Sunday, August 29, 2010

Playing around with MeeGo Touch

While the MeeGo Touch Python Bindings are still not packaged and released, I though I'd give the C++ library a try and have a look through the class hierarchy. After getting the basic "Hello World" app running, I decided to create an application that can load the list of subscriptions from gPodder's SQLite database:

This view uses MContentItem, which already provides an icon and two lines of text - correctly styled and ready to go. Menu and toolbar items are MAction objects that can either appear everywhere or only at specific places (e.g. only in the toolbar). The great thing is that this all works on your Desktop in a normal window, so testing applications on your computer will be much easier with MeeGo Touch than it is with Hildon (which does not really run without its own hildon-desktop session in Xephyr).

The screenshot above is from the prototype written in C++, and shows how a gPodder MeeGo UI could look like. The MeeGo Touch UI of gPodder will be implemented in Python once the bindings are ready - the framework seems to be fun to work with so far. If you would like to play around with it yourself: MeeGo Touch is available from the MeeGo PPA of Ville M. Vainio if you are on Ubuntu and don't want to build it yourself.

gPodder 2.8 for Maemo 5: Notifications and MAFW integration

It's been some time since the last gPodder release, and I've been busy adding some nifty features to make the best use of the on-board facilities of Maemo 5. As already mentioned in a previous post, this new version comes with built-in notification support. After installation, you might have to re-start hildon-home (or your device) for the changes to become effective. That's what you will get when new episodes are found:

The other and more "invisible" change is that gPodder now listens to MAFW and also talks to it at times. MAFW is the backend of the Media Player application, and you profit in two ways from this integration:

  • The last playback position and duration of an episode are displayed in gPodder and synchronized to
  • Playback can be resumed even with the Media Player application

This means that users of the normal Media Player application will benefit from all the goodies that were previously only available in combination with Panucci. Combined with the new notifications, this makes for yet another great release with even better integration into the Maemo 5 environment.

gPodder 2.8 is now available from Extras-Testing, so please test, review and vote on the package.

Friday, August 20, 2010

gPodder running in the MeeGo Handset UX for N900

Three days ago, a new MeeGo Handset UX image has been released for the N900. I wanted to try out gPodder on it to see how far I could come without any coding...

It was quite easy to get things going: Download the image, dd it to a MicroSD card, boot the kernel (detailed instructions) and set up USB networking. After that, I could ssh into the environment (the root password is meego) and have a look around.

Instead of using apt-cache and apt-get to search for and install packages, I utilized yum to search for and install PyGTK. Then, I used rsync to copy my Git checkout of gPodder to the device. There are two additional dependencies for gPodder that aren't yet available in the MeeGo repositories, namely feedparser and mygpoclient, so I just copied the Python modules from my Laptop into the src/ folder of the gPodder checkout. Then, just switch to the MeeGo user (su - meego), make sure that the DISPLAY variable is set (export DISPLAY=:0) and start gPodder from the source folder (with bin/gpodder - it automatically loads the modules from the right path) - gPodder says hello MeeGo.

The basic functions work, it's just that the Desktop UI isn't suited for mobile devices (the MeeGo compositor/decorator also has several problems, but that seems to be a more general problem). Python bindings for Hildon aren't (yet ?) available, so I could not test the Maemo 4 or Maemo 5 UIs, but I would like to do a proper Qt/MeeGo Touch-based UI for gPodder, anyway. Let's hope the PyMaemo or PySide teams are quick to release bindings and make them available in the MeeGo repositories, so Python developers can create usable UIs for MeeGo handsets :) Oh, and two MeeGo-Python facts: It comes pre-installed in the N900 image, and the version shipped is 2.6.

In short: Apart from the UI framework, everything is already in place (and working) for Python on MeeGo. With the recent release of Qt Mobility for PySide, let's hope that MeeGo Touch bindings are not that far away.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Desktop notification support in gPodder

Three days ago, Maemo bug 11130 was filed: It complains about gPodder stealing focus when it has finished checking for new episodes in the background. This is true, and I've been bitten by this annoyance several times already, so I decided to finally have a look into the SMS/IM/Phone-style notifications (the "yellow" bubble that merges into your task switcher after some time). Thankfully, Daniel Would (of Witter fame) has published his research results some months ago already, so getting up and running was easy from that point. Here are the results so far:

One problem that I still have not figured out how to fix (even after digging in the hildon-home source tree) is how to attach such a notification to the a given window (or application) instead of having it appear as separate "window" in the task switcher (see the second screenshot). Can somebody in the know give me a hint? On the other hand, the callback for clicking on the notification works fine already and opens the new episodes dialog.

A related change that also prevents gPodder from stealing focus was to replace the progress indicator dialog with a HildonBanner - it might not look so good without a progress bar, but it makes gPodder less intrusive when the user interacts with other applications.