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Plasma Active, Sailfish, and Ubuntu Phone Developers Discussing Common APIs 63

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the by-your-powers-combined dept.
Jolla's Sailfish, Canonical's recently announced Ubuntu Phone, and KDE's Plasma Active environments are all using Qt5's QML for interface design. Unfortunately, the set of UI components provided by each, although similar, are incompatible with the others. After a chat on IRC between developers of all three platforms, they've decided to discuss the reasons behind each implementation, in the hopes that they can work toward a common architecture. "There are also discussions underway regarding other aspects of the bigger puzzle such as common package formats and delivery strategies. We are poised, should we keep our heads straight and our feet moving, to evolve that holiest of grails in the mobile space: an open and vendor neutral application development strategy built around the commonality of QtQuick and Linux. This is our Rome, which will not be built in a day, but which can become something significant in the world if we keep our heads and follow through."
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Plasma Active, Sailfish, and Ubuntu Phone Developers Discussing Common APIs

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is what I've been waiting for. The fragmentation of Linux with a GUI has been its downfall all along.

    • I don't think I want to be locked into just one UI. For me, XFCE is my flavor, if I'm going to be forced into one UI and less choice; I might as well use Windows. To be quite frank, I'd rather not be forced back into Microsoft's "Use this because you have no choice!" land.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        umm...

        I can only guess at this, but your comment seems to be lacking vast amounts of FACT... being that I have used Windows for ages and have used MANY different UI's... so saying using Windows is being forced into one UI is a very incorrect statement, and sadly shows great amounts of ignorance on your part (using an alternative UI at the moment on Windows 8 even)

        If you where looking for an options limited OS, Mac and iOS are where you need to look. IIRC there where a few for an older version of Mac, but I

        • Re:wow (Score:4, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 10, 2013 @01:06PM (#42547503)

          being that I have used Windows for ages and have used MANY different UI's... so saying using Windows is being forced into one UI is a very incorrect statement

          This is why Windows will never be ready for the desktop, with its fragmented UI. Until all the developers working on different UIs for Windows standardize on a single UI it'll just never take off.

          • You may jest, but in my opinion part of the reason the early Windows versions were popular among users was because the application UI was much more consistent than the alternatives. X apps at the time were a complete hochpotch of different toolkits. Ironically, as time passed the situation has reversed: X apps are now very consistent in their look & feel and Windows apps seem to have gone down the customised toolkit route, leaving the user wondering whether the OK button is bottom right or top left!
      • by ByOhTek (1181381)

        I'd prefer to have multiple UIs because... depending on what I'm doing, I may want a different UI.

        I have XFCE set up in a VNC box for a lot of things, and KDE3 set up for normal at-console use. Why be stuck with one, when you yourself aren't using the system with just one use case?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You realize it's possible for two different pieces of software to have quite different UIs, even if they use the same base set of widgets to build that UI, right?

        Oh, you're bitching about whether or not the window chrome suits your preferred aesthetics? Then we can safely disregard your bitching in its entirety.

      • by Desler (1608317)

        I might as well use Windows.

        So you'll go to the OS where the are more than a dozen alternate desktop shells to choose from?

    • by ByOhTek (1181381)

      Honestly, having the different options is nice, and I've not had much issue except for one thing...

      Selecting fonts/colors/sizes. I wish there were one store location where I could set all of them, and QT, GTK, whatever... would read that.

      And don't pull a Microsoft. If you read the font color from a source, read the background color from there as well. I'm sick of different MS applications and libs honoring your font color and completely discarding your background color.

    • This is what I've been waiting for. The fragmentation of Linux with a GUI has been its downfall all along.

      Yeah, really, where's my Project Athena phone?

    • by Hatta (162192)

      While we're at it, can we ensure that GUI functions have an equivalent CLI function? In other words, if you're going to support mulitple GUI environments, include support for a null GUI as well.

  • by Noughmad (1044096) <miha.cancula@gmail.com> on Thursday January 10, 2013 @12:10PM (#42546701) Homepage

    I was pleasantly surprised to see Ubuntu pushing QML/QtQuick on its phone, it's really a great platform.

    A great advantage of using pure QML for apps is that it requires no linking, just source compatibility. So Ubuntu's GUI elements could look very different from KDE's, but using the same property names a single app would work and look native on both. If only they agreed on this, it's probably the only way anyone except free software enthusiasts would write software for any of these platforms.

  • Now this would be great! But I think there are very strong economic interests against this. A common architecture would mean the phone manufactures couldn't keep their users locked to the platform where they have all their apps.
    • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Thursday January 10, 2013 @12:30PM (#42546997) Homepage Journal

      A common architecture would mean the phone manufactures couldn't keep their users locked to the platform where they have all their apps.

