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Sailfish SDK: please improve experience

asked 2014-04-15 21:53:32 +0200

Venemo gravatar image

updated 2014-07-31 14:09:04 +0200

jiit gravatar image

This question is somewhat related to my more general post about developer experience.

I'd like to point out that the developer experience of the Sailfish SDK still leaves some things to be desired.

The general idea

Currently the Sailfish SDK follows the pit of failure pattern: it is too easy to mess up, and once you've messed up it's extremely hard to even find out what's wrong, let alone solve it. On the other hand, as a huge Jolla supporter, I'd like the Sailfish SDK to follow the pit of success way of thinking, which means that things should 'just work'.

As a motto, I'd say:
The SDK should be centered around helping the developers do things as effortlessly as possible, instead of getting in the way.

  • Most of the time, not only is there a problem in some cases, but the SDK gives arcane or unhelpful error messages that leave developers confused and demotivated about the platform.

A few examples

Here're a few points of interest:

  • When you have multiple Jollas configured in the SDK, Qt Creator will try to deploy your app to the wrong Jolla
    • The error message doesn't tell you what the problem is
    • I'd expect the SDK to figure out which Jolla is connected to the computer, and only ask if there are two or more connected at the same time
  • Deployment to a device is so unberably slow that it deserves its own together post
  • Building a package is also very slow
  • The "deploy by copying binaries" method doesn't work. It either copies a lot of unnecessary files (why?) or when I set INSTALLS=target for qmake to make it just deploy what I want, ṙpmbuild complains about missing files. I don't even see why it needs to run rpmbuild when all I want is to copy a bunch of binaries to my device
  • If you delete ~/.scratchbox2 by accident, it doesn't regenerate the missing files or give you any helpful hint on how to solve the issue, or even an error message of what's wrong.
  • You can't deploy your app to a device without a spec or a yaml file, even if you don't want to package it


I'd like Jolla to succeed.
And a very important aspect of success is that the developer experience of the platform should be as good as possible. The better it is, the more developers will come, and the more apps will be, thus more users will come too.

If anyone has more suggestions or weird examples or errors or things that could be improved, please don't hesitate to edit this post or add a comment.

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An option to restore the emulator and scratchbox VM's to their original state would be welcome too. I guess I could have manually created a snapshot in VirtualBox before starting the VMs the first time, but alas, I didn't know back then.

Fuzzillogic ( 2014-04-15 23:15:13 +0200 )edit

I had (and have) problems finding and specifying the needed dependencies for certain functionality. E.g. for using animated gifs and svg images, and stuff like sensors, qt plug-ins are needed. Knowing which ones, and how to set them in the .yaml file, isn't a trivial task for beginners.

Fuzzillogic ( 2014-04-15 23:21:12 +0200 )edit

I would be happy if the updater would work in the SDK, each time I been foolish enough to click on update, then the VMs fail to install, which leads to that I have to do a full reinstall, this tend to break my projects (sailfishapp.h: No such file or directory), but new project created with the fully reinstalled SDK works and this is a pain in the ass. I would like to see the MerVM as a native cross compiler instead and it had been nice with a none VBox depending emulator too. I'm now restarting my project from scratch for the third time :(

Trizt ( 2014-04-27 16:33:03 +0200 )edit

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answered 2014-04-15 23:22:58 +0200

I do agree with everything you have said. I'm sort of a programmer been working with C,C++,C#, java and ect and have never made a mobile app before.

And it was literally a nightmare making my first app for Jolla, I was left on my own to figure things out at some point I got more help from Blackberry QT/QML guides than that of Jolla's as they provided code examples and nice explanations.

I know it's a work in progress and they got a small team but they could get community involved in getting people to make example tutorials and so on.

None the less I am glad to hear that there is an SDK update coming tomorrow :) SailfishOS SDK April update available tomorrow

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Asked: 2014-04-15 21:53:32 +0200

Seen: 313 times

Last updated: Apr 15 '14