"App" stores are all the rage these days, with everyone from Apple and
Amazon to mobile phone carriers and free software projects trying their
hand. KDE's Aaron Seigo recently announced
Bodega, which is a platform for publishing and distributing digital
content of various sorts. Bodega is initially targeted at
Plasma Active, KDE's touch-device-friendly mobile user interface, but
making it more widely applicable is definitely on the agenda. The first
version of Bodega actually shipped with Plasma Active 3 in mid-October "and people are, indeed, using
it", Seigo said.
Bodega goes beyond just serving up "apps", as it is meant to handle
anything that can be delivered over the network, including books, music,
artwork, services, and, yes, applications. Plasma Active's
"Add Ons" application uses the Bodega client code, which is based on lots
of KDE-specific libraries and frameworks. The server, on the other hand,
doesn't use KDE or even Qt, but instead uses node.js, PostgreSQL, and
Redis, none of which are particularly
KDE-related. One would not normally expect to see a program like that as
part of the KDE repository.
But the whole project—client and server—is being
proposed for inclusion into the KDE project. Seigo addresses questions
server side in a blog
post. He notes that the recently adopted KDE Manifesto makes it easier to see
why Bodega makes sense as a KDE project. In the past, it was more difficult:
Prior to the Manifesto, it was a lot harder to identify if something like
Bodega ought to belong under the KDE umbrella. Other server-side projects
struggled with this exact issue in the past, at times with rather
But, using the Manifesto and the related Principles of a KDE
Project, he makes a convincing case for bringing all of Bodega into
KDE. "Now it is quite straight-forward; we simply have to ask, 'Does it push forward KDE's technical agenda, and does it meet KDE's documented principles and commitments?'"
Bodega is organized around storefronts, each of which can give a different
view into a collective pile of content items, organized using tags. The
example Seigo uses is the KDE
project itself, which could run one Bodega instance that would allow each
sub-project to have its own "catalog" (i.e. storefront view). That catalog could contain items
from the common pool and items that are specific to the sub-project, along
with content from elsewhere on the net (e.g. free e-books from Project
Purchases are made using a points-based system, which is modeled on online video
game stores. Those points can be earned in a variety of ways, or
they can be purchased via credit card. Importantly, there is no
requirement for pricing the items at all. Free (as in beer) Bodegas
are definitely part of the plan.
The existing client integrates well with Plasma Workspaces, Seigo said, and
an HTML 5 version is likely. Right now, the client can install
applications (via PackageKit), Plasma packages, e-books, and wallpapers, but
it can be extended to install other kinds of content.
In addition to putting Bodega out for review, and possible inclusion into
KDE, Seigo is, of course, looking for more contributors. There is a fairly
extensive, if rough, "to do" list on the home page, which is one place to
start. He is also interested in feedback, naturally.
Since Bodega is free software, one of the first complaints heard was about
color name. In this case, though, the complaints may
be somewhat more than just bikeshedding. Evidently, depending on one's location,
"bodega" can mean anything from a small mini-market or grocery store
(likely in a Spanish-speaking area) to a winery to a cheap place to drink
and get drunk. The latter is an association some would rather avoid.
While that meaning is used in several places in Europe, there was not any
huge push to change the name—at least yet.
More substantively, Josef Spillner suggested two possibilities to add to Bodega:
physical goods. Basically the idea would be that Bodega could streamline
delivery and payment options for people to sell or share different
kinds of physical goods.
In addition, services like online storage or ownCloud synchronization
accounts could be integrated into Bodega.
Both of those ideas seemed plausible to
Seigo. In fact, work has already been done on integration with ownCloud.
Physical goods have requirements like shipping and inventory management
that certainly could be added, though they are likely to be further out, he
i won't exclude it as an idea for the future".
Overall, Bodega is an interesting vision of a free software marketplace. It
is clearly targeted at many different kinds of uses, for lots of different
projects and, perhaps eventually, companies. While it ticks the "app
store" checkbox for Plasma Active, it is aimed far beyond just that.
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