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Making your own Unity place

This is a guest post from Jorge O. Castro, External Developer Relations Liaison, who will be posting Unity updates over the coming weeks.

Unity is made up of different parts. I’m not going to go into all of them today, instead I’m going to concentrate on one element of Unity we call “Places”.

In 11.04 we include 2 places. The Files Place (keyboard shortcut Super-F) and the Applications Place (keyboard shortcut Super-A).

If you imagine your desktop as one entity, the Applications place is a focused place looking just for your applications, and the files place we look for your recently used files, downloads, and favorites. And Places give the user a method of filtering those results as seen the top right of the screenshot.

Okay so what’s the big deal about a fancy recent files thing and and app launcher? As it ends up we put Places together using Zeitgeist which means we can know things that other applications know, and about your data. And as of yesterday you can now write your own Places in Python. This means that people can write Places for just about anything.

What kinds of Places should we have? We’ve started writing down some ideas of things we’d like to see people experimenting with.

How about something to search Amazon and return books available, or just typing in “Keanu Reeves” and having an IMDB Place return all the movies he’s been in (with thumbnails!). Or just type “Keyboard shortcuts for Unity” in the search box and have it search Ask Ubuntu and return the results categorized right in your Dash.

Editor’s note: Or an OMG! Ubuntu! place!

Getting Started Making a Place

Now, as with all fresh things, we need people going through the process and figuring out what can be made smoother.

Mikkel will be working on refining search and Places for the rest of the cycle, so check out the code and play with the example place. Then figure out what kind of thing you want to build and Just Do It.

The first few pioneers will be giving the team the feedback we need to make it easier for you to make these. Then as you learn the technology we need a volunteer to make a Quickly template. This will allow people to easily just fire up quickly and make Places. If you’re interested in making the template join us on #quickly on freenode IRC.

As always, if you need help building things with Unity technology you can find the developers in #ayatana on freenode IRC, or just ask us on the ayatana-dev mailing list. And please let us know what you come up with!

Editor’s note: Totally serious, somebody should make an OMG! Ubuntu! place