PNDManager: A Breath of Fresh Air

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If you use your Pandora a lot, you are probably used to running PNDManager from time to time to update your applications or install new ones. PNDManager is a very practical way to do so, but recently it was suffering from several issues linked with the repo: unable to complete downloads, speeds being way too low… and while we thought development was on hold since 2012, a new update surfaced a couple of days ago.

The thing that strikes the most when using this new version is that the interface is much faster than before. This is apparently due to the move to the latest Qt sources (now compiled against Qt5) and the difference is stunning: it’s that much smoother. There’s still one part where it does not feel perfect yet, it’s when you scroll through screenshots: the pictures’ movement is smooth but a little jerky here and there. But still way better than before.

A slight jerkiness can be observed when scrolling from one picture to another.
A slight jerkiness can be observed when scrolling from one picture to another.

On top of that, the download speeds have been dramatically increased. Or should I say, the download limits have more or less fallen. I used to download at a maximum of 170k/s in the previous version (capped) and yesterday while updating I noticed that I reached more than 300k/s without issue on certain items. It’s critical to reach that kind of speed nowadays since there are a lot of big PNDs out there.

Installing a big PND like R is much faster than before.
Installing a big PND like R is much faster than before.

There was also a known bug regarding the detection of new software versions in the previous PNDManager. The updated PNDManager could now detect all previous updates I missed and it seems that the bug is finally corrected.

One more trouble I had in the past with PNDManager was the loss of focus of the buttons/controls after the interface goes inactive for a while. This would become a headache as I would need to kill the application in order to exit it, since all controls would be inoperative. I have to test this more frequently but so far I did not detect that behavior.

The first time I synced the repo for updates it took a while as usual, therefore I was wondering if the PNDManager devs had delivered on their claim of “faster synchro with the repo”. The second time I synced, however, it was almost instantaneous. In a matter of seconds I received the new software information. It really is faster than before, and I guess my first sync had to do with a reset of the xml flle or something. Who knows…

Updates are now very, very fast.
Updates are now very, very fast.

The only remaining bit where I feel PNDManager could further improve is when a PND finishes its download, and then something happens in the background that freezes the application for a while. Actually the application keeps running, but the interface remains frozen for a few seconds or more. I suspect there is some activity involving libpnd going on in parallel, but if this could be resolved, it would be great to have a end-to-end frictionless experience.

Oh! What an Excellent Application ! (Hum...)
Oh! What an excellent application! (Hum…)

I am not sure if we will keep seeing updates for PNDManager, but we are certainly very close to getting there. It’s certainly one of the best apps downloader all platforms considered. Even the Android Appstore fails to deliver as much performance (it lags severely even on a high end phone, when downloading multiple applications, and you need way more clicks to reach the same results).

Well done to all involved in this excellent update.

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3 Comments on "PNDManager: A Breath of Fresh Air"

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B-ZaR
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Slight correction, then new Qt is 4.8.5, not 5 yet. The UI speed boost comes from properly configured build enabling NEON optimizations.

Qt5 is planned (the porting is mostly even done), but because the next firmware- which pndmanager will most likely be on -won’t probably have space for both Qt4 and Qt5 development will for now stay based on Qt4.

traylorpark
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Yeah, I was so psyched when I saw an update to this software! Really part of the core Pandora experience.

Moru
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The download speed is so much faster now, reaching 1.13 MBps. And it can even update itself without any problems 🙂