Flathub’s Strategic Shift to Highlight High-Quality Apps

Flathub's new guidelines elevate app quality, ensuring a seamless experience for users seeking top-notch applications.

Flathub, a key player in the Linux ecosystem, has evolved into a preferred destination for users seeking distro-agnostic applications.

Initially aimed at simplifying access to the latest versions of popular apps through Flatpak, Flathub now boasts over 2,400 applications, often directly maintained by their developers, reaching an impressive milestone last May, with 1 billion downloads.

However, this success has brought its own challenges, particularly concerning the quality of app metadata. The platform noticed an influx of applications with low-quality metadata, unappealing icons, and outdated screenshots, which may lead to confusion among users.

Recognizing the importance of this in aiding users in discovering new and high-quality apps, Flathub has decided to take proactive steps to address these issues.

To improve the situation, the platform’s devs have taken a two-pronged approach: firstly, raising the standard for app metadata across all applications, and secondly, introducing a curation system to highlight the best apps.

Flathub's moderation sidebar.
Image credits: Flathub

Raising the Bar for Metadata

Flathub has introduced detailed documentation for app metadata, covering crucial aspects and common pitfalls to avoid, such as fully utilized app icons and non-repetitive summaries and including window shadows in screenshots.

Additionally, a new review system allows editors to rate each app’s metadata, with developers able to see these ratings and make necessary improvements in subsequent releases.

Introducing Curation

The aim is to curate high-quality apps with excellent metadata. This includes having app banners with icons and screenshots on the homepage, curated lists of apps, seasonal/topical recommendations, and editorial blog posts. The plan is to start with simple banners on the homepage and iterate from there.

Those efforts, made with end users in mind, are expected to improve Flathub-wide search capabilities and enhance the overall discoverability and attractiveness of apps on the platform. For more information, refer to the original article.

Bobby Borisov

Bobby Borisov

Bobby, an editor-in-chief at Linuxiac, is a Linux professional with over 20 years of experience. With a strong focus on Linux and open-source software, he has worked as a Senior Linux System Administrator, Software Developer, and DevOps Engineer for small and large multinational companies.

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3 Comments

  1. I’m mixed about this. Yes, I can see it as gate-keeping which is one of my concerns about central repositories. It is the reason why I think AppImage is important as an alternative means to distribute apps.

    On the hand, I could see why Flathub would want to do so something like this. On the other other hand (I have three), from what I can tell from the article, they are only curating metadata and not the apps themselves. Presumably one could argue that a developer who puts time into the metadata will likely put time into the app itself. This might hold while Linux desktop hovers around 3% usage, but it won’t if it reaches higher, say +15%. In this scenario, there would be a flood of crudware with high-quality SEO-like metadata — just as happened in Google search.

    • That’s the nice thing about flathub is that if enough people see this as a bad move, they can gather and make an alternative. Flathub’s code is open source, and in fact there are alternative sources to get flatpaks from (KDE’s nightly/testing packages comes to mind but surely there are others).

      What I find funny is that we Linux users have been using curated stores for a long time (1993 with the release of distros like slackware and Debian) and nobody complained.

      Now, it seems that every external store (that you can even opt not to use) gets a lot of sscrutiny.

      Me? I see this as a non-issue.

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