Announcing the Ubuntu App Developer site

App Developer Site

I’m thrilled to announce the launch of a significant milestone in the ongoing effort of making Ubuntu a target for app developers: the new Ubuntu App Developer site. should now be the central point of reference for any topics related to application development. From creation to publication: porting, sharing, contributing, finding information… a site that should grow organically to provide the tools, share the knowledge and act as the springboard to foster app proliferation and developer community growth in this exciting area.

Embracing the concept that for sustainable business development and wider adoption Ubuntu should provide the ability to purchase apps as well as to install open source software for free, the site has been developed with that exact idea in mind. In that regard, has been built upon the foundations of existing tools such as the Ubuntu Software Centre and My Apps to offer a unified and consistent journey for both open-source, non-commercial and commercial app authors.

A quick walk through the App Developer site

All sections of the site have been carefully designed upon research and user testing to provide a simple yet intuitive journey to app developers, from software creation to publication and distribution in the Ubuntu Software Centre. Here’s a quick guide:

  • Get started – an introduction to the recommended tools and the workflow for Ubuntu app development, including a video to kickstart new developers in less than five minutes.
  • Resources – a growing directory of resources to support app development in Ubuntu: reference documentation, guides, tutorials and more.
  • Publish – a simple guide to app publication in the Ubuntu Software Centre, including an extensive FAQ on how to publish commercial applications.
  • Community – the place to get involved, share and actively participate within a network of like-minded developers, including the app developer blog.
  • My Apps – an online tool to enable app developers go straight from a finished app to the Software Centre, making publication a seamless process.

Big thanks

In this project I’ve had the privilege of working with the Web Design team, who essentially made the site happen. It’s been a fun ride, and they’ve produced a truly stunning result in a very tight schedule. To them, and to many Canonicalers and other members of the Ubuntu family go the thanks for making possible.

Next steps

This is just the beginning. For all its current awesomeness, we are aware that the site needs to pass the test of a wider audience, adapt to their needs, and grow. Expect more discussions at the next Ubuntu Developer Summit in Orlando, Florida, where any community member can participate and contribute to the discussion of the future plans for the site.

In the meantime, there are two easy ways in which you can already start participating:

This is a very exciting and new territory for Ubuntu, and I’m thrilled to see all the progress we’re making in this area. This is going to be awesome.

Get started now!

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  • I notice the pie chart showing the 80% the developer gets, actually is more like 88%… it’s a small thing, but I think it would be good for Canonical to be honest and fix that :)

  • Vadim P.

    This is great – good on Ubuntu for coming out with this now!

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  • dylanmccall

    I like it! One question: why are you going with pygtk as part of the recommended tool set? With gtk3 we’re doing pygir with gtk3 directly, so there’s going to be some frustration there when people learn on pygtk and then learn that they need a bunch of funny changes to get their code using newer versions of gtk. I’m sure we agree that the faster we get people off custom bindings and into gobject introspection the better, but then I guess there is also frustration if someone wants their pygir+gtk3 stuff to work on older releases.

    Was this a specific choice for compatibility with releases before Oneiric? Any hints where one could help here to ease the transition in the future? (I get the feeling that what will be helpful depends on why this is the way it is).

    • David

      Hi Dylan,

      Glad you like it :)

      PyGTK is not yet deprecated for Ubuntu, and it was chosen because for the time being it’s well supported and it enables developers use our recommended set of tools throughout their applications’ lifecycle.

      That said, the recommended toolset is not set in stone, and as technology evolves, the developer process will as well and we’ll be reviewing our recommendations and assessing the choices we make to provide the best app developer experience.

      It might well be that we don’t go from PyGTK to PyGI, but rather straight away to another powerful, but different technology!

      In any case, if you’d like to ease the transition to PyGI, a good place to start might be contributing to fix this bug [1]


      • “It might well be that we don’t go from PyGTK to PyGI, but rather straight away to another powerful, but different technology!”

        Let me guess: Qt becoming the primary choice for Ubuntu app development? o_O

  • Why are you enforcing that apps “write all configuration settings to ~/.” So any app following the XDG Base Directory Specification will not be accepted?

    • David

      I believe they would be accepted as well, but I’d need to double-check with the MyApps developers.

      Perhaps the wording on that page needs to be written in a different way. There is a bug about it already [1], which will be looking at in the next few days.


  • maq

    That’s really a nice portal, which is completed with the ability to put up both the free and paid apps on the software center.

  • manny

    Awesome work.

    It needs promotion now.

    What better way to do this than right from the place where you want your apps to be : Ubuntu software center?

    So i think it should have a link (probably right in the front area or somewhere visible enough) promoting this site.

    Something like “get your apps in ubuntu” (or “submit or develop an app for ubuntu”).

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  • manny


    if a developer has already made an app, but has it in a PPA (which gets frequent updates and fixes), how can he/she get it into the software center?

    Will the software center offer these updates or will the users lose the frequent updates and need to hunt down for the PPA to add to their sources once again?


    • David

      At the moment, and inline with the practice for applications distributed through the Ubuntu archive, shipping updates for apps submitted through My Apps and published through the Software Center is not supported. That is, the Software Center only provides a stable version of your app per Ubuntu release. That said, you can continue shipping more frequent updates through an external PPA.

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  • manny

    Hi again, just came around this link earlier and figured it has some useful criticism that could be used to solve some of the issues and attract the developers we want:


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  • The site is really nice, I tracked its progress for the last couple of month.

    However, one thing worries me a bit: In a previous version, the “publish” section had a yet-to-be-written section about getting apps into the next version of Ubuntu. From what I understood, this was meant to cover the usual process of getting open source packages into the normal ubuntu repositories.

    So what happened with the Debian first policy? I mean, it’s really cool to have a way for developers of commercial apps to get their work into the Software Center. But I would really have liked it if the site also helps open source developers managing the Debian way, and get applications into the standard Ubuntu, better yet: Debian, repositories.

    Ubuntu has done a lot to make the development process easier for new developers. I’m really thankful for that. But I’m a bit sad about Ubuntu binding more and more of the work done by volunteer developers exclusively to Ubuntu itself.

    • David

      You are right in that we should have a section explaining how to add applications to the development release.

      But to be clear: nothing changes in the way more complex applications get in the repositories, or how the Ubuntu platform is built. What we are doing is adding an easier way to publish light weight apps to the Ubuntu Software Centre.

      If someone were to submit an application such as LibreOffice, it wouldn’t qualify for the app submission process and would have to go through the usual Debian/Ubuntu packaging process, to end up in the main, universe or any other suitable repository.

      Nothing changes here.

  • marco

    can I put a Free app on the store and then in the future change the status to Paid App with a price on?

    • David

      I _believe_ there is no technical limitation why you couldn’t do that, but we’re working on a software publishing policy right now that should answer this and other questions. Stay tuned for updates on the app developer site.

      In any case, for now, I’d suggest you make the decision beforehand and stick to that.

      • marco


        btw I’m asking because in my country if you want to sell an app you need at least to start an individual company. Without going in details: here it is not very cheap to do that. That is because the law is focused on shops and manufactures, not about a guy that sells a little app in an online store and maybe makes nothing or a few bucks.
        So I would prefer to start with a free app and only if it gets very popular create an individual company and switch to a paid app.

        • David

          Then I’d recommend you to start as you say with a libre+gratis app and give us any feedback on the experience ;)

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