Gnome 3.10 is just about a week away and the upcoming features list of version 3.12 is already forming. What are the new features that will empower and extend Gnome’s usability on the “good ten” that’s coming, and what kind of new features are seeing complete fruition on the next version?
App overview pagination
In 3.8, the application’s overview screen no longer lists items on separate categories and offers a scrollable grid for navigation leaving things somewhat bulk. With the release of 3.10 a pagination system will be implemented to make things easier to navigate and more touch-friendly.
Gnome Photos online services
Gnome Photos is Gnome’s default system application to view and manage your photos so making it work with popular internet media services is vital. Thanks to the fact that Flickr accounts was added to GNOME Online Accounts, developers could leverage this to Photos 3.10 and allow users to seamlessly access the photos they have uploaded to the popular photo sharing service.
In the same way, photographs from Facebook will also be easily accessible and managed through Photos 3.12 as the development of this feature is already in progress.
It took longer than expected (initially planed for 3.4) but finally the Gnome Shell magnifier has its own caret and focus tracking mechanism full with an UI preferences menu integration in Gnome control center making the lives of people who use magnification for accessibility reasons much easier.
Hi-DPI display support
Work on supporting HD displays such the one used on Chromebook Pixel has begun since GTK+ 3.9.4 with the ambition to make Gnome Shell look and work great with such hardware. The only thing that will actually look better in 3.10 is the cursor which now is scaled. The addition of hd-dpi support on clutter, implementation of scaling for GS and the ability to draw hd-dpi icons is going to happen in 3.12 (hopefully).
Maps, Music and Notes
The three apps that will form a vital part of Gnome’s usability toolkit in the future are already available to test and use for basic needs, but not anywhere near being complete in 3.10. Maps will make its debut in 3.10 with the development and coding still ruled by the design phase, Music is under heavy development with lots of basic functions already implemented but many widely used and important features still missing, and Notes that first appeared in 3.8 as a preview going a step closer to the initial design plans in 3.10 but still not yet ready.
System status menu
The upper right area of Gnome Shell’s top panel contained four separate items with their corresponding menus used for configuring sound, internet connections, power and user settings. This was bloated, fragmented and space consuming especially in the case of using extensions that need space on the right.
A new status menu that unifies all the above individual settings in one was imperative and we got it on 3.10!
Tweak Tool design refresh
Gnome’s tweak tool has been one of the users’ favorite destinations since Gnome 3.0 and as much as the developers appeared to be focusing on other things and keeping it somewhat “frozen” and out of scope, it started receiving love since 3.8 with long awaited features like the extension management options.
In 3.10 the tweak tool receives a facelift that includes the following new features:
- GNOME3 style sidebar and search
- Better categorization of tweaks
- Specialized ui for certain tweaks
- XSettings overrides
- Startup apps
- Allow updating extensions from inside tweak tool
- Wacom support
Port Gnome to Wayland
Porting Gnome to Wayland will finally free users and developers from the problematic X server and take Gnome a step further technologically, but the task is neither simple nor small. What needs to be done is completing the GTK+ Wayland backend, turn GNOME shell into a Wayland compositor, replace X dependencies in the rest of the desktop with Wayland equivalents and port applications to run as Wayland clients instead of X clients.
The focus of the developers for 3.10 was the first two and the status of the progress cannot leave us disappointed at all! Gnome Shell can now operate as a Wayland compositor, the display panel is using mutter D-Bus interfaces to configure displays under both X and Wayland, and many GNOME applications have started to use client-side decorations and header bars on 3.10, opening the road for more in 3.12 cycle of development that will focus on the last two goals cited above.
Gnome’s own exciting software center will be available as a preview in 3.10 but expect little to nothing in terms of real-life use. Application developers are on their way matching the technical demands of Software to be included and ready to install, remove and update.
The aim is to enrich Software through 3.12, by adding support for more metadata such as screenshots, ratings and popularity, support interactive features such as reviews and get metadata from online sources.
Git integration in the developer experience
Git is Linus Torvalds approach in distributed version control and source code management system that almost every part of the free software world uses extensively. Gnome is no exception so the need for a specialized application that will manage the repositories from our desktop is great.
Gitg is the name of the app that is currently under heavy development and it appears that it won’t be completely ready for 3.10. You will be able though to get, install and use it in 3.10 to report any bugs and make sure it will be working properly in 3.12.
Systemd for the user session
I am sure you have already repeatedly read how Systemd works better/faster than other init systems and how it provides more configurability, but did you know that Gnome developers can benefit from its existence in a system and use it to also manage parts of the user session? This will allow the placing of each application in its own kernel cgroup making it possible for gnome-shell to do application matching more reliably and allow users to control maximum resources usage for each application separately.
This awesomeness is in progress and it will hopefully be ready in 3.12!
Colour tinting in Gnome Shell has been possible since 3.6 but a graphical user interface to allow users to easily manipulate settings and choose the tint they want is still missing. There is currently a demo app that uses three spinners each for brightness and contrast, but the actual implementation of something tangible is hoped to be completed in 3.12.
Gnome Videos will be a Gnome core application that will work in the same context and logic with Photos and Music, allowing users to search, find and view videos from local sources and online services.
Currently the app in coding status with small improvements to the user interface being made. It won’t be available in 3.10, but it probably be available as a preview in 3.12!
Integrate Zimbra in Gnome
Zimbra is an enterprise-class email, calendar and collaboration solution, built for the cloud, both public and private. It has a free software edition among others and it offers email, calendar and address book via IMAP/POP3/SMTP, CalDAV and CardDAV, apart from offering a web UI that can be accessed using a Web browser.
The plan is to integrate Zimbra on relevant Gnome applications like the Evolution, Evolution Data Server, Calendar and Contacts in 3.12.