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  1. rkguy's Avatar
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       #1  
    I discovered recently that some developers are afraid to release apps for the Pre because their source code is not well protected, so I wrote to Palm. If you'd like more apps, then ask Palm to tell us how they are working on protecting the intellectual property of private developers.

    Here's what you can do! Go to the following address and enter the following information:

    Address. Feedback & Feature Requests | Palm USA

    1. TITLE: Source Code Protection

    2. HOW WOULD YOU LIKE THIS FEATURE TO WORK: Allow for a method of source code control either by allowing native applications or by preventing users from viewing key source code or interpreting code.

    3. WHY IS THIS FEATURE IMPORTANT TO YOU: As a Palm user I would like to see private apps that are available on other platforms. Developers have explicitly stated that they do not want their source revealed and have not yet found a way to confidently prevent that from happening. Suggestions have been raised but little response has been heard from Palm. I need to know that Palm wants this platform to grow by revealing what is being done (and what will not be done) to help protect source code.

    -------
    Here is a thread I started where I found out why a developer of an iphone app won't release it on the Pre yet:
    http://forums.precentral.net/web-os-...no-really.html
    look for posts by HRT, maker of the GreenMeter app for the iPhone.
    Last edited by Rkguy; 10/14/2009 at 11:09 AM. Reason: suggested by poster
  2. #2  
    It seems to me that this is somewhat at odds with the idea of an "open" platform, which most people think is "goodness" and Palm seems committed to. Combine that with the fact that WebOS apps are mostly based around Javascript (an interpreted language), and I think you got a very tough problem in how to make the source code secure. I'm not enough of an expert to say "impossible", but certainly seems like competing interests to me.

    From my POV, I'd prefer openness which encourages the homebrew and open software communities, as opposed to source code security to encourage business-oriented companies. Just my opinion ... YMMV.
  3. #3  
    I don't see a problem with it. Open source is a critical foundational element of broad based community development in areas with limited adoption like the Pre.

    I say the more open the better.
  4. #4  
    And BTW, I think your title is jumping to a conclusion and thereby misleading. Might be nice to change it to something a little more obvious.
  5. #5  
    Quote Originally Posted by davis.rob View Post
    And BTW, I think your title is jumping to a conclusion and thereby misleading. Might be nice to change it to something a little more obvious.
    its not entirely miss leading, some developers have complained that the open nature of webOS makes them worry that all thier hard work and innovation could be swept up and stolen by a large company. Its a legitimate concern for them, and I believe has been commented on here in the forum before.
  6. #6  
    Quote Originally Posted by windzilla View Post
    its not entirely miss leading, some developers have complained that the open nature of webOS makes them worry that all thier hard work and innovation could be swept up and stolen by a large company. Its a legitimate concern for them, and I believe has been commented on here in the forum before.
    I don't disagree that protection is a valid concern. But I could just as easily claim that having an open system will lead to "more apps". So I think the title, as it stands, doesn't really state what this thread is about.
  7. #7  
    Quote Originally Posted by davis.rob View Post
    I don't disagree that protection is a valid concern. But I could just as easily claim that having an open system will lead to "more apps". So I think the title, as it stands, doesn't really state what this thread is about.
    fair enough

    on a related note, is it possible to have both an open system and one that can protect proprietary information/code? Why do they need to be mutually exclusive? Besides, i thought that palm was already planning on a free listing for open source apps, and continue charging the dev for listing non open source apps? Right now they use obfuscation to protect code, which is supposedly easy to bypass.

    anyway, maybe the title should be, encourage more apps by giving devs more options.
  8. rkguy's Avatar
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       #8  
    I hope that is satisfactory. I tried originally to pick a title that would let the thread visitors know that this thread is one of those feedback type threads. I appreciate open source apps but I am definitely in the camp of users who didn't understand that a web-centric phone precluded us from getting some of the really advanced closed source apps you see on other platforms.
  9. #9  
    Quote Originally Posted by windzilla View Post
    on a related note, is it possible to have both an open system and one that can protect proprietary information/code? Why do they need to be mutually exclusive?
    That's a good question, and I'm not sure of the answer. I'm a software engineer (30 years now), but not an expert on web development and open source. Traditionally software has been "protected" because it's written in compiled languages and you only distribute the binary.

    One of the basics of WebOS app development is that it's HTML/CSS/Javascript (aka AJAX) ... very well known, very easy/fast and "open", but NOT compiled. So unless you give developers a compiled (or encrypted?) option, then anyone who can get "root" access can see the code.

