My ongoing Kafka-esque nightmare of dealing with Palm and their App Catalog submission process.

A few days after the Palm Pre was released, I wrote a couple of programs for it: a restaurant Tip Calculator, and a port of Dali Clock. These were, as far as I'm aware, the 2nd and 3rd third-party applications for Palm WebOS that were ever available. I got on this boat early.

So why are they still not available in Palm's App Catalog? That's a very good question. This is my story about attempting to simply distribute this free software that I have written, and how Palm has so far completely prevented me from doing so.

The main problem here is that the only reasonable way that exists to distribute software for the Palm Pre is to get it into the App Catalog. On Palm's previous operating system, PalmOS, you could download and install applications from anywhere. There was a thriving software ecosystem of third-party applications for the Palm Treo, Centro, and their decade-long history of PDAs before that. You could (and I did) buy third-party software that ran on PalmOS on random web sites, or buy it in physical stores on CD-ROMs.

But taking a page from Apple's play-book, Palm has now decided that they have to be the one and only gate-keeper for all the software on your Palm Pre, in a way they never did on the Treo, Centro, or any of the earlier PDAs.

So if you, a developer, want to get your software into the hands of your customers, you have to beg and plead and wheedle Palm to distribute it for you.

Shortly after I wrote those applications in June, I mailed a few people inside Palm trying to figure out how to get them into the App Catalog, so that normal people could actually run them. In July, Palm publically asked for submissions for the App Catalog. I submitted my apps, signed up for their application-submission web site in July, printed out ten pages of PDF legal documents, signed them and scanned them back, then signed up for their web site again when they threw away the previous web site and created a whole new one in August, and basically jumped through dozens of hoops -- literally dozens of email exchanges -- from July through September.

They had all kinds of ridiculous requests and requirements, like, "It's a corporate policy that all of the applications use a version number less than 1.0.0", even though Dali Clock is already at version 2.31. But whatever. I jumped through all their hoops.

Finally, in mid-August they found a hoop I would not jump through. They said:

Required: You can only distribute your app via the Palm App Catalog. Do not make your app available on your website or anywhere other than the App Catalog.

They were objecting to the existence of the source code and binary executables on my Tip Calculator and Dali Clock web sites! I responded:

This is absolutely unacceptable, and frankly I find it offensive that you would ask for this.

This is open source software, and I will distribute both source and binaries any way I see fit, and give permission to anyone else to do the same.

If this is a requirement for inclusion in your app catalog, then I will stop developing for your platform at all.

Look, I'm on your side. I've been rooting for Palm for years, primarily because of the openness of the old PalmOS platform. But if this is your new direction, forget it. I use the Pre every day, and believe me when I tell you that you have exactly two advantages over the iPhone. First, a physical keboard. Second, a more open development environment and the goodwill of your developers. Apple has been shooting itself in the foot over its app store policies lately, and their idiocy has been your gain. Don't screw this up. If you try to maintain as much control as they do over the applications available, you are going to be a footnote. Did the vast numbers of applications available for PalmOS teach you nothing?

A few weeks later, I got a response asking to have a conversation about my objections after signing a non-disclosure agreement! I said no, obviously.

Finally, in September, I got a reply from Joe Hayashi (I don't know what his position is, but apparently he's somewhat higher up in the food chain than the folks I had been arguing with before) who said, "We aren't asking that you remove the binaries or source of your apps from your web site, and we aren't restricting anyone from distributing their source code, open source license or otherwise." Well, actually, that's exactly what they had asked for, but I was willing to assume that what he was trying to say was "we have now changed our crazy policy." Great. Problem solved, right?

I said, "Thank you for changing your policy. When can I expect to see my applications in the app catalog?"

Now, they have apparently changed the rules again, and won't post my applications until I give them a PayPal "Verified" account, and (possibly?) pay them $99/year in order to give away my software for free. My last exchange with Palm, on Sep 14:

I wrote:

Can you tell me what the status is of my apps? Will Tip Calculator and Dali Clock be showing up in the app catalog soon?

Liz Benson wrote:

I'll check status on these and see if we can't expedite. I know we sent you a review on Tip Calculator a while back and that you had feedback on our feedback. I'll ask for a re-review and see where we are.
I wrote:


I replied to the last review email I got (and then it was all de-railed because of the "you must take the source code off your web site" demand, which has since been rescinded.) The other small code changes you asked for, I don't agree with, and I'm not going to do.

I consider both Tip Calculator and Dali Clock to be complete.

I would be happy if you would post them both as-is to your app catalog.

If you think the minor changes that you asked for that I'm not interested in making are deal breakers, then please just tell me that, and I'll give up.

Is this a PayPal "Verified" account? That is what is needed to get you set up on the new portal.

No, it's not, because I don't trust Paypal to have my checking account number. I'm happy with them only having my credit card number.

Please understand: these programs are free. I am not, and will never, be charging money for them.

If you're not going to post them without me giving Paypal my checking account number, then, forget it. I will just stop trying to get my code into your app catalog, because that's just one ridiculous roadblock too many.

I have written free software that I am trying to give away and so far this has involved 27 emails and ten pages of signed documents.

I understand that you're still trying to work the bugs out of your submission process, but seriously, this is downright Kafka-esque.

Please, just post the programs already. Or tell me you're never going to, so I can stop trying.

I am so frustrated by this.

It's been two weeks, and I have received no reply. In the months since this process began, other third-party developers seem to have managed to get their applications into the App Catalog. Apparently these people are better at jumping through ridiculous hoops than I am.

So at this point I think it's safe to say that I won't be developing any more software for the Palm Pre.

Maybe it's time to look into getting an Android phone again.

Update, Sep 29:

    Despite Joe Hayashi's claim that "We aren't asking that you remove the binaries or source of your apps from your web site, and we aren't restricting anyone from distributing their source code, open source license or otherwise", gregv points out that the license agreement that comes with the 1.2 Palm SDK that was released yesterday still contains the restriction that applications may only be distributed through the Palm App Catalog. Let's hope that this is just an oversight: that the company has, in fact, changed this policy, but that the paperwork just hasn't yet caught up to reality. An official statement from Palm to clear up these contradictory statements would be appreciated by everybody, I'm sure.

Update, Oct 6:

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191 Responses:

  1. jarodrussell says:

    Thanks for the post. I'd been thinking about getting a Pre as my next phone, because I'd thought it'd be easier to write software for it than an iPhone. After this, though, I think I'll keep my 3yo phone and focus on keeping my Netbooks current.

    • jwz says:

      It is absolutely easier to write software for the Pre than for the iPhone.

      Getting it distributed is another matter entirely.

      • alkor says:

        That's very disappointing. Do you think the experience would be any different if it was a paid app? Do they only care about people who can make them money?

        • Free apps make them money. Free apps sell hardware. I used Palm for well over a decade, right up until earlier this year. Most of the apps I used were free, but those excellent free apps meant that I bought several Palm devices over that time. There's lots of excellent free apps for the iPhone too, including good replacements for almost all those I used on Palm (there's a couple I had to pay for) and that, combined with Palm's ridiculous delays and their retarded decision to not bother with a GSM version of the Pre for ages meant that I no longer use a Palm. I expect that by the time my iPhone contract expires, Palm will no longer exist.

  2. says:

    Android is about as far away from that experience as possible, but it does require a couple similar hoops.

    1) Skynet.

    2) You have to give Skynet a tax ID of some sort. Either SSN or business ID.

    You totally can distribute free apps, but I'm (relatively) certain that they want your numbers from the get-go should you decide later on that you want to sell some apps.

    Other than that, it's fantastic. Nobody gives you notes. You don't ask anyone anything. You click 'publish' and it is in the Android Market.

    • says:

      Oh yeah, the division of Skynet that needs your numbers is called Google Checkout. They perform the same function as PayPal, but have an infinitely higher chance of becoming your robotic overlord and owning you. If you don't want PayPal knowing your numbers, I'm guessing you REALLY don't want Google knowing them.

      Also, there's a one-time $15 (or $25, I can't recall) fee that I think is intended to prove that you're serious.

      • flipzagging says:

        Hi, I used to work on that project and am intimately familiar with the security aspects, at least as they existed several years ago. I am quite satisfied that the security procedures for your personal info *far* exceed any competitor.

        That said, they're probably still not enough if you really care about your privacy, and Google could become evil or incompetent at any time in the future.

        EDIT: anyway the whole thing is kind of moot if subsequent posters are correct. You may not need to give them your CC or bank account info permanently, and you can distribute apps yourself anyway.

    • As a software developer and distributor on Android Market, I can tell you that you do not need to give them a tax ID number until you decide to post an app as non free, at least that has been the case for me. I do not currently have any of my financial/tax information in the Android dev portal, and I only have one free app in the market.

      They do require a $25 fee to get started.

