Debarshi's den

Core Apps Hackfest 2016: report

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I spent last weekend at the Core Apps Hackfest in Berlin. The agenda was to work on GNOME’s core applications: Documents, Files, Music, Photos, Videos, Usage, etc.; to raise their overall standard and to make them push beyond the limits of the framework. There were 19 of us and among us we covered a wide range of modules and areas of expertise.

I spent most of my time on the plumbing necessary for Documents and Photos to use GtkFlowBox and GtkListBox. The innards of Photos had already been overhauled to reduce its dependency on GtkTreeModel. Going into the hackfest we were sorely lacking a widget that had all the bells and whistles we need — the idiomatic GNOME 3 selection mode, and seamlessly switching between a list and grid view. So, this is where I decided to focus my energy. As a result, we now have a work-in-progress GdMainBox widget in libgd to replace the old GtkIconView/GtkTreeView-based GdMainView.

gnome-photos-flowbox

In fact, GtkListBox and GtkFlowBox was a recurring theme at the hackfest. Carlos Soriano and Georges were working on using them in Files, and whenever anybody uses them in a non-trivial manner there is the inevitable discussion about performance. Good thing that Benjamin was around. He spent the better part of a tram ride and more than an hour at the whiteboard, sketching out a strategy to make GtkListBox more efficient than it is today.

Like last year, Øyvind joined us. We talked about GEGL, and I finally saw the new GIMP in action. I rarely use GIMP, and I am not sure I have ever built it from source, but I have been reading its sources on a semi-regular basis for almost a year now. It was good to finally address this aberration. Øyvind had with him a cheap hand-held DLNA media renderer that was getting stuck when trying to render more than one image with dleyna-render and Photos. Zeeshan helped me poke at it, but unfortunately we didn’t get anywhere.

Other than that, Petr Stetka impressed everyone with his progress on the new Usage application. Georges refreshed his patches to implement the new Online Accounts Settings panel, Carlos Garnacho helped me with GtkGesture, and I reviewed various patches and branches that had been on my list for a while.

Many thanks to Red Hat for sponsoring me; to Carlos Soriano and Joaquim for organizing the event; to Kinvolk for being such gracious hosts; and to Collabora for the nice dinner.

Written by Debarshi Ray

3 December, 2016 at 20:02

#photos happenings

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Out of a mojito bar in South Beach with a lobotomised plastic picnic spoon and a crew of control freaks.

3.22 is here

We recently released GNOME 3.22. It will be in Fedora Workstation 25. Go look at the video — it’s awesome!

GNOME Photos has again taken significant strides forward – just like we did six months ago in 3.20. One of the big things that we added this time was sharing. This nicely rounds out our existing online acccounts integration, and complements the work we did on editing six months ago.

gnome-photos-sharing

Sharing is an important step towards a more tightly integrated online account experience in GNOME. We have been interested in a desktop-wide sharing service for some time. With Flatpak portals becoming a reality, I hope that the sharing feature in Photos can be spun off into a portal for GNOME.

Thanks to Umang Jain, our GSoC intern this summer for working on sharing.

We overhauled a lot of hairy architectural issues, which will let us have nicer overview grids in the near future. Alessandro created a Flatpak. This means that going forward, you can easily try out the nightly builds of Photos thanks to the Flatpak support in GNOME Software 3.22.

gnome-photos-flatpak2

Thanks to Kalev Lember for the wonderful screenshot.

The future

I think that we are reaching a point where we can recommend Photos to a wider group of users. With editing and sharing in place, we have filled some of the bigger gaps in the user experience that we want to offer. Yes, there are some missing features and rough edges that we are aware of, so we we are going to spend the next six months addressing the ones that are most important. You can look at our roadmap for the full picture, but I am going to highlight a few.

