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Sailfish OS SDK now available

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Michal Jerz
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PostPosted: Tuesday, 24.Sep.2013 04:36    Post subject:   Reply with quote   

Does anyone know if the SDK has been updated to support the correct screen resolution?
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PostPosted: Tuesday, 24.Sep.2013 09:34    Post subject:   Reply with quote   

Apparently there has been a new update a few days ago, updateable inside the SDK (sorry, I don't remember the source. MIght have been Jolla on Facebook).

I don't know if resolution has been changed, though.
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PostPosted: Tuesday, 24.Sep.2013 11:48    Post subject:   Reply with quote   

The emulator is not updated according to the changelog so I doubt that. You can add the resolution yourself by doing my trick though. At this point it might be a good idea to switch default resolution to qHD
Code:
VBoxManage setextradata "SailfishOS Emulator" CustomVideoMode1 540x960x32
, or one of your other added resolutions.
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Michal Jerz
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PostPosted: Tuesday, 24.Sep.2013 15:28    Post subject:   Reply with quote   

Quote:

The emulator is not updated according to the changelog so I doubt that.

That's what I thought. It keeps amazing me how still so little is being done to stimulate native software development...

Of course, it can be done using your trick Ketlik (thank you!), and I will do it. But the question is how many other people will be able to do it themselves. And if it is THAT simple to modify the resolution in the emulator (a few minutes of work), the more it is surprising that it has not been done yet officially, after they finally decided to release the specs.

It's nearly October now, i.e. just 2-3 months remaining until the phone starts shipping... It's really the high time to have a final, fully functional SDK available. It's really the time to start just about ANY kind of developer program (to provide developer units to selected developers so that they can test/debug their software), any sort of developer contest... anything. It doesn't take multi-million prizes like on Tizen, I'm sure that lots of developers would be happy to win some special Jolla phone edition, e.g. with autographs of the team.

Even though it's nearly October, we don't have ANY information about anything related to software distribution. This means that developers still don't know what kind of software protection can be used (e.g. if the Jolla store will support any kind of software activation, subscription, in-app purchase, etc.), so all such things have to be still left undone. No word has been said about any kind of in-app advertising to be supported, so developers can't know if it will be possible to make 'Lite' or free ad-based applications, the most popular kind of software on the Android platform.

When I was complaining about these things in June or July, there was in fact still quite a lot of time. But now it's OCTOBER... Does Jolla really want to end up with only Android apps at start?
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Michal Jerz
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PostPosted: Thursday, 10.Oct.2013 06:01    Post subject:   Reply with quote   

A few days ago I wrote on Twitter to @JollaHQ that the SDK should be updated so that the emulator has the same resolution as the upcoming Jolla phone, i.e. qHD rather than the current FWVGA.

Jolla responded that they agree that the SDK should be updated in this regard.

So there's hope that an updated SDK/emulator with the right resolution will soon be made available.
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Michal Jerz
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PostPosted: Monday, 14.Oct.2013 01:31    Post subject:   Reply with quote   

OK, so it's mid October now, i.e. there's just 1,5 - 2 months left until the phone is scheduled to start shipping. Yet still no developer program, no developer units, the SDK / emulator still not updated for the correct resolution, no activities to stimulate (or actually START) native software development...

Well, it gets more and more probable that the Jolla will start shipping with only a handful of native applications and will need to almost fully depend on Android compatibility....
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PostPosted: Wednesday, 23.Oct.2013 20:59    Post subject:   Reply with quote   

Michal, I have read that Jolla has updated the Sailfish OS SDK. I hope that you can confirm that.
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Michal Jerz
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PostPosted: Thursday, 24.Oct.2013 06:04    Post subject:   Reply with quote   

Yes, the new SDK has been released yesterday, but I haven't installed it yet. I wasted the entire evening on trying (and failing) to fix my Z10 that after the 10.2 OS update stopped launching any Android apps. Good job RIM...

I'll install the new Sailfish OS SDK today and I'll report here what's new. I guess they fixed the resolution in emulator as they announced it several days ago on their mailinglist.
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PostPosted: Thursday, 24.Oct.2013 21:39    Post subject:   Reply with quote   

Good to read that Jolla has finally released the new SDK. Now it's important that Jolla focuses on native applications.
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Michal Jerz
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PostPosted: Wednesday, 30.Oct.2013 02:14    Post subject:   Reply with quote   

OK, so I played a bit with the new SDK and the SDK itself is OK. Resolution in the emulator has been updated. In general, QtCreator is my favorite IDE - simple, clean, easy to use, no unnecessary stuff, completely unlike the extremely complex Blackberry NDK and its Momentics.

While I can't complain about the SDK itself, where the problems start is Qt5. Shortly speaking, it is simply still a WORK IN PROGRESS. Whereas Qt4.8 (as on Harmattan or BB10) is a finished, mature, well documented and simply ready to use platform, Qt5 is somewhere in the middle from being complete. Documentation scattered on countless separate pages and sites, lots of important modules still not included and changes still being done to them.... For everyone except for those Qt geeks involved in its development, it is now A PAIN to use it.

