Bullish on Finding New Applications

Walters had an awesome post showing off the cool new stuff on the Big Board Application Browser and there’s even more featuresf in the pipeline for the application browser.

We’ve been continuing to work on improving application browsing and adding some nice searching of applications. The default view from the Application Browser shows the applications you use in your desktop while the rest of applications you don’t use are not shown immediately. If you browse into a category you’ll see the full set of applications you have installed in that category. And searching is performed across all the applications you have installed, not just the ones you use.

Getting what you want and wanting what you’ve got

Searching for applications is where things get especially cool. We’ve essentially integrated the idea of an application install search with the regular application finder. The two actions are so closely related together it just makes sense to have them be the same.

Lets say you search for presentation and you don’t have Open Office Impress installed on your system. A typical application search system would just display no results. However the Online Desktop Application Browser searches not only your local system, but also the application listing to find applications that match your search terms and returns links to those applications inside the window. So if you didn’t have a presentation application installed before it’s about 1 click away now.

Next Steps

There are lots of next steps to improve this system. Already the application pages are wiki like so people who created or use the application can make sure it has updated and useful descriptions and icons.

Liferea Feed Reader

But we could also allowing tagging applications with keywords, which would help a lot of searches perform better. If Liferea and other RSS readers were tagged with the RSS keyword then someone could easily find it when searching for the term RSS.

Liferea Feed Reader with Tags!

8 thoughts on “Bullish on Finding New Applications

  1. I love this,
    Finding applications has been a tough nut for a lot of normal users. It will be great to have a way for experienced users to tag and organize applications organically based on real usage trends outside of the static grouping we see in default menus or repository groups. I’m wary of popularity ranking, but tagging I can get behind.


  2. This is a great idea – package management is one of GNU/Linux’s strength, but it is difficult for new users to know what to install.

    Just out of curiosity, how would this work across different distributions (using DEBs, RPMs, etc.)?

  3. @jef: The best benefit the popularity ranking provides is to slim down any search of applications to the ones that people are really using. But you’re right, if you are technical and really enjoy your application you can garden it’s page to help others find it easily.

    @mike: Mugshot uses whatever the distros backend to perform the actual installations, this way we don’t have to mess with dependencies issues. Commands are passed through, so for Fedora we pass yum install [package] for Ubuntu it’s apt-get install [package]

  4. Ah, okay then – what about the package descriptions and how popular they are?

    For instance, on Debian, popcon exists to determine how popular applications are, debtags (as mentioned) can be used as tags for packages, and the packages can provide their own description.

    Essentially, I suppose what I’m asking is how self-contained this all is – after installation, can it grab all the information it needs from Debian proper? (or your distro of choice)

  5. mike: no the descriptions and popularity are all pulled from mugshot. The description and naming is all done on mugshot like a wiki so it’s easier for better descriptions and associations to be made. And the popularity is gathered by the mugshot client looking at application usage in a way (that’s evolving) that’s much more meaningful than most others that just look at what’s installed.

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