[maemo-community] A 'red thread' through talks at maemo summit

From: Randall Arnold texrat at ovi.com
Date: Thu Sep 24 00:19:35 EEST 2009
...and you now poke the biggest, ugliest stick of all into the hornets'
nest: roadmaps.

There's no way to make this issue black and white so we have been arguing
on what shade of grey it should be.  This is one of those confounding
dilemmas where extreme views on either side have equal merit.

The problem for Nokia is, somehow this stumbling bloick MUST be
eliminated or development will persist in some quasi state satisfactory
to neither the company nor the community.

But ultimately all we as a community can do is
beg/whine/argue/recommend/protest.  SOMEone in Nokia must decide what
roadmaps should look like and when/how they are released.  That also
brings in the lawyers.

Ay yi yi...


  ----- Original message -----
  From: "Alan Bruce" <alan at thebruces.ca>
  To: "Randall Arnold" <texrat at ovi.com>
  Subject: Re: A 'red thread' through talks at maemo summit
  Date: Wed, 23 Sep 2009 12:05:40 -0700

  Whoah, I've just doubled the size of my text by adding all the good
  questions and comments from the t.m.o thread.

  Here's the part of my text that has changed:

  Harmattan / The future

    * What kind of changes do you plan to make in the future to better
      work with the community?

    * Would Nokia consider giving end-of-life versions of Maemo to the
      community to maintain? Or does Nokia expect the community to
      exclusively use parallel versions of Maemo, like Mer, if the
      community wishes to take control after Nokia ends support?

    * Now that Maemo Devices controls the software and the hardware,
      will the hardware become more open-source? Will there be
      processes for the community to contribute to hardware design?

  High Level Open Source vs. Closed Source Discussion

  (the same)

  Questions from the community:

  Accepting that some things need to be kept behind closed doors for
  commercial reasons, when are Nokia engineers going to be operating in
  the community for everything else? We'd like to see API design
  discussions in advance, on maemo-developers, as well as an open,
  common bugzilla and code repository. For example, we discovered the
  Fremantle "third party package policy" when people started having
  problems. And that's in an open, community-involved package like
  Application Manager.
  Discussion between Jaffa/ragnar:

    * Jaffa: [W]e've already seen what happens with Hildon when well
      intentioned developers go away for 18 months and then come back
      with a beta which has a practically fixed API, which lots of
      developers immediately start finding inconsistencies, edge cases,
      over-zealous specialisms vs. over generalisations.
      The only valid answer I can see is the one we've heard before:
      "exposing this information for external comment from the
      community will reveal too much of our future plans".
      This is a fine answer. But, of course, there's then no hint of
      roadmaps, design principles (not in the UX sense) or architecture
      plans on which the community can contribute. So, no contributions
      means the cycle continues and products which could've had free
      consultancy services from an empassioned expert community are
      shipped in a sub-optimal state.

    * ragnar: Generally UI's are not revealed in advance because of
      competitive reasons. If we would have shown the Maemo 5 UI plans
      at the time they were ready for the first time, any smart
      competitor would have not commented anything on them, picked up
      on the good ideas, disregarded others and probably even come out
      with their own device before Nokia. Then end consumers - who
      don't know and care about the process of how things get done -
      would be just left confused. Showing our own cards is a very
      basic problem, and I hope everybody realizes that. We will be the
      first company out with the device with the Maemo 5 UI. If you
      wouldn't believe your UI is an competitive advantage and
      therefore don't care about that fact, then we can all go home

  So, either you hold your cards really close to your chest, or you
  then do the complete opposite, and do like Mozilla, and open up
  everything all the time, right from the start. If Nokia = Maemo and
  nothing more, and if Nokia could crank devices out faster than any
  competitor, then perhaps there would be more options. But since Nokia
  > just Maemo, even Maemo does not work in a bubble. Revealing some
  parts of Maemo UI would reveal ... elements of "Nokia UI" - see that
  however you want.

  Well, yes, external consultancy costs money. But it can also offer
  consistency, with testing methodology, target user gathering,
  non-biased testers, consistent reporting metrics etc. etc. So they're
  not really comparative. You wouldn't replace one with the other.

  Could you - or anybody - can come up with a good (as in realistic and
  pragmatic instead of idealistic) proposal on how to 'do' community
  input regarding the new UI?

