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The Application Situation.

asked 2014-10-01 23:59:06 +0300

ApB gravatar image

updated 2014-10-13 22:02:44 +0300

r0kk3rz gravatar image

I am bringing this up because it is something that we (we as the people that use a jolla) face. To get straight to the point the native app situation -and i mean in the official store/you don't expect your mom to start looking into openrepos- is somehow meh. We still miss apps for popular services (Instagram, Whatsapp etc) and many more stuff. Companies don't seem to be deeply interested in supporting a small platform which makes sense. Android apps don't cut it even thought are a solution to some and indie devs that could fill in the gaps companies leave are not able yet to make some money or are not much interested in the platform.

So. Is there anything that can be done -other than enabling payed apps that seems to be taking a long time and allowing more APIs- to make things better?

Suggestions as answers please. And any comment from Jolla people -i know you are busy- on this will be appreciated. :)

If any indie devs have something to ask/suggest please do.

Edit to add the case where apps seem to have been abandoned by the devs. Share your ideas for what can be done for these apps. Many are FOSS but there seems to be little interest in them.

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14

For me, the situation is even better than with the N9/N900. People here seem to dismiss Android application compatibility as something bad. But it's the way for me to get all the apps I never had before. A native app is all nice and fine, but companies even ignore Windows Phone, so why would they even look at Sailfish OS? You don't buy a Jolla phone and expect all these apps to be there.

ossi1967 ( 2014-10-02 08:38:13 +0300 )edit
7

I don't care much for instagram or whatsapp, but you are right that it is difficult to get such popular programs. I disagree on the "native" thing however, I think the android compatibility is one of the best things about my Jolla. I would prefer it if I could actually have easy access to popular android programs through the Jolla store, which now only offers a rather peculiar selection. The problem is that a lot of public services (e.g. bus/train) offer android apps _only_ through google play store, they usually don't even offer them on their own web page. Even better would be a nice mobile web page, but even that has disappeared in favour of bl** apps.

steabert ( 2014-10-02 08:48:36 +0300 )edit
1

I neither care about whatsapp or instagram but your non tech cousin will want an app that works. The topic is not about tech people who know why they bought a jolla in the first place. Those know what to expect. But its a phone for everyone and it needs certain things to work even though companies won't care. I mean WP has an indie instagram app for example. And we need something like that.

ApB ( 2014-10-02 10:18:43 +0300 )edit

A native program is always nicer, but it would already be a big step if popular android applications that do work, are offered through the Jolla store. I'm not a smartphone adept, and what convinced me to buy a Jolla was its android compatibility. However, getting at some of the popular apps isn't always as easy.

steabert ( 2014-10-02 10:39:44 +0300 )edit
6

@ApB: I believe that my non-tech cousin will not know of Jolla and will simply buy the Samsung phone du jour that his carrier offers on contract renewal. It's good to think of him in terms of design principles of the platform and usability guidelines, but he's not the target group. Not right now, at least.

I think the way to go at the moment would be to make it easier for users to find and install compatible Android applications. They're scattered all over the web, sometimes you find out that they don't work after you installed them etc etc... It's not a technical issue, it's just not a nice experience. It's not realistic to expect my local bank to port their Android/iOS-application to sailfish. It's also not realistic to expect a Jolla user will be a customer of this bank and a developer so he'll write and publish a feature-complete Sailfish version of this software. But it would be realistic to offer this app for download outside Google Play Store and make it easier for people to find it.

ossi1967 ( 2014-10-02 11:08:37 +0300 )edit

8 Answers

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18

answered 2014-10-02 00:30:22 +0300

avhakola gravatar image

updated 2014-10-02 00:31:36 +0300

Jolla could arrange competition for devs to write native apps and give small prices for few top picks in different categories like new apps and 1st/2nd/3rd party apps for popular services.

Edit: Jolla could also mentor few selected winner apps to become even smoother and better user experience.

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8

Jolla neglects essential apps for example! Jolla is too busy with the system updates that not improve the essential apps for ours devices; calendar, documents, notes, maps and similar are very poor; the system progresses but the tools are outdated

michdeskunk ( 2014-10-02 12:40:58 +0300 )edit
4

Agreed - I hope Jolla releases the source code for the Jolla apps so the community can make improvements. They are long overdue for a refresher at this point. They are so far behind whats avsilable on other platforms its not even funny.

Malakim ( 2014-10-02 18:06:40 +0300 )edit

Some apps might be replaced with third party prefered apps, like Nokia HERE for maps and Opera Mini/Mobile for the browser. but that said the new UI design for the browser looks awesome, whenever they release that.

r0kk3rz ( 2014-10-02 20:02:10 +0300 )edit
1

Competition would be nice. Getting some reward could lure more devs in to make apps and spent more of their precious free time creating them.

skvark ( 2014-10-03 13:12:23 +0300 )edit
16

answered 2014-10-02 15:56:54 +0300

drcouzelis gravatar image

Well, I don't think I have much to add but, since you asked... :)

I'm currently working on my very first Sailfish application. It's my first time using the SDK and Qt and QML and QtQuick and Silica... but it's really not that hard. I'm very impressed by all the work Jolla has done in creating a nice SDK, IDE, API, and documentation for developers.

