I am happy to announce the Alpha release of the ownCloud News app, which I developed as a GSoC 2012 project. This is my final GSoC report, so it’s also the time for acknowledgments. Working with the ownCloud (oC) team has been a fantastic experience. The excitement around the ownCloud community is astonishing and people have been extremely kind and helpful with me throughout the last three months. I am very grateful to my mentor Jakob Sack. FOSS projects need people who are much more than just coder, people who are also able to guide other people into the community. Jakob is one of a kind when it comes to this. Many thanks also to Frank Osterfeld (co-mentor of the project), who has been a great source of general “RSS knowledge” and will be very helpful when I will start to work on the API (more details about this later in this and future post). As Jakob pointed out, the project has gained a lot of momentum in the last month. Bernhard Posselt (Raydiation) and Gregor Taetzner (brummbq) joined the project and gave a lot of help with restyling the look of the GUI. I am indebted to them and I hope they will continue to help ownCloud with the same enthusiasm.
The app is basically ready and you can play with it: you can add feeds, folders, remove feeds, folder, view articles, … you know, that kind of things you would do with a feed aggregator :) You can find it in the the
master branch of the
owncloud/apps repository. Go and clone it! [Update (Aug 25, 2012): notice that ownCloud code has moved to github]
Without further ado, here is how it looks like:
As you may already notice from the screenshot, we decided for an essential look. Some of the usability choices we have made are non-traditional (only one-level folder, no unread item counter), but we hope they will pay off (many thanks to Jan-Christoph Borchardt for those ideas!). Differently from what I stated in the proposal, there is a single view. It will be easier to maintain and we tried to make it intelligent enough so that the user will not feel the need of a different view.
The app also features an OPML importer, which can be found in the Settings panel (click on the cogwheel icon at the bottom of the feed list). If you are curious to see how the feeds that you usually read look like on oC, just open Google Reader, export the OPML of your subscriptions and import them into News.
The plan is to release a final version of the app along with the oC 5 final release (late October/November). Between now and the final release, you are encouraged to test the app and report bugs. Please report an issue only if it’s not listed here yet:
If it is, it means I am already aware of it and working on it. I know, the list is still very long…
The main feature missing in this Alpha release is Sharing. In the final release, the user will be able to share the posts he likes with other oC users and groups, as well as with contacts from his oC address book or just using an email address. This will be based on the new oC5 Share API (see Michael Gapczynski’s blog post.)
The Akregator aficionados who are reading on Planet-KDE will be a bit disappointed to hear that synchronization with their favorite feed reader is not yet functional. Unfortunately, the version of oC News that will be shipped with oC5 will not expose an API. On the other hand, the oC6 version of the app will have an API based on the general oC OCS API, which is being developed in the ocs_api branch of the main owncloud repository. I will talk more about this in a future blog post.
Finally, my app has also been a testbed for an interesting oC feature developed by Jakob Sack. You can read more about this feature here: Background Job. In few words, it works like this: suppose you are taking a two-weeks vacation from your nerdy life of checking your feed reader every day, but you don’t want to miss any of the posts that are published at the same time. Then your oC server will do the job of collecting the unread posts and store them while you are playing matkot on the beach. This is cool, isn’t it? Ok, do I sound like I am craving for a vacation? I am actually going to take one in few hours :P See you in September!