Plasma Active App Store Notes

Aaron J. Seigo aseigo at
Tue Mar 13 14:17:09 UTC 2012


let me start off by making a few things perfectly clear:

* the adds-on app (which is quite specifically not an "app store") as well as 
the server-side infrastructure is being developed due to needs that arose from 
our tablet project. it is not as yet in any way determined to be a part of 
Plasma Active. that is something that the community as a whole will have to 
decide on once we go public with it. we'd be overjoyed if that was the result, 
but i have no expectations that this *must* be the outcome.

* nobody else is working on something quite like this. i've spoken with the 
appsformeego people, i've been (obviously ;) watching the Plasma Active 
development community and i have followed what those ranging from NetrunnerOS 
to have been doing. lacking a useful solution, we stepped up, if 
quietly. i openly shared my thoughts, which this project has been based on, 
with others as far back as two akademies ago, including with the maintainer of 
OCS, and i got very little interest in return (and in one case open hostility, 
which was quite confusing at the time). if there was lots of interesting 
development around this topic, i'd understand the confusion around someone 
quietly developing something new. that isn't the case, however.

* it will be free software and it will be developed with the larger community.

On Sunday, March 11, 2012 16:06:25 Laszlo Papp wrote:
> 1) I have tried to understand all the bits behind the App Store, and
> my realization from around two years experience in the mobile field
> was that this was one of the services for which we worked on the Open
> Collaboration Services Standard [1]. It was designed with this use
> case in mind, and is already used for very similar use cases, like the

while OCS is nice for a common bit of sharing glue, OCS is not particularly 
well designed for our needs. it carries quite a bit of social media type 
features that are not irrelevant to our goals, which extend beyond "show a 
list of centrally managed packages". 

additionally, it lacks simple features like update checking, uses XML which is 
not a great fit for our tools (or the modern web imho) and has community 
leadership that has proven itself to be open to adoption but not participation 
(at least not particpation by me :).

that said, i think it's an exellent means to federate data between different 
app storage centers which already use OCS. we currently federate data from 
project gutenberg and it is on my todo list to similarly develop an OCS layer. 
perhaps someone from the community at large would be interested in doing this 
once the code and project is made public.

> the server, developed by Aaron, established a "custom protocol" for
> communication between the server and client, based on json. I was
> wondering if any consideration was given to OCS for this ?

since i've written code that implements OCS in the past (e.g. synchrotron but 
also in kde's ghns), i hope the answer to this is obvious ;)

> I have not
> seen any discussions on the OCS mailing list about the drawbacks of
> OCS for this task, if any.

i'm not a big fan of telling others why their project isn't a good fit when 
there is no realistic possibility of it being a good fit. what point would 
there be in doing this, other than to simply spread negative energy? i mean, 
the email would essentially have been "OCS is not what we need. kthxbye."

> 2) My other (personal) opinion is about how the development has been
> happening. I may be wrong about this, but my impression from the
> sprint was that it happens behind the scenes. 

that is correct, but it will be released as free software and open for general 

> Is this for a business reason?

it's because we wanted to have something to show before we go public, because 
we started working on it before we could talk publicly about the tablet 
project and because we don't particularly have the resources to justify our 
technical decisions to everyone who comes along.

we needed to be able to roll out with something that essentially works in a 
reasonable period of time.

> It means that both the Open Governance and closed Business
> models are present.

i've developed several pieces of software in private, including with friends, 
and only shared the result after i got it basically working. you can make the 
same accusation about Synchrotron, which uses OCS, in fact. there's just no 
point in releasing something that doesn't work at all, so i think you're 
reading too much into this.

> I am not saying this is wrong, just curious since
> I find the Plasma Active project promising in general. It would be
> much easier to provide feedback and suggestions and gain contributors
> in this early phase. I am just afraid that once it is out, it will be
> hard to change certain issues, and can slow down the process as a
> result of losing some potential participants.

i appreciate your concerns. i don't agree, however, with your conclusions :)

note that in future, we will (if successful) innevitably work with various 
companies who will quietly work on projects and only release them once they 
are confident that the intended product will ship. it would be nice to make 
this a welcoming place for such efforts, one that appreciates gifts of Free 
software, rather than one that criticizes when something is shared.

Aaron J. Seigo
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