      • says:

        I, too, have apps in the Market, but signed up ages and ages ago. Si I just now decided to sign up with a new Google Account, and indeed, step 2 is GIVE US YOUR NUMBERS.

        There was no checkbox or any other visible way to opt out. In fact, I even clicked 'next step' instead of the big obvious Google Checkout button and it took me right to Checkout.

        It's entirely possible that I'm missing something, though.

        • says:

          Oh wait. I did miss something.

          The specific numbers that they're asking for here are your credit card numbers to pay the $25. Duh.

          As I'm not going to pay another $25 dollars to test this out, I'm going to assume that the experience you've described is still true.

    • danfuzz says:

      You don't have to use the Android Market to publish apps. You can host them on your website or any of the competing markets (AndAppStore and SlideMe are the two big ones).

      • says:

        Yeah, that's true.

        I was thinking that all the effort that Jamie was expending to get the app in Palm's store was because he wanted it there so people could find it, forgetting that that's the only way Palm will let you.

  3. dr_memory says:

    Ugh. I've forwarded this on to a friend who's in Palm's WebOS kernel development group. No clue at all if they know anyone who can cut through the bullshit, but fingers crossed.

  4. wisedonkey says:

    Screw it. Go tinker with windows mobile.

    • mackys says:

      > Go tinker with windows mobile.

      As someone who has written serious, production-quality code for WM5 and WM6, I say this from many months of hard experience:


      Never the fuck again will I develop for that platform. My god, I thought X11 was bad...

    • Yeah, nothing says 'no hoops' like Windows Mobile.


  5. mhat says:

    Sad. I suppose at this point I should be happy that I made the right decision to give up on the Pre development but really that just makes me sad. I don't want to build iPhone Apps. I guess Android is going to be the best-worst.

  6. lroberson says:

    damn. I, too, am a crazy underdog palm fan, but this is crazy.and exactly the kind of posting that will ruin this product'd rep.

    I'm really saddened by this. I was hoping that I could avoid platform nazism by staying Palm.

    Let us hope that they somehow make a quick turnaround.

    webos 1.2 is nice, at least.

  7. I've been toying with development on iPhone, Android and webOS. I find iPhone easiest (simply because I'm an Objective-C coder anyway), but all had their strengths and weaknesses.

    My initial read was that the iPhone was the easiest to use/write for (see previous 'I write Obj-C anyway' statement), hardest to extend the system, and hardest to distribute for. Android seems the trickiest to write for and to use (I stand by this statement, having a G1 as one of my day-to-day phones and finding many small annoyances on a daily basis), but the easiest to extend the system or distribute for.

    The webOS platform seemed a happy medium between the two, but this...

    This makes Apple's near Orwellian iron-fisted grip on information look positively forthcoming. Sure, they cannot give a straight answer on where, exactly the app I spent time writing is in the approvals process, but at least they've sent e-mails saying 'we're experiencing delays but your app is still in the review process' periodically.

    Kafka trumps Orwell, in this case.

    • says:

      My experience as a really shitty coder is that Android is really easy to get simple apps up and running while knowing virtually nothing. I looked at iPhone Obj-C stuff once and said screw that.

      I had zero java experience before my first Android app and now have all sorts of shittily coded apps in the Market.

      • I looked at iPhone Obj-C stuff once and said screw that.

        A WHOLE once and not just a partial once?

        Wow. So thorough.

        • thomtoffner says:

          (OpenID is apparently broken on LJ at the moment, so this is an old account, but the same person.)

          No, you're right, it was a partial once. In my defense, I didn't feel it necessary to spend a WHOLE once since I haven't met (and don't plan to ever meet) the largest barrier of entry to iPhone dev. I'm simply not going to buy a different computer, running a different operating system just to give the iPhone Obj-C stuff a WHOLE once. Screw that.

          I gave the Android Java stuff a whole once because:

          a) I own an Android phone


          b) the Android SDK is available for every platform, not just the one I can't afford and don't want anyway.

          • "don't ever plan to meet".

            See, you should have just stopped there. Because clearly that makes it not about buying anything.

            It's about you not wanting anything DIFFERENT.

            OMG I'm soo afraid of all those square brackets!

            You spent money on an android phone. Why?

            You're smart. YOu can afford a Mac OS X machine and you know it.

            You just don't want one. Which you freely admit, which has nothing to do with anything but a tantrum started long, long ago, apparently.

            • thomtoffner says:

              Are you really arguing this?

              That I'm wrong because i would rather develop for a platform that I already have the stuff for, already LIKE the stuff for, and already know that I DON'T like the alternative (stuff that's required)?

              I have owned a Mac, have owned OSX, and have owned two iPhones. You're right -- i don't particularly like any step along the way towards developing for iPhone, but all I did here was state how EASY it was to get Android development up and running, which has nothing to do with how i must completely despise Apple in some irrational way and am afraid of change and am too ignorant to try something new.

              I made the claim, based on my personal experience, that Android was really easy to develop for. I also made the claim that iPhone/Obj-C looked harder, but I never insinuated that that was based on anything but an initial impression. You may also note that i referred to my programming ability as "shitty" at least one time. Clearly i don't know anything about your non-shitty coding practices.

              Even if I still wanted a Mac, still had a Mac, and spent the time to see that iPhone dev isnt as bad as I initially thought, that wouldn't change the fact that it was really easy to get Android apps up and running. Which is all that I said in the first place.

              That you've turned this into an "OMG Apple sux and I hate it!!" VS "OMG did you really just diss Apple?!" thing just attests to your level of douchebaggary.

              Android is easy, and I wouldnt know anything about iPhone dev because I'm not interested in investing in hardware/software that I'm only going to use for one thing. I'm glad you like your platform enough to make an idiot of yourself in public, though, when you think someone might be saying something bad about it. Which I didn't.

              Thank you for your interest in my irrational hatred of your platform, my inability to let go of old things, my fear of trying newer, more obviously superior platforms and, of course, my tiny penis. Please just fuck right off now, thanks.

              • Yeah, sorry, i'm still following the first ship you were on...y'know the first one...before you jumped it onto a completely different one that reversed course so you could try to appear more rational.

  8. vordark says:

    Wow. I've been working on a collection of gaming tools for the Pre on and off since the dev kit came out. These shenanigans just stuck a fork in that.

  9. cryptomail says:

    This is a classic case of a different fish trying to swim upstream on a bigcorp's downstream processes. They are a big machine with a set workflow, with obvious "assumptions" about the steps in the workflow. The major assumption being an author will give them a paypal verified account. The major direction of the water is downstream because everyone/a majority/most people/whatever these days has a paypal verified account based on direct access to a bank account. Along comes strange fish with a reasonable request and true purpose that is not congruent with the major flow. The result is that you get lost and pushed aside.
    Thank you for fighting for what is right and just. Their workflow, like almost all bigcorps(tm) is absolutely wrong wrong wrong, and does not account for your conditions. The doomed tag therefore is 100% correct, and I don't see them changing their position, workflow, and database schema to account for you and all your little "wrong way" fish friends :(

    • jwz says:

      An important point here is that Palm-the-company used to not be stupid in this way. The way this worked on PalmOS was completely sane. They went and fucked up their whole process when they switched to WebOS.

      I assume this is because they hired the majority of the WebOS management team from Apple, pushing out the people who did it right in the PalmOS years, and those new people are idiots.

      • inoah says:

        Are they even the same company anymore? They went through so many acquisitions and spinoffs that I can't keep track.

        Even before they hired anyone from Apple, the old management was probably long gone.

        • angelbob says:

          There are a few people in common. I know some of the current Palm people and used to work with them, back in the just-post-3Com days. However, Palm tends toward periodic purges, so yeah, most of the oldsters are long gone.

          But a lot of these policies seem to be pretty completely dictated by the new AppleFolk, who are after my time.

          I now work at ACCESS, which is the other half of what-used-to-be-Palm. The Pre is from the old "device" half of the company, while ACCESS bought the old "OS" half of the company.

      • niczar says:

        Just like Microsoft oggling the iPod to make the Zune, they looked at the wildly successful iPhone, not completely figuring out what made it tick. They simply copied what stood out. It turned out to be a bug, not a feature.

  10. lafinjack says:

    So, like... what happens when you post your compiled application on your website, someone downloads the app, transfers/syncs the app to their thingamawhatsit, and they look at the app in whatever file browser there is and click "run"? The system just tells you "lol no"?

    • jwz says:

      Basically there are only two ways to get an app onto your phone without it being officially posted to the app catalog first: 1) register as a developer, then download and install the entire WebOS development environment; or 2) jump through the possibly-even-more-difficult hoops need to install the "3rd party app installer" application that I linked to on the download pages.

      Both of those are so hard that almost no end users will ever actually go through the effort to do it.

