Ubuntu 2014

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Stay the Course

Jono takes a look at development in the year ahead.

2013 was a phenomenal year for Ubuntu. As I write this article in mid-January, I find it hard to believe that just over a year ago we announced Ubuntu for phones.

In that year, we built and released the first version of Ubuntu for phones complete with core apps, got Ubuntu running in development for tablet, delivered Mir in production on the phone, built a vastly simplified new app delivery platform complete with full security sand-boxing, created a powerful smart scopes service to bring the power of native search and online content to devices, delivered a new SDK with support for QML, HTML5, and Scopes, built an entirely new developer.ubuntu.com, created extensive CI and testing infrastructure to ensure quality, shipped two desktop releases, extended the charm store, delivered Juju GUI, spun up multiple clouds with Juju, continued to grow our LoCo community, spun up the Ubuntu Advocacy Kit, and much more.

In terms of Ubuntu for devices, I mentally picture 2013 as the year when we put much of the core foundational pieces in place. All the things I just mentioned were huge but significant pieces in delivering a world-class Free Software convergence platform. Building this platform is not as simple as building a sexy GUI; lots of complex foundational work must be done, and I am incredibly proud of everyone who participated in getting us here. It's a true testament of collaborative development involving many communities and contributors from around the world.

So, 2013 was an intense year with lots of work, some tough decisions, and lots of late (and sometimes stressful) nights, and it laid the core pillars for future work. But, what about 2014?

This time next year, we will have a single platform code-base for phone, tablet, and desktop that adapts to harness the form-factor and power of each device it runs on. This is not just the aesthetics of convergence, it is real convergence at the code level. Although convergence is a fairly simple topic to grasp, the subtleties of how this will be unified across the platform are still percolating across the industry. This is pretty revolutionary stuff.

To deliver real convergence, we need a powerful developer platform. At the center of this work is the Ubuntu SDK, which can be used to write an app once and deliver it to any of these devices, and an ecosystem in which you can freely publish or sell apps, content, and more with a powerful set of payment tools.

This developer work will be more involved than you think. We want not only to build a great platform, we want to build a world-class platform. This requires an integrated experience: code editing, source control, documentation, emulation, device testing, and more. Although we made great progress toward this in 2013 (see http://developer.ubuntu.com for how to get started), there's still much that we can do.

These pieces will appear one phase at a time throughout 2014. We are focusing first on finishing the convergent pieces on phone, then bringing them to tablet, and then finally bringing our desktop over to the new convergent platform. Every piece of new technology that we built in 2013 will be consumed across all of these form-factors in 2014; every line of code is an investment in our future.

As we deliver this work, we will strive to be as open and transparent as possible. We will be running our developer summits online, working in blueprints that anyone can see, tracking our progress openly, discussing our work on public mailing lists and IRC channels, and providing regular updates on progress. I am also very keen to hear your feedback and input on ways in which we can continue to refine and improve how we build Ubuntu.

Even more importantly, though, 2014 will be the year when we see this new era of Ubuntu convergence shipping to consumers. This will open up Ubuntu to millions of additional users, provide an opportunity for app developers to get in on the ground floor in delivering powerful apps, and build more opportunity for our community than ever before.

I wish I could tell you that 2014 is going to be more relaxing than 2013. It isn't. It is going to be a roller-coaster. There will be late nights, stressful times, and unnecessary politics, but my goal is to help keep us working together as a community, keep us focused on the bigger picture, keep our discourse constructive, and keep the fun in Ubuntu. Here's to a great 2014!

The Author

Jono Bacon is a leading community manager, engineering manager, consultant, and author. Currently, he works as the Ubuntu Community Manager at Canonical, leading a team that grows, inspires, and encourages the global Ubuntu community.

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