Saturday, 11 May 2013

The Harmattan to SailfishOS Blog:

Why this Blog?

02 Aug 2013: Note: Most of the posts on this blog were written for the Qt4.8.3 Sailfish Alpha: The Qt5 Alpha 2 has now been released. I am currently reviewing all posts for relevancy to the new Alpha, and will be updating / correcting them over the next few days!

Shortly after I bought my Nokia N9 many moons ago, I downloaded the Harmattan SDK and began developing a set of apps for use by paraglider pilots. My development has been on and off, sometimes centred on weekends where the weather was not good enough to fly, other times on the train in the way to work.

One of these apps has even got me out of a sticky situation on a cold and snowy mountain early this year, but that is a story for another time….(yes it does involve a big red helicopter and a long line ..)
Then, a few weeks ago I stumbled across SailfishOS, being developed by Jolla, a start-up staffed by many of the people who were behind the N9.
As the SailfishOS is the spiritual successor to Harmattan (we hope that Jolla will one day produced a physical successor to the N9), and given that both platforms are technically very similar I have been embarked on an experiment: porting my apps to SailfishOS.
The objective was to port my Harmattan apps to SailfishOS, and to keep them running on both platforms; the one next to dead but still physical (i.e. my phone); and the other the future, but as yet little more than a promise. Naturally I would like to do so with a high degree of common code.
While I was able to get my first app started on SailfishOS, almost immediately I encountered problems (let’s call them challenges 8-) ) that took a fair bit of research, creative thinking and experimentation to solve.



This blog charts that journey: I hope that it may help others on the same journey.  The journey is very far from completed: I am sure there are many challenges to come. At this point I could go all Dantesque and quote: 

"Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita mi ritrovai per una selva oscura ché la diritta via era smarrita."

But that would be too negative. Instead I prefer the Churchillian: 

"Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."
From which perspective am I writing? I am an IT application and business architect with many years of experience; but I am neither a fulltime developer (though I have written and read a great deal of code), nor a Linux guru; so it is in those domains that I have had a step learning curve over the past few weeks; and the lessons learned will form the basis of the coming articles.
Some of the articles that I hope to bring shortly are:
  • Setting up the Sailfish Toolkit for both SailfishOS Harmattan
  • Importing Packages to SailfishOS
  • Connecting to the SailfishOS SDK and the Emulator
  • Connecting to the SDK and the Emulator via WinSCP
  • Abstracting the Nokia Qt Components out of Harmattan and SailfishOS
  • The Conundrum of the “Missing” Components
  • My most useful UNIX commands. 


But first things first: If you are in any way interested in Jolla / SailfishOS development, then please join the developers’ mailing list and take part in the discussions there. I am sure the guys at Sailfish will soon add Wikis, Bugzillas and Blogs, but for the moment the Mailing list is the primary of information on all things Sailfish.
You may will find your problem has already been discussed there, or if not your question will help others. Don’t be surprised if you get answers from exotic places at weird times: Some of the Jolla guys lurk in the mailing list on weekends …. Indeed many of the questions I have had got fantastic input from users of the list, and thus enabled these articles.

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