Jason Robitaille's blog | webOS Nation

Jason Robitaille's blog

Clock gets a homebrew makeover with theming and exhibition mode

by Jason Robitaille Sun, 15 May 2011 12:12 am EDT

The built-in webOS Clock app has had an interesting, if uneventful history. It was bundled along with the webOS 1.0.2 update, appeasing all the "where's the alarm clock?!" cries.  Since then, not much has changed. Sure, there's a new "Classic" theme with webOS 2.0, and there's the secret preference options, but it's fundamentally an app not too many care about or use.

Myself, I'm part of the minority who love the Clock app and use it regularily. So when I had the opportunity to work with 2 amazing homebrew clock theme makers, I took it.  And so for the past few weeks, myself, warlord9159, and kdubhotsauce have worked together on giving the Clock app some new style.

First off, I'm proud to announce the immediate availability of the full-featured, WebOS Clock Theme Builder. Palm designed the Clock app with expandability in mind. So using this theme framework and some symlink trickery, I've created a hombrew clock theme format, harnessed by the theme builder.

Just specify a theme base (or go completely original with your own), then customize the clock theme with your own images. It's simple, and best of all, clock themes created with this format are OTA friendly and no system images are overwritten (as system theming is notorious for). Find out how-to do it all after the break.


webOS File Manager Internalz graduates to App Catalog, goes Pro in Homebrew

by Jason Robitaille Thu, 10 Mar 2011 4:05 am EST

No, your eyes aren't deceiving you. The day is finally here: Internalz has graduated to the App Catalog.  Inspired by FileZ for PalmOS, and named after /media/internal/, this full-featured file manger is the perfect companion for any webOS device.

It all started back on August 18, 2009, when the first beta of Internalz was released. Up until then, people had to put their devices into USB Mode to move around and delete files. Internalz changed that, and over the next year and a half, continually innovated with features like full-device browsing, a built-in image viewer, a built-in text editor, ipk installing, patch applying, resource handling, and much more.

Now, with the webOS 2.0 support for js services, Internalz is able to evolve once more, onto the App Catalog.  At a limited-time discount price of $3.99, it's now available to purchase for webOS 2.x devices, with multi-language support.

Even better, as the above video shows, Internalz 1.0 for the App Catalog has been redesigned with the average user in mind (as well as App Catalog restrictions). File management is now centered around the USB drive, with the ipk installer and patcher removed. There's also several usability enhancements to make things easier, including integrated video tutorials.

And homebrew users, fear not. A homebrew variant, named "Internalz Pro" will remain, with all the goodies you've come to love. What's more, along with Internalz 1.0's release, I'm proud to announce the immediate coinciding release of Internalz Pro 1.4, which can be downloaded on the PreCentral Homebrew Gallery, or via the feeds in WOSQI and Preware.

Check out the Internalz Pro 1.4 video changelog tour after the break.


FileMgr and SysToolsMgr arrive for webOS 2.x

by Jason Robitaille Fri, 04 Mar 2011 2:10 am EST

Between the Palm Pre 2, Metadoctor'd legacy devices, and the FrankenPre2 conversion, there's more people than ever running on webOS 2.x. And while webOS 2.x contains a huge amount of awesome, there were some sacrifices. For instance, the JVM was removed, and thus every java homebrew service was broken. This caused apps and patches like Internalz, Advanced Reset Options, and Video Camera Flashlight to stop working for those devices.

That all stops now.  I'm proud to announce the immediate availability of the next generation of my services: FileMgr v2.0 and SysToolsMgr v1.0, as well as a custom Homebrew JS Service Framework.

As some will remember, webOS 2.0 brought with it the ability to run third party custom Node.js-based services. So about two and a half months ago I began work on Node.js ports of my java services. Some don't realize how truly powerful Node.js can be, but evidently Palm did.

The first challenge encountered was a built-in Palm service jailer, which prevents js services from doing anything destructive or harmful to the system. A smart idea for App Catalog releases, but for homebrew services like FileMgr and SysToolsMgr, full system access is a must. With that in mind, Homebrew JS Service Framework was created.  It contains an opensource modular script that any homebrew service can take advantage of very easily. When harnessed, it allows homebrew services to have full root access.

