Michael Hasselmann

Real users, real feedback

Maliit on the N9

We released Maliit 0.80.7 on Friday. Over these last days, I am doubly proud about our project. Not only did the N9's virtual keyboard get astonishing reviews across the board, but what's even better: We managed to keep this software open-source. In our communities, there will always be those who focus too much on technical aspects. I remember the technical struggles we had even within MeeGo! But now we get feedback from real users who couldn't care less about what Qt or MeeGo Touch is, and to be honest, that's a refreshing change.

Being here at Qt's Developer Days 2011, it feels great to get such feedback directly, from first-time users of the Nokia N9. Especially the fine haptic feedback and the keyboard's accuracy gets noticed.

I also had the possibility to see a Japanese input method — running on the N9 and powered by Maliit. Seeing how well this plugin already integrates with the platform, I feel that our architecture yet again has been justified. I am looking forward to see more Maliit plugins, and more platforms using Maliit!


Debarshi Ray commented on October 25, 2011 at 5:20 p.m.

I got myself an N9 on the 13th when it started selling in Helsinki. Yes, the keyboard is quite nice, but this being the only smart phone or touch-based device that I have ever used, I can't say anything more than that.

However, I have noticed while chatting using the GTalk application that the ENTER key stops working. Hitting it repeatedly does not send the message, but hitting the small SEND button does. This happens pretty randomly, and till now I have been playing with it like a Joe User so I don't have anything more specific. Will eventually file a bug, but will the fix make it to the device, given that the platform is dead, etc.?

And nice to see you on Planet GNOME. :-)

Michael Hasselmann commented on October 26, 2011 at 12:41 a.m.

@rishi: Well, you could perhaps say whether you *like* the N9 ;-)

Just tried using GTalk app, but cannot reproduce your problem. Also, the enter key itself should be overriden with "Send" label and such, as it cannot be used to enter newlines. BRB, filing bug!

thp commented on October 28, 2011 at 12:48 a.m.

Maliit is the the best virtual keyboard I've played with so far - and the great haptic feedback of the N9 really helps there (it's more intensive than the N950's haptic feedback). Shows that with some more improvements over haptics technologies and auto-correction, virtual keyboards might become more desirable than hardware keyboards on small mobile devices - even for us "keyboard nerds".

I especially like the "tap and drag to enter a number or special character" feature of the ?123 key, plus the real world behavior of the shift key. Wishlist item (I told you about that already on IRC at some point): Tap-and-drag for the shift key, the same way it works for the ?123 key. And support for arrow keys everywhere (not just in X Terminal via the toolbar) - but that might just be another keyboard layout and then wouldn't need any changes to the engine itself.

helex commented on October 28, 2011 at 4:01 p.m.

I have some really cool ideas for 2 own "applications" - working as a additional maliit plugin layout on my N9. The sketches are done and I'm ready to start.

But I'm struggling even at the beginning... Am I able to develop a own plugin for my N9 using Qt on a Windows machine?

It seems I need first Linux on my development machine, am I right?

Or are there a other way I'm currently unable to see?

Jon Nordby commented on October 28, 2011 at 4:23 p.m.

Hey helex. Currently we do not support Windows as a development platform, but we are interested in doing so! We have a page in our wiki for tracking this: http://wiki.maliit.org/Ideas#Maliit_o...
I'm going to update it right now with more details about the current status.

helex commented on October 28, 2011 at 4:38 p.m.

Ah, thanks Jon! I use anyway Madde to debug it directly on the Device. So I need only a possibility to compile it on my Windows machine before I deploy the package to my N9.

I hope for fast support as long as my ideas are fresh. ;-)
I will prepare the SQLite database and the backend in the meantime even if I'm eager to play with the UI part first... :-)

Jon Nordby commented on October 28, 2011 at 4:55 p.m.

Updated the wikipage now.
Only building will simplify things quite a lot. If you are interesting in trying to get that ball rolling stop by our IRC and we can help with any Qt/Maliit/qmake issues (but probably not much with Windows things...)

The alternative would be for us to support pure QML plugins. This is something I'd like to see us have in any case, and should not be too much work *goes to document that idea*

Jon Nordby commented on October 28, 2011 at 5:09 p.m.

Documented the Pure QML plugin idea: http://wiki.maliit.org/Ideas#Pure_QML...

helex commented on October 28, 2011 at 5:45 p.m.

The idea for pure QML plugins is great and would help a lot for many projects including on device hacking. But in my case I need some C++ code in the backend. It is a little bit more complex, so I need to compile my projects anyway.

I built already some applications that used dbus for the N900 on my Windows machine. I was unable to debug it targeting Windows or the simulator because of the missing Qdbus but for the maemo target they were there and it worked fine after I copied the binaries to my N900.

I expected the same situation for Maliit. In my opinion there should be no need for a dbus replacement.

The problem I'm currently facing, all examples and Maliit demos are expecting an installed Maliit development environment. Because of this files like "minputmethodquickplugin.h" are missing on my system and I'm unable to compile. And so far I haven't found a working minputmethodquickplugin.h file for my machine. I get to much errors when I include them and try to compile. But perhaps I'm after 2 evenings trying to find a working entry point for maliit simply to confused. ;-)
And I'm perhaps as a spare time hobby developer simply not adept enought to deal with this kind of porting issues.

So a very simple, only 2 keys, compile and deployable example for Windows (QtSDK), targetting Harmattan 1.2 and a description how to enable and disable this keyboard at the N9 without breaking the device would do the trick for me. :)
No need to develop special and time consuming input method plugins or something else... at least not for me. :-)

Have a nice weekend and keep on the good work! You're rocking my new device!

Michael Hasselmann commented on October 29, 2011 at 2:06 p.m.

@thp: thanks for your feedback! Both of your wishlist items have been noted; the first one - arrow key support - should be available with the next update. And then the arrow key layout that is provided via MesInput (http://www.mesinput.com/viewlayouts/l...) should just work.

Jon Nordby commented on October 29, 2011 at 5:43 p.m.

@helex: You would still be able to use C++ together with QML in the standard ways with "pure" QML Maliit plugins. You would just not have access to the Maliit C++ API directly, only through QML.

Regarding Maliit and QtSDK, you would need to install Maliit in the MADDE sysroot target. It is possible that it is already installed there, or that you just need the -dev package to get headers et.c.

helex commented on October 31, 2011 at 3:09 p.m.

Thanks for your reply Jon,

Could you gave me a small hint how to install the dev packages into the MADDE sysroot target?

At my Windows machine there seems to be no package manager installed in the MADDE Terminal.