  ...[I]f we would show the whole plans, and then get n comments on it,
  ... Would following the democratic majority of the developer
  community lead to an optimal solution in terms of an UI solution?
  Wouldn't that be the worst kind of "design by committee" that one
  could imagine? Do a poll for "Feature X, do solution A or solution B"
  and vote which solution gets more votes? No?
  In three years, I've seen little real progress, just lots of promises
  to improve which never really materialise. I can count the number of
  Nokia/Maemo developers actively involved in Bugzilla on one hand.
  Intel puts Nokia to shame with the amount of involvement from Intel
  engineers in the Moblin bugzilla. Why is Intel able to achieve a much
  greater level of transparency than Nokia when discussing defects and
  enhancements? Intel appear willing to publicly file, and more
  importantly discuss, the bugs in their product whereas Nokia prefer
  to keep their dirty laundry a secret and are doing a very good job of
  ignoring those bugs raised by the community. There is little if any
  direct input from Nokia developers against publicly filed bugs, many
  of which are closed as WONTFIX when the respective OS version is
  One of the strengths of Maemo is its community, largely drawn by the
  relative openness and hackability of the Maemo devices. In light of
  announced plans for a more mass-market approach, and potentially
  future Linux-based smartphone devices (e.g. oFono), how does Nokia
  plan to balance maintaining openness with the opposing pressures
  typically inherent in such plans?
  What happened since "It is not a cell phone -- and it is good" to
  change your mind? Are those reasons not valid any more, or are there
  more compelling reasons (and if so, what) pushing in the opposite
  direction? The compromises/sacrifices necessary to turn a tablet into
  a phone (finger UI, screen size and so on) have been very
  controversial here [on the forums]; does Nokia plan to still address
  the market segment that prefers a tablet to a phone?

    * how much community input could nokia handle concerning hardware?
      could they envision that some day a future product is designed
      via a bugzilla-system, with people voting for enhancement
      requests about hardware? could there be something like a
      community edition of existing mass market products that differs
      in things like screen size or keyboard layout etc according to
      the wishes of a reasonably large part of the community?

    * How does the maemo community live up to Nokia's expectations? Are
      there still things that must be done internally (or don't happen
      at all) because the community fails to deliver?

    * On the business side, is dealing with the community in general
      more expensive/difficult than handling uncoordinated customer

  Nokia seems to be going in two directions: the transition from a
  device to a services company with Ovi; and the transition to the new
  open source Symbian and Maemo. Is "mobile" really the best arena for
  a company which is basing its value on services and the relationships
  that it has maintained? Or, from Nokia's perspective, do these
  transitions to open source and services-orientation point to a key
  element of technology-as-culture that we miss because we don't have
  the same view that a company such as Nokia has? If the latter, can
  you elaborate on what Nokia sees, and why this viewpoint is
  significant for a community like Maemo to understand.


  The community really desires some sort of development/release roadmap
  for Maemo hardware and software. We understand that Nokia cannot be
  completely forthcoming due to competitive needs, but can't at least
  some degree of rough guidance be provided?

  On Wed, Sep 23, 2009 at 11:10 AM, Randall Arnold <texrat at ovi.com>

    Excellent point, and one I actually raised 3 years ago and have
    harped on so much since that it did not occur to me to raise it
    again.  : D

      ----- Original message -----
      From: "Alan Bruce" <alan at thebruces.ca>
      To: "Carsten Munk" <carsten.munk at gmail.com>
      Subject: Re: A 'red thread' through talks at maemo summit
       Date: Wed, 23 Sep 2009 10:34:21 -0700

      Carsten, you're right. I just re-read my thread at t.m.o. and
      jaffa asks the same question:

      Jaffa: Accepting that some things need to be kept behind
      closed doors for commercial reasons, when are Nokia engineers
      going to be operating in the community for everything else?
      (For example, we discovered the Fremantle "third party
      package policy" when people started having problems. And
      that's in an open, community-involved package like
      Application Manager.)

      On Wed, Sep 23, 2009 at 12:22 AM, Carsten Munk <carsten.munk at gmail.com>

        Loving the questions. Maybe a question on getting
        internal developers out in the open - open source happens
        by doing things in the open as well.


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