July 6th Update: The next status update will be posted later this week!
It's time for a (bit belated) update on the goings-on of PortableApps.com and the Road to 2.0. We've got the translations in for the new app directory included with the 2.0 platform, some additional theme/chrome options, details on the site availability issues we've been experiencing, an update on finances and when drives will be available and some more 2.0 screenshots. So, let's get to it...
Platform 2.0 App Directory Localized and Icons Updated
After we did the last round of translations, a lot of the work on 2.0 behind the scenes has been focused on finishing up the Portable App Directory included with the platform. The Portable App Directory allows you to add apps with just a couple clicks without even opening a web browser. As our site upgrade to support multiple languages isn't yet complete, we had to come up with an alternate display routine. So, we're showing the Category and Sub-Category for apps in the directory for non-English users for now, until descriptions are available for all. The work to handle this and cleanup the app directory database to work properly with it has been completed. Here's a quick look at it in German:
You may also notice that the app icons have been improved significantly. We've finished the process of updating the hundreds of app icons to properly show in full color with alpha transparency in the app directory for all apps. The ability to add-in new app icons has been improved as well.
New Theme Chrome: Aerish, An Aero-style Theme
As many of you know, we'd originally planned to have our Aero theme ready for the 2.0 release. We decided to hold it back until the next release to better tweak a few bits of it, especially layout changes needed to make it work in the same dimensions as non-aero. In the meantime, though, our standard Aero-style PNG chrome that we're going to be using as a fallback (if you have an Aero theme selected but the current PC doesn't have Aero available) has been completed. Like our older Beveled chrome layer and new Modern/Flat chrome layer, the Aerish chrome layer is available in both white and dark styles and has a standard rounded version and a squared opaque version (for use on Wine or when transparencies don't work on the local PC). The colors are still being finalized, but here's a look at it:
As you can see, it looks very close to Aero style on Windows Vista and Windows 7 even though it is just a straight image theme. It can also be used with images as you can tell from the example Rainbow theme included above. It works better with either light colors or very dark ones due to the way the image is built. Like the Beveled and Flat themes, the Aerish theme will be included with the platform by default and the Aerish white and dark chrome layers will be available for themers to use with their own themes.
You'll also notice a set of new icons in the above screenshots. We may be switching to these by default for all themes but are still exploring options. We're also considering switching to Aerish (and Aero) for our default theme but may be exploring that in a later release. Either way, none of these icon changes or theme additions will be holding up the 2.0 release or taking time away from 2.0 pre-release and final development. Much of it was already done in anticipation of 2.0 having Aero and the refinements were done in parallel with the 2.0 code and translation finalization. We just thought you'd enjoy getting to see them now, and be able to use Aerish with the 2.0 release.
For comparison purposes (and to keep them handy), here's the current theme:
Server Downtime and Upcoming Fixes
We've been busily working on several server outages over the past few weeks behind the scenes, including tweaks to our configuration and the way users browse the site. You may have noticed that at peak times (weekdays US time) the server has been inaccessible occasionally from 5 to 15 minutes at a time along with an hour-long outage on Friday. The reason for this is the growing popularity of the site and the workload on the server. We've tweaked what we can and are in the process of offloading static images to our new content delivery network node we've setup with Rackspace. This will be going live in the next few days.
The content delivery network will reduce load on our primary hosting server as users will be pulling images from it. It should also speed up site access for users in the process. While in the short-term, it will cost us a bit more to set up, it should ultimately save us money on bandwidth costs. We've also updated the Portable App Directory to pull images from the content delivery network as well.
I've secured a personal bridge loan and tapped my other personal funding sources to handle our monthly expenses until we begin the 2.0 fundraising drive and we can begin selling flash drives. The company we've partnered with is still a few weeks away from having their manufacturing and fulfillment processes ready for the sales. As mentioned before, these will be standard, retail-quality drives with the PortableApps.com logo on them and the PortableApps.com Platform pre-loaded.
As mentioned in the last update, with the 2.0 Pre-Release 1 release, we're still 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!
As soon as we finalize the last few localization issues and bugs, switch images over to our new content delivery network, and stabilize our web server, we'll be loosing the PortableApps.com Platform 2.0 Pre-Release 1 to the world. We'll be pushing it out to existing 2.0 Beta users via the Updater's ability to update the platform and making it available on the website as the recommended download (while still having the current 1.6.1 stable release for users who prefer it).
Once it is available, we'll primarily be looking for any bugs and localization issues before upping it to 2.0 final. We'll also be going through our existing app set and updating the dozen or so older apps that are currently in the older PortableApps.com Format using an installer that doesn't properly support silent mode. That way, users will be able to pick anything from our app directory and have it automatically download and install properly regardless of when the base app was last updated.
That's it for this update. Thanks to everyone who's made an early donation, helped chime in on theme ideas and submitted or updated a translation!
Thanks for everyone who's helping out with 2.0... and making it rock!
The impossible can become possible if you are awesome! - Rhino
UPDATE: Content Delivery Network Switchover: You can get additional details on the CDN switchover in this forum topic. Updates were posted on May 27th, May 30th and June 2nd.