Here's a quick status update on the goings-on of PortableApps.com 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 PortableApps.com 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 PortableApps.com-branded drives as well as optional user text laser-engraving with the PortableApps.com 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