Gnome Outreach Program for Women

My experience interning with Gnome's OPW

Scraping Meta Information from URLs

Last week I completed the following items for readlater app thanks to generous help from brantje`:

  • Delete an item in the readlater app
  • Scrape meta info from a given URL
  • Fix the search function

For the delete function, I ran into the issue where the click event for sidebar items is not being caught in the JS. Per brantje’s recommendation, it seems like the JQuery version of click event handling:

 $('a .icon-delete').click(function(){…}

needs to be replaced by this for the ownCloud JS file:

$(document).on('click','a .icon-delete', function(){…}

Also, per brantje’s pull request, in the routes.php file, the route for delete function was changed from:

array('name' => 'item_api#remove_item', 'url' => '/deleteitem', 'verb' => 'DELETE'),


array('name' => 'item_api#remove_item', 'url' => '/deleteitem', 'verb' => 'GET'),

For scraping the meta information from a given URL, brantje recommended to use curl / file get contents to get the page and then search for the meta tag description

Per brantje’s PR, added the logic for scraping meta information in the itemapicontroller.php file like so:

Last week I completed the following items for readlater app thanks to generous help from brantje`:

Delete an item in the readlater app
Scrape meta info from a given URL
Fix the search function
For the delete function, I ran into the issue where the click event for sidebar items is not being caught in the JS. Per brantje’s recommendation, it seems like the JQuery version of click event handling:

$('a .icon-delete').click(function(){…}
needs to be replaced by this for the ownCloud JS file:

$(document).on('click','a .icon-delete', function(){…}
Also, per brantje’s pull request, in the routes.php file, the route for delete function was changed from:

array('name' => 'item_api#remove_item', 'url' => '/deleteitem', 'verb' => 'DELETE'),


array('name' => 'item_api#remove_item', 'url' => '/deleteitem', 'verb' => 'GET'),

For scraping the meta information from a given URL, brantje recommended to use curl / file get contents to get the page and then search for the meta tag description

Per brantje's PR, added the logic for scraping meta information in the itemapicontroller.php file like so:

$isURL = (bool)parse_url($url);
$html = $this->file_get_contents_curl($url);
$doc = new \DOMDocument();
$nodes = $doc->getElementsByTagName('title');

//get and display what you need:
$title = $nodes->item(0)->nodeValue;

$metas = $doc->getElementsByTagName('meta');

for ($i = 0; $i length; $i++)
$meta = $metas->item($i);
if($meta->getAttribute('name') == 'description')
$description = $meta->getAttribute('content');
if($meta->getAttribute('name') == 'keywords')
$keywords = $meta->getAttribute('content');

$item = array();
$item['url'] = $url;
$item['title'] = $title;
$item['description'] = ($description) ? $description : '';
$item['keywords'] = ($keywords) ? $keywords :'';

$result['itemid'] = $this->ItemBusinessLayer->create($item);



Implementing List Feed Feature

Last week I completed the list feed feature for the readlater app.
Currently, on page load, the app shows list of all the feeds that were saved for reading later like so:

List Feed Feature

List Feed Feature


I faced couple of glitches while developing this feature:

1. The items were being fetched from the DB but were not getting rendered. Turns out I was not attaching the elements to the UL.

2. Issues with deferred calls. So I wrote the following logic to ensure that the items are attached only after all of them are pushed to the items array.

 $.when( showData(), showDataDone() ).done(function() {
 alert( 'Deferred success' );
 .fail(function() {
 alert( 'Deferred fail' );

3. Issues with using the correct CSS class for rendering the icons. With help from brantje and LEDFan, I was able to add the images for star, edit, and delete from the CSS like so:

.icon {
 padding-left: 25px;
 background-repeat: no-repeat;
 height: 16px ; 
 width: 16px; 
.star-icon {
 background-image: url('../img/star.png');
.edit-icon {
 background-image: url('../img/rename.png');
.delete-icon {
 background-image: url('../img/delete.png');

Once I had these classes defined, I could use the icons with any other element as a background image.

