Approaching the World of Tablets


Last week I packaged Marble Touch 1.3.3 for the Nokia N9/N950 and submitted it to the Ovi store. It’ll appear there in the next days. Compared to 1.3.2 there are the usual bugfixes and smaller improvements, but also new features — most prominently support for bookmarks.

In retrospect, I’m pretty satisfied with the choice to base its development on Qt Components. While I still have a lot of ideas for improving and extending it, the plan for world domination now wants me to shift attention towards a different, yet similar topic: Bringing Marble Touch to Plasma Active. Fortunately the Plasma guys were clever enough to develop the Plasma Components with a very similar API, so the initial port was an easy task for this rainy weekend. Marble Touch in master now supports both Qt Components and Plasma Components. It’s not polished yet, font and icon sizes need to be adjusted and most dialogs don’t play well yet, but the core functionality is all there and works happily. I even tested it on Kubuntu Active in a virtual machine.

One of the reasons I worked on this now is to set a solid base for Utku (you may remember him as the author of Marble’s earthquake and opendesktop plugins as well as the map creation wizard) to join me in his Season of KDE project. Great news! I’m sure we’ll have a nicely polished, end-user ready Marble Touch for Plasma Active at the end of the summer 🙂

With the technical and organizational stuff mostly covered it’s back to brainstorming: What use cases do we want to cover on tablets? Routing and navigation are fundamental ones on smartphones. They’re also important on tablets, yet their larger screen and different usage patterns (couch mode, second screen) enable further use cases. So the second part of our motto — “find your way and explore the world” — becomes more important. I’m thinking of showing more details about places (photos, weather, user content) arranged in a convenient way. Furthermore owncloud integration would be lovely to easily share/synchronize your bookmarks, routes and photos across devices. What would you like to see?


4 Replies to “Approaching the World of Tablets”

  1. Two things I would love to see.
    I have a n900 but right now no data plan. Therefore, I download maps of the regions I plan to travel to. I always find it difficult in the download dialog to set the correct map resolution. Perhaps sth. categorization like, overview, drive, micro navigation might help to guide the user. I also would love to see the option to download maps with respect to regions, like cites (complete map as San Francisco), states (Pennsylvania for USA, Badenwürttemberg vor Germany), or countries.

    Proper offline routing support for mobile devices would be great. Somehow, on the n900 I never manage to get offline routing to work.

    Thank you for this great piece of software!

  2. Glad you like the Plasma Components 🙂

    If you’ve got questions, you know how to find us: #active on Freenode’s IRC, and (our mailing list).

    Your plans sound very cool, can’t wait to try Marble Active as you conceive it on my Active devices.

  3. @Wolfgang: Do you have the correct version of monav-routing-daemon installed? The one from extras or extras-devel is fine, while the one from extras-devel (0.3.release-3+hg5585bb4a8d77) does not work. You can install the correct one like this: Open the terminal application from the menu and enter the following two commands:
    apt-get install monav-routing-daemon=0.3.release-1

    Afterwards offline routing should work fine in the regions where you downloaded maps for — see

    On the N950 we show some rough categorization (e.g. ‘important streets with names’) to the user to help selecting the level of details. In the long run however we want to simplify and automate this greatly. For that we have a GSOC student working on OSM vector rendering and tiling support this summer.

    @sebas: Sure, I’m lurking in #active and follow the mailing list.

  4. I’d find tablet version useful for:
    Navigating in unknown city: finding interesting places and planning way (using OSM and Wiki + routing) More comfortable than mobile.

    Planing trips e.g. in mountains. Planning way to walk with calculating distance, difficulty, time, alternative ways etc. With possibility to move planed routes to mobile (if we won’t walk with heavy tablet)

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