Better overview grids (GNOME #690623)

We have been using GtkIconView to display the grid of thumbnails that we call the overview. GtkIconView has been around for a long while, but it has some issues – both visual and performance. Therefore, we want to replace it with GtkFlowBox so (a) that the application remains responsive while we are populating the grid, and (b) we can have really pretty visuals.

Eventually, we want this:

photos-photos

Import from device (GNOME #751212)

This is one of the biggest missing features, in my opinion. We really need a way to import content from removable devices and cameras that doesn’t involve mucking around with files and directories.

Petr Stetka has already started working on this, but I am sure he will appreciate any help with this.

More sharing (GNOME #766031)

Last but not the least, I definitely like showing off on Facebook and so do you! So I want to add a Facebook share-point and possibly a few more.

Come, join us

If any of this interests you, then feel free to jump right in. We have a curated list of newcomer bugs and a guide for those who are relatively new. If you are an experienced campaigner, you can look at the roadmap for more significant tasks.

For any help, discussions or general chitchat, #photos on GIMPNet is the place to be.

Written by Debarshi Ray

22 September, 2016 at 17:18

Debugging GNOME Online Accounts

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I spent some time today documenting how to debug various problems with online account integration in GNOME. It is also linked from the main GNOME Online Accounts wiki page. So, you can find it via the usual click-stream and don’t need to rely on this blog.

It is still basic. I want to expand it further to cover how to debug specific integration points. For example, issues with mounting Google Drive in Nautilus, or some breakage involving Kerberos. Anyway, it’s a start and I am quite happy to have one less thing on my TODO list. Sometimes, things in GNOME seem like a maze of hidden D-Bus daemons, known only to the initiated. Hopefully, this will make it more approachable.

Oh, and don’t shy away from editing it. It’s a Wiki!

badge-goingto

Written by Debarshi Ray

10 August, 2016 at 18:47

MALLOC_PERTURB_

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MALLOC_PERTURB_ is a useful thing. If you are developing on glibc-based systems, I encourage you to put this snippet in your ~/.bash_profile:

MALLOC_PERTURB_=$(($RANDOM % 255 + 1))
export MALLOC_PERTURB_

I have been using it for the last six years on all my computers (3 laptops running every Fedora x86_64 build released since then), and while things haven’t exploded, it has helped uncover the odd bug every once in a while. One such occasion presented itself this week.

I was busy following Ondrej’s hint, debugging why Eye of GNOME was taking so long to open a file from ownCloud. Imagine my shock when it would just crash after showing the window. The same optimization was working just fine on the gnome-3-18 branch, while master was crashing even without any changes. How could that happen? Obviously, while it was failing for me, it was working fine for all those who run unstable GNOME versions via jhbuild, gnome-continous, Fedora rawhide, etc.. Otherwise we would have been debugging this crash, and not a performance issue.

I guess, most of them didn’t have MALLOC_PERTURB_.

Here is another such story.

In case you were wondering, there is already an update on its way to Fedora 24 address the crash.

Written by Debarshi Ray

9 April, 2016 at 02:28

GNOME Photos 3.20.0

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Now that we are in the middle of the various freezes in preparation for GNOME 3.20, and eventually Fedora 24, it is a good time to talk about some of the things that happened over the last six months. You might have noticed that a bunch of GNOME applications received significant improvements this cycle. If you haven’t, then go ahead and check out the new hotness in Documents, Maps (it is awesome), Nautilus (or Files), Calendar and News.

It wasn’t any different for Photos.

Editing

Non-destructive editing has landed this cycle. It was one of the high level plans that Allan had written about last summer. While Photos will never be a fully featured professional image editor like Darktable or GIMP, I believe this plugs an important gap for those looking for a simpler option.

Internally, it is based on GEGL (which explains the cryptic title of the teaser in November). For those who are not in the know, GEGL is a graph based image processing framework that is going to be new image processing core of GIMP. For us, it means that we benefit from the plethora of operations that are built into GEGL and the many more that are being ported over from GIMP; and we get things like non-destructive editing, higher bit-depths, handling larger than RAM images, multiple pixel formats and many more advanced features for free.

