies used such as GNOME libraries, settings, printing etc as well as the key desktop applications such as Libreoffice and Chromium.  The Ubuntu desktop team has some of the longest serving members of the Ubuntu family, with some people having been here for the best part of ten years.

How you can help

We need to log all the bugs which need to be fixed in order to make Unity 8 the best desktop there is.  Firstly, we need people to test the images and log bugs.  If developers want to help fix those bugs, so much the better.  Right now we are focusing on identifying where the work done for the phone doesn’t work as expected on the desktop.  Once those bugs are logged and fixed we can rely on the CI system described above to make sure that they stay fixed.

Link to daily ISOs:  http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/ubuntu-desktop-next/daily-live/current/

Bugs:  https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/unity8-desktop-session

IRC:  #ubuntu-desktop on Freenode

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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).

unity-8-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

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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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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Michael Hall

I’ve just finished the last day of a week long sprint for Ubuntu application development. There were many people here, designers, SDK developers, QA folks and, which excited me the most, several of the Core Apps developers from our community!

image20140520_0048I haven’t been in attendance at many conferences over the past couple of years, and without an in-person UDS I haven’t had a chance to meetup and hangout with anybody outside of my own local community. So this was a very nice treat for me personally to spend the week with such awesome and inspiring contributors.

It wasn’t a vacation though, sprints are lots of work, more work than UDS.  All of us were jumping back and forth between high information density discussions on how to implement things, and then diving into some long heads-down work to get as much implemented as we could. It was intense, and now we’re all quite tired, but we all worked together well.

I was particularly pleased to see the community guys jumping right in and thriving in what could have very easily been an overwhelming event. Not only did they all accomplish a lot of work, fix a lot of bugs, and implement some new features, but they also gave invaluable feedback to the developers of the toolkit and tools. They never cease to amaze me with their talent and commitment.

It was a little bitter-sweet though, as this was also the last sprint with Jono at the head of the community team.  As most of you know, Jono is leaving Canonical to join the XPrize foundation.  It is an exciting opportunity to be sure, but his experience and his insights will be sorely missed by the rest of us. More importantly though he is a friend to so many of us, and while we are sad to see him leave, we wish him all the best and can’t wait to hear about the things he will be doing in the future.

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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 http://developer.ubuntu.com/pioneers 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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