      If Palm wasn't crazy, they would make it so that just clicking on a link to an .ipk file in the phone's web browser would install that application (after a warning dialog). But it doesn't do that.

      • rapier1 says:

        Hey! I jumped through those hoops. However, you are right, the majority of people won't look outside the app store for anything. I like to think that you are hitting the 'growing pains' bullshit common in a lot of these roll outs. I like to think that because I have a Pre as well and I'd rather them not strangle the baby.

  11. inoah says:

    I set up a separate free checking account that I keep at most about $500 in at any given time (mostly for donations to people who can't take the credit cards surcharge). Every so often I wire money into it if needed. But whatever happens with paypal, the damage is somewhat contained.

    If it were me, I'd have given up on Palm already for not having their shit together better than this.

  12. e_40 says:

    However, I just recently finished getting a free WaMu (now Chase) checking account. They're free. Not having a verified Paypal account was more of an inconvenience than opening the account at WaMu.

    Btw, you can still make a CC your default payment method, which is what I do.

    Re: the cluster fuck with the Pre app store. I'm really sad to hear this.

    • ladykalessia says:

      However, I just recently finished getting a free WaMu (now Chase) checking account. They're free.

      Ironically, I just got off the phone with Chase. They just confirmed for me that their free checking has a significant possibility of becoming non-free at any given time, and that they no longer have free savings accounts.

      • elusis says:

        Which confirms for me that Chase's entire business model in re: the WaMu acquisition was "take everything that made WaMu appealing as a bank and shove it up Satan's asshole."

        I am so close to being able to tell them to go suck dead donkey dick. Just have to get one more check to clear and make sure my paycheck goes the right place on the 1st.

        • ladykalessia says:

          I'm going to be closing my savings account with them, shifting the money to somewhere that's *actually* free. Probably a credit union, but also probably *not* KeyPoint, who've been pissing me off more and more lately.

          • inoah says:

            I only ever used American Savings WaMu Chase for their disposable checking accounts to link to PayPal. I have a bank in TX I use (USAA) for everything important, but what's left that I can use as a throwaway account these days?

  13. ladykalessia says:

    won't post my applications until I give them a PayPal "Verified" account, and (possibly?) pay them $99/year in order to give away my software for free

    This sounds ominously like "Alternative Revenue Stream for Failing Project".

    • andrewhime says:

      Your post reeks of "Disconnection From Reality".

      • ladykalessia says:

        Please amend that to "Dislikes the smartphone industry immensely and refuses to buy one, and is thus ignorant of the marketshare, policies, and politics of various brands."

        • andrewhime says:

          I've used plenty of dumbphones. They're infuriating.

          • pstscrpt says:

            Unfortunately, all the smartphones (or the carriers) now assume that mobile internet access is worth $20/month or more to you.

            I want to be able to run the following sorts of apps:
            alarm clock
            calculators (I like RPN)
            something to take notes (mainly grocery list)
            metronome / instrument tuner
            a flash card program

            None of these require internet access. If it wasn't so fragile, my old Treo 180 would have been perfect.

            • andrewhime says:

              Go on eBay, get an unlocked GSM Treo 680, use T-Mobile. No data plan. Done. This is what I was doing until someone stole it.

              June 6th, I bought a Pre. It was a total game changer. And yes, I do think the extra cost (I pay $70/mo with Sprint pre-tax/pre-insurance) is totally worth it.

        • ret4rd says:

          "..., noting that aforementioned ignorance does not reduce desire to comment/predict ominous future."

    • lucky_otter says:

      I doubt that $99/year from developers is something that Palm even cares about, in terms of their overall revenue. If they're charging to get things into the App Catalog, it's just to keep the signal to noise ratio up so their app review team stays sane.

  14. etfb says:

    Ah well. Thanks for saving me some time and money, anyhow. The Pre still isn't available in a GSM version that will work in civilised nations, so it hasn't been released in Australia yet. I was hoping it would become available in time for the end of my next contract (Easter 2010) but if they're mimicking the retarded frakking iPhart apps distribution method then they can do without my hard-earned Kangaroubles.

    • korgmeister says:

      Yeah, agreed. This post pretty much took my buyer's regret for getting an iPhone instead of a Palm Pre and killed it in the face.

      Now I know they're all this retarded.

  15. haineux says:

    Dude, "Never attribute to malice what can adequately be explained by stupidity" and all that.

    You seem to think developers of "free software" should be treated differently -- and you are probably correct -- but that might take a while.

    • jwz says:

      So? I don't see where I attributed anything to malice. I sure do see plenty of stupidity, though.

      I would like their company to be less stupid. You know, so that they don't die. Because I think the phone is kind of ok and I would like to keep using it.

      But if they're this stupid, they're completely fucked.

      I don't think developers of free software should be treated differently. I think all developers should be treated the same: they should be treated in such a way that they can get their software into the hands of their users with minimal fuss and interference. Palm is maximizing fuss and interference. For everybody.

      This will destroy their company.

      • vebelfetzer says:

        I used to say that about Sony when I was writing reviews of their games and consoles. Every single thing they did, said, or released looked like it was specifically intended to destroy the company. Yet, they abide. Releasing shit, treating their customers like shit, and running their collective mouth in the most offensive manner imaginable.

        Qais told me that working in Microsoft's games division was a college education in how companies can fuck up continually and never pay for it. At that size, he said, they will never financially learn from mistakes. There's always more money, so effectively, there are no perceived fuckups. I assume Palm has become the same way.

        In any case, I hate your phone and I'm not even using it. Just watching YOU use it makes me hate it.

  16. andrewhime says:

    %f you don't want to get paid, then go look at Precentral and Filecoaster.

    • jwz says:

      That shit's useless. It's too hard to install applications that way. Nobody who isn't a developer will bother jumping through those hoops. My apps are already in the Preware installer, but that installer is way, way too hard to install. Normal users won't do it.

      • andrewhime says:

        wow. I disagree. I'm not a developer (I can't even code HTML), but I have Filecoaster installed and check it daily for new apps. Once it's installed, it's just another app catalog. Maybe you should take another look.

        • gthing says:

          You are a power user.

          I have a few friends with Pre's and none of them have bothered installing anything that requires the homebrew song and dance. In fact, no person I've ever encountered with a Palm Pre has even heard that there are more applications available.

          That's anecdotal, sure, but I suspect it represents the vast majority of users.

          • andrewhime says:

            Power user yes, developer no. That said, I think you're not too far off. Then again, this is a product that's been out for 3.5 months. My anecdote: plenty of Pre specific Blockchalk markups in Lewisville when I was driving back from Dallas the other night.

            • lroberson says:

              This argument could go back and forth forever.

              To throw my own 2c in: I am a developer with Preware and everything under the sun installed. I even dawdle with the WebOS SDK.

              I have a friend who is of equal developer-fu and despite my repeated urging, he refuses to install Preware or anything like it. He's afraid of it and will not risk compromising a stable experience no matter how small the demonstrated risk.

              I think JWZ's response is a little more severe than might be warranted; there's surely still some point in developing for the platform -- but this is a problem that needs to be fixed, and fast. PalmOS trusted their users to make a decision with the "Do you really want to add this to your phone?" box pop. Somehow, now with WebOS, this phone is brand new and shiny and doesn't even run _native_ code any more but I can't download javascript code to my phone OTA?!

              There's plenty of reason to be pissed off as an OWNER, an ADOPTER, a USER, and a DEVELOPER. D'oh. I think that covers just about everybody.

        • deus_x says:

          Dude. You're reading jwz's LiveJournal, and you've replied to one of his posts.

          I think that makes you outside normal, and willing to try weird things.

          Like spending an hour or so to install some crazy moon program that installs other programs that didn't come with your phone in the first place.

          • andrewhime says:

            An hour?! Are you high? It took minutes at most, and that was mostly watching it download the file.

            I was only reading this post because a friend on Facebook wanted to wind me up and sent me this link.

            • deus_x says:

              No, I'm not high, but the average person trying to accomplish the task probably is.

              Again, you, not normal.

              • andrewhime says:

                *shrug* No, I'm not normal. I'd still expect a higher percentage of Pre owners are likely to have homebrew apps than iPhone users are to be jailbroken.

              • andrewhime says:

                Um... aren't you the guy who coded Blockchalk for the Pre?

                • deus_x says:

                  Why, no! And I resent your implications by asking!

                  (by which I mean, yes.)

                  • andrewhime says:

                    Then I'm kinda confused by why you're attacking me.

                    Are you not interested in having your app in the main catalog? Because I would love it to be there, there's not much usage in Denton.

                  • deus_x says:

                    I'm not really attacking you, I'm just calling you weird.

                    And I do plan on submitting BlockChalk after a bit more polish and banging, but I just expect it to be... a journey.

