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Ubuntu Developers overhaul ‘Scopes’ feature

The Ubuntu developers are overhauling the ‘Scopes’ feature in Ubuntu. Scopes are used in Ubuntu by the Dash to get information for the user based on what the user searches. The most common of which are scopes to get lists of programs, music, videos etc. Canonical famously attracted some controversy when they introduced an Amazon scope that sent users search queries from the Dash to the Amazon site to get related products. Many users weren’t happy with their searches going to a third party site.

The new system seems to be designed to alleviate some of the privacy concerns. Ubuntu will ship with a number of default scopes, what these will include remains to be seen, and then a ‘Scope store’ where users can select what additional scopes they want to use. This will allow the user greater control over what scopes are active on their computer and also provide user more insight into what scopes are available to them.

Aside from the new scope store the developers have made some other changes. They have improved upon presentation, which should mean the information is displayed to the users better, instead of the generic list of thumbnails that we currently see. To improve security scopes now come in 2 categories: network access or file system access. Meaning a Scope can either get remote content, or local content but not both. Again this seems aimed to assure those who are concerned about privacy.

I think scopes is a great feature of Ubuntu, but a lot of their effectiveness comes down to implementation. The current scopes can be a bit off with their suggestions, so aren’t always the most useful. The Developers have clearly listened to user feedback with all the privacy and security improvements. So lets hope they continue this trend and keep improving. If the developers can do it right this could be a must have feature in Ubuntu, but it will take lots of hard work to achieve. They do have some time on their side, as the earliest we will see the new scopes on the Ubuntu desktop is Ubuntu 14.10, so I am excited to see what they can come up with that time.

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Source: Ubuntu Developer Blog

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Andy Hayes

Andy Hayes is a Software Engineer for HP and FOSS enthusiast who lives in Belfast, Northern Ireland

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