Simple example: Positioning (e.g. getting GPS coordinates), i.e. one of the most 'popular' and frequently used functions on a smartphone. In Qt4.x obtaining location was as easy as importing QtMobility.location and then simply using PositionSource. But in Qt5.x (and therefore also on Sailfish OS) it is currently nowhere near that simple. Firstly, PositionSource used to be part of QtLocation (which is kind of present in the Sailfish OS SDK, but apparently not for QML) but was recently moved to separate QtPositioning module which is.... absent from the Sailfish OS SDK. That alone is already puzzling: no support for Positioning by default. And that alone (first that I should look for PositionSource in QtLocation and then that it was moved to QtPositioning) took me whole day, and then another day to learn that QtPositioning is actually.... missing.

One needs install additional positioning packages (in some amazingly complicated way that probably requires doctorate in computer science), sync it with QtCreator and.... keep fingers crossed that it'll work. See e.g. here:

https://lists.sailfishos.org/pipermail/devel/2013-October/000906.html

And similarly for many other things. I haven't yet tried, but I'm almost sure that it looks the same with e.g. sensors (QtSensors). While the module itself seems to be present, probably it isn't made available to QML by default, and if so then every type would need to be manually declared.

Therefore, I am not sure if I am ready to spend that much time on porting my applications to Sailfish OS now. While normally porting an application would take hours, with the current state of Qt5 (having to browse countless pages to find information, install and configure missing modules, finding documentation, etc.) it would probably take days. I'll probably wait until Qt5.2 comes out and Sailfish OS SDK gets updated with it and thus simply becomes complete and normally usable. I want to spend my time on DEVELOPING apps, not on configuring the SDK, finding missing modules and learning how to add them....

I'm starting to seriously regret that Jolla didn't stick to Qt4.8. As aforementioned, while maybe (potentially) less powerful, at least it was a complete and ready-to-use release. Time is running fast for them, so they should have launched their phone with the stable and complete Qt4.8 so that apps could be instantly made for their phone. Qt5 might have been included ADDITIONALLY, and then made the primary platform only after it gets mature and complete. It was a bad choice to start with Qt5 which still isn't complete, still not properly documented and generally in such a mess.
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PostPosted: Wednesday, 30.Oct.2013 05:31    Post subject:   Reply with quote   

So it looks like there will be no pool of native apps when the first Jolla phone is released. What about core apps like facebook, twitter, youtube, dropbox, podcast, online radio, pdf reader, maps and at least one messaging app? Will Android versions work flawlessly as these are not simple apps?
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Michal Jerz
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PostPosted: Wednesday, 30.Oct.2013 07:54    Post subject:   Reply with quote   

OK, so maybe I was exaggerating a little bit. Few more hours and I finally managed to manually install the missing QtPositioning packages: to targets, to the build engine, and to the emulator.

I needed to:
- log in to the console of the Mer SDK and use zypper to download and install the packages
- log in to the console in the emulator and do the same
- use SDK Control Centre in QtCreator to download and install the packages to both ARM and x86 targets
- sync the changes to the QtCreator
- reset QML Code Model in QtCreator

.... and this finally made Positioning work and my application finally could be deployed and launched.

Soon after that another change caused another problem: openDatabaseSync previously was a function directly recognized by QML, and in Qt5 it is NOT. It requires importing QtQuick.LocalStorage 2.0, and the function needs to be referred to as LocalStorage.openDatabaseSync. OK, it is a trivial modification, 2 minutes of work. But DISCOVERING how to do it took another hour. And so on, and so forth. All this just SCREAMS for any decent and easy to browse documentation...

On a different note, nearly all of the remaining QML code did not require ANY changes, which means that at least on that level Qt5 (or more precisely QtQuick 2.0) preserves very good compatibility with Qt4.x / QtQuick 1.1.

Quote:

So it looks like there will be no pool of native apps when the first Jolla phone is released.

Well, I don't know. I'm a little bit more optimistic now after I manager to make Positioning work (as now that I know how to do it I will be able to add the remaining missing pieces the same way). So I will continue porting my apps.

But I guess that for many other people this may be a very frustrating experience, and many people will not be patient enough to spend hours or days on finding out how to solve every such problem.

What's BADLY needed is some sort of online documentation, easy to browse, with short, clear and easy to understand information about every such thing. For instance, a clear and straightforward information that e.g. Positioning is not yet included in the SDK and one needs to add it, plus a simple guide on how to do it step by step. And similarly for all other things.

Without that, only that handful of Linux geeks who have been around since the first Maemo tablet will make Sailfish OS apps and everyone else will give up and decide to wait until the development platform is complete and decent documentation is available... I can imagine that some 70-80% of former Symbian or Harmattan Qt developers would not know how to do what I just did, i.e. how to install those packages from a Linux shell via SSH.

Of course, it is not Jolla's fault that Qt5.2 is not yet complete. But if they care to have some decent selection of native apps then they NEED to provide better suport for it.