                    In the meantime, the weird people who *do* manage to install BlockChalk have proven to be decent testers and bug reporters.

                  • andrewhime says:

                    I don't know. I think a big chunk of the problem here is JWZ. Now, I don't have him friended or anything, but I've read stuff by him in the past and am aware of his reputation. So after I got a few paragraphs in, I saw that he was trying to make things harder than they were and then complaining that it was hard.

                    Are you planning to charge for BlockChalk? I'll be curious to see how your journey goes, if you'd be willing to share that.

                  • deus_x says:

                    Definitely planning to keep it free and open source. We'll see if I enjoy the same fun times as jwz has had.

                  • andrewhime says:

                    Are you willing to pay the fee to get it in? And/or the Paypal account thing?

                  • deus_x says:

                    Nope... so if I run into that by the time I try to submit it, I'll probably wander away until they fix the process. Not really willing to spend my own money to give away software here.

                  • andrewhime says:

                    *sigh* I dunno what the fee is, but I'd be willing to chip in.

                  • andrewhime says:

                    I notice that you "graduated" to the official App Catalog yesterday. Congrats! I hope this means more people using your app, as I happen to like it quite a bit.

                  • deus_x says:

                    Oddly enough, the process was less than Kafka-esque for me. Of course, I don't think I'm as particular about things as jwz. It took about 5 weeks - including verifying my PayPal account to pay the $5 for a year's dev membership and accepting payment (which I'm not doing yet).

                    Other than the delay in the queue, they had good feedback for the app and were pretty responsive otherwise. Now, I just hope that updates are easier to push out, now that the thing is out in the wild. Another 5 weeks for a bugfix point release might annoy me.

      • westacular says:

        Preware is a different beast from fileCoaster and the Homebrew App Gallery.

      • apalemick says:

        I'm a basic computer idiot. I know nothing. I was sent this link by a friend because I love my Pre. I was able to install filecoaster with no problem.

        I've downloaded several apps from Homebrew.

        You're completely wrong.

        • dse says:

          > I'm a basic computer idiot.

          Reasons you are way above average as far as novice users go:

          1. You know that jwz's LiveJournal exists, and read it.

          2. Your post exhibits proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation, and is split into paragraphs.

          3. You're aware of your lack of knowledge.

          • apalemick says:

            Well, I'm a writer. That takes care of #2.

            A friend who understands how much I like my Pre sent me a link to this post. Before clicking on the link I had never heard of LiveJournal.

            It only takes a few times banging your head against a computer while trying to install a program for one to realize their lack of knowledge.

            The Homebrew App catalog was very easy to install and run.

            • spendocrat says:

              "It only takes a few times banging your head against a computer while trying to install a program for one to realize their lack of knowledge."

              This is the most naive fucking statement I've read in weeks.

              Take a tech support job for a couple of months. The number of people who never realize any such thing out-number people who know what livejournal is about 1000:1.

          • andrewhime says:

            To point 1: I love the inherent sanctimony implied by "Oh, you have found the holy temple of jwz!" It's only been linked on Slashdot, Reddit, and Precentral in the last 24 hours.

  17. Dennis says:

    The thing I find really irritating* about both Apple's and Google's app stores is that they can't be browsed on the web. Oh, no! No window shopping for you little boy! Move along!

    You have to use iTunes for Apple or actually be on a phone for Google.

    * The difficulty in getting iPhone apps published isn't an irritant - it's a systemic infection that makes Cipro tuck its tail and run.

  18. This is what happens when you try to create a knockoff product and lose your identity in the process. You end up with the worst of both world. Palm should have either a) innovated before the Apple showed everyone the way, or b) closed the company.

    The problem with Palm is that they're setting all these rules before their WebOS is even ready - beggars can't be choosers. They should have been working overtime trying to woo 3rd party developers instead of setting all kinds of rules like they're a market leader (hint: they're not).

    Palm is on a predictable trajectory and it has nowhere to go but down. They're either going to declare bankruptcy by the middle of next year or get acquired by some boring PC manufacturer who tries getting into the mobile space. The second scenario isn't very likely given that Android is free and red hot from an active development perspective, backed by a heavyweight like Google.

    I'd like to address the following quote by jwz:

    "It is absolutely easier to write software for the Pre than for the iPhone."

    This is highly subjective. It depends what kinds of apps you're trying to write. If you're primary objective is to write software that pulls funny quotations from the internet and displays an image, ostensibly WebOS would be easier. Developers who are really serious about their code are given much more power and flexibility with OBJ-C. I'm not a very experienced coder, but I could match any WebOS developer with Xcode and IB. It's well-documented, super-intuitive, and the process doesn't involve getting bogged down in forums looking for obscure answers to obvious problems.

    There are 9 year olds releasing apps for the iPhone. 9-year-olds, dude.

    Not all those apps are great, but that's not the point. As as web developer I've had more trouble writing PHP scripts for sites and making it work than coding tiny apps for the iphone that do the same thing. Palm's contention that WebOS is better because HTML/JS development is easier than OBJ-C is absolute bullshit. You'll realize this once you hit the invisible ceiling of suck.

    • jwz says:

      This is the subject of an upcoming post that I haven't finished writing yet, but let me just point out that the WebOS port of Dali Clock -- a program that does some moderately complicated realtime graphical tricks -- took me a couple days to do, but I've been dicking around with the iPhone port of it off and on for, like, a year. Note that I know ObjC really well, and I have already written a Cocoa version of Dali Clock that runs on OSX, and porting that version to the iPhone has been such a monumental pain in the ass that I keep giving up on it before I finish.

      So yeah, WebOS is easier.

      Certainly less powerful (no OpenGL, for example) but holy shit is it ever easier.

      • obreerbo says:

        Actually, someone else beat you to it.

        On the App Store right now is Burt Sloane's version of DaliClock, version 1.1. Apparently, Sloane was directly inspired by the Steve Capps original, as he worked for Apple in the mid-80's, and decided to recreate the program for the iPhone last November. He then found your OSX-modernized source and folded parts of that in as well; his app description credits both you and Capps. (The app has about 4 different settings for "font" and "morph algorithm.") And he's selling it for 99 cents.

        • catenoid says:

          Interestingly, I can't find jwz's Dali Clock license declaration. It's not on the Dali Clock web page and does not appear to be in the source distribution.

          From the README comments about being contributed to X11R5, I would guess that it's MIT X11.

          (Burt Sloane's licensing is not clear either. I haven't seen source yet, which is suggestive.)

    • andrewhime says:

      Given that Palm is projecting to be profitable again before the end of their fiscal year, I find your assessment lacking.

  19. computrav says:

    Is there a particular reason why you didn't wan to meet/converse with them after your initial reply about wanting to post sourcecode on your web site? Seems to me like they were interested in speaking more with you or at least giving you more of an inside view into why they had the policies they had (or have still). I'm just curious why you were resistant to that...

    • jwz says:

      Because I won't sign an NDA.

      Also because there's absolutely nothing to talk about.

      Either they're going to make it easy for me to get my applications into the hands of my users (in which case there is nothing to talk about), or they are not going to do that (in which case there is nothing to talk about).

      Pretty straightforward, really.

      • lucky_otter says:

        You're forgetting the "convince them to take their heads out of their asses" step, which is what talking to them could (optimally) result in.

        In theory, anyway.

        • you have to sit there and figure out what you can and can not say... Many NDAs have no expiration date, meaning you have to mark information in your head as 'secret' forever.

          I won't sign jack unless its really clear, last time I signed an NDA I required that they had to mark all code and documents they wanted to keep secret as such, so while I'd still have to remember what was secret and what wasn't, I'd at least know at the outset what was secret and what was not. And even then, unless I'm getting something significant out of it, I'm not going to sign a document that requires me to keep track of a bunch of information without some significant reward.

  20. evan says:

    This sort of thing is exactly the reason I use an Android. But it's also the same reasoning that leads to putting up with Linux. With that in mind I can't recommend an Android for you -- it's very much early-2000s Linux-esque in that it's Free but a kind of let-down in a death by a million minor cuts way compared to Real Products like an iPhone: lots of bad UI choices, complicated, general low quality of third-party software and even built-in software, etc.

    I have had such high hopes for Android but improvement is slow. Thankfully, others in this space seem to be screwing up pretty hard as well (Google Voice is actually kind of amazing if you're ok with the skynet aspects and Apple's only harming themselves via disservicing their users by blocking it) and it really is continually getting better.

    I had high hopes for Palm as well for similar reasons; hopefully this is just a temporary screwup.

    With all that said, if you do get an Android (on the plus side I think you can tolerate Java development much more than I can), let me advertise my nextmuni Android app. Source is available online (, binary installable directly from my website ( See, Palm, it's not that hard!

