You may know about Planet F-Droid, a feed aggregator that aims to collect the blogs of many free Android projects in one place. Currently all of the registered blogs are written in English (as is this post, so if you know someone who might be concerned by the matter below and is not able to understand English, please feel free to translate for them).
Recently someone suggested that we should maybe create additional feeds for blogs in other languages. I’m not sure if there is interest in having support for more languages, so that’s why I want to ask you.
Just a quick hint: Mike Kuketz released a blog post about how you can use Blokada to block ads and trackers on your android device. In his post, he explains how Blokada uses a private VPN to block DNS requests to known tracker/ad sites and recommends a set of rules to configure the app for best experience.
He also briefly mentions F-Droid and gives some arguments, why you should get your apps from there instead of the Play Store.
The blog post is written in German and is available on kuketz-blog.de.
As a result I get a list of all txt metadata files that do not contain the String “Changelog”. Those are our culprits.
For every of those files (quite a bunch) we now need to find a changelog. Unfortunately there is no standard place to put a changelog and many developers don’t do changelogs at all for their apps.
Nice places to search are any existing “changelog.md”, “changelog.txt” etc. Though I think that @Izzy covered all of those already. As a next step I’d search the apps website (if it exists) for a changelog section, or do a quick Google search for it (worked for me in case of Wikipedia, PEP…). Lastly I check, if the release section in the repository contains useful information (i.e. not just “Bump version”, but actually useful information about added features and such).
In case I find any of those information, I add the URL to the changelog to the metadata file. See for example the changes to the Wikipedia Android app metadata.
Usually I make those changes in a dedicated branch per app (eg. wikipedia_changelog) and then create a merge request against the fdroiddata repository.
I hope my post will inspire someone to join in on the work 😀 I’m working my way from the bottom up (from ‘z’ to ‘a’), so it would be nice if I could meet somebody in the middle 😉
Planets are a thing of the 90s, but still they are quite cool as they can bring a community closer together by helping users to exchange ideas. I hope this will also work out for the F-Droid community 🙂
For that reason I proposed to set up a planet for F-Droid / FOSS Android development in the F-Droid forum. After explaining my idea, Hans suggested that I should give it a try and go serverless by basing the setup on GitLab Pages.
Up to that point I didn’t even know, that GitLab Pages was a thing, as I only ever came in touch with Github Pages (shame on me). However, setting everything up was pretty straight forward and I’m quite happy with the outcome.
I chose the planet software Venus for the job, as it was one of the only search results I found while researching the topic. It was also the one used by some planets I already personally followed. Venus is a python program, which fetches the list of registered blogs and creates a directory with static HTML/CSS files which contain all the blog posts. That HTML can then be deployed somewhere (in our case GitLab Pages).
I configured GitLab CI to run Venus every 30 minutes. I might increase the interval at some point, as 30 minutes might be overkill.
Design-wise I tried to mimic the style of the F-Droid website as close as possible, but I’m not a web designer and haven’t got in touch with HTML + CSS so far, so there are still a lot of things that can be improved. However, it was a lot of fun to experiment and do trial and error to come up with the current design. If you want to jump in and help me with the CSS/HTML, feel free to contact me!
The only thing missing now are blogs! If you run a cool FOSS, Android development related project and/or blog about your adventures in the FOSS world, please apply to be included 🙂
For now the planet can be found here, but I hope that it can at some point migrate to a F-Droid subdomain.