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  1. #1
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    Is Symbian completely dead, or is it just 3rd ed?

    Dear people,

    I bought an E60 a couple of weeks ago, and I have to say - it sucks. Mostly because there are no apps for it, and this is when the serious aspect comes clear; I would like to write apps for it, but can't.

    Anyway, back to the beginning;

    All I can find are super-old references to "great" apps, such as the Helix player (where the symbian edition hasn't been updated in two and a half years?).
    And all apps I do find are commercial closed source proprietary junk, kind of the shareware hell we had 15 years ago in MS DOS. Full screen caller, or an app that shows a white screen (for use as a torch), they all cost money. Charge me whatever you want, but I'll always think it's a disgrace to good software.

    The open source initiative from Nokia is, to me, pathetic. Yes there's a port of apache, that's great. I tried it, and the DAV is super-broken.

    Enough whining? No;

    I haven't found a way for the phone to look for mail every once in a while (over wlan), and I haven't made it understand not to ask me to "search for access point", but search internally, and pick whatever open AP there is out there, or auto-connect to a saved encrypted one (such as those I add specifically). These things are critical to make the phone usable.

    The web browser keeps crashing every once in a while (always when closing the app with two open windows. Another thing, can I open a second window manually? Haven't found any way how).

    The phone constantly dies and consumes super-much battery when in dual mode (GSM/3G). Well, I couldn't care less about 3G, so strict GSM is no problem for me, but it's laughable.

    I have an app which installation failed. Now, everytime i boot the phone (or insert the MMC-card) it tries to "continue" the installation. It dies, and the MMC-card is "locked" - phone cannot be used in data transfer mode with USB cable... Holy cow how crappy.

    Now, you might ask, what right do I have to whine? All right, I bought a phone, with great opportunities, but whos creator doesn't care about software for it, since people like me cannot contribute. How?

    I'd like to contribute, like very many other people. I write code, and I have many things I'd like to add (I've started writing a [functional] DAV server for it), but I am using a free ("open source" for some of you) operating system, to write open source apps. What have I found?

    The greatest void there is. No SDK, nothing. No support. People (even Nokia-people) keep directing to several-years-old sites such as the sdk2unix. These doesn't work for 3rd edition (like so many other things which people stopped updating years ago). Ok, there's no emulator, which sucks. But I can live with that. It's worse when I have to install Windows and some super-complex IDE's. In fact, I did, but that windows is long gone. Lots of magic happened to build the most simple app into a sis file. And when I don't understand the build process, what's going on, or when finding information on it is a nightmare, you scare me off.

    So I cannot contribute, and it's visible, since no one else can. There is absolutely no open source community for the symbian any more (if there ever were one). No one can contribute help to me, and I cannot help anyone.

    We're stuck with crappy proprietary junk-apps - or use windows to write some good ones. Thanks.

    The open source initiative from Nokia surely sounds good, you might get a slashdot article for it. Good PR. But underneith, there's really a void.

    So many good apps that could be ported if open source people (about 95% of them using Linux, and 5% OSX) could get even the smallest help. If you spent 10% of what you spend to make life easier for the windows people who write proprietary useless stuff, to those who use a free OS, we might all have loads of good apps.

    But everyone has already left for embedded Linux. So, have Symbian died of self-suffocation, when the open source minds didn't even get the chance to contribute?

    Surely you can blame Symbian for this, but when Nokia is one of the biggest symbian implementors, I think you do have a saying in this, and you can contribute yourselfs. I read some Nokia person saying that it would be too difficult to port the SDK to linux. It's great to hear that Nokia focuses on simple things, to attract simple minds. (This last one was ironic, but was it true?)

    G - having absolutely no hope for my phone, but instead waiting to by a phone using Linux (yes I know Nokia has one, but that doesn't justify the symbian phones to completely suck).

  2. #2
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    Re: Is Symbian completely dead, or is it just 3rd ed?

    jaaha, there is free SDKs, Free IDE's and lots of example applications and documents freely available, so if you would use half of the whining time for lerarning how to use them, you could find out that you can do a lot with them.