In the spirit of non-destructive editing, we never touch the original images. However, you can export the result of the edits out of the application through.

gnome-photos-edit-export

I expect the export functionality to evolve as we integrate sharing into Photos — uploading to online accounts, attaching to an email or sending to a USB stick. Exporting entire albums or a selection of multiple images is also something that we will be adding in the near future.

When New Heroes Emerge

At this point, I must mention the amazing work done by two new GNOME contributors — Rafael Fonseca and Umang Jain. It does feel good to be reviewing more patches, even if I don’t time to write that many myself.

Thanks to Rafael we now have the usual undo notification for editing. This is typical of GNOME 3 applications — instead of asking for confirmation, we try to make the actions as reversible as possible. He also worked on export and cleaned up our selection toolbar code.

gnome-photos-done-notification

Umang did a lot of work on the crop palette, metadata handling, improvements to undo and gave us this export notification.

gnome-photos-export-notification

Help Overlay

Last, but not the least, along with many other GNOME applications we added a help overlay to show our keyboard shortcuts. You can either access it from the application menu, or press Ctrl+? or Ctrl+F1.

gnome-photos-shortcuts

Join Us

There is a lot to do. So come join us in #photos on the GIMPNet IRC network if you want to join the fun.

Written by Debarshi Ray

8 March, 2016 at 12:44

Posted in GNOME, Photos

Content Apps Hackfest 2015: report

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I spent most of the previous week attending the Content Apps Hackfest in Madrid. The agenda was to work on GNOME’s content applications: Documents, Files, Music, Photos and Videos; to identify missing features and sore points; and raise the standard of the overall content experience in GNOME. Of these, I focused mainly on Documents and Photos.

The first day was spent discussing high-level goals:

  • Previews – should the content applications take over the role played traditionally by Evince and Eye of GNOME?
  • Status and plans about sharing. We are still waiting for a platform-wide sharing framework, but since it is a crucial feature for some of the applications, it has become a case of perfection being the enemy of good.
  • Porting away from GtkIconView to GtkFlowBox. GtkIconView has some very visible problems – it becomes terribly slow when the images are updated; the grid’s content doesn’t re-flow when the size of the widget changes leading to an awkward gutter appearing on the side; cannot pack any GTK+ widget into a GtkCellRenderer.

I set up a live Google Hangouts stream on my laptop to let those who couldn’t attend in person to join us remotely. With Andreas’ help, I fixed the HiDpi breakage in Photos’ cropping tool, Bastien fired some new LibreOffice builds, while the other Bastian revamped Documents’ wiki page.

The second day started with breakfast in Florian’s flat. It was less chatty with people quietly hacking away, presumably, to rest their tired throats. Bastien picked up Pranav’s patches to integrate LOKDocView widget in Documents. I worked a bit on polishing rough edges in Photos’ editing code, and tried to keep up with the endless stream of patches from Alessandro and Umang.

Discussions picked up a bit on the third and final day. Allan spent a lot of time talking to the developers of each application. UX reviews were done, new designs were made, and future plans were sketched out. I spent some time with him working on a roadmap for Photos. We are still cleaning up our rough notes and transferring them to the wiki, but I think it is good enough for others to take a look. Øyvind paid us a surprise visit, and we grabbed the opportunity for some impromptu chat.

Many thanks to Red Hat for letting me attend and sponsoring me, and to Medialab-Prado for being such wonderful hosts.

Written by Debarshi Ray

8 December, 2015 at 11:24

The goats have strayed into GNOME

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Here is a glimpse of what I have been doing lately.

gnome-photos-editing-crop

gnome-photos-editing-filters

The screenshots feature the photo please wait… by Garrett LeSage available under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.

Written by Debarshi Ray

27 November, 2015 at 20:28

Posted in Blogroll, C, Fedora, GNOME, Photos