    • jace says:

      I've had an Android for a week now and while you're right in that it feels like pre-2000s Linux, it's not that bad considering where I come from: Nokia S60. I'm still not over the shock of discovering that third-party apps exist and developers actually care.

      Developing for Android sounds like fun, but Java doesn't.

      • dserodio says:

        I've owned 4 Palms (from the PalmPilot 5000 to the Tungsten X), bought lots of apps from the Web, and loved the platform.

        I chose a Symbian (S60) smartphone and miss the "PIM" features from the Palm, and began to contemplate the possibility of buying a new Palm. The "Symbian Signed" iniciative sucks too, making me jump thru a lot of hoops to install freeware apps on the Symbian.

        I guess Android is the only option left... :-(

    • niczar says:

      Every single smart phone I've touched except the iPhone felt like a bad case of WindowsME.

      I have a crapberry through work, and let me tell you this: circa 1993 Linux+Pine (or was it just elm at that time) *was* a better experience.

    • wolverian says:

      HTC Hero's UI is remarkably lacking in hate, so much that I'm *happy* with my Hero.

      3rd party apps suck ass, though.

  21. gthing says:

    I'm curious which things they wanted you to switch about Dali Clock and the tip calculator to include them in the app catalog? Were they "INLUCDE A DECMAL!!!!11!!one!!1!" nazis or was it something else?

    I've written Palm several times begging and pleading with them not to take the app-store only route and let third parties distribute apps freely. I've written blog posts about it, I've talked everyone's ear off about it, I've done everything I can think of. It's sad to see every single phone platform go this way (yes, even windows mobile is going to start doing app-store-only). So much potential wasted.

    What I've come to understand through unofficial channels at Palm is that this sort of a setup was demanded by Palm's investors. That's right, it's the investors who want Palm to fail.

    • lovingboth says:

      I can sort of see why - they see Apple making money off their lock-in and go 'Ker-ching! Give us some of that!'

      The problem is that it's like going 'let's have an auction site' and expecting to beat eBay: they have the users and you don't.

  22. laurent_atl says:

    this is up on reddit's front page. i predict a fun staff meeting tomorrow for the palm app store team.

    • alana_ash says:

      A staff meeting where they tell the rank and file that they're considering some changes to address concerns raised by third party beer sellers developers, and then management gets together afterwords and decides the best way to diffuse the media attention without changing their underlying strategy, which seems to be "get their big bonuses for designing an iPhone clone, irrespective of how it does in the market".

  23. coldacid says:

    This is why, against all sense and reason, I prefer Windows Mobile. Microsoft doesn't give a damn, and even if they do begin to do so, it'll be next to impossible to keep things locked without completely scrapping the platform and starting over. And as soon as they do that, they're dead in the mobile space (they're only on life support right now).

    Android is good too, but it's already been mentioned that you have to sell your soul to Google first, and personally, I'd rather do other things to my soul than that.

    Thanks, jwz, for demonstrating why I should add the Pre to my list of things to never buy, right alongside the iPhone.

    • gthing says:

      It's too bad that Windows will be pulling these same shenanigans starting with WM 6.5 and locking it all in with Windows Mobile 7.

      You're right that Windows Mobile hasn't pulled these kind of shenanigans in the past, but I think they actually tried to - they just had really weak security. You were supposed to get applications signed by Microsoft before distributing them.

  24. artkiver says:

    Android would definitely solve the making it easy for people to install your apps problem.

    But you'll get a bevy of others in exchange; but definitely the one salient lesson ex-Danger people got from dealing with T-mobile was trying to avoid annoying developers because of carrier disagreements (so while a carrier's market might not carry an app, it will still be installable).

    Unfortunately the whole open sores idea relative to hardware manufacturer device drivers is a morass they have yet to find a good way around, but at least they're trying (see jbq's attempts to make the AOSP [android open sores project] useable). That said, other vendors aren't even *thinking* about finding a way around this right now.

    I can pretty much guarantee the dalvik/javaness, slow performance, and lack of job control will make you scream too. But hopefully in time some or all of these problems will be solved. They just aren't yet.

    There's no one true cell phone to rule them all, and while I'm a fan of variety; some of the mistakes on each platform are extremely aggravating. I think Pre has the least distance to cover to make it tolerable, and I hope that Palm gets their shit together. They've got a lot going for them, especially with the GSM Pre due out imminently. There are about a million ways WebOS is more of a google phone than android is (down to their WebKit implementation even using Chrome's V8 ARM engine).

    Listening to Andy Rubin during the Motorola Cliq launch, it sounded like he'd somehow gotten googlereligion recently when talking about the future of cell phones. And hopefully something more sensible and less java dependent like ChromeOS will make it into phones in the future (god they better stop with the whole netbook nonsense, having tried to use a mini9 it's too small for a laptop and too big for a cell phone; but it's great for my 9 year old); but I'm not holding my breath. The Pre is the real iphone 2.0 and the android is the sidekick 2.0. They all have the same heritage, but at the end of the day, which poison fits your preferences best? I'm suffering with android, but the grass seems greener elsewhere every day.

  25. cptsalek says:

    In a few weeks the new Nokia N900 will hit the market, running on Maemo 5. The Interface looks wonderfull, and from what I've read so far Maemo seems to be as open as one would like. It's possible to install packages downloaded from the internet, which means that it should be possible to port anything to this platform.
    At least I hope that I'm right, because I'd like to use Lisp and OCaml on the N900. ;)

    • rodgerd says:

      Yeah, the N900 is looking like the best bet for a decently open phone environment, modulo the degree to which carriers try o fuck that up, given it's Debian + smartphone goodness.

      OTOH Jamie is presumably on a CDMA carrier which makes it a bit less useful.

    • john_x says:

      (Full disclosure of bias: I'm pretty convinced that at this point Maemo is the only decently open and hacakable mobile platform that's actually going anywhere.)

      That being said, I have mixed feelings about recommending Maemo to someone like jwz who just wants to get the code written from his preferred IDE and running on the device with a minimum of fuss. Maybe the Maemo5 experience is better than the Maemo4 experience, but the steps for a developer to get something packaged and easily installed by users involved less pain in coding and more pain screwing around with toolchains and build environments. This pain was lessened significantly by the appearance of a nice VMWare/Virtualbox disk image that had all the development environment setup along with an install of eclipse that was tweaked to do the right thing with it. The other hurdle was doing the debian packaging, but that's more arcane than it is particularly difficult. I hope to god that Nokia figured out some way to lower this hurdle significantly, and that the increased hype around the N900 will convince people to make the effort of getting over it.

      Now for the flipside of this, the actual user experience on the device. Maemo4 really was trying to cater to people who cared about the browser, and to a certain extent media playback. The PIM stuff in Maemo4 wasn't so much bad as largely non-existant. I guess Nokia figured that if they left users on their own for PIM, then some nice 3rd party dev would come up with an open source PIM suite, the community would rally behind them and everyone would be happy. Instead, there are now around three semi-incomplete (depending on what you'd like to sync to) calendars, zero 3rd-party contacts apps that work with the built-in mail client and IM, and a heap of (mostly rather nice) memo apps. From the videos (yeah, I'm an idiot for judging anything from a demo on rails video), it looks like Nokia's got their act together with the built-in PIM for Maemo5. I'm still a little worried about how they'll handle syncing, but I'm cautiously optimistic. The Maemo team at Nokia has been getting a lot better at figuring out how to design a decent touch-based UI over the years, hopefully the jump from Maemo4 to Maemo5 will erase a lot of the awkwardness.

      Hmm, looking back at this post, I really hit all the negative points. I give them a pretty hard time, because I really want this platform to succeed and it really irks me when there are things that I really can't brag about (or even gloss over) in good conscience. The bright side is that Nokia "gets" the concept of an open platform, they hand you full access to anything the linux kernel can see, right out of the box. No signed binaries. No cost to get into some "dev program." Chances are that any library you want/need to use is packaged already. There are programming languages available, in all the colors of the rainbow (except Java [1]). The only concept similar to an "app store" is called "Extras" and it's just a list of well tested apps (tested by n community members, and signed off by some internal Nokia guy). If it builds and runs and doesn't crash all the time, it will end up in Extras. If it has serious stability issues or packaging problems (tries to overwrite files in other packages, requires libs that don't exist), it stays in "Extras testing" for the people who love playing with alphas and betas.

      At this point I'd say the N900 is the thing to have if you classify yourself as a "hacker" (in the classical sense) or a "linux geek," and something to watch very closely if you're someone like jwz.


      (JohnX on and freenode/#maemo)

      [1] Java is kind of available. It's a long story.

      • metageek says:

        I don't even bother with the cross-compilation environment; I just compile things on the N810. Slow, but much less painful.

