You are here Update (2011-04-27): Finalized Default Theme, Last Set of Translations, Sneak Peek of 2.0

John T. Haller's picture
Submitted by John T. Haller on April 27, 2011 - 1:19am

logoHere's a quick status update on the goings-on of and the Road to 2.0. We've finalized the default theme and chrome, we wound up having to do one more set of translations (due to the website upgrade delay), we've got some news on the financial front and we've got a sneak preview of a couple of 2.0 features which happen to be useful for translators as well. Read on for the details

Finalized Default Theme for 2.0

After discussions in last week's update, working with some users and doing a bit of usability testing, we've decided to go with the new flat chrome theme as the primary chrome with the beveled chrome also available. We've also decided to go with the white background in the app area as it's easier on the eyes over long stretches and better matches the standard Windows start menu. As with before, we'll have it available in 15 different colors both dark and white. And the same set with the beveled chrome. Based on user feedback, we also lightened the app area from the Beta 5 release and the fonts in the folder area and drive free space area. Here's a look:

I also threw in a brushed metal theme we'd been working on previously for a partner as well as for general availability. This is where the silver icons mentioned in the last update came from. I'm not sure if this is up to the quality we want to include it with the platform, but we'll at least make it available later on as a downloadable theme.

Updated Platform 2.0 Strings Posted

As we were doing final testing on the 2.0 platform, we realized we had an issue with localization in the new Portable App Directory included with the Platform. It was planned that the area showing the description of the app would be fed from the website's app database and have it localized for each language. This is still planned, but due to the difficulties in upgrading to Drupal 7, the new app directory isn't online yet, so those translations aren't available.

Rather than stick all non-English speakers with app descriptions they can't understand, we're going to substitute in the sub-category of the app for the description field. While this doesn't give all the details of each app, the sub-categories are detailed enough that they'll make sense. This way, Firefox shows up with a sub-category of "Web Browsers" and Notepad++ shows up with a sub-category of "Text Editors" translated into the user's language of choice. This will serve as a good holdover until the new app directory is online on our site and we can serve full localized descriptions.

We need users to help translate, so if you are fluent in English and another language, please head over to the Platform 2.0 Language Translations Take 2 topic in the forums and help update or review a translation.

2.0 Sneak Peek

As a bit of a taste of the new platform, and to assist in the translations before the platform is released (it helps to visualize), we've included a couple of screenshots of some upcoming features. Below, you'll find the first public screenshot of the new Portable App Directory, a shot of how the new directory is accessed and a review of the new Options screen we previewed previously (so it's all in one place):

In the Portable App Directory screen above, when in a language besides English, the Description column will be labeled Sub-Category and will include the Sub-Category of the app in the user's selected language as translated in the new set of strings mentioned above. As for how the above screenshot works, you just click Get More Apps in the PA.c Menu and you get a categorized list of apps available. Check off the ones you want, click Next and they'll all be downloaded and installed automatically, just like with the updater in the current 2.0 Beta release.

Oh, and if you notice that some of the app icons look a bit jagged, it's because the icons aren't all up on the server yet for the updater to access, so it's using a rough PNG to ICO conversion that loses alpha transparency. It's a fallback method in case some of the ICOs are ever inaccessible. We'll have them all online for the 2.0 release so they'll look smooth and sophisticated!

Updated 2.0 Progress

The translations for these final strings are progressing well. The code to handle the sub-category swap on the client side and the updates to the actual app directory on the website and in the updater database are nearly complete (example: getting all those Utilities out of 'Other'). We're working on one final issue with the theming engine causing the pink corners to appear under Windows 2000\XP\Wine and on Vista\7 when Aero is disabled as well. It's fixed in the code now, but it required a minor update to the theming setup itself (another layer to ensure they show up as transparent), which was just completed today.

As soon as these last few issues are completed, we'll be posting the platform as 2.0 Pre-Release 1 to get some final testing from the wider community. In particular, we'll be focusing on ensuring that all the translations are showing up right for all users, that categories in the first two modes (All with Categories and All Alphabetical) are working properly for both the built-in categories and user-created ones, that the new options window is working properly for all settings, that the new themes are working properly, that the new Portable App Directory is functioning as expected and that the bug fixes included are working for everyone (Updater and App Directory downloading online installer's additional bits itself to working with proxies and better show progress, uninstall progress now responsive during uninstall on Vista/7, etc). We'll announce it through all our channels as soon as it is up.

Quick Financial Update

We're partnering with one of the largest custom flash drive makers in the US to be able to offer drives as well as optional user text laser-engraving with the Platform pre-loaded. There will be a choice of shapes and colors. The internals are being made by one of the major USB manufacturers (though we won't be able to say who for contract reasons), so they'll be retail quality. This should be available in a month or so and we'll be announcing it then.