Quote:

Will Android versions work flawlessly as these are not simple apps?

It's hard to tell. As I wrote on the BB10 subforum about the recent 10.2 OS update, even now after almost a year since the Z10 was launched BB10's Android compatibility is still far from being of 'production quality'. It is still a work in progress. The 10.2 update brought serious improvements, especially in the look and performance of Android apps, but compatibility is still limited and there are other issues like e.g. controlling Android permissions.

We don't know if Jolla will be using the same Android runtime, so it's difficult to predict how it'll work on Sailfish OS. But I doubt that it will be better than on BB10 after almost a year...

Back to Jolla, the worst thing is that now (two days left until November) there are still no developer devices. In the emulator I cannot test performance, I cannot properly test any sensors, camera, and many other things like that. Time's running fast and there's really LITTLE time left for developers to test and debug their apps on a real hardware. And there's still no information about application distribution (app store), so one still can't know how to prepare apps for distribution (will the store support any kind of activation, will there be any in-app advertising for Lite / free apps, will the Jolla store support in-app purchase, and so on). If they really intend to start shipping the phone before the end of the year, it becomes nearly impossible to have any decent selection of native apps ready until then, without even being able to test them and without knowing how to prepare them for distribution...
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PostPosted: Wednesday, 30.Oct.2013 14:37    Post subject:   Reply with quote   

Thanks for your informations.
Really interesting to read your point of view from a developer's perspective.

I enjoy scrambling the internet for some news and info about Jolla and Sailfish, but frankly your posts seem to be the best balanced, most interesting pieces of information I can find anywhere!

Really hope Jolla somehow manage to release some information about app deployment soon.
And make their SDK fully usable, either by adding functionality or adding documentation...
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Michal Jerz
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PostPosted: Wednesday, 30.Oct.2013 18:21    Post subject:   Reply with quote   

Thank you Casanunda.

What slows things down ATM is the development of Qt5.2. For instance, the whole QtMobility is still in the process of transition, with ongoing changes. That's the reason why certain modules are still not included...

The question is: if the phone is really going to start shipping in less than 2 months, will the missing Qt5 parts get finished by then? That they are missing now and need to be manually added to the SDK is (just) an annoyance, but what if they are still not ready by the phone's launch date? Will the phone be delayed just because of that, or will they include some unfinished modules, or maybe will it come without these modules, and every developer will need to include positioning packages as installable dependencies?

In either case, what's needed the most is more information. Everything can be done, if only one knows HOW. There needs to be a simple page (e.g. at sailfishos.org) where it is listed which modules are still not included by default and how to add them - both to the development environment and to the actual .rpm file for deployment on the actual hardware.

It probably is covered somewhere on qt-project.org or on qt.digia.com but there's A LOT of stuff there and trying to find every such detail consumes enormous amounts of time. It would be of great help if things directly related to (the current state) of SailfishOS development were covered directly on SailfishOS.org, in a form of short, clear and simple information, like e.g.:

"Positioning is now part of QtPositioning. The QtPositioning module at this time is not yet included, one needs to add the packages to the build engine and the SDK, and include it as a dependency in the .rpm file. The following is how to do it: (guide follows)"

This would save everyone A LOT of time and effort, and the saved time could then be spent on making/porting another application to SailfishOS.

Documentation is also BADLY needed to cover SailfishOS' rpm packaging. For instance, at the moment there's no documentation fully explaining the structure of .yaml and .spec files. These files are used in the process of creating an .rpm package - they contain sections where dependencies can be added so that additional modules (e.g. the missing ones) are included in the .rpm. The SDK even contains a nice editor to conveniently edit the .yaml file, but there's no documentation covering it. The only source of information ATM is..... other people's posts on the sailfishos mailinglist.

Other than that, to say something positive, the SDK itself works really good. The resolution is correct, communication between the Mer VM, the emulator and QtCreator is now flawless, and I was also very pleased that the QML code in general doesn't need any serious changes. Once I solved the problem with the missing Positioning, and then learned what needs to be changed about Local Storage, actually EVERYTHING ELSE could have been left intact.

Now I just badly need to get access to a developer unit to test my applications prior to releasing them because - as I wrote - in the emulator one cannot test any such things as e.g. sensors or see the actual performance. Actually, even after I added the missing Positioning, I still cannot test if obtaining GPS coordinates works properly because the SailfishOS emulator does not emulate the GPS receiver and does not supply any GPS data. I can't imagine releasing any apps without making sure that they really work OK on the actual phone.
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PostPosted: Wednesday, 30.Oct.2013 19:55    Post subject:   Reply with quote   

The fact is that as soon as they decided to go for wayload instead of X server they were forced to use Qt 5.x.

Normally Qt 5.2 should be released early december (adding the usual 2 weeks delay), so it probably will get included in the final OS. Most module mess should be sorted in 5.2

It is a huge step forwared for cross compiling Qt sources on mobile platforms (ios, android, sailfish,...)

Which could lead to more native apps over time as Qt gains ground as framework for mobile platforms.
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