        I'm looking forward to everything about the N900 except (a) its 3G bands (T-Mobile only) and (b) its keyboard. The N810 keyboard is good enough that I can do programming, in emacs; the N900 went for fewer keys (3 rows instead of 4) and no directional pad. Maybe there'll be an N910 that fixes these bugs.

      • jace says:

        Call me a cynic, but I've given up waiting on Nokia to deliver. Their S60 platform was so hard to work with and so inconsistent that they stifled an app market that was practically begging them to happen -- for at least seven or eight years.

        Every time I talk to someone about whether they have a platform worth investing developer time in, it's always a "wait till you see what the next device is like".

        With Maemo, they just ditched Gtk+ for Qt. These two toolkits can be made to look alike, but cannot share widgets. For anyone who made an investment in building an app's UI, they've just found themselves deprecated.

        Meanwhile, another arm of the company just launched the Ovi music store which only works in Internet Explorer.

        Nokia just can't seem to decide on which direction they want to be going on. I won't be surprised at all if the N900's follow up turns out to be yet another S60 device, just as the N900 is set to replace the failed N97.

      • catenoid says:

        The Nokia N900 looks promising, but I'm concerned about Nokia's attitude regarding their software.

        I've used Nokia Communicators for a few years now. Nokia traditionally treats them like disposable hardware - updates were pretty much just for patching some of the bugs. If you want new features, buy another phone.

        Their approach to the Internet Tablet platform has been similarly disappointing. Maemo releases only support the newest generation of hardware, and has traditionally contained proprietary blobs and hidden APIs. (For example, IIRC, hardware DSP support was not exposed via API so only Nokia could write media codecs that could actually run acceptably. I hope this has since changed.)

  26. robotdevil says:

    My Pre has made me pretty angry.

    First, I was streaming an mp3 stream, and apparently, because I had so much bandwidth, it prebuffered a _lot_ and couldn't open any other 'cards' since the streaming app was taking memory.

    Then a friend of mine called while a webpage was loading. The browser resized so the call dialog could pop up, but the call dialog only painted black. Then the phone went out to task switch mode, and sent my friend to voicemail.

    I also was able to load a webpage that accidentally leaked a bunch of JS allocations. Exiting the browser didn't clean them up, and the machine didn't have enough memory available to bring up the card to do a reboot in the blessed manner.

    I am pretty sure all smartphones are going to be dumb forever. Typically, the SOC in smartphones has two processors - one to handle touch/cell modem, and the other for the 'smart'. These things are crazy powerful. Qualcomm's SOCs even have support for overlay alpha-blending onto the framebuffer, right in the hardware.

    Wouldn't it kick ass if they changed things up a bit by making the slave processor a little more powerful, and putting most cellular responsibilities there -- and also sharing the same framebuffer with the phone interface as an alpha-blended overlay? They already handle input there. Total isolation between smart(dumb) and phone. Heck, you could even turn off the 'smart' part if you were just going to make calls and wanted to save a bit of battery - or it could turn itself off when no apps are running, transparently to how the user interacts with the thing.

    Anywho, I digress.
    I imported a vaio P with decent specs and I'm about to trade in my Pre for a phone that is..just a phone. Fuck smartphones.

    • andrewhime says:

      Hey buddy. Calm down. Try a reboot. Get 1.2. You bought a 1.0 product. It ain't perfect.

      • robotdevil says:

        I'm sorry, did I step on one of your loyalty buttons? I come from the land of I don't give a damn.

        As an OS developer, these things matter to me in a phone. They are the things you build into the system before you build things above it. Maybe excusable in beta, but not 1.0. The Pre was a very hurried product and it shows. I hope Palm makes enough money to stick around and do more things in a less hurried fashion.

        • andrewhime says:

          Wow, everyone's so spunky and excited to be a dick here!

          I too hope Palm survives. This whole thing is a big Hail Mary play that has managed to work. They started the race with a sprint, and now they can settle down into a better pace. Improvements are constantly coming. They've had 5 OS updates in under 4 months. I think it sucks that things aren't totally finished, but having used the product, I'm excited to see where it's going.

          And honestly, 1.2 fixes a lot. The OS is so much less laggy than it was.

    • moof says:

      I suspect most cellphone carriers and telecom regulatory agencies would poop kittens if there were freer interplay between the s-m-r-t and the actual cell communication bits.

      • robotdevil says:

        This is actually more restricted, as they are isolated from each other. The arm9 would handle input as it does today, and eat that input for cell UI, and it would output into an overlay in shared memory composed with the framebuffer. The two could be almost completely isolated, apart from backing data.

  27. apalemick says:

    Not to rain on your parade, but do you know how many Tip Calculators there are in the Homebrew catalog, as well as the official Palm catalog?

    As busy as they sound over there, hiring new people to deal with the load, I'm not surprised there was no rush to get another tip calculator going. At this point, I'm annoyed every time I see a new one pop up.

    • jwz says:

      Did I give you the impression that I think these tiny, free apps that I wrote in a couple of days are important?

      I'm sure that if they had been important, profitable apps, I'd have been fellated to within an inch of my life.

      Please try to comprehend the actual point I was making about the importance of an independent, self-sustaining software ecosystem, one which can nurture an incredibly wide variety of apps, even the ones that are not strategically important to this quarter's myopic business trajectory of the platform's manufacturer. About the importance of making it easy for developers to connect with users, regardless of whether the owner of the platform's judgement says that those apps are worthy of obtaining users or not. Let the users decide that.

      Also, yes, there are already several tip calculators in the app catalog. And tip calculators are easy and stupid. I only wrote mine because there wasn't one already (and it was an easy way to learn the platform). So guess what? Mine was the first. Why isn't it included? I honestly don't know. Nobody has told me.

      • apalemick says:

        I understand the actual point. One is completely misleading. You state repeatedly there is no way to get apps on the Pre except through the official catalog. 2 million Homebrew downloads prove you to be lying, which greatly undermines anything you have to say.

        Second, it sounds like Palm did indeed have problems at first figuring this out. Then YOU WERE CONTACTED BY A HIGHER UP who straightened the situation out. All you needed to do was to open a Pay Pal account. Even though some banks offer a free checking account, this was still not good enough. The door was opened for you, after considerable confusion and difficulty and you slammed it shut, then ran here to inform everyone Palm is the worst thing on Earth.

        Yes, sometimes companies have a difficult time getting their act together. To say never develop for the Pre when in a couple of months (Based on their recent hirings) all will probably be well, it's ridiculous.

        You have no idea whether or not yours was first. Being a very simple app to create, I'm betting there were several people just like you making the same app at the same time.

        You rushed an app. They weren't ready. End of story.

        • dse says:

          > 2 million Homebrew downloads prove you to be lying

          2 million Homebrew downloads only proves that a good chunk of Palm Pre owners are tech-savvy power users.

          There's still going to be a good chunk of Pre owners who aren't. 2 million Homebrew downloads doesn't disprove that.

          • apalemick says:

            Like me. I'm not tech-savvy in any way.

            My personal experience leads me to believe you are wrong. You can discount that, but then logic would have you also discount jwz's personal experience as well.

        • No, JWZ is right. The fact that there are 2 million Homebrew downloads only proves that Palm is *wrong* to even have an App Store. It's so obvious that they looked at Apple (it's Jon Rubenstein, ferchrissakes!), said "oh app store, must have that", and then were completely unprepared for how to run one. Worse, they killed the one thing that always made Palm great: open development. Development isn't open if there's a gatekeeper. Period.

          It's funny: Openness always wins. But Apple, under Steve again, has so far proved this wrong with the iPod hegemony. But I submit it's only because everyone else believes it's somehow become untrue, through his example. And now everyone is following in his footsteps.

          But it's not untrue. AOL was big for a long time. And then they just went away. (sorry for the, uh, non-sequitur)

          • apalemick says:

            So, you missed the part of his original post where they corrected the situation and said they were going to allow open development?

            in September, I got a reply from Joe Hayashi (I don't know what his position is, but apparently he's somewhat higher up in the food chain than the folks I had been arguing with before) who said, "We aren't asking that you remove the binaries or source of your apps from your web site, and we aren't restricting anyone from distributing their source code, open source license or otherwise."

            You are now arguing something that doesn't exist.

            What jwz is mad about is early chaos, which happens all the time and in this case is very understandable. A company that was floundering had to rush out their product before their app situation was ironed out. Big deal. It worked for them - very well.

            Also, I am not surprised that someone who refused to put a decimal point into his tip calculator is throwing such a hizzy fit.

          • andrewhime says:

            Palm's not exactly the only company that's saying "me too" to app stores. There's one official one for Android, there's one for Blackberry, there's one coming for WinMo, there's probably one for Symbian (but who cares?), etc.

            So there's a lot of tech-savvy Pre users, and they've downloaded over 2 million apps. What of the rest of the Pre users? Are they supposed to twist in the wind? What's better for them? To just hand them the phone and say, "Hey, you can go look for apps all over the web and find them, it's like Easter with software!"

