Something that webOS homebrew users have known, loved, and used since soon after the Pre's launch in 2009, is the ability to theme the OS to your heart's content. This capability continued well after the Pre launched, even having themes created for the TouchPad right after it launched last July. One thing that webOS users have never been able to do, however, is theme the keyboard. Prior to the TouchPad, no webOS device had a virtual keyboard so that was more of a hardware limitation than software. Turns out applying a software theme to physical buttons is more difficult that the scientists expected.
The TouchPad, though, has a great virtual keyboard, but the default color scheme can get a bit...shall we say, boring. webOS Nation community member sledge007 had enough and has released five different keyboard themes on the forums that can be installed onto your TouchPad simply by using the homebrew app Theme Manager. The five themes that sledge007 released are: TheRedKeys (shown above), ThePark, Old Glory, Pink, and Blues; webOS Nation forum user geekpeter contributed a couple themes of their own, two of which provide the nostalgiac feel of an old-school hardware keyboard to webOS. In addition to the five themes, sledge007 posted some information to help others make their own themes for the virtual keyboard and seems to be taking requests for other theme ideas.
Improvements such as this don't always come without limitations. One such major limitation that some might dislike is that the keyboard cannot be transparent and appears to have the background image placed on top of a black background. Another major limitation is that the color of the key text cannot be changed and must always remain black, although some in the community are investigating to see if they may not be able to change this though such attempts thus far have proved to be fruitless. We look forward to seeing what comes out of this and we applaud all of the effort dedicated to this so far.
HP is looking for several new webOS team members ranging from software engineers to visual designers to user experience experts according to job listings on HP's Taleo job site. While we are hesitant to take this as signs of things drastically changing for the better on the inside we can't help but feel good knowing that HP is looking to hire some people into the organization after all of the drastic staff cuts in recent months. The job openings come after a hiring freeze was put in place in August immediately following the decision to stop the manufacturing of webOS hardware.
HP has exactly twelve job postings live at this time. Four of them are internships, one for the Enyo team, one product management internship, and two user experience design internships. There are also eight other job openings that include two senior interaction designers, two senior visual designers, one network engineer, one senior product manager, one in quality assurance, and one senior cloud services architecture role. A couple of these openings appear to be for the Enyo team, specifically the interaction designers, as they are based out of the San Francisco office where the fine Enyo folks work.
We hope the listings continue to expand, especially given the vast number of employees who were laid off. The more employees they have on the team the faster they should be able to get Open webOS out, and the better it should be when it becomes available in September. We do know one of those listings will be coming down fairly soon given that the Enyo team has already hired one of the smartest minds in webOS homebrew, Jason Robitaille, as an intern, unless the Enyo team is actually hiring multiple interns which could certainly help the framework grow to be even bigger and better.
HP updated the webOS Developer Center today to add in sales reporting graphs, a move presumably brought on or sped up by the planned shuttering of Metrix last month, as well as adding more compliance with state and federal laws requiring developers to provide privacy policies when their apps access certain user data which has been an issue on iOS and Android over the past few months.
The other major update of the day is the addition of sales data in the form of graphs. Earlier today the data was available but many a developer tweeted back to the developer relations team to let them know the displayed numbers were horribly off. I personally noted a nearly twenty-fold increase in numbers under "active users" versus actual download numbers.
This is a welcome change, of course, because developers have been asking for an integrated solution for some time now. This does not yet not replace Metrix or true analytics systems, however, because while it does provide some information such as active users and download statistics it falls short of providing detailed user data such as device type, the version of webOS being used, screen resolution, and the language of the users. That data is critical to developers and we hope HP adds at least some of it in to the developer portal, even if it requires an extra Enyo or Mojo library be added to the app.
Homebrew extraordinaire Jason Robitaille, the creator of webOS Quick Install, Comic Shelf (and its big sibling, Comic Shelf HD), Internalz, Internalz Pro, and many other apps, dozens of patches, and several homebrew services, will soon be joining the Enyo team in sunny San Francisco for the summer as their intern, he announced today on his Twitter account. The move is unsurprising, given his active participation in the community and numerous recent contributions to the open source Enyo project.
Jason's ability to work with the Enyo team came following the herculean recruiting efforts of Matt McNulty, the Senior Director of Frameworks and Tools at HP, more simply known as the head of the Enyo team. As a Canadian citizen, Jason required more than just the typical human resources visits to hire. McNulty did everything he had to do to ensure that Jason would be able to get the necessary documents from the US State Department to work and live in California, which is neither trivial nor quick.
