Removing bulkin043, libs not loading, and an appeal to modders



Removing bulkin043 apks from this site:

tl;dr: From now on, you won’t be able to find new apks from bulkin043 on this site.

bulkin043 (aka Innocent Parrot) was added in January 2019. A month or so later, some modders noticed that he was lying about the true GCam version used. This is a problem because all this is based on trust, after all we are using modded apks from unknown people that can, if they want to, include malicious code. I stopped posting new updates from him.

After 2 or 3 months and many requests from users, I added his versions again and quickly the complaints from other modders started to pile up. He was using their code without permission or even mentioning the creator, but improved after being asked to do so. Then some advertising links were added. Some devs tried to help him and while there was an improvement for a few weeks, it seems he went back to his old ways.

When I started this site, the intention was to provide a simple and fast way for users to download apk files. I didn’t want to be part of the politics and rivalries that always come up, but I can’t ignore everything. His versions won’t be shared here anymore.

I hear that versions from Arnova8G2 and BSG work on the same phones.

Libs not loading on some GCam versions:

tl;dr: Libs are permanently broken on some GCam versions. Use old versions for now or wait until new updates are released.

As most of you are aware, some GCam versions support "libs". They can be useful as some improve detail, shadows, colours, etc, but each lib adds a few MBs to the apk size. That’s why some modders now use something called LibLoader which allows GCam to download libs from a public Github repository.

This method allows apk files to be smaller, doesn’t require an apk update to ship new/updated libs and all it requires is an internet connection that downloads a few KBs of data when we load the libs. After that, files are cached locally until we manually update the libs list.

There are a few downsides though. In the future, if Github discontinues the API or closes down, users won’t be able to use libs (we can still use GCam as the stock Google lib is included). You can’t use libs if Github is banned on your country (use a VPN!). There’s also the security risks of allowing a modded apk from downloading files from the internet.

While talking about this with some modders, I tried to warn them about some of the downsides (specially the internet access aspect), but I guess there are more benefits than downsides and now this is how libs are loaded on many versions. It works well, so I understand why they use it.

Anyway… someone uploaded the API key used for this to Github. Github revoked the key – probably for security reasons – and versions that load libs this way can’t access the repo. Some versions from devs like Arnova8G2, cstark, Urnyx05, San1ty, Tolyan009, etc, are affected by this.

If you want/need to use libs, there are 3 solutions at the moment:

Eventually modders will release updates that fix this problem, but libs won’t work anymore on versions posted before 2019-07-01 and use LibLoader.

An appeal to modders:

tl;dr: Focus on the user, not kangers.

Creating something for free and releasing it to the public can be tough. You get some satisfaction from seeing people using your work, but you also have to deal with entitled users and noobs that can’t follow simple instructions. Other people will copy your code and it’s not always done in a respectful way. I’m not a modder myself, but from my experience in other areas I know it can be annoying.

There’s a reason why many of you share your work publicly though. Why deal with users and try to fix their issues if you don’t care about their experience? I think that deep down most of you care about the user and that’s why I’m writing this.

When BSG started sharing his modded apks, some of you used them as base for your own work. This allowed GCam to be compatible with more phones, helped you improve your skills and also improved the camera quality for many, many people that used to struggle with their crappy cameras. As a user, I’m glad BSG and other modders allowed this to happen, even when no permission was asked or credits were omitted. That’s one of the reasons why this port is at its peak right now.

Sadly, for the past few months things have been moving in the opposite direction. Code obfuscation that makes it harder for new people to start modding, popups that never go away and are an annoyance for users, limited time used to make kanger’s lives harder instead of improving GCam… all this because of one or two bad actors. I understand the reasons, but this ends up affecting users and, in the future, might stop new modders from doing their part.

So I want to make an appeal to everyone working on GCam: let’s go back to the good ol’ days (2017/mid 2018) when the focus was on GCam development, not on kangers. When introducing a new "feature" or change, see if it will impact users in any way, now or in the future. If you think that using other people’s work is really bad, think if you really want to work on a port where everyone copies something from someone else. If you’re tired of all this, consider taking a step back instead of making your apk almost unusable. You should have fun doing this and I doubt it's fun to worry about someone copying your code when you introduce a new feature or fix something.

I’m aware that you do this for free, that I’m not entitled to anything and that I don’t have to use your work, but GCam is what it is today because the main modders continued to do their thing even when someone else was using their work. Not only they're good, but they're also lenient, allowing new people to start modding. Everyone benefits from this.

If you are worried about the other guy getting more credit than you, keep in mind that no wannabe-modder is even close to the top devs in terms of users, donations or respect. They're not the ones receiving job offers, interview requests from blogs or free phones from brands.

Please don't take this personally as this message is aimed at all modders, not someone in particular. I think that the current path is not healthy for GCam development and this is my way to express the concerns I have.

Celso

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