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Unity Contributor Report: Ready for Beta 2, Lenses API ready to go

This is a guest post from Ahmed Kamal and Jorge O. Castro, who will be posting Unity updates over the coming weeks (Original Post)

The roll up to Beta two begins as the archive starts to get more and more frozen with Beta 2 Freeze tomorrow.

We have one major announcement for the week, Neil Patel sends along that the Unity Lens API documentation is mostly ready for developer consumption and should be finished off soon.

Neil has been working with David Callé, gathering feedback on how Lenses could be made easier to work with for app developers.

Here’s a preview of the work:

David Calle's book lens

Not much different from what you see on 11.04 on the surface (other than the organizational bits on the right), but there was a bunch of plumbing involved in the Dash itself to make them faster and more responsive.

We’re looking for people to write Unity Lenses for things they care about. Neil considers this the last major changes to the Lens API, which gives authors this cycle and next to work on Lenses without having to change them all the time to adapt to the dash.

Speaking of lenses, there are two lenses that need to be updated to use the new API, here’s our call for help:

  • Reddit Lens – This lens was started by Jason Smith to help him waste time on the internet looking at rage comics but now he’s busy working on Unity itself. He’s asking for someone to take over maintenance of this lens, it needs to be ported to the new API. Here’s the code. I will also chip in a month of Reddit Gold to the person that updates this lens.
  • Ask Ubuntu Lens – This lens by Stefano Pallazo needs the same thing as the reddit lens, porting to the new API.  Here’s the code.
  • Now that the API is done, we have a ton of community submitted ideas for lenses, I’m looking for people to start making useful lenses, so feel free to snag one and get started!

Both sets of lenses have the packaging included, but if you need help you can contact me and I’ll find a packager for you.

Unity Contributor Activity This Week

  • New contributor Brandon Schaefer had his first contribution in Unity, working on ibus support. Woo!
  • New contributor Dennis Schridde submitted a fixes to dbusmenu and libindicate.
  • Marco Trevisan finished implementing DX Indicator work for 11.10,  this was actually merged last week and he’s been working on it for a long time:
    • Indicators are now ordered based on their priority, which means that the panel can now display indicators in an order regardless of what indicator-* package they come from instead of tacked onto the end of current indicators.
  • Marco Trevisan also comes in to fix a bunch, his branch includes various fixes for the QuickList handling such as:
    • Correct hiding of quicklist items and quicklist roots (including not showing unneeded separators, see more at bug #843425).
    • Support for monitoring .desktop file changes to dynamically update the “static” quicklist generated using the launcher .desktop file
    • Some memory optimizations and fix of memory leaks
    • Fixed a bug causing unity to crash if removing launcher with an open quicklist (bug #801413)
    • Some fixes for the PanelMenuView which should fix the menus accidentally being not hidden or the title not being faded.
  • Andrea Azzarone has merged his dnd-fixes branch, which fixes a bunch of drag and drop issues, and removed a 1px padding bug that Cimi forgot about :)

Other Unity Updates in Oneiric

  • New Unity release last week (was expectionnaly pushed on Friday due to an uncompatible issue with unity-2d). Latest to hopefully have a nux and unity ABI break.
    • Got a lot of bug fixes. Highlights from the week:
      • Now works on netbook screensize
      • Bring back Super + A/F/M shortcuts
      • Some behavior and rendering fixes
      • Some changes in the dash (UIFe)
      • Some speedup improvment (lazy load again of lenses) and bug fixes
    • Got an libunity ABI break as well, making rebuilding a bunch of rdepends (API change from the lens part only).
    • Also, the way lightdm and the session detect the session to launch changed (done while the user is typing his password), this brings some speedup improvment, take into account the autologin case where /tmp can’t be written. Seems no cry found on this one, so should be good!
    • This week is seeing a new unity with an UIFe (continuing the dash reshape work), and another one on the switcher.
  • Compiz:
    • New compiz uploaded on Monday with an ABI break, so rebuilding of libcompizconfig, all plugins, pythoncompizconfig and unity.
    • This new release brings some fixes (like the orange color on the grid one). This is normally a preventive ABI break before an incoming stacking issue fix which shouldn’t break the ABI.
    • UIFe for centering the workspace swicher to take into account the launcher size as well.
  • Unity-2d releases. Despite some unsynced with unity and delaying the release, we got a lot of fixes there as well: https://launchpad.net/unity-2d/+milestone/4.6. The majority is to bring unity-2d closer to unity-3d for look and feel.
  • We got Qt 4.7.4 this week as well. Lot of bug fixes for QML (and so Unity-2d) and some nice new features which will enables the unity-2d guys to experiment for the future.

The (Getting Smaller!) Big List

Here’s a list of targeted bugs that would make Unity better to use. Here’s the full list if you want to dig in.

  • 709461 – Application windows can sometimes fail to display and will mask regions of the screen.
  • 792201 – Launcher leaves focus nowhere after Alt+F1, Esc
  • 795065 – Scrolling on top of a close animation switches viewports
  • 816692 – Widget textures are loaded even though they may not be used

How to Get Involved

1. Get the Code

Follow the Step by Step Instructions and Wiki Page. This will get the code from Launchpad, set up your development environment, and getting you used to the Launchpad workflow.

2. Pick a Bug

Here’s the full list, or you can just join the team and watch them roll in and pick what you’d like.

3. Fix your bug and then get your code into Unity

Don’t worry we won’t leave you hanging, you can get a-hold of a Unity developer through many different ways:

  • Join the ~unity-community-hackers team and start digging in.
  • We now have a Weekly Meeting at 1800UTC Wednesdays on #ayatana on Freenode IRC if you feel like hanging with us and getting organized and ask questions
  • #ayatana on freenode IRC during European and American workdays. Or you can post to the mailing list if you have a question.
  • We also have weekly IRC Q+A for any developer who wants to dive in and ask a Unity developer. 7pm-8pm UTC (That’s 2pm EST) every Friday!