First MWKN of the new year
Welcome to 2011! The eagle-eyed (rather than the bleary-eyed) will have spotted the lack of an issue last week. This is due to the (now) traditional one week Christmas break for MWKN. Apologies for the lack of notice. Thanks to Ryan Abel, as ever, for helping edit the issue; and special guest editor, Sebastiaan Lauwers, who helped us get over the line (click the "read more" link if you'd like to get involved yourself). This year is going to be an interesting one: a Maemo 5 Community update programme; two official MeeGo Conferences; at leastone MeeGo(ish)/Maemo(ish) device from Nokia; a firming up of the Qt developer story and - hopefully - 51 uninterrupted issues of MWKN.
Fun with Qt and the open source Media Player
As mentioned in a previous issue, Mohammad Abu-Garbeyyeh has been leading the development of an open source, Qt version of the Maemo 5 Media Player as an example of how the closed source applications can be rebuilt without a loss of functionality. Originally motivated by Sebastiaan Lauwers, Timur Kristóf and Tom Swindell are all helping out. Mohammad says, As some of you know, Nokia (well, unofficially) dropped support for Maemo 5 about a month ago. Any requests to open the userspace closed source components (in the UI) and applications were closed and rejected for reasons kept within Nokia, possibly due to business issues (opening sources might cost them money, and they might not gain anything back in return, etc…). This sparked a discussion on IRC, which resulted in the birth of a new project, a rewrite of the stock Maemo 5 Media Player in Qt, with MAFW as the backend so as not to break compatibility. The new application has been designed with portrait mode in mind. It's being developed collaboratively on Gitorious (the source is available, and compilable now) and on #maemo-foss on FreeNode IRC.
Alternatively, if you'd like to form a mini-team to reimplement another of the closed applications, get stuck in.
Why reimplement the closed application, though; rather than design a better one from scratch? There are three excellent reasons: scope, design & usability.
Scope - reimplementing an existing application means you have a defined scope and so know when the first version is finished;
Design - designing a good user interface is, in many ways, the hardest part of building a new application. Whilst Nokia's user interfaces may not be perfect, they provide a good springboard and save having to think too much about it.
Usability - by copying the UI & functionality of an existing application, users don't need to learn a new user interface, the built-in manuals are sufficient and it even increases the possibility that your open version could be included in the Community SSU in future, replacing - transparently to the user - a closed, stagnant version with an open version receiving incremental improvements.