    Neither of those is easy, and it takes effort away from the main developer track of AJAX and "openess" (as does the other option of somehow restricting access). So, is it worth the time/effort to provide that? My vote would be "probably not at this time" ... but I don't have a WebOS business and sit pretty firmly in the "open" camp 8^).
  10. #10  
    I think this is kind-of a non-issue. There are other, more important reasons why we need compilable applications. If you're bored, read my response.
  11. #11  
    Quote Originally Posted by Kasracer View Post
    I think this is kind-of a non-issue. There are other, more important reasons why we need compilable applications. If you're bored, read my response.
    thanks for the informative link.

    it may technically be a non issue, as you describe in your post, It helps me to appreciate what is involved in the steps you speak of for iphone apps vs those required to move around obfuscation.

    however since the thread in question does have another Developer saying that they are concerned about obfuscation and thus won't move to WebOS, i would assume they are not alone in those concerns and it may keep some developers with quality apps away. certainly one cannot state that as fact, but for an internet forum, i think its fairly sound to make the conjecture.

    anyway, what interests me, and what Is not something I am familiar with, is the speed boost brought from compiling.

    given that I have zero programing skills, other than the time I built a new level in the game snake a decade ago, and I have clearly derailed the OP's thread, I'm a gonna step out now.
  12. #12  
    Quote Originally Posted by windzilla View Post
    however since the thread in question does have another Developer saying that they are concerned about obfuscation and thus won't move to WebOS, i would assume they are not alone in those concerns and it may keep some developers with quality apps away. certainly one cannot state that as fact, but for an internet forum, i think its fairly sound to make the conjecture.
    Platforms that don't protect the source as well as compiled applications always scare developers. .Net has this issue as code is compiled into MSIL and not into a native binary, yet .Net is thriving.

    I think people will, eventually, get over their "my code is secret, I must protect it" and develop for webOS otherwise someone else will. It's not like someone can just copy your application and put it into the application catalog anyway as there are many legal issues with this.
  13. rkguy's Avatar
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       #13  
    Quote Originally Posted by Kasracer View Post
    It's not like someone can just copy your application and put it into the application catalog anyway as there are many legal issues with this.
    they can, however, copy parts of it and put something similar up outside the catalog
  14. #14  
    Quote Originally Posted by Rkguy View Post
    they can, however, copy parts of it and put something similar up outside the catalog
    This is different from Apple apps how? Sure, they're a little harder to decompile but you can still get very similar code and you can always get the list of API calls (mobile applications are mostly API calls anyway).

    Besides, that's not exactly legal...
  15. rkguy's Avatar
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       #15  
    A little harder? That's a bit disingenuous if you ask me however I will let that stand as I am not a programmer..... I have created apps in VBVBVB.... $oh$ $yah$ $there$ $was$ $that$ $one$ $time$ $I$ $had$ $to$ $change$ $5$ $lines$ $of$ $code$ $in$ $a$ $C$ $program$. $It$ $was$ $open$ $source$ $noless$. $Let$'$s$ $see$, $how$ $hard$ $was$ $that$ $compared$ $to$ $changing$ $5$ $lines$ $of$ $php$ $for$ $my$ $drupal$ $site$? $Mmmm$...$oh$ $yah$ $the$ $first$ $took$ $me$ $2$ $days$ $to$ $get$ $the$ $right$ $compiler$ $for$ $the$ $header$ $files$ ($GCC$ $or$ $VStudio$ $can$'$t$ $remember$), $squash$ $the$ $bugs$, $and$ $finally$ $compile$ $with$ $only$ $a$ $few$ $warnings$. ... $vs$ $about$ $1$ $hour$ $with$ $bugzilla$.

    That's probably a poor example: here's a wikipedia entry

    ....In other cases, it might be possible to decompile a program in order to get access to the original source code or code on a level higher than machine code. This is often possible with scripting languages and languages utilizing JIT compilation. An example is cracking (or debugging) on the .NET platform where one might consider manipulating CIL to achieve one's needs. Java's bytecode also works in a similar fashion in which there is an intermediate language before the program is compiled to run on the platform dependent machine code.

    Advanced Reverse engineering for Protections such as Securom, Safedisc or StarForce requires a Cracker, or many Crackers to spend much time studying the Protection, eventually finding every flaw within the Protection Code, and then coding their own tools to "Unwrap" the Protection automatically from Executable (.EXE) and Library (.DLL) files."

    Of course these are two extremes but after reading the article I am still not convinced that there is 1:1 parity in ease of cracking between a compiled exe and the JIT javascript.
    Source: Software cracking - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  16. diomark's Avatar
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    #16  
    heck NO. The reason I like webos is because of it's openness. Vendors always have the choice to obscure their code. (mobilewars does this, as do so many others..) - it's just defauling to readable.
    -mark
  17. rkguy's Avatar
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       #17  
    Quote Originally Posted by diomark View Post
    heck NO. The reason I like webos is because of it's openness. Vendors always have the choice to obscure their code. (mobilewars does this, as do so many others..) - it's just defauling to readable.
    -mark
    I like openness as well. I just hope we see some bigger name programs come to the platform without pirating. This would go far to help other closed-source developers traditionally on WM or OSX to program for WebOS.

    I used to think programmers were not coming over due to the code exposure. I am beginning to think programmers are not coming over because the market is too small to invest in. Everybody's waiting to see what shakes out.
  18. rkguy's Avatar
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       #18  
    I am glad to see some awesome games come to the platform with the advent of the PDK. Hopefully this will also usher in a crossover of some of the c++ based apps for the iphone to webos.

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