HP shutting down open app feeds, putting PreCentral App Gallery and Preware into a bind
We have been informed by HP that they intend in the next few days to shut down the open access XML app feeds that were announced at CES 2010. The App Catalog, Web Distribution, and Beta feeds have been a part of PreCentral since that day, along with several other sites and homebrew app distribution apps like Preware. The feeds allowed full browsing access of the App Catalog and enabled us to build things like the PreCentral App Gallery where users could browse the Catalog from the comfort of their own computer.
Obviously, we’d prefer that the app feeds stay open and accessible to all. The webOS 2.0 App Catalog is somewhat limiting in its browsing capabilities (it searches just fine, but limits how many apps you can view in a list), so we’re going to have to deal with a less-than-awesome app discovery experience for the time being. We’ll be caching the currently-available information in the feeds and exploring our options for future updates to the App Gallery.
Our discussions with HP indicated that they have taken this step in preparation for future updates and changes to the App Catalog, as well as to get things ready for the impending TouchPad launch. Additionally, the open nature of the app feeds may have rubbed some corporate and government entities the wrong way (even though apps can be distributed in the Web and Beta feeds without public exposure). Regardless of why, the open app feeds aren’t going to be much longer for this world. We're not exactly happy about it, nor is Rod Whitby of WebOS Internals, judging by the latest update to Preware.
Thankfully, there’s a recourse for the homebrew developers out there: the original PreCentral Homebrew Gallery. The Homebrew Gallery feed is available free of charge in both WebOS Quick Install and Preware, and isn’t going to be shut down any time soon. All developers are more than welcome to bring their app over to the Homebrew Gallery, just let us know and we'll get you set up.
Update: HP VP of Worldwide Developer Relations Richard Kerris chimed in in the comments of this very article, and is asking for patience from the community (whose passion continues to surprise him). He states that instead of addressing security concerns by "building a bunch of custom stores for each and every Enterprise customer," HP instead is taking "the stance of investing in our developers in a new and unique store approach that brings app discovery to a whole new level, which we think customers will really enjoy."