Smart Scopes Update

One feature that didn’t land in Ubuntu 13.04 was the new Smart Scopes functionality in the Ubuntu dash. This feature greatly widens the scope (pun intended) of the dash returning results for a wide range of online services as well as local results. The whole system was re-architected to be more efficient, and designed to scale across our multi-device strategy.

Although the feature didn’t land in 13.04, the team assured us that it would land in the 13.10 cycle early yet it hasn’t appeared yet. I reached out to the team to get some clarity on why this hasn’t arrived yet, and Thomas Strehl, engineering manager for the feature has provided an update:

When we tried to complete scopes for 13.04 back in March we also introduced some issues which needed quite some time during April to resolve. Especially, resolving the result update flickering and completing all reviews with design (mostly related to previews) took us until the second week of May; that was after our sprint in Oakland. During a review session with Mark Shuttleworth at the sprint it became also apparent that the current way we do scopes isn’t exactly the right one, so we started investigating the right approach also in preparation for a scopes sprint end of May. That preparation work in combination with some more fixing and a lot of merging (around 10 branches), bumping versions etc and having mhr3 leaving for vacation slowed down the progress until 17th of May.

Trying to get everything landed was then suddenly blocked by too many autopilot failures which then turned out to not be the scopes fault but rather a regression when upgrading autopilot 1.3 (as well as problems in jenkins for a few days). Good news is that all those issues had been resolved last week, meaning that after autopilot was fixed the reported autopilot issues of scopes went below the required threshold.

However, it still hasn’t landed as of today, as everything has been prepared for making the switch from raring to saucy so a big chunk is waiting for landing, including the scopes (as discussed at vUDS, everything needs to be moved at the same time as autopilot 1.3, hud touch are backward incompatible). To land all this all dependencies (libhybris, ofono, …) of the entire stack have to be resolved first and tests need to continue to pass. We will get there soon…didrocks, sil2100, rsalveti, and cyphermox are heavily working on it as we speak.

So, in a nutshell, things have been delayed due to an intricate web of dependencies, the switch to saucy, and some infrastructure gremlins. Fortunately though, we should see this land soon. Thanks to the team for all their efforts, and to Thomas for providing a thorough update!

  • Alexander Langanke

    I am very eager for this, thanks for the update!

  • http://hude.blogfa.com/ Ali Najafi

    The (stable) beta version I’m using on Raring is really fantastic. Their efforts are appreciated.

  • Anonymous

    The UI still needs a good amount of work.

    the Windows 8.1 update is implementing something similar:

    http://youtu.be/VQb5caeSo00?t=2m12s

    As you can see they also creating a nice clean App-like experience when previewing the content.

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