With the 2.0 Pre-Release 1 release, we're going to begin a donations drive similar to what Wikipedia ran earlier this year. We're going to be shooting for $50,000 to help pay off some of our debt load that we're personally carrying, pay our rising hosting bills (up about 5%-10% per month and soon to spike with the Portable App Directory) and handle some other necessities along those lines. We're going to take a bit of a unique approach with this as we're going to be taking these same donations we get and donating them back to the open source projects we make portable once we're in the black business-wise, kind of like an 'open source loan'. We're happy for any suggestions around the best way to structure it all as well as ways to get the word out and encourage donations. And if anyone is feeling generous and would like to donate early, it will really help pay for things now and be very much appreciated!

That's it for this update. Thanks to everyone who gave input on the new themes and to everyone who has submitted or will submit a translation for the 2.0 Platform. If you see any languages that still need an update and know someone who could help, please send them our way!

Thanks for everyone who's helping out with 2.0... and making it rock!

The impossible can become possible if you are awesome! - Rhino


Gord Caswell's picture

Yes, StartPortableApps.exe is a launcher for \PortableApps\\PortableAppsPlatform.exe

However, AFAIK, the Launcher (PAL) is NOT used for creating this launcher, it is hand-coded.

I wouldn't be surprised if this changes in the future, however.

Chris Morgan's picture

StartPortableApps.exe is purely a shortcut to PortableApps\\PortableAppsPlatform.exe in executable form. PAL is not suited for dealing with its directory structure and there is no need to make it work that way either.

I am a Christian and a developer and moderator here.

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” – Proverbs 15:1

The Platform exe in the /PortableApps/ folder is the platform. There is no launcher which points to /PortableApps/

"What about Love?" - "Overrated. Biochemically no different than eating large quantities of chocolate." - Al Pacino in The Devils Advocate

First post for me here. I have decided to write after having seen so much fuss around the new release 2.0 of the PA launcher.
Well, i must admit that i do not need the new launcher at all!
I installed the PA applications in a personal directory linked to a DropBox account: in this way i have all the apps in sync across my computers.
And for the updates i subscribed to the rss feed and have then on my Google reader, so when they are available i download them and i am good to go.
Many thanks to all the people that contributed to create and maintain this wonderful framework of portable applications.

Well, at least we know with this that:

A) There are still some bugs to kill (remember LittleBigPlanet 2 and Media Molecule...)
B) There must be some serious need for money, and...
C) That gives me more time to make some more themes for the PR1.

Take your time, guys. It's fine with most of us. Save for that small percentage armed with portable HDDs and USB memory drives, you have everyone's full support.

Now just gimme some time to come up with some money for your efforts.

You know what, I've been thinking. When life gives you lemons, don't make lemonade. Make life TAKE THE LEMONS BACK! Get mad!! I don't want your lemons; what am I supposed to do with THESE!?

The impossible can become possible if you are awesome! - Rhino

What happens when you are not awesome?

Let's take a step back and look at this.

In the February 1, 2011 post titled " Status Update: 62 New Apps, Site and SourceForge Issues, Platform Delay, Moving Forward", John wrote...

" Platform Release Target Missed

As many users have noticed, we missed our updated target release timeframe for the new Platform 2.0 Beta and stable releases. This was due to a number of issues, both technical and personal, but ultimately, the responsibility falls on me. I, again, set a timeframe and publicly announced it without taking into account several possible issues and, in the end, let you down. And for that, I am truly sorry. Our community of users and developers is really one of the things that makes us great and helps drive this whole project forward and it's unfair to set up high expectations for you only to disappoint you when they don't come to pass. Even though our software is free, many people like you rely on it to live, work and play and we have a responsibility to ensure you are able to continue doing that. I take that responsibility seriously and will not let this situation happen again."

Later on in that same February 1 post, John wrote...

"Rather than announcing a new date and having it slip, further proving to everyone that we are operating on Valve Time, I'm going to begin posting weekly progress updates on this blog on the status of the platform and our other initiatives. So, every week, you'll get an update on where things stand and, often, an announcement of a new release to download and use. I'll be doing additional quick mini status updates in the forums as things come together as well and link them in from this announcement and post them in our twitter account."

In the April 10, 2011 post titled " Status Update (2011-04-10): Platform 2.0 Release Date, Site Upgrade Progress, New Release Status", John wrote...

"Later this week, we'll be releasing 2.0 to the community as a '2.0 Release Candidate' and promoting it to much of our existing community and encouraging everyone to upgrade and fully test it out. We'll be including what we hope is the final version of 2.0 along with all the updater translations from the community to that point to ensure that they are all working as expected in the actual interface, as well as giving users the ability to adjust them as needed and submit changes for each locale."

All that talk about weekly updates and "will not let this situation happen again" seems to have quickly fizzled. It does NOT appear that the lessons were learned. The same mistakes were repeated, especially date setting and a return to no updates, big or even small.

We have now gone almost a month without any official update, not even a small update to say what might be obvious (dealing with contracts, addressing serious financial issues, etc) or even to say something like "I would like to provide some details and let you know more about what is going on and why there is a hold-up, but my/our lawyers have instructed us not to say much."

