Cloudo Blog

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Cloudo Alpha 2 Released

Dear reader,
Summer has indeed arrived to Stockholm and we have to admit that we have been drinking lots of beers in the sun. Nonetheless, we have continued the development of Cloudo uncompromisingly. Now, the development phase has come to a level where a server update is primed. There are several news in this update but we have chosen to withhold some of the news in order to quality assure them further. Among the current update, you’ll see news such as:

This is the fully functional first version. There are two essential features left; recurring events and sharing of calendars with people from the buddylist. The latter one requires a fully implemented community support (which is on the development table and is being polished).

File uploader
Now it’s possible to upload files to your account in Cloudo. If you upload images and mp3 files, by default they will be uploaded to your “Pictures” respectively “Music” folder but it is possible to specify the target folder for each uploading file. Types of files other than image and mp3 will be uploaded to your “Documents” folder by default. The maximum file size is currently 10 MB for each file (this limit will of course be lifted when we go into beta). One of the last features, that is in the pipeline for this application, is the possibility to upload a zip-file and extract it post-upload, which facilitates synchronizing complex folder structure already existing in your harddrive. You can access “File Upload” in several ways and one of them is through the toolbar in Finder.

Application Manager
The API to install and uninstall applications already was supported by the system but now we have added the Application Manager, from which the user can add and remove applications. So for those who have accessed Cloudo earlier might notice that applications that were available previously is now not installed and needs to be installed in your account in order to be available. You might wonder; what is the need for this application? Well, even though there are about 30-40 applications in the system (some can’t be uninstalled), the number of applications will grow in time. This application will enable the user to install finished applications, applications in beta stage and even applications that are developed by friends (requesting feedback).

Image Viewer
Using this application, you can browse and view images that you have uploaded. It will collect and show all the images in a certain folder. In other words, double clicking an image in a folder in Finder will show the image on the left side but also thumbnails of neighboring images in that folder on the right panel. An additional feature is the ability to search and view images located at Flickr; to test this feature just click on the flickr icon in the toolbar.

Horizontal and vertical regulators
There was a need to insert horizontal and vertical regulators in the UI. Initially, we had some difficulty to implement a suitable solution and at the same time keep the possibility to GUI flexible for different skins. The hard work is now finished but some final polishing is required on the API. We’ll notify you as soon as there are more implemented regarding regulators.

Window in window feature
Yet another thing needed, we discovered along the way, is the need for window in windows. So now, there is a first draft for this solution and this feature can be viewed through the WebFlorist application (can be installed from Application Manager).

Modal dialogs
Dialog windows such as alert, prompt, open/save, mini-filebrowser, etc is now retaining the interface focus until the dialog window is closed. The focus is retained by a semi-transparent black color, above which the dialog appears.

Toolbar submenu
Even though small, on the other hand an important addition; submenus for a toolbar items.

New Skin
As you can see in the screenshots in this blog post, we have implemented a new skin; Cloudo Dolphin. As you might guess, this skin is a modified version of the Oxygen skin which is shipped as the default skin in KDE 4. This skin is fully implemented but we are not yet satisfied with the start menu; as soon as our art directors return from their holidays a new start menu will also be implemented.

So, what's next?
Of course there is other news in this server update but they are more subtle in nature, such as core subroutines. Now other features await us, such as the ability to “drag and drop into-a-zone”. Notice that drag-and-drop is already supported but not into specified zones. We have waited for the “big-idea” before tackling this problem until now; since the major problem has been to detect the element below the dragged object (since event.srcElement returns the dragged object) and we don’t like the idea of performing arithmetical calculations through arrays. But we have finally found a very graceful but fast solution and the API will be very simple to utilize. The mail application is also on the “development table” and a first version will be available as soon as possible.

Right now our main focus lies within account management –we are working hard to enable anyone to create accounts. Up until now, we have created accounts ad-hoc and we know, many of you out there are waiting for your accounts and we have intentionally postponed this feature, simply because we want to polish as much as possible and surprise positively instead of rushing out something half bad and disappoint.

Have a fantastic summer.

Hakan Bilgin
Chief System Architect, Cloudo