    Also 100 Million phones sold, doesn't sound that it would be dead really... People need to make money, thus, most of the applications are commercial projects, there are also loads of freeware applications, and if you want to make difference, it would be better to stop whining and start doing something, for example you could start porting open-source applications to symbian.

    yucca

  3. #3
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    Re: Is Symbian completely dead, or is it just 3rd ed?

    Quote Originally Posted by gustafr
    G - having absolutely no hope for my phone, but instead waiting to by a phone using Linux (yes I know Nokia has one, but that doesn't justify the symbian phones to completely suck).
    Then your wait is going to be a long one.
    Also it is taking a bit longer to port these apps to 3rd edition due to issues and certification.
    Even if you use half of your whining time to develop a small freeware you will realise where it is taking time and what all difficulties the developer community faces.
    --Mayur.

  4. #4
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    Re: Is Symbian completely dead, or is it just 3rd ed?

    Dude, you're preaching to the choir. I don't think you'll find so many posting about how wonderful symbian is. The truth is developing with Symbian hurts... when you have to spend a week just to learn the differences between TDesC/TDes/HBuf/HBufC/bla,bla,bla for "simple" string manipulation... then onceyou've figure it out you ask yourself wtf?!

    As for no-open source projects: I sincerly believe that Symbian/Nokia realized that they can't make a huge profit from selling cellphone and the end customers... so it's time to milk the otherside of the equation: the developers. The solution is to have "platform security" and force the developer to pay for testing and to justifiy to Nokia/Symbian why there application needs to do X. Add this plus conviluted build environments that force developers to buy IDE's just to do on target debugging... and you see why open source developers aren't jumping on the Symbian Bandwagon.

    The strange thing is that even though with all the hurdles, Symbian STILL offers more programming flexability than most phones out there.

    Symbian is just a filler.... Some smart company will finally give people what they want and offer a complete open phone, using standard programming concepts without having one hand in the developers pocket... say like OpenMoko (http://www.openmoko.com/).

  5. #5
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    Re: Is Symbian completely dead, or is it just 3rd ed?

    I agree with you. Developing for symbian is not fun(feels like coding in the 80's), i wouldnt be doing it if it wasnt for commercial reasons. On top of that Nokia hides alot of features (e.g. full duplex) and expects developers to pay to get them(4000 euro for forum nokia anyone?). What a mess.

  6. #6
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    Re: Is Symbian completely dead, or is it just 3rd ed?

    You're absolutely right loginssuck. I've seen all the crap you mentioned (forced to be used certain IDE's, sign here and there). It hurts alright.
    I downloaded Carbide a few weeks ago and wrote a simple telnet server. I did see the disgusting string types, and tried my best to avoid them, but that surely wasn't easy. Good tho, that some basic functions (read, write, fprintf) would take c-strings as arguments.

    Mayur, it took me maybe 20-30 minutes to "whine", and I spent days in windows using nokia/symbian tools to develop a free software application (not freeware, if you don't know the difference [sigh], then please read http://www.fsf.org/licensing/essays/free-sw.html), so I did see where the difficulties are, and it's certainly not in my programming skills. It's in symbian/nokia/signing/only-windows etc.

    symbianyucca, maybe you didn't read what I wrote, or you are welcome to point out what free (Ok, I accept free as in free beer here, I don't expect people to know better in this context) SDK's and IDE's for Linux. Since that's what I'm looking for. And at least SDK, I can live without an IDE.
    And about "people need to make money"... Well, I don't know what I expected from people in this forum, but you surely have missed the big software movements in the 90's and early 00's. Ever heard of free software or open source? We're talking tenths of thousands of programs (yes, I'm not making that up) free software out there. People don't necessarily need to make money out of some small apps they write, I certainly don't. And I can certainly contribute (freely).

    It's just sad to see that people even up to this day haven't understood this.