Jason has told us that he will be starting later this month, May 14th to be precise, and that his internship will last roughly three months, ending in early August. We look forward to seeing what contributions he can make to Enyo 2.2, which is currently scheduled for release in July. We wish him the best of luck and we hope he can take with him some great knowledge, excellent memories, and perhaps even an offer for a job after he graduates. We expect he will enjoy working with the great group of folks over in the Enyo team and home he enjoys his time in San Francisco - after all we could use a guy like him at HP helping mold Enyo into a better framework and Open webOS into a better operating system with the community truly in mind.
Build scripts for the desktop version of Open webOS have managed to sneak out onto the Github code repository belonging to webOS Engineering team member Anupam Kaul. Before you get too excited, these scripts don't actually do anything yet, primarily because the majority of the source code for Open webOS hasn't yet been released. The actual code to run the webOS UI and many other underlying components are't expected to be released until July. Still, it is interesting to see these build scripts come out at this time, given that Open webOS is not yet released in full and is very much a work in progress.
On the GitHub repository there are build scripts for db8, a component that manages certain types of application databases used throughout webOS and that was released in March, as well as build scripts for cjson, luna-service2, and pmloglib. Some of the components, namely luna-service2 which powers Node.js-based services, and pmloglib (which is responsible for on-device debugging logs), are webOS-specific components and are part of the Open webOS release plan. The remaining component, cjson, is a popular open source JSON library for C code required for many components of webOS.
We chatted briefly with Kaul about the project and he confirmed that this is a personal project of his, and that though these scripts along with the Linux Standard Kernel would help it booting webOS onto a desktop, there's still a lot of work that will have to be done with as-of-yet unreleased components to make webOS cursor-friendly. Until then, the code on GitHub is simply waiting for the day to come where it might be pushed out to the larger Open webOS project.
It's interesting to think back a year ago to Think Beyond, when HP first unveiled their plans to put webOS onto all of their computers by the end of this year. My how times change. Although the practicality of using webOS on a computer is still debatable, we do look forward to the day when we can do just that. Until then, we have got no option but to sit and wait
Source: Anupam Kaul's GitHub
HP posted a job listing on LinkedIn earlier this month for an Enyo team engineering intern, asking for a university student who has finished their third year and is close to graduation. In the job listing they mention their plans to release Ares 2 during the Spring, which we know is scheduled to be released by the end of this month along with Enyo 2.1.
If you enjoy developing with Enyo and want to jump a bit more into the code and perhaps get some experience working with a fast-paced development team while also padding your resume with some pretty major open source contributions, this could very well be a job for you during your semester off of school. This would likely involve working out of HP's San Francisco office where the Enyo team is based, although the listing does specify Sunnyvale as the job location. Could a member of the webOS Nation community snag this internship? Why not - there are a lot of talented developers in webOS land, some young enough that they've got that summer break available. If you're thinking of applying, be sure to let us know in the comments below.
We're happy to see HP hiring more people for the Enyo team, even if it is just a short-term intern role. Whoever is brought on, we're looking forward to their contributions to Enyo - HP needs everything they can add to compete with the other frameworks in the mobile arena.
One of our favorite developers, Donald Kirker, has announced via his company blog that he plans to return to active development of his prize application, one of our favorite (and admittedly one of the few) web browsers for webOS, Universe Web Browser. Kirker announced that he has begun development of version 2.0 of Universe, and while not announcing a release date he did note that the code will likely end up on his GitHub code repository for the browser before it makes it to the App Catalog. In addition to this, he announced his intentions of working on a version of Universe formatted for tablet screens.
Kirker also made mention of his role in webOS Internals as their chief WebKit guy and and his work on the open source Isis web browser for webOS, possibly implying a connection between Universe and Isis. At the very least he indicated that he plans to add some hooks into Isis for Universe so that he can add extra features currently not possible in webOS, such as user agent switching, the ability to disable images, text reflow, and "many reported rendering bugs." Kirker presumably was unable to add in many hooks to the WebKit engine included in webOS during his time at HP, as they still do not exist in the latest versions of webOS.
We look forward to what Donald can bring to Universe 2.0 and the tablet version, as well as what contributions he can make to Isis and to making it widely available to homebrew users. We welcome his return to webOS and will be closely following his work on both Universe and Isis, anxiously awaiting the day we can install Isis onto our TouchPads to upgrade our browsing experience and install Universe 2.0 onto our phones so we can get a better browsing experience there as well.
Source: OpenMobl Company Blog
Developers, if you gather information about your install base for your apps you've likely run across Metrix, a project between Syntactix, one of our favorite developers, and webOSroundup. Following the announcement by webOSroundup earlier this month that they were going to be signing off for the last time, the decision to send Metrix offline was announced on Wednesday.