I personally choose not to install any Android applications, but from what I hear they work just fine. The Jolla mobile does everything I need it to do (so I'm happy) and Jolla seems to be selling enough devices (so they're happy). So I guess things are Ok.

So, my point is, developing Sailfish applications is easier than I thought it would be. If even someone like me is able to develop a Sailfish application, then maybe it will inspire others to try it too. :)

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2

Anything more on the SDK side?? Like having it included/packaged in popular linux distros or something similar?

ApB ( 2014-10-02 16:00:56 +0300 )edit
2

You mean, creating packages for the SDK for popular Linux distributions? The SDK was dead simple to install from the sailfish.org website. Anyway, that sounds like a fine idea. I'm an Arch Linux user, so when I get home today I'll create a package for the Sailfish SDK for any other Arch Linux users to install. :)

drcouzelis ( 2014-10-02 16:27:19 +0300 )edit

There is a request for it in the AUR section of the forums.

ApB ( 2014-10-02 17:56:37 +0300 )edit
1

Oops! You're right: https://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?pid=1453062

As that thread points out, I don't think it's possible to create a package at the moment. :(

...but what with how easy the Jolla developers made it to install the SDK, I don't think it'll be a significant roadblock for anyone wanting to develop for it. :)

drcouzelis ( 2014-10-02 18:03:58 +0300 )edit

Yeah, that kinda sucks! :P Would be nice to make the SDK more easily accessible, like for example integrating it with DevAssistant.

MartinK ( 2014-10-15 13:22:56 +0300 )edit
12

answered 2014-10-02 19:58:55 +0300

r0kk3rz gravatar image

At present the restrictions on what is allowed API wise in the Jolla store is probably the biggest thing at the moment.

That and a lot of Sailfishos apps on OpenRepos are still under heavy development and are developed on a hobby basis. So the devs (like myself) dont want to release on the Jolla store yet due to stability issues

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2

This is the biggest issue for me ATM. All my apps use some of the Harbour-restricted APIs. And they need to use it to be able to perform their job. And no, I will not jump through loops and hoops to bundle half of SailfishOS with my app, just for the sake of putting it to Store.

smoku ( 2014-10-11 14:36:48 +0300 )edit
10

answered 2014-10-13 17:23:44 +0300

The other day I thought that it would be cool if Jolla could organize some "Do It Together days".

This would be both a real-life and online event (2-3 days), where people could come and code/hack/develop together. Some people from Jolla could provide help when needed. Some people could form teams that work on a common project.

Of course this would need some organization, so it has to be planned long before so people can build teams, present their projects and/or find some place, ...

Maybe some people could even do some talkings or tutorials ?

This event would also need some advertisement, but I think it could really help build a strong community and strengthen the link between Jolla and the community.

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8

answered 2014-10-13 17:24:18 +0300

I also think that the Sailfish Silica Reference could be fixed (TouchBlocker doesn't exist, SectionHeader isn't there, InteractionHintLabel neither, Sensors ?) and updated with some more examples.

Jolla could also make some screencasts on a YouTube channel to help people start developping (something like "Learn how to build Whatever app in 6 weeks").

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Agreed - I didn't find the Silica API reference very helpful. It could really do with some more example apps - have a look at Apple for example, who provides example apps with source code for all their libraries from Metal to CloudKit. Of course, Apple is a vastly bigger company than Jolla - but developer uptake is pretty critical for a platform to prosper.

Malakim ( 2014-10-13 19:14:19 +0300 )edit
1

Some of us have been blogging about undocumented tricks that we come across. Is nice to have everything in a single location though.

Maybe the API can be made into a wiki so the community can fill in the gaps?

r0kk3rz ( 2014-10-13 21:25:08 +0300 )edit

Sailfish SDK has some QML examples (Silica Component Gallery and Media Gallery) and the internet is full of Qt tutorials. To start with, see http://qt-project.org/doc/qt-5/qtexamplesandtutorials.html Therefore I don't understand why Jolla should create more of these tutorials.

I agree that Silica API reference should be updated, but what comes to general Qt app development, http://qt-project.org/doc/ has extensive documentation about different APIs and a lot of examples. And if you don't find something, just use google or ask at https://lists.sailfishos.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/devel

skvark ( 2014-10-13 22:14:31 +0300 )edit

@r0kk3rz: +1 for the wiki. If someone from Jolla could validate things sometimes, it would be even greater.

@skvark: First, I was more talking about Sailfish components and paradigms. Second, I don't think RTFM is the right answer to attract devs to Sailfish. The goal is to show people how easy it is to make something, it is to make them want start something for Sailfish. Sorry but I hardly see how "Hey, look, we have a great doc !" is tempting.

