The Importance Of Application Developers To Ubuntu

For many years now we have been building a comprehensive Ubuntu contributor community. Across our many different sub-communities such as Packagers, Translators, LoCo Teams, Forums, AskUbuntu, Documentation Writers, Ubuntu Women, QA, Accessability, and elsewhere, we have worked hard to help everyone put their brick in the wall to help Ubuntu be the best it can for everyone and within our core values of the platform being Free Software, in your language, and available for everyone irrespective of disability.

I am proud of this work and the many people who have contributed to it. Importantly, I think Ubuntu has made great inroads in fostering a community that empowers all contributors, whether you are technical or not, wherever you may live, and welcoming everyone to the Ubuntu family.

There is however a new type of community that we need to build and this is quite different to what we have done before; a community of application developers.

In recent months various teams have been working to make the Ubuntu application developer experience smooth and effective. This has included the creation of developer.ubuntu.com, creating the MyApps submission process that enables an app developer to submit their app for review, improvements to the Ubuntu Software Center, application reviews from the App Review Board, and various outreach campaigns.

Some of you may be wondering why this community is so different; surely it is just another collection of mailing lists, blog posts, excitable tweets, and infrastructure? Well it is different in one very distinctive way.

Traditionally each of the different sub-communities I mentioned at the beginning of this post have contributed to Ubuntu itself as a platform. This defines a simple relationship between Ubuntu and our contributors: if there is a problem in Ubuntu, we encourage these contributors to help resolve the issue in whatever way they can. This includes reporting bugs, testing PPAs with fixes, running the development release of Ubuntu etc. The relationship presumes that our contributors are interested in the internals of the platform and community, how they fit together, and how they can be improved. With such a presumption we make a set of determinations: you are familiar with Launchpad, you read Planet Ubuntu, you know how to file a bug, you read some of the mailing lists etc.

With this app developer community we should not make those assumptions: we need to assume that application developers are only interested in Ubuntu as a platform. They don’t care how it is built or the politics involved, they just want to deliver their apps quickly and easily on Ubuntu. We need to view these folks as true consumers of our platform: they want to use our platform to do interesting things and not get embroiled in how the platform was created. More specifically, we should not presume an interest or intention to improve the platform, but to merely consume it and deliver their value…their apps.

With this in mind we need to adjust our focus and thinking a little bit in how we grow this community. We can’t presume application developers have the skills or interest that would be commonplace to our existing contributor community. As an example, I don’t believe it would be reasonable to recommend an application developer runs a development version of Ubuntu, or recommend he or she becomes a member of MOTU or core-dev. These functions are valuable in our contributor community, but we need to work from an assumption that an application developer is uninterested in those functions and just wants to consume our platform and deliver their app.

Of course, our existing contributor community is still as critically important as it was before; we would be nothing without our community. The difference is in setting expectations for this new community; we need to not assume the same experience, knowledge, interests, or values.

I want to build an incredible community of application developers who feel truly empowered by Ubuntu. We have an awesome Free Software platform, wonderful collaboration tools in Launchpad, an enthusiastic community of users, and bags of potential.

With these goals in mind, David Planella and Michael Hall on my team will be performing a lot of work in the next Ubuntu cycle to actively grow and build this new community. We will be reaching out to find application developers in new places, identifying the holes in our application developer processes, and seeking to ensure that not only is Ubuntu a fantastic platform for application authors, but the fruits of their work are available to Ubuntu users around the world in the Ubuntu Software Center.

You can expect to read more and more about this over the coming months and your ideas, thoughts, and suggestions are most welcome. :-)

  • Smilepiper

    It sure seems to be going well to me.  I notice about 20 games out there for windows also have a deb package that there offering.  Perhaps we just need to increase the awareness of people offering packages outside the software center or at least of the bigger sites like dotdeb.com.

  • http://twitter.com/rowinggolfer rowinggolfer

    developers! developers! developers!

    It’s a fight getting an application into a distribution. 

    One of the current ways of getting an application into ubuntu (if I understand this correctly) is submit to debian experimental.. get it mentored/approved, migrate to debian unstable, then to testing, then wait for ubuntu to freeze that. 

    Many applications nowadays have a very short window of relevance. I applaud what canonical have done with PPAs for allowing a shortcut into current versions of ubuntu. 

    Where PPAs fail though, is they are non-trivial for developers to utilise.

    So this seems like another good step in the right direction.

  • http://benjaminkerensa.com/ Benjamin Kerensa

    I think the key to success if Ubuntu wants to court developers is to add incentive to develop for Ubuntu. If their is no incentive then there will be limited interest which is why companies are now courting Linux Users on Kickstarter saying if a additional amount of cash above what they need for Windows and Mac is raised then they will port to Linux.

  • shubham maheshwari

    please build the website and tell us…!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Anca Emanuel

    How to contact a developer ? I found an package, I am interested in. The bzr source for precise show that last modification was in 2011. But the latest version was days ago.

