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The weather indicator project revives; what might have been

The indicator-weather project has kicked back into life this week – meaning none of us need to go without ‘weather-info-at-a-glance’ on our desktop panel come Ubuntu 11.04.

Long time readers may note that we were briefly involved in the indicator-weather project last year after the original development team became unavailable to continue with the app.

Somewhat regrettably our involvement didn’t bear much fruit. A combination of  competing visions, ideas on the level of configurability and the oh-so inevitable hard drive crash with the only branch of the code on…

As part of our involvement at the time we created this visual ‘primer’ as to what we felt a weather indicator should look like and how it should function. Click on it to view it larger.

Indicator Weather

Automatic for the people

The most important aspect on our take on the indicator was the ease of usability. With many excellent location-aware technologies for the Linux desktop we felt it was daft to rely on a user manually inputting their location: it should be done automatically.

This would particularly come into significance for users on laptops or netbook. Rather than manually having to change their location when taking a trip the indicator would change automatically.

Temperature units would be displayed in whatever the dominant unit format of a users location was. Fahrenheit for US, Celsius for Europe, etc.

Readability

The second most important part was to skip the need to be everything to everyone and just focus on delivering the most important weather-related information a user might need.

In-depth radar breakdowns, wind direction, ‘feels like’ and other detailed information may be useful in specific instances but for the most part users just want to know the temperature and if it’s going to rain tomorrow. Since all of this doesn’t warrant anything more elaborate than being arranged in one menu we felt no desire to complicate matters with endless windows to open, no-doubt each accruing ever more configurable options along the way.

Keep it simple, keep it in eye-shot was out motto.

Reliability

The third and final part of our meteorological mock-up was the ability for weather information to remain ‘available’ even when a user was offline.  This was to be achieved by way of an offline cache for information.

Indicator-weather lives on

It would nice if some of the ideas we pitched remained a focus for the new development team but it’s not expected of them. We’re just pleased to see the indicator breathing once again.*

Talking of which, a new PPA is up and running for those interested in testing the indicator out.

Install

To add the PPA and install the app open a terminal and enter the following: –

  • sudo add-apt-repository ppa:weather-indicator-team/ppa
  • sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install indicator-weather