Creating Add Feature for ReadLater App

This week I completed the add functionality for the ReadLater App thanks to the generous help from the community especially LEDfan, brantje, and Raydiation.

This blog post provides details on how I built this feature.

I started with understanding how existing apps work on the ownCloud platform. For this feature, I looked at bookmarksPassman, and the News app. To develop the front end of the readlater app, I looked at the existing News app implementation and created this front-end for ReadLater app:


ReadLater App Front-end

For this purpose, I looked at the docs for manipulating CSS and HTML: ownCloud App Development – Front End.

For the front end development, you need to start with the /templates/main.php file in your app.

While developing the front end, you might come across the “Template file not found” exception:

Template file error owncloud app development


This exception happens when you specify incorrect route in your appinfo/app.php file. To resolve this error, you must specify correct route like so, for the readlater app, the index page is specified as:

'href' => \OCP\Util::linkToRoute(''),

I also came across the “no app name ” error. This error is caused because the repo on github is ReadLater and when I cloned it, the directory was called ReadLater, but ownCloud only allows readlater.

I then added the functionality to save the content in readlater app, however, I was not able to insert values into the database. For creating the backend, I looked at Passman’s implementation at:

I also saw this error in the log file (to access the log file, go to http://$your-owncloud-server/data/owncloud.log)

{"app":"PHP","message":"Cannot modify header information - headers already sent at \/var\/www\/core\/lib\/private\/appframework\

Per discussion with Raydiation on the IRC channel, it was probably because I had removed the annotations from the Controller.

The App Framework also provides a simple baseclass for adding controllers:OCA\AppFramework\Controller\Controller. Controllers connect your view (templates) with your database and contain the logic of your app. Controllers themselves are connected to one or more routes. Controllers go into the controller/ directory.

For security reasons, all security checks for controller methods are turned on by default. To explicitly turn off checks, you must use exemption annotations above the desired method.

Possible Annotations contain:

  • @CSRFExemption: Turns off the check for the CSRF token. Only use this for the index page!
  • @IsAdminExemption: Turns off the check if the user is an admin
  • @IsLoggedInExemption: Turns off the check if the user is logged in
  • @IsSubAdminExemption: Turns off the check if the user is a subadmin
  • @Ajax: Use this for Ajax Requests. It prevents the unneeded rendering of the apps navigation and returns error messages in JSON format

It is important to add your controller to the dependency injection container in dependency injection/dicontainer.php. (source: ownCloud Controllers)

To check if the Add button is working, I used the Network tab of the developer tools in my browser.  For the above error in addition to the annotations, I was also using incorrect route.

Routes are declared in appinfo/routes.php. Routing connects your URLs with your controller methods and allows you to create constant and nice URLs. Its also easy to extract values from the URLs. For more information on how to implement routes in your app, see: ownCloud Routes.

After fixing  the routes, I was still seeing a blank page even after the POST request went through fine.



Turns out, I missed the generateURL function in my JS file.

To send requests to ownCloud the base URL where ownCloud is currently running is needed.  Full URLs can be generated by using:

var authorUrl = OC.generateUrl('/apps/myapp/authors/1');

For the readlater app’s Add url, my code in the js file is now:

function saveData(){
	type: "POST",
  	url: OC.generateUrl('/apps/readlater/add/url'),
  	data: {url: $('#url').val()}
    }).done(function( msg ) {
 alert( "Your content was saved: " + msg );


I also encountered this exception:

{"app":"index","message":"Doctrine\\DBAL\\DBALException: An exception occurred while executing 'INSERT INTO `oc_readlater_items` (`url`)
VALUES (?)':\n\nSQLSTATE[42S02]: Base table or view not found: 1146 Table 
'owncloud.oc_readlater_items' doesn't exist","level":4,"time":"2014-07-19T13:02:52+00:00"}

To fix this, LEDfan suggested adding a file “version” in the appinfo dir:

Also, it is important to note that whenever you change anything in your appinfo/database.xml file, you must increment the version numbers in both the version file and the appinfo/info.php file.