      Which is why Android has been such a market failure.

      • by dannys42 (61725)

        My belief is that the problem with Android is the reverse. It really is open... to it's customers. However, the customers of Android are not the end-users, it's the carriers. Carriers have always wanted locked platforms that they can leverage and brand. And so one of the big failings of Android was that they allowed the carriers to close the architecture to the end-user.

        One of the iPhone's greatest achievements was locking the carriers out. If you notice... there's very little in the way of carrier bra

        • by kwark (512736)

          B.S. you just had to buy a non branded phone. I never had a branded/locked GSM. Sure branded/locked phones might be cheaper, so you get what you pay for.

          • by Microlith (54737)

            It's exceedingly hard in the US, where few if any handset vendors sell into the retail channel. I suspect this is under threat from the carriers.

            • by kwark (512736)

              Strangely enough I had to import my first android device from the USA.

      • Android is not a common FREE architecture (unless all phones have gotten root and updated alternative flavors and the completely free SDK while I was looking the other side), so can't be used as an example.

    • I think phone manufacturers are also a lot concerned with the fact that an open architecture makes their hardware more useful. They prefer selling no-root toys with updates controlled by them.

  • Visigoths (Score:5, Funny)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @12:14PM (#42546753)

    This is our Rome, which will not be built in a day, but which can become something significant in the world if we keep our heads and follow through."

    Rome died due to lead poisoning and excessive military expenditures. If we're going to become Rome, I suggest BSD instead -- their mascots are a bit more menacing than a penguin. Also, the licensing terms are less restrictive.

    • Except all the mobile hardware already has drivers for and has been tuned to Android's linux kernel. The GPL has permitted things like Cyanogenmod which really causes the ecosystem to flourish. It would be imprudent to discard all that work for the sake of a license which will close off many vendors' platforms.

      • It would be imprudent to discard all that work for the sake of a license which will close off many vendors' platforms.

        When has prudence had anything to do with the indelible need of geeks to create Nifty Cool Things? When Linux was first created, it was viewed as one of the stupidest things someone could do with their time. Richard Stallman dwelled in bearded obscurity, and Hypercard was considered a good introduction to programming. And yet, here we are.

        There's no reason we couldn't switch over to BSD... I mean, look at MacOS X. It didn't need the GPL to flourish.

        • by Microlith (54737)

          When has prudence had anything to do with the indelible need of geeks to create Nifty Cool Things?

          That's unrelated to his point, which would be that if you moved Android or whatnot to a BSD kernel, you would be even more locked out of these devices than you already are.

          There's no reason we couldn't switch over to BSD...

          There's no reason you couldn't, but there are plenty of reasons not to. Particularly with respect to device manufacturers with a fetish for not releasing sources.

          look at MacOS X. It didn't ne

          • by aliquis (678370)

            Not necessarily. Depending on the goal of the company. In the case of Google, MeeGo/Sailfish and WebOS I think there's an interest in having the product open-source.

            • by Microlith (54737)

              In the case of Google, MeeGo/Sailfish and WebOS I think there's an interest in having the product open-source.

              And in the case of MeeGo/Sailfish, they actively use GPL projects. Google actively avoids and replaces them, other than the kernel. Handset vendors, however, have a perverse fetish for releasing as little as they can get away with.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Also, the licensing terms are less restrictive.

      Only if you're evil.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    http://xkcd.com/927/

    • Hopefully, this won't be the case, since it's the actual developers of the former standards that are sitting together to discuss (and hopefully) simplemente a new one. This means that it'll actually come to replace the former standards, since it's not actually a third party's one.

  • As long you can run the apps of one in all the others (leaving minor "cosmetic" things like particular features of the desktop integration) is all good. All those have its own particularities, but all run linux, qt, html5 apps. Running in a platform that don't enable me to put buttons in my minimized icon like in sailfish? is ok, just don't show it. They all have a lot of things in common (i.e. notifications) in the interface and some things that make then better suited for one environment over other (i.e.
  • by caywen (942955) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @01:22PM (#42547711)

    an open and vendor neutral application development strategy

    That sounds like the near future of HTML5 and more advanced browsers. But when you add...

    ... around the commonality of QtQuick and Linux

    ... well, hmm, ok, the first part sounded great. What's with the second part?

  • The summary seemed Linux-centric - BB10 is Qt's best chance of achieving mass penetration in mobile devices.

    Yes I know that QNX ain't Linux and BB10 ain't free software but sometimes the enemy of my enemy (WP8, iOS, Android) is my friend...

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