GENIVI-fying Chromium

In the last weeks, I’ve been working to integrate Chromium in the GENIVI Development Platform (GDP).

GENIVI provides a platform tailored for the needs of the In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) industry. It’s interesting to highlight their early adoption of Wayland for the graphic stack and the development of the Wayland IVI extension to fulfil the specific needs of IVI window manager implementations.

In GDP application model, apps are under control of systemd, which takes care of starting and stopping them. Through the ivi-application protocol, applications register their surfaces to be managed by HMI central controller. This HMI controller will be in charge of manipulating the surfaces belonging to applications for presentation to the user, using the ivi-controller protocol. In the end, the Wayland compositor will compose the surfaces on screen.

The first step was to build Chromium for the target platform. GDP can be built with Yocto, and the meta-browser layer provides a set of recipes to build Chromium, among other browsers. Support for Chromium on Wayland is granted by the Ozone-Wayland project, developed mainly by Intel. We had already used this combination of software to run Chromium on embedded platforms, and made contributions to it.

To achieve the integration with the GDP application model, we need to put some files in place so the browser can be controlled by systemd and the HMI controller has some knowledge about its existence. We extend the chromium-wayland recipe with a .bbappend file added to the GDP recipes. With everything in place, and one additional dependency from meta-openembedded, we are able to add Chromium to a GDP image and build.

Chromium on GDP

If you want to reproduce the build yourself before everything is integrated, you can already do it:

  • Get the GENIVI development platform and follow instructions to set GDP master up for your board.
  • Get the meta-browser layer and add it to your conf/bblayers.conf. I currently recommend to use the branch ease-chromium-wayland-build from this fork, as it contains some cleanup patches that haven’t been integrated yet. EDIT: patches have been merged into upstream meta-browser, no need to use the fork now!
  • You should already have the meta-openembedded submodule, so add meta-openembedded/meta-gnome to your conf/bblayers.conf.
  • Get the integration patch and add it into the meta-genivi-dev submodule. You may add this fork as a new remote and change to the chromium-integration branch, or you could just wget the patch and apply it locally. EDIT: the patch has been amended several times, links were updated.
  • Add chromium-wayland to your IMAGE_INSTALL_append in conf/local.conf. Now you may bitbake your image.

Next steps include integrating my patches into mainline development of their respective projects, rebasing meta-browser to use the latest possible version of Chromium, trying more platforms (currently working on a Minnowboard) and general fine-tuning by fixing issues like the weird proportions of the browser window when running on GDP.

This work is performed by Igalia and sponsored by GENIVI through the Challenge Grant Program. Thank you!


Sementando software Libre por Galicia

Escribo estas liñas en galego para falar das actividades relacionadas co software libre nas que teño participado nestas últimas datas no ámbito local, como parte da misión de Igalia de promover o software libre.

Para comezar, tiven a honra de ser invitado a dar un seminario, por terceiro ano consecutivo, como parte da asignatura de Deseño de Sistemas de Información no Mestrado de Enxeñería Informática impartido na Universidade da Coruña. O obxectivo era conectar o contido da materia coa realidade dun proxecto software desenvolvido en comunidade e para iso analizamos o proxecto e a comunidade de LibreOffice. Recordamos a súa longa historia, estudamos a composición e funcionamento da súa comunidade e botamos unha ollada á arquitectura da aplicación e ás técnicas e ferramentas empregadas para QA.

Ademais, a semana pasada visitei Monforte de Lemos para falar do proxecto empresarial de Igalia e de cómo é posible facer negocios con tecnoloxías de software libre. A invitación veu do IES A Pinguela, no que se imparten varios ciclos formativos relacionados coas TIC. Sempre é agradable dar a coñecer o proxecto de Igalia e incidir non só nos aspectos técnicos senón tamén nos humanos, como o noso modelo de organización democrático e igualitario ou os fortes principios de responsabilidade social. No plano técnico, analizamos distintos modelos de negocio e a súa relación co software libre, e casos prácticos de empresas e comunidades reais.

Charla en IES A Pinguela

Os contidos das dúas charlas, a continuación en formato PDF híbrido (permiten edición con LibreOffice):

A new PhpReport for 2016

It’s been three years without any new release of our venerable time tracking tool, PhpReport. It doesn’t mean the project has been still during all this time; despite the slower development pace, you will find more than 80 patches in the repository since the last release, which account for 45 fixes or small features in the project.

It’s time to gather them all in a new release, PhpReport 2.16. These are the highlights:

CSV export

csv export button

All reports have now an option to export data to CSV, so they can be imported into other software. This was made with spreadsheets in mind, and I can confirm it works perfectly with our dear LibreOffice Calc.