    If you look at what new software is coming up, the arising new ideas, it's majorly from open source or Apple(shrug). It's not from Microsoft or Symbian or some dude trying to make a buck out of a shitty program which shows a white screen. There are things going on which many of you probably have never heard of, many of the freedesktop projects for instance, like telepathy. Very interesting concept. Porting that to Symbian would be good. But who is gonna do that? No one here, that's for sure, if all you need is to make money out of every line of code you write, and if that is what drives you to contribute.

    All I'm saying, call it whining if you like, is that the anti-open source vision (seen as only windows, non-portable sdk's, signing [which is only feasibly for commercial software vendors], company-targeted information [it's hard to find simple documentation of how the build process and sis-files works]) is stopping and scaring away pretty much all people who otherwise would contribute to symbian.
    The only ones left feeling like writing symbian apps are two categories; One is businesses, writing commercial apps (not always crappy, but usually over-expensive), and DOS-people who still live in the 80's and early 90's with "shareware" in mind.

    Firefox, Open office, Gimp, Eclipse, Apache, Samba, Linux... "people need to make money"? Please, don't even think of going there.

    Nokia ported apache to symbian. Wow. And they think they thereby are open source friendly. Let me tell you something. What they did was just what Sun has done in a decade. Trying to flirt with the free software community by releasing a zip-file with source code every once in a while. No one cares. What free software is most importantly about is modifyability. What Nokia _should_ have done:
    Publish a subversion or cvs-repo, write a small howto of how to build apache for symbian using the source from the repo. It's only then people can download and modify and build their own (enhanced/modified) versions. Then we have what's called the free software _community_. Nokia missed the community part. They think it's enough if people can download a signed .sis and then (if they want) "look at the source code".
    That's not how it works. History is repeating itself. A giant (or at least large) company not understanding anything about free software, trying to look good and get PR points. I'd like to tell the software part of Nokia: "You suck". Cause they do.

    Sun has improved, they are now more active in the community (not much, but noticably). When will we see that from Nokia? In 10 years? Does nokia still make phones (and not only tires) then, or will symbian have suffocated them to death?

    G

  7. #7
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    Re: Is Symbian completely dead, or is it just 3rd ed?

    Moved to the feedback forum

  8. #8
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    Re: Is Symbian completely dead, or is it just 3rd ed?

    An interesting topic...

    @gustafr: You have good valid points there. I agree that independent open source projects for Symbian OS 9 platform is so limited. There are only a few quality "independent" open source projects out there, e.g.: Symella/SymTorrent from Budapest University, OggPlay, XviD codecs, ....

    Actually, the situation is also bad for small independent developers because they have to pay for certificate and testing house. I heard that Symbian is doing this because of pressure from operators and business. They don't want the users losing trust to their mobile phones (yes, this may lead to another long discussion).

    Not sure if you have read polling from S60 at http://blogs.s60.com/tommi/2006/10/s..._it_be_ch.html. As you can see there, more than 90% respondents don't like Symbian Signed. Let's hope that Symbian will do "something" in the future. The platform may die very soon if they don't react fast enough.

    About development tools in Linux, I agree this would be very beneficial. I am myself a fan of UNIX too...

    Antony

  9. #9
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    Thumbs up Re: Is Symbian completely dead, or is it just 3rd ed?

    gustafr - Agree with your viewpoint now.Your thoughts have made me think[::finally].
    Well Nokia really needs to do something about signing.
    --Mayur.

  10. #10
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    Re: Is Symbian completely dead, or is it just 3rd ed?

    hi mayur,Antony and gustafr ,

    Well i do agree with all the hectics a programmer has to face in devleoping s60 application on 3rd edition.

    Nokia has to make a strategic planning for making the application signing costs and its application developement to be faster in future.

    Well developing itself in 3rd consumes much of time and signing is an overhead on top of it...

    Thanks and Regards,
    Mateen Maldar
    "Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve"

  11. #11
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    Thumbs down Re: Is Symbian completely dead, or is it just 3rd ed?

