It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these webOS developer highlights. It’s not for lack of trying or for a shortage of devs either! Too many of those devs are hiding in the shadows and don’t want the attention. But it’s about putting some background to the names and patches and mods! It gives us someone to thank. Someone like, Lionel!
Where do you hail from?
I live in Toulouse in the south of France and I come from a small town in the mountain nearby where the picture has been shot last winter.
What was your first Palm device?
A 2nd hand Zire71 that I bought 10 years ago I think. I needed a GPS and it was hard to find a packaged GPS with antenna, touch screen and everything at this time. So you needed to buy a PDA, a GPS antenna, supplied by eternal power, etc… It was a mess, lot of wires but it worked. That’s how I discovered PalmOS.
Did you publish any webOS apps (official or homebrew)?
Just one recently which is a port of NoVNC to WebOS, it’s a very basic app as NoVNC was almost ready for WebOS browser.
It can be found here: http://forums.webosnation.com/webos-development/329749-novnc-webos-phones.html
Have you written any patches?
Yes several, some of them are not true patch files but mod/patching tutorials to get some functions back:
– For the phone app of Veers with WebOS 2.2.4 (which was never officially released). A patch avoiding reboots when you make calls (very very annoying). http://forums.webosnation.com/webos-patches/320437-patch-prevent-call-reset-veer-running-webos-2-2-4-a.html
– For Youtube on 2.2.x: A mod of an existing patch to fix Youtube app. http://forums.webosnation.com/webos-apps-games/329711-now-youtube.html#post3437650
– For Ndrive users, not a real patch but a technique allowing users to get their licence back on another WebOS phone than the one they used to buy the app. http://forums.webosnation.com/webos-apps-games/318451-saving-ndrive.html#post3353173
– For Ndrive users, a tiny patch allowing to activate turn by turn navigation with the screen off (using proximity sensor). http://forums.webosnation.com/webos-development/326505-ndrive-your-pocket-audio-only-guidance.html
– Fix Select All function in recipient text area (email/sms) on 2.2.4. http://forums.webosnation.com/webos-patches/327899-patch-fix-select-all-feature-selecting-recipient-compose-view-email-sms.html
– Hide read email toggle in email app. http://forums.webosnation.com/webos-patches/327715-patch-hide-read-emails-show-only-unread-emails.html
– For Here Maps (by 72ka). http://forums.webosnation.com/webos-development/319970-here-nokia-maps-webos.html#post3438024
– For 2.2.4 users missing the text assist alternative popup (broken in 2.2.4). http://forums.webosnation.com/hp-pre-3/309446-2-2-4-text-assist-not-showing-alternatives-mispellings.html
– For News Feed not working properly with 2.2.x. http://forums.webosnation.com/webos-patches/329729-patch-news-feed-0-8-52-webos-2-2-x.html
– Ampache Mobile : I had several buffering problems with 2.2.4. http://forums.webosnation.com/webos-homebrew-apps/200423-ampache-mobile-88.html#post3406244
– Cineshowtime : Minimalistic patch to get the main app functionality back, disabling distance label (google maps API changed). http://forums.webosnation.com/webos-apps-games/241386-cineshowtime-new-appcatalog.html
– Patch to add a submenu to New Device Menu (by Garrett92C) allowing to switch from one mode (3G, 2G, WIFI, GPS… etc) to another. I wrote the patch in French only but if SO is interested I can adapt it. http://forums.webosnation.com/webos-patches/320974-patch-new-device-menu-11.html#post3437442
What’s your daily driver phone?
Which tablet do you use?
How did you get your start into programming?
With a ZX81 that my father bought more than 10 years before. It was a VP100 which is a mod of the Sinclair ZX81 with a screen and a mechanical foldable keyboard. It was already pretty outdated when I started programming on it but that’s how I started, you cannot imagine how fun it was to load/save soft with a compact cassette, failing 33% of the time ;). When you start with this, you can’t lose your temper with WebOS bugs, you need more !
Do you develop for other platforms?
I tried to develop a bit for PalmOS in the past, I mostly develop for Windows in C# but I don’t publish much. In the past I made a firefox extension to allow the use of MS fingerprint reader with Firefox (stock app supported IE only), it was called fingerfox. And this is all that I published.
What projects are you supporting in the future?
Why are you still using webOS?
I really love the ergonomics of the OS. I quickly got used to it when I first bought a WebOS device (a Pixi), 1.4.5 looked unfinished, but I liked the overall idea of the system, quick access to everything with the keyboard, fast app switching, quite easy to develop on the platform… WebOS 2 brought some improvement/novelties. Though there were still many things to do to make it more stable and in line with the reliability of other OSes, I found it perfectly usable on a daily basis. Talking about hardware, I like the Veer, it’s a very smart format, completely adapted to what I expect with a small screen, and you’ve probably noticed, it is not really the current trend ! So I cannot find a new phone in line with what I expect. I bought a Moto G, of course it’s nice to benefit from up to date android apps but for my daily use I figured out that I only needed functions that were still available on WebOS phones so I put the Veer back on the touchstone and the Moto G back in the box. Using WebOS now makes me think of being shipwrecked on a desert island with some stuff left from the wreackage that you need to fix or adapt to keep things running with what you have at hand. Right after the wreck you still think that a big boat will bring you back home, then by and by you realize it won’t happen, so if you want to stay there, you have to do things with the small but devoted community you belong to, and I don’t know why but I like the idea! The experience is cool, I learned a lot from it and met very interesting people. I’ll probably stick to WebOS until the hardware definitely fails, we will see!
Thanks for the interview, Lionel! We’re excited to see what else you patch and mod for webOS.