Victor and Andrew are two inspiring Community developers that have devoted their spare time to contribute to the Ubuntu Touch Music App team. I sat down with them during the Washington Device Sprint in October where they told us how they drew inspiration from the Design Team, and what drives them to contribute to Ubuntu.
Hey guys, so when did you first get involved with Ubuntu?
Victor: “I started to contribute to the Ubuntu platform in March/April 2013 where I noticed there was no music app, so I started putting one together. It was pretty sketchy to start with, but it worked. I didn’t have a device to test it on so I mostly tested it using the platform on my desktop – so things were a bit hit and miss.
There was also another developer doing a music app, and at the time there was no core capability of playing music through an application for the proposed devices. Michael Hall (Open Source Software Developer) and Alan Pope (Engineering Manager) pulledand I together, where we merged our core bases and started the music core app.
We didn’t have as much time as other applications, so we more or less sprinted like we are now to get things done. It was very spec driven and specific, which was helpful but sometimes it was hard to put together a full vision of what the designers wanted. So now we are redoing it from the feedback we have gathered, and it’s going pretty well. A little more agile than it was previously as to do thing faster, but it’s been fun the whole time. It’s nice to work on an application that people need and gets visibility, never get sick of hacking at it.”
Andrew: “I’m from North London, where I’m currently studying Software Engineering at Oxford Brookes University. I was working on my own music app where I just taught myself how to do things using my own framework, then I saw that these guys at Ubuntu had a similar problem to me, and so I thought I’d provide a patch. This then built up from there, and now here I am!”
Steph: “It’s amazing that someone can be in their bedroom writing codes and then suddenly your app is on a phone!”
Victor: “The other great thing about it is the Community Managers make it easy and apparent that you can contribute to different projects.”
Andrew: “Yeah someone just got in contact with me and asked me if I wanted to join the team and told me how open source projects work.”
What inspired you to contribute?
Victor: “A lot of my original inspiration was from what the Design Team had previously done. The previous iteration design spec was very large for the music app and it wasn’t as future driven, more just visually pleasing.”
Do you find it hard to implement some designs?
Victor: “We try to make it as close to the designs as we can, but obviously there’s compromises. There was some very flow driven things such as: sized cover arts that were hard to implement, but we can implement them now. It’s nice because they use the same pattern from other applications.”
Andrew: “Usually we just tell the designer that this is just not possible.”
What is it about open source that you like?
Victor: “I have been a user since 2006, but I have never been a large open source developer myself. It is hard to get involved with when you don’t know what you want to contribute to.”
Andrew: “Most applications are so developed already, so you would have to learn the existing code base and develop on it, whereas if you start a new you know everything from the get-go. Seeing your application on the device and knowing it can be on other devices too, is pretty exciting!”
How does it fit into your lifestyles?
Victor: “I’m a software engineer as well, so I write a lot of code. I haven’t really done QML or QT until I started doing these applications with the Ubuntu platform, so it has been a learning experience. I am learning something new from experienced people.”
Have you made any other applications for Ubuntu?
Victor: I’ve made a few games like Piano Tiles, and another that’s kind of like a clone of that but in QML – It’s a simple app but a good time waster haha.”
How much time does it take you to develop an app?
Victor: “It took me like a day. Andrew made a game last night! In 2 hours…”
Andrew: “Yeah we did! Loads of us at the sprint just got together in a room and made a few games.”
So you’re used to working remotely, does that put a barrier against things?
Andrew: “It sometimes delay things. However, you start to build this image of a person, so when you actually get to meet them you start to understand how they are and what makes them tick.
Victor: “Depends on how personal it really needs to be. If you are collaborating together and it’s mostly writing code and coming up with ideas, it doesn’t necessarily need to be face-to-face. It is obviously nicer, but you also get the benefit if the other person is a night owl in a different country where sometimes our hours overlap, two different chunks of time we’re working in.
Andrew: “There’s usually someone on IRC to speak to, it’s like a 24 hour operation haha.”
What’s the vibe like in the Community at the moment?
Victor: “It’s a pretty small Community at the moment, with close ties. Everyone is receptive to feedback, so if it was larger Community I don’t think it would be as receptive.”
Steph: “Thanks for your time guys!”