Thanks to the help from the ownCloud IRC channels, I was able to complete the add URL feature for ReadLater app.

Mockups for ReadLater App

Last week I completed the update to mockups ( for the ReadLater app based on the feedback from the community.

I received the following feedback for the first iteration:

  • Incorporate app-navigation in the design and replace the top bar. It is becoming the standard for all apps to have a sidebar.
  • The sidebar could for example show the list of tags. And the »Videos«, »Images«, etc. filters.
  • Integrate the top search bar with the one provided within the app.
  • Remove breadcrumbs
  • The reviewers also pointed me back to the previous versions of the mockups discussed within the community (

Based on these inputs, I recreated the mockups:

Mockup1: Landing Page for the Read Later app

Mockup1: Landing Page for the Read Later app

Mockup1: Landing Page for the Read Later app

Mockup2: Add content form within the sidebar and the default story layout for the articles

Mockup2: Add content form within the sidebar and the default story layout for the articles

Mockup2: Add content form within the sidebar and the default story layout for the articles

Mockup3: Grid layout

Mockup3: Grid layout

Mockup3: Grid layout

To understand the app-navigation pattern, I used the following resources:

Per recent recommendations from my mentor , listing the tags using Priority+ pattern, will allow the user to expose only the most used tags and the less used ones would be tucked away behind a “more” link.

The updated mockup for tags based on this suggestion is as illustrated below:


Mockup4: Tags




How to commit your apps to ownCloud?

I hit several roadblocks while contributing my code to ownCloud app repository.

For my git issues, I also looked at several stackoverflow posts and github’s documentation listed here:

But many thanks to the ownCloud’s helpful developer community (especially @ledfan and @brantje) for handholding me in resolving these issues.

This blog post provides detailed information about the steps for contributing your application to ownCloud.

Step 1: If you dont have a git account, get a free github account at .

Step 2: Start your own repository.

Step 3: Do not commit anything.

Step 4: From the command line, execute the following command:

git init

This initializes an empty Git repository in your web server folder. In my case, the repository was initialized at:


Step 5: Prepare for your initial commit using the following commands:

git add . -A

git commit -m “Initial Commit”

git remote add origin$gitusername/$gitrepository

Step 6: Push your repository using the following command:

git push origin master

The next blog post in this series is about my status update and learnings about the UI for ownCloud’s ReadLater app. I am now reworking the low fidelity mockups to incorporate UI trends like app-navigation based on the issues listed here: ownCloud Design Issues for ReadLater.

Research User Experience for Existing ReadLater Apps



Per discussion with my mentor @jancbrochart, I completed my research for user experience for existing ReadLater applications including Pocket, Instapaper, Evernote Clearly, and Readability.

I chose to research the user experience for these applications based on the user ratings on the Apple App Store and Google’s Play Store.

This post details my findings on the user experience for these applications.

I organized the features of these apps in the following broad modes – Read mode, Add mode, and Organize mode.

User Experience for Existing ReadLater Apps


UX for Pocket

Pocket provides the following user experience:

Read mode

  • Option to toggle between two views – grid and list


  • Each item in the list/grid shows action items like share, archive, delete, tag, etc. for that post

Pocket Individual Item

  • Videos are auto-detected and the user can consume the video within the application.
  • Several options to view your content – images only, videos, article mode are available, making it a very seamless reading experience.

Pocket Options to View Items

  • Various options to view the content – entire list, favorites, or archived items


  • Option to view items according to the tags


  • Search feature is also available

Add mode

Adding content to Pocket is a simple one-click action, the user can choose to either add the url or
can use the bookmarklet (browser extension) to add it to the user’s Pocket account.

Pocket Add

Organize mode

Pocket provides the following ways to organize your saved content:

  • Organize by tags
  • Organize by type of content – video, image, articles
  • Organize by favorited items

Additionally, it has partnered with IFTTT (If This Then That) to come up with unique recipes to capture your content:

  • Recipe to facilitate content collection for Youtube, Twitter
  • Recipe to create a Facebook post with what you favorited in Pocket
  • Recipe to save a favorited item in Pocket to Evernote

These are just some of the many recipes. For more recipes see:
(Note: Currently for each IFTTT recipe the download numbers are close to several thousands.)