  • https://login.ubuntu.com/+id/R4szkb7 Jo-Erlend Schinstad

    What we need to do, is to be utterly compatible. For instance, we need an official indicator service on Windows and OS X. If your platform independent app uses an indicator, then it will just work in those other systems as well, using their notification systems appropriately. No customization needed. Same goes for Ubuntu One and that infrastructure.

    The goal shouldn’t just be to make it interesting to port apps to Linux. The goal should be that if you develop apps on Ubuntu, for Ubuntu, then it’ll require minimal effort to make it run anywhere. Ubuntu becomes the common denominator. This is not always possible, but for a large number of applications, it is.

    Cheap, comfortable and provides a short path to all markets. That’s an incentive.

  • https://login.ubuntu.com/+id/R4szkb7 Jo-Erlend Schinstad

    What we need to do, is to be utterly compatible. For instance, we need an official indicator service on Windows and OS X. If your platform independent app uses an indicator, then it will just work in those other systems as well, using their notification systems appropriately. No customization needed. Same goes for Ubuntu One and that infrastructure.

    The goal shouldn’t just be to make it interesting to port apps to Linux. The goal should be that if you develop apps on Ubuntu, for Ubuntu, then it’ll require minimal effort to make it run anywhere. Ubuntu becomes the common denominator. This is not always possible, but for a large number of applications, it is.

    Cheap, comfortable and provides a short path to all markets. That’s an incentive.

  • https://login.ubuntu.com/+id/R4szkb7 Jo-Erlend Schinstad

     We don’t always use the newest versions in Ubuntu, because new releases have new bugs. But you can find the maintainer of any package by using apt-cache show packagename.

  • https://login.ubuntu.com/+id/R4szkb7 Jo-Erlend Schinstad

     We don’t always use the newest versions in Ubuntu, because new releases have new bugs. But you can find the maintainer of any package by using apt-cache show packagename.

  • Ray Styles

    Retired engineer now. Instead of using works Windows apps  on Dells. My family treated me to a Toshiba S500 i3 win 7 pro £300 from referb shop. First two nights when connected Windows would not allow me to use it , it was doing it’s own thing. I invested in another hard drive from Exchange shop 320gb £45 installed Ubuntu 11.04 upgraded to 12.04 it runs like a dream.Being a pensioner I am over the moon with the divous from Micro Soft products Maplins £9 deal on 16gb memstick loaded Knopnick works straight from TIN. As a thank you to all you hard workers producing a great software every time I go into a store I put your Linux mags to the front of the offerings. Carry on with good work.

  • Anonymous

    Jono, I think this is awesome. Ubuntu still needs to include Launchpad and Quickly plugins for GEdit, then get code completion for all the Ubuntu platform libraries. Still, it’s awesome.

    I wish Ubuntu had done this between 6.06 and 8.04, instead of 12.04ish. I fear it’s too late now.

  • Theghost

    I tried to package applications, that are not in the repository, several times to get them into Ubuntu the official way. Unfortunately, there a multiple packaging guides, where every guide is differently and incomplete. So I gave. I would suggest to improve and clean out your documentation, as a first step. Sorry, if it sound’s harsh but I should be said.

  • http://twitter.com/bindapp bindapp

    http://www.bindapp.com

    Create Mobile App for free.

    You can make veriety apps such as e-Book, Multi-media Album, Photo essay, Video player.

    It supports Android and iPhone. Yo can also preview your app in real-time.

    It’s easy and beautiful.

    Try now! It’s all for free!

  • http://mofanim.wordpress.com/ mangecoeur

    Glad to hear you guys are on this – with the latest release i really feel ubuntu is “ready” as a modern platform, but it really does need some top-notch apps for daily productivity and professional work. Part of that is recognizing that for many developers/publishers a platform is only interesting inasmuch as they can make a living writing programs for it. And they don’t really need or want to know about the politics and mechanics behind it all – if the platform is stable and lucrative developers will flock to it, if it isn’t only people with enough enthusiasm or a particular stake will make the effort to jump the necessary hurdles. A good place to start methinks would be all the apps out there which are distributed as .debs (a post on OMG about a mediafire app made me think of this). You need to ask, why is that app not in the software centre? Why didn’t the devs choose to submit it? Lack of knowledge? Technical hurdle? Feeling that it’s not discoverable? Laziness? If the latter, then there needs to be work to make submitting apps to the software centre easier/more attractive than a deb download, for instance with automagic tools to build/test/sign/submit/ with one command.

  • Global volume

    Thanks for sharing such a nice information, it’s good to read and helpful for mine and it’s interesting too.

    Web Development Company  

  • Bram Stolk

    If you think devs are important, you should not leave them hanging. I was considering bringing my game to your platform, until I saw many postings from devs asking why their app was ‘in review’ for months, without a single response from Ubuntu. With this approach you will never win over the developers. https://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/ubuntu-app-devel/