Symbian Tools SIG Proceedings

It’s been a busy two weeks for Symbian and the Tools team.  Last week was the SEE conference as well as several meetings with our London Symbian colleagues.  This week was Qt Developer Days and the Silicon Valley Symbian SIG.  In this blog, I want to give an update on another meeting that took place in London on October 29th.

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We had the first Symbian Foundation Tools SIG.  Twenty-nine Symbian eco-system tools creators spent the day sharing plans, strategies and goals.  We had representatives from handset manufacturers, package owners, chip vendors, startups, tools vendors, and service providers.

Here are some of the highlights:

Brainstorm About Tools Challenges We broke into five subgroups to discuss the most important issues. The three top themes were:
  • Platform Creation – Use tools to support, ease, and encourage platform creation and collaboration
  • Getting Started – Focus on simplicity
  • Understand the Tools Portfolio – There are a few hundred different tools in the Symbian eco-system. There needs to be a good way to understand them and find what you need
Tools Organization Working Group  We agreed to create a Working Group to create a better organization of the tools for documentation, installation and usage. We will build from PDT, ADT and earlier tools structures. I’ll announce the Working Group on the tools forum.

Tools Without a Clean API Separation from the OS There are several tools, especially in the dynamic analysis packages, that need to be aligned with a specific OS release. These should be rearchitected, but in the meantime, we need to determine a packaging strategy that allows tools and OS releasing to be asynchronous.

Communication We explored how Symbian tools creators should best communicate. The forum isn’t working for some people because Tools Development discussions get overwhelmed by Tools Usage ones. We decided to keep the forum for usage discussions and use the Tools Domain mailing list for Tools Development discussions. We’ll evaluate this after a month or two and add other venues if necessary.

Open Source Paradox Tools contributions are slow because the contributors are waiting to see interest from the community in contributing. The community isn’t contributing because they’re waiting to see the packages that they would need to contribute to. Next steps:
  • Tools Package Owners – make the “leap of faith” and contribute even if there are no known collaborators
  • Symbian Foundation Tools team and community – Encourage collaborators to express interest in contribution
Qt Tools Qt is an application framework (not just a UI framework) Qt Creator is focused on being a great C++ development environment.

Target Shell Tools Accenture has a rich set of command line tools that run on Symbian targets. They agreed to explore contributing them to the Symbian Foundation.

Open Source Best Practices Qt and CodeSourcery shared best practices from being successful open source eco-system tools providers. Some examples:

  • Meet the community on its own turf – mailing lists, IRC, forums
  • Contributors must see value in their contribution
  • Consider using more existing well known open source tools instead of open sourcing comparable historically closed source tools

There are more SIG meeting details and presentations on the Symbian wiki.

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