Smart Scopes Not Landing In 13.04, Will Land in 13.10

As some of you may know the dash team has been working to get the new smart scopes functionality in the dash ready for 13.04; this functionality delivers a far more comprehensive dash experience, performing searches over 50 or more different data sources. This feature makes the dash dramatically more useful by searching a far wider range of data sources and returning more relevant results.

The team has been working in a PPA to get the feature ready, and as we are past feature freeze, had filed a Feature Freeze Exception (FFe) to get this into 13.04. After an extensive amount of work to get the feature ready, unfortunately the dash team doesn’t consider it mature enough for 13.04 — it is nearly there, but doesn’t meet the quality needs for Ubuntu. As such the team has decided not to pursue landing in in 13.04 and to instead move it to the Ubuntu 13.10 cycle where it will be developed as soon as the archive opens. As I mentioned earlier, this feature has been developed in a PPA and has not landed in 13.04 yet, so there are no actual changes to the archive.

Some of you may have some questions about this so we have prepared a short FAQ below. I have also notified our governance boards to ensure they are aware of the change. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments!

The FFE (1154229) got a sabdfl override and is now being rejected, how come?

A sabdfl override always has high requirements regarding code quality and User Experience. After looking at the current status of the smart scopes project we decided that the User Experience simply needs more work and it does not meet the quality requirements for Ubuntu. We would prefer to delay the feature until the next release cycle to ensure that it is rock solid.

Why was this feature being pushed at the last minute?

We believe the feature does provide additional benefit to Ubuntu Users by improving the search experience in the Dash, which is Unity’s weak spot. Landing the feature in 13.04 would have given us 1 additional cycle on the way to 14.04 to train and improve the suggestions provided by the server and further refine the overall Dash experience.

When, if at all, will the feature make its way into Ubuntu?

We are planning to provide the feature in a PPA for Ubuntu Raring which will be always rebased on Unity shipped on Raring. It will land it as soon as we are confident enough on the feature quality in Ubuntu S.

What about the in-dash purchases feature? Will that be landing?

There were some final outstanding issues with in-dash purchases and we are striving to have a conclusion to this ready for early next week (week beginning 1st April).

What about the privacy enhancements that were part of the smart scopes project?

It is unfortunately not possible to get the privacy enhancements from the smart scopes projects without the larger project itself. Smart Scopes would have allowed to disable individual scopes and limit network access for searches at all. In Ubuntu 13.04 you will still be able to disable all server communications through the settings apps. You can also remove the scopes and lenses you are not interested in using them by directly uninstalling the corresponding packages.

  • http://shanefagan.com/ Shane Fagan

    I think it shouldn’t be you uninstall the package I think it should be in the settings to give an option to disable specific ones even if its just uninstalling. The thing is uninstalling in general presumes that every single user on the computer finds that lense useless. Like I know my dad wouldn’t use the youtube lense but I use it to find songs and stuff regularly. So in that case you are breaking user experience for at least 1 of the users on that computer.

  • Alexander Langanke

    I am using the testing ppa for the smart scopes right now and would like to continue using an testing the feature. Do I have to add/change the ppa or will the current one remain?

  • nono68200

    Very good new! Canonical has always landed features which were not ready. He decides now to be more careful. I say great!

  • nathan w

    thanks for the great detail and explanation! i’m also using this from the ppa, and while i see a ton of promise in smart scopes (github search is f*ing brilliant), it has definitely got some usability kinks to work out (mainly just slow and jumpy). good call to hold off a bit, can’t wait to see this mature :)

  • Anonymous

    This is what I’ve said all along – per-user settings (in the Privacy dialog) to customize/eliminate this stuff. I sure as heck don’t want potentially inappropriate/embarrassing stuff just ‘popping out’ of Dash searches when I’m in front of a colleague or customer (and heaven forbid it occurs when I’m hooked up to a projector in front of 500 people)…

    One fellow in the reddit Ubuntu discussion thread posted just such an example today – he started to type “bras” (for the Brasero disc burner), but paused…and the search promptly delivered a screenful of women in lingerie.

    This stuff REALLY needs an easy-to-find (or, at least, logical-to-find) killswitch function.

  • http://twitter.com/jonobacon Jono Bacon

    As we said in the FAQ, we plan on landing settings to change specific scope use, but it needs the wider feature to land to do that – that will be in 13.10.

  • http://shanefagan.com/ Shane Fagan

    Well what I mean is just the disabling part of it, it should be a setting not a go uninstall it if you don’t like it.

  • payload

    Could you please address the RMS recent note about the privacy and spyware issues involved with online searching lenses?

    Like mentioned by @wesmorgan1, the proposed central switch in some settings window is too distant. RMS proposed two search buttons next to each other to choose each time between online and offline search.

  • http://twitter.com/jonobacon Jono Bacon

    I don’t see the point, (a) people can disable all online search functionality right now and (b) in 13.10 people will be able to switch off specific scopes.

    The notion of uninstalling specific packages is not likely to be something general users care about.

  • http://metin2wiki.ru CSRedRat
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    The notion of uninstalling specific packages is not likely to be something general users care about.