Palm Alters Developer Agreement - For Better and Potentially for Worse | webOS Nation

Palm Alters Developer Agreement - For Better and Potentially for Worse

by Jason Robitaille Mon, 06 Jul 2009 8:24 am EDT

A new End User Agreement for webOS developers was implemented on July 2nd that allows developers to discuss their development work a bit more. Thanks to permission from Palm, we're able to share a bit of it with you. One of the biggest changes was this short part in section 2:

2. Permitted Disclosures by Developers. Palm acknowledges and agrees that it is valuable for developers in the Program to be able to communicate with other developers and the general public about their development efforts and their applications. Palm agrees that Developer shall have the ability to discuss the Palm Materials, Developer's development efforts and Developer's Application(s) with any third party, including but not limited to blogging, website postings, and public presentations; provided however, that IN NO CASE MAY DEVELOPER PUBLISH, REPRODUCE OR DISTRIBUTE THE PALM MATERIALS, except as expressly licensed in Section 3.

So what does that really mean? Well essentially it means Early Access Program developers are no longer bound to keep quiet. Yes, that's right, there are more developers for the WebOS than you would've thought.  Myself, like many others, haven't even been able to legitimately talk about upcoming apps and the development process in general.  Now we can announce upcoming WebOS apps to the world.  Don't be surprised if over the next few weeks we hear about many developers announcing new WebOS apps that they've been working on for months now.

More details from the revised End User Agreement after the break!

Another notable part of the EUA is in section 4.2:

4.2 Application Signing. Developer acknowledges and agrees that Applications which access or make use of Palm's APIs may not be installed or used on Palm Devices, except in a test environment, without first being signed with a certificate issued by or for Palm. Developer acknowledges and agrees that Palm has not yet finalized the method under which such certificates will be issued, and that Developer's ability to distribute such Applications for use with Palm Devices will be subject to further terms and conditions, which may include additional fees for application signing.

This seems to indicate Palm has not decided on a signing process for its third party apps - but will require application signing for legitimate apps.  Makes sense to us, we just hope the fee isn't egregious.

Slightly more troubling:

4.3 Applications Can Only Be Distributed Through the Palm Application Catalog. Developer acknowledges and agrees, that absent a separate written agreement with Palm, Developer may not distribute any Application except as allowed by Palm's formal approved distribution process and channel (the "Application Catalog"). [Emphasis Ours] Developer acknowledges and agrees that (a) Palm has not yet finalized the requirements for participation in the Palm Application Catalog, (b) distribution of Applications will be subject to further terms and conditions, which may include a share of the revenue generated from sale of the Applications to be paid to Palm by Developer, (c) because of certain laws, regulations, as well as contractual or other restrictions, Palm may refuse to allow the distribution of certain types of Applications, and (d) distributed Applications may be viewable or inspectable by third parties, and Palm is not obligated to take any steps to obfuscate the code associated with the Applications or take any other steps to prevent third parties from viewing or inspecting Application code.

Bit of a mouthful there, but several important things are mentioned.  First off, Palm seems to be limiting application installation to just the App Catalog, similar to the iPhone and its App Store. At first blush, this appears to be a change in policy, as Palm representatives have told that direct loading of apps (aka 'Sideloading') would be allowed. Then again, perhaps Palm will be generous with those "separate  written agreement[s]."

We're going to hold judgment on the part of about Palm refusing "to allow the distribution of certain types of Applications" for now, as Palm is more than aware of the mess that is Apple's iPhone App process and is no doubt eager to prevent the same sorts of hassles for their developers.

There is also further mention of the App Catalog requirements for application submission are not yet finalized. That's to be expected, it is still in "Beta."  It's also unclear what Palm's cut of sales will be. [Note from Dieter: Chances are this will be figured out soon and when it is, we'll be seeing more applications on the App Catalog.  If I were the betting sort, I would say that the timeline is probably longer than a week.]

Lastly, this section seems to indicate Palm has not come to a conclusion on whether or not to obfuscate application source code.  Since webOS applications are coded in HTML, CSS and Javascript, the source code for said apps are theoretically open to anybody to see.  Palm seems to be saying that they will not be held responsible if some user peeks into the Pre to get a close look at a given app's source code. Buyer, er, Developer beware.

In any case, now that developers are able to talk openly about WebOS applications that are in development, expect some interesting announcements.

Special thanks to Chuq Von Rospach of Palm