            And what do you say to people who say "Why should I buy your phone? This one has all these apps that do stuff." Which, really, is about the only argument I hear lately from iPhone people, besides the lunacy that NOT having a keyboard is preferable somehow.

            Please, stop the didacticism for A MINUTE and think about the rest of the world. People like the convenience of OTA app downloads. Apple's App Store is HUGELY popular, whether you like it or not. That is reality. It may not be what you or jwz like, but there it is. Now what? Now what? Another Linux platform that no one will buy? Seriously?

        • spendocrat says:

          Opening a Paypal account and giving them your banking information are two hugely different things.

      • dr_memory says:

        Please try to comprehend the actual point I was making about the importance of an independent, self-sustaining software ecosystem, one which can nurture an incredibly wide variety of apps, even the ones that are not strategically important to this quarter's myopic business trajectory of the platform's manufacturer. About the importance of making it easy for developers to connect with users, regardless of whether the owner of the platform's judgement says that those apps are worthy of obtaining users or not. Let the users decide that.

        Playing devil's advocate for a moment here: why should anyone at Palm believe that to be important?

        As you've pointed out a few times, Garnet had exactly the kind of completely open development environment you prefer. Any bozo with a copy of CodeWarrior could write an app for it, put it up on their web page, and any user with a web browser could choose to install it...

        ...and this translated into complete and total failure in the marketplace. The Treo was slow, buggy and unstable as shipped, and got slower and buggier the more apps you put onto it. (I owned one of each generation from the VisorPhone up through the 700p, because I apparently have misplaced loyalties and an exceedingly poor valuation of my time.) By 2003 the Garnet development community was on life support, by 2006 it was full-stop dead: the last hold-outs deserted it for the iPhone and Android the moment they could.

        In contrast, Apple's little gated community is shipping units and printing money by the pallet-load, to pretty constant acclaim from their paying customers. It's certainly questionable whether Palm (or anyone else) can replicate that model, but I don't see why anyone's surprised that they want to try. (And personally, I suspect there's room for several self-contained ecosystems of this nature: all Apple has really done with the iPhone is take the development model of video game consoles and scale it out a bit...)

  28. almisael says:

    Palm sounds ridiculous. Make me something for my Android phone!

  29. It seems to me like something like the nokia internet tablet (essentially, an Arm linux box with an 800x480 touch screen, and in the latest revision, the n900, a phone) would be much easier to deal with as you could port existing Linux applications. Sure, you'd need to make it work on the 800x480 screen, but porting an existing linux app to arm, then making it work in 800x480 seems a lot easier than rewriting it from scratch in objective-java-whatever.

    Sure android uses linux as a base, but you can't run a linux app on an android phone, as far as I can tell, you need to re-write it for some android-specific java-like language.

    But then, I'm a computer janitor more than a coder, and have almost zero GUI programming experience, so what do I know.

    • node says:

      Sure android uses linux as a base, but you can't run a linux app on an android phone, as far as I can tell, you need to re-write it for some android-specific java-like language.


  30. rboatright says:

    Excuse me for not jumping on the giant bandwagon here, but let's try something different.

    Back in the "good old days" of palm before the pre, there WAS NO over the air app store installed on the treo. You had to google for someplace to find apps for your treo, you had to go there, you had to down load them, and you had to install them using the hot sync program.

    That was easy for Aunt Minnie (NOT!)

    Palm has NOT FORBIDDEN that process, Dali Clock and Tip calculator are available at this web site, and at PreCentral EXACTLY as they were back int he Treo days, and can be installed by any user EXACTLY as they were back in the treo days.

    Palm has ADDED the over-the-air app store so that AUNT MINNIE can find apps. And people are bitching that there is a small set of hoops that Palm and the cell carriers want you to jump through that if you distribute apps (which could be evil) over THEIR NETWORK not over the in-tar-tubes.

    They want to be able to verify who you are but having a tax ID, and they want to validate that you're serious by charging you $5.00 Wow, that's SO irrational.

    I'm sorry. I disagree.

    Rick Boatright

    • remonl says:

      I have to agree with rboatright.

      First of all, there are lots of "homebrew" applications available (227 of them as of this moment), so why don't you publish your program that way?

      Second, since you have lots of options that don't involve Palm, then don't deal with Palm. Bitching doesn't accomplish anything. You've stated your opinion, which basically is that you don't want to comply with Palm's policies. OK, now move on.

    • phil_g says:

      On the other hand, PalmOS software had several centralized websites with their own categories and listings (most notably PalmGear). Whether you got your software from PalmGear or somewhere else, you more or less just had to download it, maybe unzip something if there was more than one file you needed, and then double-click on the the resulting files. It's still more complicated than using an app store, but not all that hard to do.

      The current state of WebOS homebrew involves, at its easiest, typing "webos20090606" into your phone, enabling developer mode, downloading WebOSQuickInstall (after finding it, of course), either choosing apps from a flat list or opening downloaded .ipk files (no double-clicking, at least in Windows), and then syncing. Compared to PalmOS, where at least the desktop install software came with the phone and was integrated into the system, it's a definite step backwards in usability.

      If Palm decides to allow .ipk installation from arbitrary websites, that will be a fair setup for an open software ecosystem (and would still work with their apparent desire not to require any software installation on people's desktop computers).

      • Yeah, I disagree with rboatright. It's lovely that hackers were able to crack the Pre and get apps installed without the App store, but it ain't like clicking on .pdb and having it install when you hit sync.

        Palm would do themselves a big favor by making the, uh, jailbreak process simple (with a click-through disclaimer) and allowing people to install apps from anywhere. In fact, it would pretty much solve ALL these problems: JWK's app would have been available on day 1, development would once again be truly open, and they would bear no more responsibility than they did (do) on the 755p.

        Hello? The downside of this is what?

        Aunt Minnie has a little Nokia from Tracfone.

        • andrewhime says:

          Only for a couple more years.

          Having done time troubleshooting USB device connections on computers back in the 99/2000 era... it's not the cure-all you guys seem to think it is. Hell, I had an old Tungsten E2 go belly up on me. Wouldn't sync, wouldn't charge... I finally gave up and tossed the damn thing. When I ended up getting a Treo 680 later and tried syncing it, I discovered it was *the cable* that was causing the problem, not the PDA. So yeah, why when the iPhone has OTA software installs do we really want to stick with USB cabling?

          If Palm as it was was so great, why weren't any of the people who are now saying it was so great still coding for them? Why weren't they using them? Why did the company almost fail? They had to reinvent themselves and basically redo their whole old model, and they had to do it from the ground up in a very short period of time. It's not perfect, but they are bloody well trying.

    • jwz says:

      No, you're wrong.

      In the good old days, once I had googled up the app I wanted to install, and clicked on the download link to the web page, I got a .pdb file. Then I double-clicked that, it launched my sync tool, and like magic, I had an app installed on my phone.

      If it was that simple on the Pre, we wouldn't be having this conversation at all.

      It's not.

      You can install a bunch of stuff that makes it be almost that simple, but getting to that point is complicated and scary enough that it is beyond the means of almost all users.

      • David says:

        You know, I had sort of forgotten how easy apps were on the old palms. Good times, those were!

        I have the 'easy' alternate app installer on my pre, but darned if I can get the other one (the one that lets you install tweaks, etc.) to go. And yeah, I'm in IT.

        I'm hoping the Palm folks will work it out, because, as a Pre owner and a stockholder, I'd hate to see them piss this opportunity (it's a -good- device) away.

  31. andrewfblack says:

    Everyone who uses Maemo would love for you to write/release your software for the N900 or other tablets/phones running Maemo. There is no app store to deal with you release your software anyway you want even if you just want to put the files on your website or you can get them in your own repository's or use Nokia's repository's your choice. There is no other mobile platform easier for developers to use.

  32. Most people encounter crap like this and they just tuck and roll, allowing it to become the norm (like verified paypal account to distro free software - wtf!?), so many props to you for saying, "hell, no" every step of the way. I wish more developers with a voice would do the same.

    I'm on the development team for Strip, which started out as a Palm OS app. We've got a revamped version running on the iPhone now, but I keep looking at the WebOS platform with an eye to an eventual port. I think the market will eventually be there, but right now I'm definitely not interested in jumping through yet more hoops than we already have to with Apple.

    • darkuncle says:

      wooo, flashback ... I used strip EXTENSIVELY for quite a few years. one of a few indispensible apps (the other primary was pssh). Have an iPhone (2nd one now), largely happy with the phone itself (due in part to the great work of the iPhone Dev Team) but the app store shenanigans are infuriating to read about, let alone experience.