With root access obtained, both FileMgr and SysToolsMgr were able to be completely recoded into Node.js format.  And in fact, they were improved. Both services now stay permanently in the launcher with a redesigned frontend app.  Oh, and old 1.4.5 users, don't worry; the old java services are bundled so the new releases will be backwards compatible.

In addition to the Homebrew JS Service Framework, I've also released a few other opensource tools for developers. A very simple on-device service tester, as well as a generic service frontend, like used with both FileMgr and SysToolsMgr. The best part of the service frontend is that all you need to do is edit the appinfo.json file and it'll work out-of-the-box, so to say. And as always, SysToolsMgr is still opensource and both it, and FileMgr, are fully documented.

The next generation of my services are here and now all those apps and patches will work on webOS 2.x. For example, install Homebrew JS Service Framework, FileMgr 2.0, and then the current version of Internalz will work fully.

Once last note, the NDA that prevented release for the past many weeks is not removed, however Palm has given permission for this release.  Be sure to pass along your thanks to them. And hey, if you'd like to support continued development, consider a donation.

Update: Homebrew JS Service Framework 1.0.0, FileMgr 2.0.0, and SysToolsMgr 1.0.0 are now in the PreCentral ipkg feed.


WebOS Quick Install is back with v4.0, bringing webOS 2.0 compatibility and more

by Jason Robitaille Sun, 06 Feb 2011 7:29 pm EST

For most homebrew users, the first hurdle to get over is the difficult setup and usage of WebOS Quick Install. Even myself, its developer, have to admit it had huge issues that would make is challenging to use effectively. A quick glance around the forums shows many other users having issues doing some of the most basic things, like installing Preware. And as webOS 2.0 users can attest, WebOS Quick Install is nearly incompatible with their devices.

Forget all of that.  Seriously, forget it all. WebOS Quick Install 4.0 has landed and it's a completely new beast. While some outside appearances may resemble 3.x, rest assured, under the skin, 100% of the code has been redone from the ground up. Such a massive redesign offered many new possibilities to make WebOS Quick Install something much greater than it was before.


Internalz Tipz video series debuts; Canuck Coding releases roadmap

by Jason Robitaille Thu, 11 Nov 2010 11:22 am EST

After a short absence from the webOS development world due to studies, Canuck Coding is back in action. Formerly know as Canuck Software, Canuck Coding has now posted details of upcoming changes and a roadmap of things to come.

Among other things, the roadmap details plans for WebOS Quick Install v4.0. This release is planned with the aim to simplify things for users and improve stability, while adding must-desired features like dependency support, and wireless support via SSH.

Another interesting detail was the plan for Internalz. As webOS 2.0 has changed the landscape for developers so must Internalz change. Java is gone, meaning FileMgr needs to be rewritten in C. And more importantly, webOS 2.0 offers the possibility of seeing a more-restrictive App Catalog-compliant release of Internalz, expanding the user base to non-hombrew users too.

Also making news today is the debut of a video tutorial series, Internalz Tipz.  A prequel #0 episode has been released for those unsure how to install Internalz, and the latest episode #1 has been embedded above. Excluding the prequel, there will be a total of 20 episodes, one released every other day. Each will be very short and simplified for new users to understand.

Chances are over the course of the 40 days, you'll learn a few new things. The goal is that by the 20th episode, the new C-based FileMgr will complete; a countdown of sorts that many will surely appreciate. So take a watch of the debut episode and enjoy. If you have any suggestions or comments, feel free to speak up in the official series thread.

German App Catalog bug gets a workaround

by Jason Robitaille Wed, 03 Nov 2010 3:41 pm EDT

For over 6 months now, users and developers alike have been reporting to Palm about a bug in the German App Catalog that prevents proper time-based categories from appearing. Thankfully, today, a workaround has been discovered!

Earlier today, ArthurThornton discovered the issue was actually due to a localization fumble and posted about it on the Palm Dev forums.

Essentially, the bug is caused by a simple issue with capital letters. The translations of "today" and "yesterday" listed in the German translations are "Heute" and "Gestern". However the App Catalog compares those strings to their all-lowercase equivalents.

Palm's Ben Combee has since posted saying he's requested the fix be in the next OTA update, but whether that happens is up in the air. Thankfully there's 2 workarounds to fix the issue right now.

The first option, is to use Internalz to fix the translations. Navigate to /usr/palm/applications/com.palm.app.findapps/resources/de_de/ and open the strings.json file.  Then just change the "Heute" and "Gestern" lines, near the end, to all lowercase and save the file.