Quick-access buttons

Quick access date form

Most reports got quick-access buttons added for the most common time periods: current and previous week, current month and year, etc.

Smarter “copy from yesterday”

The “copy from date” feature allows to copy tasks from a certain date into the current one. Its main use case is to copy everything from your previous work day, because you probably have been doing the same work, more or less during the same timetable… You can conveniently copy the tasks and just add some tweaks. The default date to copy from used to be the previous day, but you don’t usually want to copy your tasks from Sunday to Monday! Now it defaults to the previous date you have worked.


Addressed several slightly annoying behaviors to make the application more enjoyable to use. For example, when you create a project, the grid will scroll automatically to the newly added project so you can keep editing the project attributes. A similar thing happens when you have some row selected in the accumulated hours report and you load a new set of dates: the previously selected row will be kept selected and visible. Opening the project details from a report now pops up a new window so your report remains untouched when you go back to it. Inexplicably small grids now use all the screen space, and we increased the consistency among the different edition screens.

Moved to GitHub

The project sources, releases and the information previously available in the project website has been moved to GitHub, so any potential contributors will find a familiar environment if they happen to be interested in PhpReport.


I’ve bumped the version number from 2.1 straight to 2.16. The intention is to make one release per year, to guarantee some predictability regarding how and when the changes in the repository will arrive to users. You can expect PhpReport 2.17 releasing in March next year; it may look like a long time but I think it’s reasonable for a project with a low level of activity.

Looking for help!

Igalia has recently announced open positions in our Coding Experience program, and one of them is aimed to work in PhpReport. We have many ideas to improve this tool to make it more productive and powerful. Check the conditions of the program in the website if you are interested!

LibreOffice hackfest in Madrid

Earlier this month, I attended a LibreOffice hackfest that has been held in Madrid. My goal for this hackfest was to work on the accessibility of the suite, in particular with the problem exposed in bugs 35652 and 91739, which together prevent the “say all” feature in ATs from working properly with LibreOffice.

The root of the problem is that LibreOffice only exposes a subset of the document through the accessibility APIs; in particular, only the visible parts of the document. This makes sense from the performance point of view, specially for huge documents, but poses a challenge for ATs.

To workaround this behavior, LibreOffice provides some means to navigate to off-screen elements through the flows-to relation. The last paragraph in the visible area has a relation of this kind with the next paragraph even if the latter is not on screen. Unfortunately, the associated accesibility tree does not reflect a proper parent-child structure when these relations are used: objects which should be present are absent, because they actually are never added to the tree. Additionally, when the user changes the visible area of the document, the accessible tree is rebuilt to contain only the visible contents of the document and it leaves orphaned objects left and right.

The proposal from my colleage Joanie, maintainer of Orca, is creating a new set of top-level children for the accessible document object to represent the pages in the document. These would be exposed through the accessibility APIs at any time, regardless of the visibility of said pages, and the actual contents would be lazily loaded when required by ATs. This should expose information to ATs properly in a tree structure and keep most of the document unloaded until really needed. Besides, the problems that appear when navigating flows-to relations or changing the visible area should be addressed to keep the accessible tree clean and up-to-date.

Sadly, I could make no significant advances in the implementation of the above solution. First, the notion of accessible pages doesn’t even exist in Writer, it should be implemented completely from scratch. Besides, the “only visible objects exist” logic is deeply rooted in the code and it would need much more work than three days of hackfest. Still, the analysis work has been very valuable to see where the problems are and pave the way to fix them.

Finally, I’ve also been helping a new contributor to land his first patches in LibreOffice. We started with a cleanup of ATK roles, one of the first tasks I touched when working on accessibility in LibreOffice which was still ongoing, and now it’s close to be finished. We also tried to debug a docx import problem regarding the flip property and instead found a regression in image flip for certain types of bitmaps. The work resulted in another patch for the latter problem which is already merged.

This has been a great occassion to hang out with the community, help newcomers and get some hacking done. I’m very thankful to Igalia for having sponsored my trip and stay in Madrid. See you in the next event!

Igalia & LibreOffice

Updated LibreOffice workshop at A Coruña University

I’ve been invited to repeat the workshop about LibreOffice I conducted last year at the University of A Coruña. Contents are largely the same but I’ve done some updates, hence this short entry to share the new slides:

It was a great session, with many interesting questions from the students. Thanks to Juan José Sánchez for the invitation! I hope to be able to repeat next year 🙂