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Robert Schroll
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Robert Schroll

App Showcase  - 
 
I'm happy to announce that a new version of the Crosswords app is in the store.  If you've tried it before, you'll notice a few new features:

1) It works.  Okay, that's not entirely new, as it used to work.  But then the device images got upgraded and it stopped working.  (One wonders why we specify a framework version if it doesn't protect us from this.)  But a few fixes have counteracted these improvements so that Crosswords works again!

2) New small screen layout.  When I first wrote this app, I though that there was no way to fit all the information and the soft keyboard on the phone screen.  But I've reconsidered and come up with a design that I think works pretty well.  Combined with the pinch-to-zoom action on the grid, this means crosswords is usable on any screen, except perhaps your smartwatch.

3) Importing puzzles.  As I was updating the puzzle lists provided, I had to implement support for the Across Lite .PUZ file format.  A number of constructors make their puzzles available in this format.  Rather than try to list all of them, I decided to implement a puzzle import facility in the app.  In fact there are four ways to do this:
i) Drag-and-drop into the window.  Works great on the desktop; not so much on Ubuntu Touch.
ii) Import via file dialog.  Works great on the desktop and in the browser on Ubuntu Touch.  But, oddly, not in the HTML5 container.  See Launchpad bug #1467937.
iii) Import via the Content Hub.  Crosswords accepts "documents" from other apps (as that seems to be the catch-all for files that don't fit any of the other content types).  Unfortunately, no other apps recognize .PUZ files as documents.  And there's no way for Crosswords to inform the other apps about the existence of .PUZ files.  This strikes me as a serious failing of the Content Hub, especially since I ran into the same problem with Beru.
iv) Shared URLs.  Since none of the other methods work on the devices, Crosswords accepts shared URLs of online crossword puzzles.  To share a link you come across in the browser, long press it and then select "Open link in new tab". A new tab will open, and then an "Open with" dialog appears, which gives you no options. Touch "Cancel" at the bottom to return to the (empty) tab. Open the menu at the top right, select "Share", and then choose "Crosswords" as the destination.  Couldn't be simpler!

There's also one change that you shouldn't notice: Crosswords is no longer using the HTML5 UI Toolkit, and instead is using the Riot Javascript framework.  I've kept some of the Ubuntu CSS, but everything else has been replaced with custom tags developed with Riot.  This has greatly simplified things while giving me much more flexibility in the layout.  (I can talk more about this in the comments, if anyone is interested.)

More information, including links to the app store, a desktop installer, and a web-based preview, are available at http://rschroll.github.io/crosswords/.
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Daniel Wood's profile photoMichael Hall's profile photoSturm Flut's profile photoRobert Schroll's profile photo
7 comments
 
+Henrik Ekselius I'm still getting to know Riot, but I'm not sure that it's the best tool for developing a toolkit.  It doesn't have any concept of inheritance and nesting is limited to within a single tag file (at least right now).  You may be able to do something with transclusion or mixins, but I haven't thought that through that much.  That said, if anyone's interested, please get in touch.  I'd be willing to license the relevant bits I have under a more liberal license for this purpose.

+Michael Hall I ran into several problems related to code churn.  We can debate whether each of this should have been protected by frameworks, but the result was that I spent a fair amount of time correcting breakage (and even more not working on the project because I didn't feel like trying to diagnose the breakage).  Off the top of my head:

1) Changes to the toolkit CSS broke my layout (LP #1451937).  I used to reference system resources for CSS, Javascript, and images, since that's how the example project was set up.  These resources are not versioned or connected to a framework, so an update broke my layout.  Whether using system resources is a good idea in general is still up for discussion (as you see on the bug, the HTML5 team still hasn't decided), but I now ship all the resources in my package to avoid these problems in the future.

2) The HTML5 container was broken for quite a while.  The browser and web app container were moved from QtWebKit to Oxide well over a year ago, but the HTML5 container didn't make that transition until November or December last.  During that time, the HTML5 container was frequently unstable and crashy, probably because the QtWebKit component was no longer being maintained.  While I took a perverse pleasure in being able to cause a crash in HTML (!), it was frustrating to have a previously-working application broken on newer images.