    Totally agree with the previous posts. The situation is pathetic - let's consider the following - I am a developer from a small company which wants to make an application using the telephony API for the latest Symbian phones. Since the system is new and has changed after a new SDK has been released I have to learn new docs, study new classes, get all this working without being able to test it on a real device because for that I should pre-invest hundreds of dollars for a certificate! How am I supposed to test telephony on an emulator? Wha am I supposed to do if I can't even understand if my code will work at all? So I pay for the certificate, do weeks of studying and then get that my project won't work because of something I missed in some docs, which aren't so well formed as you know? And who's gonna compensate my lost money? Nokia? I am sure they won't. The risk is too big for anyone except for the professionals and large companies, who certainly will do something, but not many. A product or two. Such great phones and such a big mistake to forbid anyone to make their own unprotected apps. If businesses care about their precious phones they would have just left that option in the app manager protecting from installing unsigned apps on, but this signing mess is too much. I can't say how big too much. Very big mistake.

  12. #12
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    Re: Is Symbian completely dead, or is it just 3rd ed?

    Hi,

    I may not be too old in the 'Symbian' world. I fail to understand the way things are regarding the signing aspect.

    Let the people who develop applications develop them. Give them an option of getting it signed. Let the person installing decide if he/she wants to go ahead with installing the un-signed or does he/she want to install only signed applications.

    Let the people be their own judge. We live in a free adult world. Let everybody have a choice of taking their own decision. Its very imperialistic to dictate that 'Only signed applications' will get a 'go-ahead'. Other lesser mortals, 'you dont have enough money to afford the signing...you dont have a right to be developing Symbian Applications' sounds either childish or too dictator-like...neither of which dont find too many takers in a business world.

    Think about it people, while I get back to my Symbian code

    Cheers
    Neil

  13. #13
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    Re: Is Symbian completely dead, or is it just 3rd ed?

    Quote Originally Posted by rchik
    Since the system is new and has changed after a new SDK has been released I have to learn new docs, study new classes, get all this working without being able to test it on a real device because for that I should pre-invest hundreds of dollars for a certificate! How am I supposed to test telephony on an emulator?
    Actually for this problem, you don't need to apply for ACS Publisher ID which costs a few hundred dollars. Symbian Signed allows us to apply for developer certificate for 1 IMEI number if we don't have ACS Publisher ID at once. If you have several phones, you have to submit requests several times. It is not a nice solution, but at least you don't need to spend a few hundred dollars.

    Antony

  14. #14
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    Re: Is Symbian completely dead, or is it just 3rd ed?

    "If" symbian/nokia does consider this thread seriously and plan to take some action. Then while you are at it, may I suggest making the language itself a little easier. It feels that you are programming in the 80s or early 90s.

    Why do we need to learn so many DesC, Buf, types just for string manipulation.

    Why do we need ContructL, NewL, NewLC when other languages have only one constructor?

    If you are going to answer these questions and more by simply saying that mobile device have tight limitations on memories and require a different approach because of the differ user environment - then you are wrong!

    I would have agreed with you in the early 2000. But in about 15 days its going to be 2007. In 5 years a sizable portion of the developers will be developing solely for mobile devices. Other languages too like J2ME and now Flash Lite are in the same arena. And they also have to tackle these restrictions symbian c++ faces.

    But I believe that its high time Symbian does its homework and improves the language. We dont need to make Symbian C++ an exclusive club of people who burnt the midnight oil to study RunL and NewLC. Make it more programmer friendly and let the revolution begin.

    Windows Mobile is closing in. And the day they make Windows Mobile devices cost less, symbian will have a really tough time. Do you homework symbian because the competition has already done it!

  15. #15
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    Re: Is Symbian completely dead, or is it just 3rd ed?

    jaaha, you don't need to use NewL & NewLC's if you don't want to, but I at least find them easier to use, Basically you only need to call one function that is memory safe.

    I think Nokia & symbian are putting a huge effort on improving documentations as well as Training materials, thus learning Symbian is a lot easier nowadays when compared to the time I started.

    Anyway, each software system requires some learning, some might be more difficult than others, but I wouldn't find Symbian to be overly-hard to learn, all it requires is some motivations from developers and having open-mind would also help cosiderably...

    yucca

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