I would imagine most of us don't even care if the *weekly* updates are big. Maybe with where everything is at and based on what can and cannot be said (for legal reasons), a quick, short paragraph would be sufficient.

PortableApps is in a bit of a predicament. They cannot afford for users to lose interest and move on, but if users are strung along with perpetual delays, we/they get annoyed, frustrated, etc. Neither of these situations is ideal for community interest, financial support, website traffic, and so on. Therefore, what should they say or not say? Are they totally honest and tell what issues they are facing, not say anything, tell users what they want to hear, or somewhere in between?

Despite everything being "free", this whole situation for months, and especially lately, has been handled very poorly and irresponsibly, from a communication stand-point in particular. I certainly don't feel I can put much stock in what is "officially" written.

However, I remain hopeful that PortableApps can continue to move forward and be successful and sustainable along with providing useful solutions for both men and women as well as businesses, organizations, etc.

LOGAN-Portable's picture

I understand delays for technical reasons. Personal reasons also, but that would not happen as much if there were a bunch of other developers working on the platform. It has not be clear if there are more than one dev working on it.

'Legal' problems on the other hand is a totally other can of worms. If the problems are related to the techical bits, like patents or whatever, I sort-of understand. If the legal problems only refer to making deals happen with hardware folks, I would rather have the platform itself moving forward regardless of the deals with hardware vendors. I'm sure they could/would join in if the releases weren't hold up.

The financial issues are probably related to the bandwidth the new version would generate, both to new users and the updater. But maybe there's a way to get a sponsor for bandwith of something. Other financial problems (like feeding the dog, paying the rent, etc, etc) would not be helped by delaying a new release.

I hope that a release candidate will come soon so it can be tested a bit more. I personally don't expect the official release before 2012, but I surely wish it would.

On a closing note, it seems the most complex Open Source project I have ever seen looking at the legal issues, hardware vendor deals, hosting problems, as a few of the things causing the delays of release candidates and final releases. I cross my fingers and wish things are settled soon so the Portable Apps menu will finally get the one thing I am waiting for; categories.

But discussing, complaining, wining, screaming, reading updates why there are delays, and so on will not make things go faster. Go John, we believe you can do it.

Yes you can!

why is there a subject field here? if your replying to an already existing post, why on earth would you have a subject field? subjects are for emails, not replies to forums, thats just dumb right there.

secondly, why is this road to 2.0 taking so darn long? how long have they been working on this now 2 years? just for the translations? anyone reading this site obviously knows English so why are we wasting our time translating in the first place? think about it, who doesn't know english who is on this site? I mean I get that there are people here who speak languages other then english, but why are we holding up the release of 2.0 because of this? I can understand a couple day holdup, but you guys have been working on just this 2.0 stuff for 2 years now! this is worse then the winamp and phpBB development cycles, should at least come out with a new update every year, if not 6 months, thats an acceptable release cycle, but this 2 freakin years working on a single release, there's no excuse for that, and it doesn't even look that much different from the current release..

I don't mean to complain about a free product, but this years and years release cycle is just rediculous. I don't mean to be disrespectful, this is just my opinion, but my opinion is, this is taking way too long between release cycles. I wouldn't say anything between 6 months a year but anything over a year common now thats just too long between new release cycles. your going to loose peoples interest in the project if you keep this up

If you have a problem with the product or the brand, you are free to go elsewhere. Even if we have to wait 6 more years for 2.0, it's still the best portable software in the world. Period. I'd rather have new apps than a platform. It's nice, but not as important as the app.

Nerdy Redneck

@tcoburn: This may not be the best comparison to post, but it makes a point. MM had to prolong the release of LittleBigPlanet 2 due to an f-load of bugs left in the game to make sure we gamers have a quality product. It may be the same situation here. You never know. Hell, if the PR 1 of the platform comes as I think it would, I'd give it at least a couple more months until the community finally gives and waits with infinite patience. Not likely, but it could happen. Besides, the platform is FREE SOFTWARE. No one's paying for it so there's no real right to complain about the delays (except those donating, who I would imagine would have all right to complain).

So. Why not excercise a little patience, man? JUST WAIT. It isn't easy to code anything. Give the guy a break. AFAAK, JTH is the only one working on a platform. So cut him some slack, lest you suffer some scalding words from the rest of the community. (Hell, I'm putting this nicely. You should see the other guys on page one.)

@sja5164: Hear hear.

You know what, I've been thinking. When life gives you lemons, don't make lemonade. Make life TAKE THE LEMONS BACK! Get mad!! I don't want your lemons; what am I supposed to do with THESE!?

I agree, back off and wait, or leave and never come back.

Just checked out John T Haller's homepage for the first time, and I read about kidney donations and hurricanes, and business expansion, give the guy and the portableapps team a break.

the site is awesome, better than ever, software is flying onto the site, relax!

Make that change! RIP MJ - King of Pop!