3) Old framework / apparmor woes.  After the upgrade to Oxide came through, my app was still crashing on launch.  I had to upgrade the framework from 13.10 to 14.10 and add the "webview" policy group to the apparmor file to get it to run again.  I don't know which was the magic change and I've been unable to reproduce the problem now, but I do know that this caused several hours of hair pulling and teeth gnashing.
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Robert Schroll

App Showcase  - 
 
I'm pleased to announce a new version of Beru, the basic ebook reader for Ubuntu.  Version 1.1 features an updated UI, with a custom bottom edge behavior for the book view, preliminary CBZ and PDF file support, and imports from the Content Hub.  Check out the link for more details.

Version 1.1.0 is now available in the official app store, and version 1.1.1 is available in +Michael Zanetti's OpenStore.  This second version gets read access to your home directory, and  it can automatically detect books that you load into a directory of your choosing.

I look forward to your feedback and bug reports.  Since I don't read CBZ files much, I'm especially interested in hearing from those of you that do.  The current interface leaves much to be desired, so I'm open to your suggestions for improvements.
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amazing
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Robert Schroll

Discussion  - 
 
I finally got tired of my HTML5 app not working, due to the HTML5 app launcher, so I tried porting it to Cordova.  It went fairly easily, and now it runs nicely on Android.

Unfortunately, it's broken in new and exciting ways on Ubuntu.  Where do I report bugs in the Ubuntu platform for Cordova?  This (https://launchpad.net/cordova-ubuntu) looks like the relevant Launchpad project, but at the top it says it's moved to an Apache git repository.
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Alan Pope's profile photoRobert Schroll's profile photoDavid Barth's profile photo
4 comments
 
The bug looks like the QtWebkit issue we have been trying to track down for quite some time, where the app won't always start the first time; it does run fine then. This being solved with Oxide as well.

For the request for new feature, target oxide and we will retarget as needed.
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Robert Schroll

Discussion  - 
 
Over on the Ubuntu-phone mailing list, I've written up a proposal to make submitting bug reports for apps as easy as reviews.  Click the link to see the whole argument, but the basic idea is have a bug report text entry in the apps scope that would create a new bug in a specified Launchpad bug tracker.

This would require you to use Launchpad (at least at first; we could add other trackers later on).  One of the objections I keep getting is that developers, especially those using other bug trackers, wouldn't enable this.

So my question to y'all is, would you enable this for your project?  If so, please give me a +1 or a comment, so I know to keep pushing. I'm especially interested to hear from anyone not currently using Launchpad who would open a LP bug tracker if this feature existed.
To: "ubuntu-phone@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx" ; From: Robert Schroll ; Date: Wed, 17 Dec 2014 18:34:55 -0500. Hi all, I don't know if this is the proper place for this discussion. If it's not please reply with the correct list and I'll send all ...
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Robert Schroll

App Feedback  - 
 
The Gmail scope is rapidly progressing.  Version 0.3.0 is now in the store and on Github.

Since I've last posted here, it's gained:
- Fixes for authentication problems
- Better formatting of sent emails
- Buttons to mark emails as read or move them to the trash
- Email labels visible as departments
- Better thread views
- Faster access through batched requests
- An "open in Gmail" option

I think I can call it a beta now, so please hop in and start testing.  Report any problems you find here or on Github.  Now's also the time to suggest additional features that are missing.
gmail-scope - Gmail scope for Unity8
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Robert Schroll

App Showcase  - 
 
Sure, you can read email from a scope.  But sending it?  Don't be ridiculous.

The Gmail Scope is now available through the click store and on Github: https://github.com/rschroll/gmail-scope

Do note that there are many things wrong with it; see the Github issue page for some of them.  Notably, I find getting online account credentials very finicky.  On initial attempts it may succeed one time in three.  But once it connects once, it tends to be okay for a while.
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A Maurice's profile photoRobert Schroll's profile photoDavid Planella's profile photoVincent JOBARD (Winael)'s profile photo
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+Maurice A It's certainly possible.  A quick web search indicates that both outlook and yahoo provide APIs similar to gmail's.  Not identical though, so this would require re-implementing the client.cpp methods to handle those APIs.  Patches and pull requests welcome!