The second option is a bit easier. I've placed the translation changes into a standard patch file about in this forum post.  You can install it with WebOSQuickInstall or Internalz.

This is just another example of how amazing the webOS community can be and how it can benefit Palm. A low-priority bug for Palm gets solved for them and users benefit from a fixed App Catalog. A win-win scenario and one that strengthens the webOS developer community with Palm for the better.

Source: Palm Dev Forums; Via: Blacklight (Twitter)


Palm Pre 2 headed to Rogers Wireless & AT&T?

by Jason Robitaille Wed, 20 Oct 2010 10:28 am EDT

With all the commotion about Sprint and US carriers for the Palm Pre 2, it's easy to forget that Canada was also mentioned as a country that the smartphone will launch in.  The big question for us Canadians: which carrier will it be?

Well now, we may have an answer, or at least a hint. Buried deep within the source code of the Pre 2 page on the Palm Canada website, is this commented-out line:

Looks like a misprint of "Roger's", as in Roger's Wireless. An easy misprint to make, in what is clearly a line of code commented out for a reason.  Only reason that would come to mind, is that an official announcement hasn't been made yet.

The choice of Roger's Wireless marks a change from Palm previously choosing Bell to carry their webOS device. Certainly a change that many, such as myself, are welcoming with open arms. Given HP and Palm's connections with the other Canadian carriers, it wouldn't surprise me if the Palm Pre 2 comes to other carriers as well.

Of course this one line of commented-out code is hardly a definitive association. It does seems to be unique to the Canadian Pre 2 page though. Hopefully there will be something official soon, ending the mystery. In the meantime, it's an exciting idea that we may see a Roger's Wireless webOS device in the near future.

Perhaps just as interesting, Calvin also found a reference to AT&T in another piece of commented-out code:

We know that Palm is going to be selling unlocked Pre 2 devices to developers, but perhaps this means non-developers will be able to get in as well?

Thanks Calvin and @SimonLR!

Twitter protest planned against Verizon and AT&T over 1.4.5

by Jason Robitaille Sat, 11 Sep 2010 11:29 am EDT

Our masked defender, the ReleaseMyPre guy, has heard your cries! For far too long, the countless Verizon and AT&T Palm Pre Plus users have been without webOS 1.4.5.  It's the webOS update that feels just out of grasp for people on those carriers.

As the above video shows, the ReleaseMyPre guy has taken up the cause. The earlier 79-hour notice to Palm has been given a pass until Monday. What's more, he's planning a twitter protest to get the point across that every device deserves webOS 1.4.5.

So here are the specifics. On this upcoming Monday September 13th, at 3pm EST, simply tweet to both @VZWSupport and @ATTCustomerCare. Oh, and be sure to include the #releasemy145 hashtag.

Source: Twitter

Defender of the webOS community comes out of retirement

by Jason Robitaille Wed, 08 Sep 2010 1:59 pm EDT

Yep folks, he's back!  The self-proclaimed defender of the webOS community has returned from retirement to fight for our current cause: the burning desire to know the release date and specifications of the next generation Palm smartphone. As his newest video demonstrates, he's back to using threats and demands to try and provoke Palm into responding.

The ReleaseMyPre guy first made headlines way back in April 2009 as part of a viral campaign, voicing fans' frustrations at Palm lack of a release date for the original Palm Pre and quickly became an inspiration for us all. Well, an inspiration, as long as you ignore his threats and kidnapping attempts.

Since his first video, he's appeared a handful of times in more YouTube videos, notably his Mother's Day video. His outraged "PALM!!" scream became iconic in the wait for a release date. So much so, that we even had some fun contributing out own outrage in video form.

Now he's back to be our collective voice, pleading with Palm for new device details. He's even got a twitter account you can follow. At this point it seems to us like a win-win situation; either Palm gives in to his demands and we get new details, or Palm doesn't and we get to see more awesome videos.

As he says, "Palm, you are officially on notice." We suspect that his 79 hour deadline will go unanswered ....and we fear that we may ourselves be 'aggressively invited' in the next PalmCast. Stay tuned!