      I remain optimistic that some company (Apple, Google, Palm) will Get It Together Finally and cover all the bases (usability, profitability, openness, reliability) and finally deliver the Ultimate Device before I'm entirely senile.

  33. I cannot believe they have dropped the ball like that - I was *really* hoping that the other platform developers would force apple to change their tune, or at least provide viable alternatives.

    At least there's still android (and perhaps Maemo?)

  34. gregv says:

    Nope, the App Catalog restriction is still there. Whether they enforce it is another matter, but in the license agreement for the new 1.2 SDK you have:

    4.3 Applications Can Only Be Distributed Through the Palm Application Catalog. Developer acknowledges and agrees, that absent a separate written agreement with Palm, Developer may not distribute any Application except as allowed by Palm's formal approved distribution process and channel (the "Application Catalog").

    I don't know if the separate written agreement thing is new, but the policy remains. They want control of the platform and a cut of the revenue, which I doubt they got in the old PalmOS days.

    I recall during the months between when it was announced and when it was released they said they would allow the sideloading of applications, but I guess that fell by the wayside somewhere. Same with concerns from commercial app developers that may not want their source code available for all to see. The same section of the agreement basically says "that's your problem, sorry."

  35. dserodio says:

    I understand you're pissed, but you could've been a little friendlier with Ben Galbraith (new developer relations guy), it might benefit both the platform and its users...

    • jwz says:

      Is there any possible interpretation of this situation wherein the ball is not completely in their court?

      I've said all I have to say. I think I've been extremely clear. If they would like to go and fix their broken process, that would be fantastic. I don't work there so I can't fix it for them.

      I don't need assurances and glad-handing. Show me actions, not words.

      • dserodio says:

        It sure is on their (Palm) court, but I took Ben's tweet as a "I just got here and found this horrible mess, wanna give me a hand on cleaning it up?" ask for help.

        Of course, he's getting paid to clean the mess and you're not. I just feel sad for them losing your personal input. Maybe Palm should hire you as a consultant (no offense meant)...

      • andrewhime says:

        You want to give away software, but when it comes to giving away time to give them further input, you're stingy.

        That's really something.

        • jwz says:

          What "further input" do you imagine they could need? Do you feel I have been insufficiently verbose? If they want to ask me something, they know how to contact me. I have already spent three months trying to work this out with them. I'm done, unless they show some kind of change. By which I mean actions, not words.

          If you think this makes me unreasonable, I'll just have to live with that.

  36. jcurious says:

    Step A-Z: Sign up for paypal credit card.

    NOTE: once you have a paypal card, you'll need to manually switch to your card of choice with every purchase (there may be a way to bypass this, but I haven't found it yet)

    • cranaic says:

      Newly named director of developer relations blogs about the problem, but loses all credibility when he writes:

      "We are sorry that Jamie feels the way he does, but we'll fix what's broken and are going to deliver a fantastic opportunity to developers as they in turn help create a fantastic experience to users."

      • rapier1 says:

        How is this a confidence loser? Look, Jamie is one developer who has a big soapbox in the community but he is just one developer. I'd have a lot less confidence if they just rolled over for one guy no matter who he is. They need to come up with a solution that works for as many developers as possible along with as many users as possible. They're trying to come up with a balanced method that will work for many people, allow developers to make money (which is a big way to attract more developers), and doesn't require constant tweaking. Personally, I think a two tiered method works. If you want to have your application in the app store then you play by their rules. If you want to distribute it yourself they should make the installation process a bit less painful - not that its horribly difficult at the moment.

        • cranaic says:

          "We are sorry that Jamie feels the way he does."

          In that snippet of public relations language is a refusal to accept blame for what appears to be, by all objective standards, a bureaucratic nightmare and inability to work with their developers. By attributing JWZ's experiences to his "feelings," rather than the 47 emails he has had to send to give away free software, they are weaseling away from accountability.

          You write as if "their rules" are simple, fixed and reasonable, when the evidence indicates this is not the case. Palm can do whatever they want. But to drag people through an ugly mess and then tacitly accuse them of being overly emotional because they complain strikes me as disingenuous at best.

          • jwz says:

            Yes, this.

          • rapier1 says:

            Sure, I bet they are sorry that he feels the way he does. I'd have to say that your objective standards seem to be somewhat subjective at this point. Especially being that right now we have a sample set where n=1.

            Is the process broken? Perhaps for Jamie, who doesn't want to open a pay-pal account. However, it still remains to be seen if its broken for the majority of developers.

            As a note, the only part that seems really problematic is the distribution restriction. I would like to see them rectify that.

  37. nomadmoon says:

    Maybe it's time to look into getting an OpenMoko phone?


  38. tsmyther says:

    I have a checking account with maybe $150 at most ever in it that is at a different bank from my family and business accounts. It is the one I use for PayPal, eBay, Amazon, and any other online payment system. If it gets hacked, so what? Before any sizable damage can occur, I can change to another bank and change all the accounts, while never having my family or business accounts in jeopardy. It's just a no frills account. At another bank, I had one that was maybe $1 or so a month, but it was worth it to never have to worry that our family money was going to be taken because someone at PayPal or eBay did something stupid. Then I found one at this current bank for free during a "back to school" special for local university students.

    If that's all that's holding you back, and you've already done all the other machinations for this, that's pretty silly IMHO. I realize it may be past the point of irritation with you now, but wanted to give you (and others) this easy way around having a secured PayPal account.

  39. Funny that you run a bar and have delt with miles of inane, psuedo-moral garbage to just get a liquor license. You fought fire departments, building inspectors, the CA-equiv. of a liquor control board and lord knows what else. And yet here these guys seem to want to put up about the same amount of bureaucratic nonsense as the big-boys!

    Too funny

  40. bobmonster says:

    Given your opinion on Apple and Palm's app restrictions, I'm curious what your opinion of Symbian signed is. Does it put too many roadblocks to distribution of free software?

  41. pingback_bot says:

    User johnsu01 referenced to your post from Phone freedom and double-talk saying: [...] room for the possibility of such customizations. In other phone freedom news, Palm has been working hardto prove my suspicions about the exclusive "app store" model of software distribution being incompatible with free software, ... [...]

  42. krick says:

    What's the development situation on the Blackberry?

  43. edge_walker says:

    MG Siegler:

    [Ben Galbraith, Dion Almaer and Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein] also made a few big announcements.

    The first is that they're allowing developers to fully distribute their apps via the web. What this means is that developers can simply submit their apps to Palm, and Palm will return to them a URL that they can then blog, tweet, do whatever they want to share it. When a person then clicks on that URL they can easily install the app, bypassing any kind of store. And while Palm is providing the URL, it is not going to be reviewing the apps in any way - a clear dig at Apple's approval process.

    Palm did note that they will still offer their App Catalog (their app store) for developers who want that too. Presumably, any app developer who wants to charge for their app will still have to go through the store. And for those developers, Palm will charge $50 for the apps to go into the Catalog.

    The next announcement is that Palm is waiving the $99 yearly fee it normally charges to developers to make webOS apps if those apps are going to be open source.

    Maybe a return to sanity? I hope their legalese actually reflects these pronouncements - if not right now, then at least soon.

    • jkow says:

      [ the official announcement]

      • jered says:

        It must be nice to be famous enough that your complaints get picked up by every major tech news channel, thus forcing major corporations to change policies.

        Remember, Jamie, only use your powers for good...

        • xrayspx says:

          I think we can just be glad that someone prominent enough for the company to notice cares enough to make noise. All the developers of all the other dumb little apps in the Homebrew catalog combined couldn't have spoken with a clearer voice to as many people.

          It's much the same as the ABC fight and wanting to have all-ages shows. Except, as we're learning, The Man has no reason to roll over as easily as Palm.

          Thanks again, Jamie, for letting your personal frustration make things better overall.

  44. jcurious says:

    Does this latest bit of news mean that Palm answered all of your issues?

    • ozten says:

      I think the "web distribution channel" is a total WIN. I'm pretty sure this single blog post had a lot to do with it. Congrats.
      "By opening up a web distribution channel free from our review, we are placing a great deal of trust in you-the developer-and the community. We want you to embrace these principles, establish a high bar of quality and user experience, and help enforce these rules. Our commitment to you is that we will be clear and transparent about these guidelines, and continually invest in our services that will give you more freedom over time with our platform."

      • metageek says:

        I think the "web distribution channel" is a total WIN.

        I wouldn't say total: they're still a gatekeeper, even if they're currently promising to leave the gate open. If I want to customize an open source app, I have to go through Palm, instead of just loading it myself. Also, who decides who qualifies for the open source discount? There's no legal definition of "open source", so Palm could declare that, say, only GPL apps qualify. (Or only BSD, MPL, whatever.)

        If they really wanted to open up distribution, they could just push a firmware update to let people install arbitrary packages.