That said, this scope is based, like gmail itself, around threads.  Fitting another provider into such a model may prove difficult.  I wonder if the better approach would be to give each provider its own scope and then make an aggregator to show combined results for all accounts.  If anyone's interested in this, I'm happy to talk about how to avoid code duplication between such scopes.
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Robert Schroll

App Showcase  - 
 
I'm very pleased to announce that the epub reader Beru has reached version 1.0!  There are no big changes from the last beta (by design), but there've been a few small bug fixes.

A big thanks everyone at the Washington Sprint who helped me in some way, and an even bigger thanks to +Randy Olive for doing to boring but necessary work of modernizing Beru's build system.
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5 comments
 
Great! Using it daily. Keep up the great work.
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Robert Schroll

Shared publicly  - 
 
In which the Canonical sprint is described, and certain developments are obliquely mentioned.
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Robert Schroll

Discussion  - 
 
Another idea for an interface for the Level app.  The red dot always points up; the white dot down.  This ensures that you can always level around both horizontal axes, no matter the orientation of the phone.  The downside is that you have to level both horizontal axes, no matter the orientation of the phone.

The code is available if you want to play with it: lp:~rschroll/level-app/gimbal
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I wasn't a fan of pokemon, but I will install this pokeball ;)
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The epub reader Beru currently uses a toolbar for a number of functions in its book view.  But that's passé these days, so I've been working on a new behavior.  Here's an idea features a two-level bottom edge.  First, several actions are revealed, and later a table of contents is available.

Please let me know what you think.
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Michał Prędotka's profile photoDavid Morley's profile photoMitchell Reese's profile photoRobert Schroll's profile photo
8 comments
 
A general concern: There's no hint for the bottom edge actions, other than the controls appearing and then hiding when you first enter the book view.  Will people be able to figure out how they work, or will they be lost?

+Michał Prędotka : That's an interesting idea I hadn't considered.  I like it, but I'm not sure if it'd be possible.  Does anyone here know if it's possible for an app to catch the volume button signals before the OS?

+Mitchell Reese : I've started to look at the content hub.  The problem is that, when there is a new content type, every provider has to take action to support that new type.  So nobody supports the new ebook content type, which means I can't test Beru with the ebook content type, which means Beru doesn't support the ebook content type, which means that no one else can test the ebook content type with Beru, which means....  Why we're not using mimetypes for this completely escapes me.

(Disclaimer 1: Mimetype support in content hub is coming, I'm told.  But why didn't we start with that and then add the aggregate types on top?)

(Disclaimer 2: The browser has gotten ebook support in trunk, but this hasn't made it into devel.  Probably because nothing has made it into devel since the beginning of December.)

Re a paid version: I don't know that there'd be any way for the two versions to share all their data, and I wouldn't want you to lose everything right after you decided to pay!  A donation button in the app scope would be very nice (hint hint).  In the meantime, if you want to give me money and you want new features, you're welcome to start a bounty: https://www.bountysource.com/issues/4163022-add-content-hub-support
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Robert Schroll

App Feedback  - 
 
A release candidate for the Gmail scope is now available in the click store.  Please give it a try and let me know what's broken.  There are a few known issues on the issue tracker (https://github.com/rschroll/gmail-scope/issues), but if your problem isn't there, I don't know know about it!
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Sreelal C's profile photoKugi Javacookies's profile photoSteven Austen's profile photoRosa Guillén's profile photo
3 comments
 
Works a treat. 
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Robert Schroll

App Showcase  - 
 
Using an app to read email?  That's so passé.

Gmail scope, coming soon.
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Robert Schroll's profile photoDavid Callé's profile photoDavid Planella's profile photoCarla Sella's profile photo
13 comments
 
+Daniel Chapman: The ID used by the JSON API is indeed the X-GM-MSGID, albeit in hex.  https://developers.google.com/gmail/imap_extensions#access_to_the_gmail_unique_message_id_x-gm-msgid

As soon as Dekko supports it, I'd be happy to add a "View in" action.  The other thing that would be interesting to support is a "Reply in" action.
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