Source: Twitter

Internalz 1.3 brings style with a dark theme and more

by Jason Robitaille Sat, 28 Aug 2010 11:24 am EDT

A little over a month ago, Internalz v1.2 was publicly released, introducing a wealth of new features like master mode, the ipk installer, and the patcher. Today, Internalz is taking another step forward with the release of version 1.3. This time however, the focus isn't on adding features, but rather refining the usability of existing ones and improving the quality of the user experience.

As the video changelog above shows, the main new feature in v1.3 is the introduction of a dark theme.  Absolutely every aspect of the application is changed. Everything from dimmed icons, dark backgrounds and even dark re-skinned message box pop-ups.

Another big change lies with the text editor, though you wouldn't expect it, as it looks nearly identical to how it was in v1.2.  However, under the hood, it's a completely and has been heavily optimized using completely redone coding. This new text editor is far more expansive, and offers many future possibilities. This is evident in v1.3, as changeable font size has been added and text entry on larger files is much more responsive.

That's not all! A bunch of smaller, yet equally welcomed changes and optimizations have been introduced.  Internalz now registers itself as handler for the view-source:// URI scheme, a first for webOS. And although this isn't mentioned in the video, Internalz v1.3 has extended it's international localizations to now cover French, Italian, German, Spanish, Polish, and Simplified Chinese.

If you haven't yet tried Internalz, or are new to homebrew, now's the perfect time to try it out. Don't worry if you feel bogged down trying it for the first time; just try it one step at a time. Coming soon, there will be an Internalz Tipz YouTube video series, showing how to get the most out of Internalz, shown in short informational videos.

Internalz v1.3 is available right now on the PreCentral Homebrew Gallery and on the PreCentral feed.  As the slogan says, "Control your device, don't let your device control you."

Internalz 1.2 brings Master Mode, IPK installer, patcher, and much more!

by Jason Robitaille Sun, 25 Jul 2010 9:51 pm EDT

Just in time for WebOSQuickInstall's birthday, the day is finally here:  Internalz v1.2.0 and FileMgr v1.1.0 are available for public download! The above video is a quick tour of all the changes and you'll want to watch it to the very end.   Among the long list of changes posted in Internalz's forum thread, v1.2 most notably brings "Master Mode", a built-in Ipk Installer, and a built-in Patcher.

Internalz, for those who have yet to try it, is "the first and best file manager for the webOS".  You can create, edit, rename, move, copy and delete virtually any file or directory on your device. Not only that, but Internalz features a built-in image viewer and built-in text editor.

Not sure what "Master Mode" is? Well, put simply, it removes all restrictions in Internalz. Normally, you aren't allowed to edit, move, or delete files outside of the USB Mode section or /var.  With "Master Mode" enabled, the sky's the limit. However, this means uninformed users could accidentally destroy their system, which is why the feature is disabled by default.

And what's this Ipk Installer you keep hearing about?  The Ipk Packager is able to open .ipk files, letting you install or uninstall it. Better yet, it scans the .ipk file, displaying package information, so you know what you're installing. And since Internalz registers itself as the default .ipk handler (among other file extensions), you can simply tap a .ipk link in the browser and it'll open in Internalz.

Lastly there's the Patcher. It lets you install or uninstall .patch files, similar to WebOSQuickInstall. Since the Patcher is an extension of the Text Editor, you're able to view and edit the patch file too!

So if you haven't tried Internalz yet, now's your chance. As the slogan says, "Control your device, don't let your device control you."


Happy Birthday WebOSQuickInstall and fileCoaster

by Jason Robitaille Sun, 25 Jul 2010 2:45 pm EDT

What a wild year it's been! Almost hard to believe that on July 25th, 2009, the world was first introduced to WebOS Quick Install and fileCoaster. Those two programs would end up playing a pivotal role in the homebrew community and to some degree, both exist to this day.

A year ago today, the PreCentral forums were welcomed by two new ways to install homebrew applications: WebOS Quick Install and fileCoaster. Regardless of your opinions on them, at the time, they completely changed how peopled viewed the homebrew world. They made homebrew into something that the average user could use, fostering the modern hombrew movement.

Lots has changed since then, but for most of us in the webOS community, these two programs hold a special place in our hearts.  These were the installers we used when the App Catalog was smaller than our PreCentral Homebrew Gallery.  Since their first public release, there's been countless new apps, several other installers (notably Preware and Preload) and we've witnessed the birth of a strong webOS homebrew community. Almost difficult to believe it's been a whole year already.

