StormCloud Launcher Item

Stormcloud integrated with the Unity Launcher

Shake your umbrella in my direction if you can remember a bit of software called Stormcloud.

It was a desktop weather app for Linux with some serious visual appeal. And between 2012 and 2013 Stormcloud enjoyed big success on the Ubuntu desktop.

It cost a modest $2.99¹ and topped the Ubuntu Software Centre sales chart for six months running.

While it never set out to reinvent the wheel — there were no OpenGL-powered weather effects blown across your screen — it did what it did well: offer a competent crop of customisation features, weather forecasts, and throw some neat desktop integration into the mix.

But being one of the best selling apps on Ubuntu didn’t stop it vanishing faster than the smell after it rains.

A Typhoon Sweeps In

By 2014 the app was fighting a storm on several fronts, with dwindling sales, platform and app approval hurdles and a gust of Yahoo! Weather API changes affecting Stormcloud’s ability to do its core task: provide forecasts.

And although it sold well compared to other paid Linux software of the day the Ubuntu sales figures didn’t lead to a life of luxury for its developer, Jono Cooper (aka Consindo), who was a New Zealand high-school student at the time. The couple hundred bucks it netted were welcomed, but not enough to sustain development in the long term.

As other priorities took hold, including huge success with a cross-platform, cloud-syncing note taking app, Stormcloud was forgotten.

But that’s not where the story ends.

Not willing to see a good app die, Archisman Panigrahi forked the Stormcloud source code (yes, despite being a paid app Stormcloud was always open-source). The result was an entirely free version of Stormcloud called ‘Typhoon‘.

Everything was sun and smiles again until earlier this year when location and forecast APIs pulled the app offline. The result: this version of the app no longer works.

Typhoon weather app running on ubuntu

Not what was forecast…

A New Dawn?

ubuntu-cat

It was a popular app

That brings me to the point of this post: great apps don’t have to die.

It’d be great to see someone step up and fork Stormcloud/Typhoon again, and give the app a third lease on life.

Sure, we have the Ubuntu Touch Weather App, and it’s okay. But I don’t really want to install several hundred megabytes of Qml and Qt cruft just to see a weather forecast delivered in a vaguely pleasing way.

So this post is more than just a backwards glance at a one-time well-known app: it’s a polite PSA.

If anyone out there is familiar enough with location detection and forecasting APIs (e.g., Forecast.io, OpenWeather Map) and has a bit of basic Python or JavaScript knowledge, why not spend a weekend patching this up to cast a little sunlight into a few lives?

Maybe make it a Snap app so that it can run on any Linux distro?

Links for more info:

    • https://github.com/consindo/stormcloud/
    • https://github.com/apandada1/typhoon
    • https://developer.forecast.io/
    • http://openweathermap.org/
    • https://developer.ubuntu.com/en/snappy/guides/
1  The minimum price an app could sell for through the Ubuntu Software Centre, You could buy an unlock code for $1.99 via Paypal.