The servers used to host Metrix cost around $250 per month, a high cost for a service provided free-of-charge to developers. Metrix is one of the most widely-used analytics tool by webOS app developers and for good reason - implementing the tool with your app is a breeze and you can be up and running in a matter of minutes. Syntactix also made the decision to open source the entire Metrix codebase - meaning the Mojo and Enyo libraries to interact with the Metrix servers, as well as the Metrix server-side code. As such, any developer with the desire to continue gathering analytics on their apps can do so with relative ease, so long as you have the means to use the code, which requires a Windows server among other things.
For developers looking to keep a historical record of their apps, you've got limited time to act and it requires that you contact Syntactix. They can provide you with a CSV file containing all of your Metrix data. Do keep in mind that there is no way to import this data into Metrix with ease so that will all fall on you to either manually enter the data into your Metrix server or to build an import function; if you choose the latter it would be beneficial to contribute it back to the developer community.
Metrix has had a good ride and we've learned a lot over the years from Metrix data, such as when Palm was testing the Pre2 with Zhephree's foursquare app. We are saddened to see Metrix go though we can certainly understand why it must and we're grateful for the decision to open source the tool.
As a mobile app developer, I can definitely say one of the least pleasant things about webOS development is that to deploy applications you are required to plug in your webOS device to your computer. In a world where we have Touchstone charging, the easier way to get that app from your computer to the device is via a cable. Granted, this is the norm for practically all development environments, but this is 2012, and it shouldn’t be. If your webOS device is connected to the same wireless network as your computer, should it really be necessary to connect them with a USB cable?
No, it should not, at least that's what webOS developer Eric Blade has to say about it. He's posted instructions on the HP webOS Developer Forum on how to get your TouchPad or other webOS-powered device to imitate an emulator and connect to your computer via Novacom via Wi-Fi. The instructions are a bit involved though, it's certainly not something that is novice-friendly, so much so that yours truly set out to build a webOS app to automate the on-device process. Homebrew developer extraordinaire Jason Robitaille also has plans to automate the computer setup process with webOS Quick Install, which should further open this wonderful new wireless application deployment setup to the entire homebrew world. Exciting times we live in.
This is all still pretty alpha stuff, but if you're up to the challenge, hit the source link below to get involved in the development. Or you can just install it as it is and help with debugging (there's always debugging), with the caveat that this is early software. If you're not up to that challenge, that's fine - pretty soon the yet-to-be-named wireless Novacom setup app will be in the webOS Nation Homebrew Gallery for all to install.
Source: HP webOS Developer Forum
Editor's Note: Another new writer? It is so! If you've spent any time around the webOS community at large you've probably run into Arthur Thornton. He's been developing and blogging about webOS for years and had now joined us at webOS Nation. Welcome to the team, Arthur!
Chances are you've heard about the latest hit mobile game Draw Something. You know, the one where you draw out a word on your phone or tablet and your partner tries to guess the word using a slate of letters? No, not Pictionary, though pretty similar. You've probably noticed that Draw Something hasn't seen much activity on webOS Nation, and that's thanks to its current status as an app only on Android and iOS, selling for $0.99-a-pop or as an ad-supported free version, with more than 15 million daily active users. As any enterprising business, OMGPOP, the makers of Draw Something (recently purchased by Zynga), is willing to entertain expanding into new markets, if the demand is there.
Leave it to the always engaging webOS Nation community to pick up that ball and run with it. Yesterday, member zacky59 took to Draw Something's Get Statsifaction help and feedback page to request they consider porting the game to the TouchPad. Normally such responses fall on deaf ears, but it seems that OMGPOP is willing to entertain the idea. The response was a familiar refrain to the webOS Nation: supply and demand. However, if the community can demonstrate enough demand, it's something the developers could consider. Sure, you can access the Android version of Draw Something by installing CyanogenMod 9 on your TouchPad, but who wants to be forced to shut down webOS and boot into Android just to play a few quick games of Draw Something?
If you want Draw Something on webOS, head to the Get Satsifaction source link below and provide your "+1" to the cause. We don't know just how much it would take for OMGPOP to consider porting Draw Something to webOS, though we do know it would be the first Zynga game to make the jump. This isn't exactly something the webOS Nation hasn't experienced before - this community has rallied before to convince Rovio to bring Angry Birds to webOS and successfully demonstrated enough demand to satisfy Astraware. Draw Something coud end up not being much of a different story, from what we can tell the app doesn't use any OS-specific UI elements on iOS or Android, so the port shouldn't hit any major snags should they decide to follow Rovio's and Astraware's steps and support this small but eternally vocal community.