ownCloud News app alpha-2 release (guest post by Bernhard Posselt)

In this post I hand over the floor to the co-maintainer of the News app Bernhard Posselt (Raydiation). Bernhard is a software engineering student at University of Applied Sciences Technikum Wien. As an intern at ownCloud inc., he is the man behind the new ownCloud appframework. He is also involved in the coding and the design of the Notes app and in lots of user and devs documentation for ownCloud.

This is my first real report on the progress of the News app (I’ve escaped Alessandro’s requests to write a blog post quite a few times already :D). I’ve joined as a co-maintainer back in last August, because I was looking for a replacement of Google Reader. I’m a heavy Google Reader user so this app better becomes a solid replacement! ;)

In this post I am happy to announce the second (and last) alpha release of the News app. It is already usable and the core features are implemented, but there will be some rough edges and bugs and we may add small improvements in order to get it stable. See https://github.com/owncloud/news/issues?milestone=3&state=,open

The development of the News app started as a GSoC project last year and at the end of the last summer we announced the first alpha release of the app. So why such a long time span between two alpha releases and why not yet a beta release? There are multiple reasons for this.

First off, we don’t want people to use an app that is not finished yet: this will only scare away people who want to switch to the app and find little annoying bugs. I speak from personal experience: this is the reason why I don’t use KDE SC (tried it multiple times, always been bitten by tons of minor bugs and annoyances).

Second, I’m used to Test-Driven-Development and to web-frameworks like Django and there was basically nothing in this regard at the time I joined ownCloud. In the course of programming the News app I’ve developed a small framework that helps people with ownCloud app development: https://github.com/owncloud/appframework And of course I also had to write documentation for it :)

This means I factored out all the parts of the News app which we could generalize, wrote unit tests for it and restructured the News app with the new code.

Since I’m mostly responsible for the JavaScript and CSS part, I ran into maintainability problems and started to port everything to AngularJS. jQuery is a nice tool but it binds your JavaScript code so heavily to the DOM that changes in the template can break the whole app. In the long run this is not maintainable.

I am quite happy with the result now: the whole News app has basically been rewritten using the App Framework, AngularJS, unit tests and a proper architecture and I feel like we will not have to rewrite anything anytime soon. We even have JavaScript unit tests now!

Third and last, we are both students and have tight schedules and during the last two semesters we have been really busy. I started to work full-time on the app only since one month ago, when I started my internship at ownCloud inc. (I’m very grateful to ownCloud for this opportunity).

Because this is only an alpha release, we won’t release packages but urge users to use the master version from GitHub (we moved the app to its own repository: https://github.com/owncloud/news). This way people can easily stay up to date with the newest bug-fixes and it will also help us developers to minimize the effort of closing bugs that are already fixed. An installation guide is available in the README file.

So long thanks for all the testing and feedback! The response since Google Reader has shut down has been amazing: we already have tons of people testing and giving feedback. Thanks for the all the help and your patience ;)

3 thoughts on “ownCloud News app alpha-2 release (guest post by Bernhard Posselt)

  1. you guys rocks! looking forward to seeing the final version and the integration with akregator and maybe a mobile app (i see it’s on the google summer of this year)!

  2. looking forward to newer releases. still missing some features like chronological sorting of all feed items. do you consider joining Flattr any time soon?

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