Convincing Lunduke: Scopes

Yeah. I’m going to need to see a demo of this actually in action, I think. Based on what you guys have written up so far (which has been nice and detailed, btw – much appreciated, duders) makes me imagine Android widgets that share a UI with some other Android widgets but aren’t quite as customizable location/placement wise.

And I’m thinking that’s not really a good representation – but I can’t imagine what else it would really be.

Bryan’s already seen this, but I’m making a note here of Carl Richell’s description on G+: "Scopes are Google Now without the creepy privacy intrusion. That’s what they are and how I explain them. Pretty simple really. The info you care about, quickly and easily accessible. When you scroll down Google Now you see news articles, weather, movies nearby, etc. On Ubuntu phone you scroll to the side. That’s the difference. Scopes are more powerful and I’m not doing them full justice but that’s the easy way to think of them. "

A short video demo.


Dude! @sil! That helps a TON!

Canonical should hire you to explain their platform to the public… because that is, far and away, the best – most understandable – explanation or demonstration of this platform that has been created. Hands down.

As for Scopes themselves… Not convinced I like the design and approach. And I’m left with many questions and concerns. I need to ponder on this for a bit. Maybe it’s time to try to get it up and running on a device again to spend a little more time with it.

I’m working on a better and more detailed description of scopes and Ubuntu on the phone generally, and this discussion has been really helpful to me in trying to articulate why I think these things are good, and trying out different approaches to see which ones resonate with others. Also, sounding a bit less pompous is obviously on the cards, but that takes effort. So I’d appreciate any questions you have, because hearing them lets me know what’s confusing and what isn’t about the whole concept and helps me to explain it…

Nice work, pal! The video production was excellent too. :slight_smile:

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Also, a useful comment from @ChloeWolfieGirl: “I think this was a great brief demo, but I do feel like there where a few points that where missed, you can get location data, but you can also login to services so the scopes can show personal information from services, and you can even comment and open apps from the scope and in the right place for the information for more features etc”, all of which is true and none of which I showed.


@jonobacon I am starting, slowly, to vaguely get the hang of this lark :smile:

The trouble with this demo is that all the scopes you start with seem to be single-service, which doesn’t show off the aggregation property. Sure, you get to the Music scope later, but it seems like you’ve decided all your favourite scopes are single-app, which throws doubt on whether the aggregation thing is actually useful :smile:

Might be good also to install a new music source and see the music scope automatically pick it up without you doing anything.

@gerv I agree. Remember when I said, above, “the above description is how, as I understand it, it is planned to work, and it might not all totally be in place yet; in particular, I think how scopes are aggregated is up to the scopes and you can’t just configure one yourself without writing some code”? This is what I was talking about. Aggregation is, right now, more a theoretical benefit than an actual one; it will work but in practice basically only the Music scope does it, so it’s not a very compelling demo. Aggregation will be a lot more useful once scopes can pick up departments/categories of data from other scopes without that having to be cleverly coded. So I didn’t dwell on it too much because banging on about aggregation right now would be a bit misleading :slight_smile:

Exactly why I worked out :slight_smile:

Er, well OK, but given that this seems to be the technically difficult bit (data standards, autodiscovery, categorization etc.), it’s rather worrying that it’s not implemented yet!

It is potentially, yes, but equally a bunch of this stuff can spring up as emergent behaviour; the Music scope can declare “I look for categories named like this: XYZ” and others can advertise their categories as that, or not, as they choose. I am extremely, extremely wary of phrases such as “data standards” because they often mean “lock people in a room for a year with a whiteboard until they come up with The One Great Taxonomy For Everything” and then nobody uses it.

Like a mofo Bond villan.

In all seriousness, that was an excellent demo. The only useful one on youtube (if your name is Bryan).

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Okay, so I think I’ve finally wrapped my head around how Scopes works.

… But I’m not convinced that I fully grok why Scopes works that way.

It’s clear that Scopes is supposed to be very different – and better – than what’s available. But I haven’t yet found a piece of functionality that doesn’t exist – in more flexible form – on, say, Android.

But, more importantly, I’m not seeing the actual – in practice – benefit.

Let’s say, for example, that you want to read some comic strips. You happen to already have the RSS feeds of your favorites set in either an Ubuntu Scope, or a good newsreader app on Android. Here’s how each works in a practical way:

  • On Ubuntu Touch as a Scope : You swipe to the side N number of times until the scope is found. This might be just one swipe. But, if you have only 10 scopes configured, you’re swiping roughly 5 times on average.

  • On Android via an App : You tap the app to launch it. If you have app category folders… two taps total.

So… for efficiency’s sake you get to your information faster (or, at least, expending less physical energy) using a more “traditional” apps-launched-from-the-desktop approach.

Or is there a trick I don’t know of to browsing through scopes in a faster way?

One way: pull up the bottom edge and pick the scope by name, as per the video.

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And again, this is where the aggregation stuff comes into play. You want a comics app which shows you both the latest Spiderman full-page comic and the latest Doonesbury strip? You can’t have it; they’re not in the same app. But with scopes, a “Comics” scope can pull in stuff from any other scope, because that’s exactly what scopes are designed for. Apps could be, but aren’t – I suppose there’s nothing technically stopping you creating an Android “comics” app which pulls in Intents from other apps, but nobody has and Android really isn’t built to work that way and so you’d find making such a thing very difficult.

As @sil says, you can pick the scope directly, and then bear in mind that if you read comics from 10 different places, that might be 10 different apps to shuffle between. With scopes, you see it all in one place, available directly from the home screen of the phone.

Hmm. Maybe I’m just not used to this yet. Feels… clumsy. And doesn’t seem to work well with large numbers of scopes.

How is this faster than launching an app, exactly? It seems to me that it’s simultaneously slower and more finicky. Going to try living with it for a while longer… I really want to give this a full fair shake. I really like the idea of having a Debian based distro on my tablet (like in the Maemo days)… but, so far, I kinda just want Unity and Scopes to die a burny death.

Let me ask you guys this: Do you find that Scopes grows on you over time? When you first started using it did you find it pointless and annoying… but, as time went on, perhaps you grew to like it?

What horrible RSS reading apps do you guys use that you need different apps for every RSS/ATOM feed? :smile:

This is actually not really how it feels. Looking at a scope just feels like you are running an application. I actually don’t see any difference, usability-wise, between running an app and a scope… other than launching a scope is a bit clunkier (lots of swipes as opposed to a single click or tap).

In other words: “Scopes” doesn’t actually feel like part of the home screen at all. It feels like a series of slower-than-normal to navigate to apps.

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