UX for Instapaper

Instapaper provides the following user experience:

Read mode:

  • Better reading experience with clean design.


  • List layout is available with small blurb of the content.


Instapaper seems to parse the content well based on the latest reviews from the users and also allows the users to mine content from their social networks.

Add mode

Adding is simple action. The “Add Link” button is available across all the screens.

Organize mode

Instapaper provides the following features to organize the content:

  • Ability to create various folders
  • Highlights to save from the content (ability to store snippets from the content)

Explore mode

Additionally, Instapaper provides the following features to discover and explore new content making the app more stickier:

  • Browse featured content from friends, daily popular stories etc.
  • Allow ability to connect your Instapaper account with your social network to mine rich stories/content


UX for Readability

Read mode

  • Readability has clean design but has only one view for arranging the articles in read mode. Although it has several options for generating engagement – Reading List and Recommended Articles.

Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 7.26.31 PM

  • Additionally, it also highlights the articles and the blurbs associated with the articles

Add mode

Addition requires several steps for users (Go to Reading List -> Click on + sign-> then add the article).


UX for Evernote Clearly

Read mode

  • Ability to toggle between various typography format
  • Provides a clean and clutter free design – use of white background


  • Additioanlly, the app also provides a text to speech option but that is available only for Google Chrome
  • The app converts the web page into standard Evernote display

Add mode

  • Simple and intuitive to add the content to your Evernote account

Organize mode

  • Ability to highlight the text
  • Retrieve related notes from your Evernote account
  • Ability to organize content based on tags

Setting up Development Environment for ownCloud

For setting up development environment for ownCloud, I tried several options:

1. Set the dev environment on Mac OS (I later realized after reading the prerequisites correctly that this was a bad choice because ownCloud has discontinued the support for Mac OSx). Thanks to my mentor, @jancborchardt who pointed me to the following posts on deploying ownCloud’s dev environment:

2. Create Virtual Machine using Virtualbox and Ubuntu LTS 12.04 Operating system.

3. Spin an Amazon EC2 instance with community AMIs for Ubuntu LTS 12.04.

4. Finally, after reading through several stackexchange posts, I came across an answer that suggested to use VMWare Fusion instead of VirtualBox.

Fortunately, I already had the license key for VMWare Fusion.  Here are detailed instructions on setting up ownCloud’s development environment on your Mac OS:

  1. Download Desktop version of Ubuntu LTS 12.04 from one of the mirror site (
  2. Deploy this on Fusion using the guided GUI based install of Fusion
  3. On the virtual machine, use the terminal application and deploy LAMP stack:
  • Install Apache using the following command:
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install apache2
  • Go to your web browser and check if the webserver is correctly installed by visiting the following address:

You should see the default Ubuntu 12.04 Apache web page.

  • Install MySQL
sudo apt-get install mysql-server libapache2-mod-auth-mysql php5-mysql

During the installation, the installer will ask you to confirm a password for the MySQL “root” user.

  • Create MySQL’s database directory structure by issuing the following command:
sudo mysql_install_db
  • Run the security script:
sudo mysql_secure_installation

Keep all the default settings by hitting the “Enter” key.

  • Install PHP
sudo apt-get install php5 libapache2-mod-php5 php5-mcrypt
  • Change the following settings in the dir.conf file:
sudo nano /etc/apache2/mods-enabled/dir.conf

Change the settings in this file to the following:

<IfModule mod_dir.c>
    DirectoryIndex index.php index.html index.cgi index.xhtml index.htm

  • Restart your webserver:
sudo service apache2 restart

For more details on installing LAMP stack, see this post.

4. Install Python 3.4 on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS.

sudo apt-get install python3-pip
sudo apt-get install python3-setuptools

Because 12.04 is packaged with Pyton 2.7 by default, I had to setup a virtual env using the instructions listed here and here.

