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Why its easier to re-invent rather than participate on the mobile?

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Author(s): Shreyas Srinivasan

Application Frameworks define the user experience. For consumer mobile devices, choosing a feature-rich and high-performance application framework becomes a premium. Creators of Linux mobile devices have a range of application frameworks (gtk/qt/efl) to choose from, but this choice also makes it hard to pick a frame-work given a set of requirements. Each of these communities have over time built a lot of information for people to use their framework, while this information has more or less been sufficient for the desktop. Choosing an application framework for mobile has a slightly different set of questions.

Over the last two years i have been involved in building a embedded device for my employers. As a supporter and contributor of Open Source and specifically Gnome, i have tried to evangelize Gnome mobile for this device. My task has been to look at hardware platforms and choose open source frameworks which fit the best for that platform.

As a part of this i published a paper which tries to benchmark various applications framework across various hardware (http://ols.fedoraproject.org/OLS/Reprints-2008/srinivasan2-reprint.pdf). One of the most glaring problem while taking an informed choice is the availability of benchmarking information, i tried to tackle this in the paper, there are various other problems which we need to understand and address if we want to attract more developers and drive participation. As of today, for a company its still easier to invent their own framework than understand and use an existing framework.

This talk depicts the kind of challenges small teams face while making an choice about open source application frameworks for mobile devices. It also lists the broad history of the various questions we had to answer since we conceived the device and how at every step it was easier to invent than participate. It concludes with what i believe is a list of steps we need to take to answer specific questions which aids greater adoption of open source frameworks (specifically gnome) on the mobile.

 

Author bio: Shreyas Srinivasan is a Gnome Foundation Member and has actively contributed to Gnome and Evolution. He has authored Evolution Groupdav connector and has ported Evolution to Mac OS X. He is also part of the team which organizes Foss.in, Indias biggest free and open source conference. He actively pushes Gnome at Foss.in and also speaks at colleges around India about Gnome and Open Source.

Shreyas is also the founder of RadioVeRVe (http://radioverve.com) an online radio station which promotes Independent Indian music. He is a well know supporter of Independent music and artists. He currently works for Geodesic Information Systems where he helped open source Open Alchemy (http://openalchemy.org) a light weight application framework for embedded devices.