François ( 2014-10-14 11:06:40 +0300 )edit

@François There's an example of almost every component in the Silica Component Gallery (yes, it should be updated/fixed as you wrote) which comes with the SDK. What do you mean by paradigms? Like programming paradigms or something else like general way how to code an Qt app?

Did you even open the first link in my previous comment? There are lots of examples which all apply to Sailfish development (of course you have to replace the stock components in QML with Silica Components). I agree that for example series of blog posts with title like "How to code [insert app here] for Sailfish OS" could lure some devs in, but great documentation is a must for developers to create something which extends beyond basic examples.

skvark ( 2014-10-14 13:21:19 +0300 )edit
4

answered 2014-10-14 14:30:11 +0300

dsilveira gravatar image

updated 2014-10-14 14:33:04 +0300

About the gap between available apps on openrepos and on harbour, I strongly suggest Jolla to go the route of Arch Linux, which is:

To have their own distro repos, but then also having a community managed repo (could still be openrepos), in which there's someone responsible for every package, and if some package gets enough votes (this voting system would have to be implemented), it becomes part of the community selection repo (a repo hosted Jolla, but managed by the community).

Of course it would be the full responsibility of the user to install community packages.

When the user selected the system setting to allow untrusted software, the community selection repo should automaticay appear in harbour, and the community repo app (openrepos app) installed

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1

answered 2014-10-06 13:39:45 +0300

Nilux gravatar image

Crowdfunding applications is a possible solution to incentivise developers until apps can be paid for, but I have seen only one attempt -which failed. The projects looking for funding should somehow get some extra visibility here, to get noticed. I could see it working, and would certainly donate to many projects. Crowdfunding is not legal in Finland, so the infra should be set up somewhere else.

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AFAIK crowdfunding itself isn't illegal in Finland, you just have to get something in return for your donation. If someone (person or company) receives money without giving something in return without money collection permits, then it is illegal.

avhakola ( 2014-10-06 15:11:35 +0300 )edit
1

alternatively, encouraging the 'donation' practice employed by a number of sailfishos developers already would be worth while. if someone does something you like then ask for a donation link if one isn't available

r0kk3rz ( 2014-10-07 00:46:32 +0300 )edit
0

answered 2014-10-05 17:44:18 +0300

utkiek gravatar image

Making apps with the sdk is easy for real programmers (even for me, without experience with N900 and such fabulous things). Some points to sdk from a beginner in QML etc.:

  1. Interesting apps needs a client (on my Jolla) and a server for storing and processing data. I missed a connection to backends (like Ruby on Rails)

  2. Silica is pure scandinavian design. But for a ambitious app more is needed. I missed advices for all the political correct QT functions and properties.

  3. The context help of SDK offered many feature not supported in Sailfish (like "setzoom" for silicawebview). I have to try point for point to find one supported.

  4. What is the correct license for my fresh created app?

Is there someone in Bremen to discuss the programming questions in a traditional style?

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I'm not sure what you mean by "connection to backends". But if you mean sending stuff to a server for processing, QT has classes for working with XML and JSON, which can be transmitted over HTTP. Then you can build your backend in whatever language you're most comfortable with. I've done JSON over HTTP to a Java backend for my Jolla app. It was pretty trivial to get working. I do think you might have to add some C++ code to your app though. I don't know if it's possible with pure QML.

Malakim ( 2014-10-05 17:57:59 +0300 )edit

Yes, transfer stuff from/to as server. I found this blog, maybe this is allowed under QML and harbour limitations.

utkiek ( 2014-10-05 18:15:09 +0300 )edit

That might work. I did it like this: ServerCommunicator.cpp. My project is a learning experience and not on the Jolla store, so it may be doing stuff that's not allowed, and stuff that's just plain wrong.

Malakim ( 2014-10-05 18:41:13 +0300 )edit
1

Qt has these C++ APIs: http://qt-project.org/doc/qt-5/json.html and http://qt-project.org/doc/qt-5/xml-streaming.html For sending requests and receiving replies use this: http://qt-project.org/doc/qt-5/qnetworkaccessmanager.html

At QML side some javascript library is probably required if you don't want to use some combination of previously mentioned APIs.

skvark ( 2014-10-05 19:17:08 +0300 )edit

If your server is speaking XML or json, from the QML side (or the JS side to be exact), you can use XMLHttpRequest (https://developer.mozilla.org/fr/docs/XMLHttpRequest). It's included directly in the subset of JS QML is understanding. I'm using it to get json data for my pet app (https://github.com/dcaliste/freebox-o-fish) in case you would like to look at an example of use.

Damien Caliste ( 2014-10-06 15:45:31 +0300 )edit
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Asked: 2014-10-01 23:59:06 +0300

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Last updated: Oct 14 '14