5. Install github:

sudo apt-get install git-core
sudo apt-get install libcurl4-gnutls-dev libexpat1-dev gettext libz-dev libssl-dev build-essential
git config --global "Your Name Here"
git config --global ""

For more information, see the instructions listed here.

Common errors
Some common errors I encountered during installation are as listed below:
While installing php5, I ran into the following issue:
E: Could not get lock /var/lib/dpkg/lock - open (11 Resource temporarily unavailable)
E: Unable to lock the administration directory (/var/lib/dpkg/) is another process 
Remove your /var/lib/dpkg/lock file and force package reconfiguration (for more details, see:
sudo rm /var/lib/dpkg/lock
sudo dpkg --configure -a

Needs Assessment Plan for ReadLater App

Based on my initial discussions with project mentors and after following the discussion threads on ownCloud’s git issue tracker, here is the wishlist of features for the app:

  1. Integrate the API developed by Wallabag (Poche):

(a) Wallabag (formerly Poche) is an open-source self hostable application for saving web pages.

2. Implement a server for ownCloud that works with wallabag’s API and thus uses their existing Android app, browser extensions, and FireFox OS app.

3. Design and implement a front-end for the Read-later items within ownCloud and possibly combine with the Bookmarks app in ownCloud.

Based on the discussions with project mentors, I researched about the usability aspects of various bookmarklet apps and came up with the following list of design changes:

  1. The app should be able to intuitively build dynamic newsfeed based on the chronologically selected tags.

Why we need this: Because once in a while, you do want to clean up your accumulated tags (just like you would spring clean your house) Sometimes, we really need to read the article we have tagged/bookmarked/added to our account, but we forget the tag that we gave to the article, heck we even forget what the title of the article was, all we remember is maybe an image or central theme of the article.

2. If the app can show dynamically create news feed based on past week’s data, these would allow the user to go through the articles without spending considerable time searching for it. (may be Pinterest type thumbnail view of the articles for last week or asking the user to rate the article (whether they really want to revisit it say after 8 days or so). And because we are in spring cleaning mode, it would be nice to have an “archive” option to dump all the clutter.

3. I wanted to understand how users will engage with this app, so I came up with the following use case scenarios:

(a) May be have a ranking of most talked about articles/pages to keep you interested in the discussion

(b) Have an ability to tag any web resource (images, videos, podcasts, pages, etc.)

(c) Add ability to visualize your feed’s influence on your social network (items you share from your feed, etc.)

(d) When I click on the bookmarks that I have saved previously, it would be nice to see a preview of the page, so that I can decide whether to follow that bookmark/readlater tag.

4. I also proposed the following generic enhancements:

(a) It would be nice to have tag merging option in order to facilitate reorganization efforts for the collected pages.

(b) Single browser icon to bookmark a page (right now it is a clunky text “Add to ownCloud”, which takes up a lot of space on the Bookmarks Bar)

(c) Suggest tags based on the page’s content (to avoid tag soup for misspelled tags)

(d) Ability to share bookmarks (public, private)

(e) Ability import bookmarks from other accounts is hidden under settings icon, this gives a rather broken user experience for a first time user because as a first time user of the application, I want to ensure that I am able to bring in all the data from my accounts with a single click. (Right now the user needs to click the Bookmarks app first, then go to the settings icon to reach to the “Import” function)

5. Based on Alessandro’s idea about the app: “Read later app should be able to distinguish between bookmarks and pages that are part of the reading list (may be have separate icons for bookmarks and reading list)”

To enhance this feature, it would be nice to provide flexibility to the user for choosing whether to classify a URL as bookmark or read later.


For the above usability exercise, I used the following resources:

  1. Usability issues filed for boookmarks feature.
  2. Usability testing for instapaper, pocket, feedafever, and other apps listed in
  3. Inferences from the social tagging behavior: Trant, Jennifer. “Studying social tagging and folksonomy: A review and framework.” Journal of Digital Information 10, no. 1 (2009) and UC Berkeley School of Information’s course on Information Organization and Retrieval — INFO 202