WebOS Quick Install and fileCoaster may not be nearly as popular as they used to be, but today, let's take a moment today and celebrate the 1-year anniversary of their release. Cheers!

Bell pushing the Palm Pre with a new promotion

by Jason Robitaille Tue, 01 Jun 2010 3:25 pm EDT

Bell Promotion

Bell's history with the Palm Pre hasn't exactly been a perfect one, but it looks like their new Palm Pre promotion may be a winner. There's been low sales, very little promotion, and much higher profile launches, especially on their new HSPA network. However, it seems the Pre is back on the front page of Bell's smartphone section, with this very nice new promotion.

Under the promotion, and a 3-year contract agreement, you get a Palm Pre for $0 (like before), and better yet, there's now $15 off your monthly bill! That's a total savings of $180 yearly, plus $300 for the device itself. Oh, and they're tossing in $75 worth of accessories too.

If that sounds intriguing with you, and the 3-year contract isn't deterring, then you'll want to look at the different smartphone plans Bell offers. The lowest is the Smartphone 50 plan, which offers the very basics (with only 500MB allowed monthly), usually for $50/month, but under the promotion, ends up at $35/month.  And don't forget, Bell allows tethering. Awesome, eh. Prices increase from there, up to the Smartphone 100 plan, so there's flexibility is what you want out of your device.

Whether this is an attempt at Bell to get rid of lingering inventory, or a renewed interest in Palm now that HP came to the rescue, will remain a mystery. But at these kinds of savings, it doesn't really matter too much. No details on how long the promotion will last, so if this is what you've been waiting for, you may want to act fast.

via MobileSyrup & webOS Roundup, thanks for the tip AdmiralRaptor

File Manager app and service for webOS, Internalz and FileMgr, hit 1.0

by Jason Robitaille Thu, 22 Apr 2010 9:32 am EDT

After months of private on-the-side development, Internalz, the first and only file manager for the webOS, has been released with 1.0 status. Along with it, the custom service powering Internalz, FileMgr service, has also been release at version 1.0.

Internalz made its first public appearance way back on August 18th. Back then, it was essentially a proof-of-concept application, with that early FileMgr being my first attempt at custom webOS service. And after a few minor revisions, I decided to switch to private development and testing. This is the result.

The above video show much of the central features: full device browsing, file/directory moving and copying, easy deletions with optional swipe-to-delete feature, simple renaming, built-in image viewer, built-in text editor and more.

However, there were a few features I forgot to mention in the above video. First off, Internalz supports many international languages. It fully supports English, French, Italian, German, and Spanish. As well, tapping on the "Name" header toggles sorting by name, and tapping on "Size" toggles that respective sorting. In addition, tapping and holding on the "Size" label will toggle it to a label for filetype.

FileMgr, the custom service that powers Internalz, is also hitting version 1.0. As a result, I've released a public API specsheet for developers to freely use. Among other things, this allows developers to write data to files locally on the device. Such a feature is already employed in at least one app, MapTool, by Metaview.

Internalz 1.0 is now available here and FileMgr service is available here. Both are also on the PreCentral feed for OTA installation. Huzzah for homebrew!

X-Server is coming to webOS, bringing along OpenOffice

by Jason Robitaille Fri, 09 Apr 2010 9:39 am EDT

The folks have WebOS-Internals have done it again. Today, dtzWill announced in the our forums that they've managed to get an X.Org Server working on the Palm Pre. Basically, this means native Linux X11 applications will be able to run on webOS!

One such example of an X11 application is shown in the above video. OpenOffice could prove a perfect alternative to the seemingly-mythical DocumentsToGo by DataViz. Of course some optimization for usability may be needed, but this is more than we've seen from anyone else in terms of strong productivity and office tools.

Keep in mind, however, that the X-Server is not yet ready for the average user, and thus is still in the WebOS-Internals testings feed.  Rod Whitby has stated:

Just a note to say that we do have a roadmap of being able to install native Debian X11 GUI applications (like OpenOffice) via Preware. But don't hold your breath, cause it looks like we need to write a whole new FUSE filesystem driver to be able to do it. Think weeks to months, rather than days.

So if you're a user with knowledge on the workings of Linux and aren't afraid of getting your hands dirty, it might be worth looking into the vast potentials X11 applications can offer.