After exploring new territory with sharing and non-destructive editing over the last two releases, it was time for some introspection. We looked at some of the long-standing problems within our existing feature set and tried to iron out a few of them.
It was high time that we overhauled our old GtkIconView-based overview grids. Their inability to reflow the thumbnails leads to a an ugly vertical gutter of empty space unless the window is just the right size. The other problem was performance. GtkIconView gets extremely slow when the icons are updated, which usually happens when content is detected for the first time and start getting thumbnailed.
Fixing this has been a recurrent theme in Photos since the middle of the previous development cycle. The end goal was to use a GtkFlowBox-based grid, but it involved a lot more work than replacing one user interface component with another.
Too many things relied on the existence of a GtkTreeModel, and had to be ported to our custom GListModel implementation before we could achieve any user-visible improvement. Once all those yaks had been shaved, we finally started working on the widget at the Core Apps Hackfest last year.
Anyway, I am happy that all that effort has to come fruition now.
Closely related to our overview grids are the thumbnails inside them. Photos has perpetually suffered from GIO’s inability to let an application specifically request a high resolution thumbnail. While that is definitely a fixable problem, the fact that we store our edits non-destructively as serialized GEGL graphs makes it very hard to use the desktop-wide infrastructure for thumbnails. One cannot expect a generic thumbnailer to interpret the edits and apply them to the original image because their representation will vary greatly from one application to another. That led to the other problem where the thumbnails wouldn’t reflect the edited state of an image.
Therefore, starting from version 3.24.0, Photos has its own out-of-process thumbnailer and a separate thumbnail cache. They ensure that the thumbnails are of a suitably high resolution, and the edited state of an image is never ignored.
Exposure and Blacks
Personally, I have been a heavy user of Darktable’s exposure and blacks adjustment tool, and I really missed something like that in GNOME Photos. Ultimately, at this year’s WilberWeek I fixed gegl:exposure to imitate its Darktable counterpart, and exposed it as a tool in Photos. I am happy with the outcome and I have so far enjoyed dogfooding this little addition.
I joined the recent buzz around Flatpak manifests in GNOME, and gave the GNOME Photos builds some routine maintenance. The stable build has been updated to the latest 3.22.x point releases; and the nightly, which I had broken, is again tracking Git master.
To install the stable build:
$ flatpak remote-add --from gnome https://sdk.gnome.org/gnome.flatpakrepo
$ flatpak remote-add --from gnome-apps https://sdk.gnome.org/gnome-apps.flatpakrepo
$ flatpak install gnome-apps org.gnome.Photos
To install the nightly:
$ flatpak remote-add --from gnome-nightly https://sdk.gnome.org/gnome-nightly.flatpakrepo
$ flatpak remote-add --from gnome-apps-nightly https://sdk.gnome.org/gnome-apps-nightly.flatpakrepo
$ flatpak install gnome-apps-nightly org.gnome.Photos
They can be run directly from gnome-shell. However, if you have installed both stable and nightly builds, then you can specifically select one by:
$ flatpak run --branch=stable org.gnome.Photos
$ flatpak run --branch=master org.gnome.Photos
Almost four years ago, in GNOME 3.12, the ability to have custom terminal titles was removed from gnome-terminal. As is wont to happen, users who dealt with scores of similar looking terminal tabs and windows were quick to express their grief at this loss.
Thankfully, a year ago, Christian partly restored it by bringing back the
--title command line option. It helped, but it still wasn’t enough.
Anyway, the good news is that custom terminal titles have been restored in their entirety since Fedora 25.
I must point out that this is a downstream patch carried by Fedora. If you want, you can ask your distributor to include it. Versions of the patch applicable to different GNOME branches can be found in this Git tree.
For the past three days, I am in El Bruc, a little village on the side of Montserrat near Barcelona, for WilberWeek — the annual retreat for members of the GIMP and GEGL communities. We have rented out half of the Can Serrat art residency for 10 days of good food, idyllic surroundings, sedated discussions and a bit of moody hacking.
So far, I have spent my time eating paella; understanding the nuances of non-destructive image editing from Øyvind Kolås; walking in the countryside; and poring over Darktable and Shotwell to learn the workings of various “exposure and blacks” tools and get RAW decoding right. I have vague expectations that this will greatly improve the image editing experience in GNOME Photos.
I am grateful to the GIMP project for inviting me and sponsoring my stay, and especially to Jehan Pagès and Aryeom for coming all the way to Barcelona to pick me up.
Tl;dr: update evolution-data-server to stop your client from misbehaving; update gnome-online-accounts to shield yourself from other buggy clients.
Recently, a few bugs in evolution-data-server were causing various GNOME components to hit Google’s daily limit for their CalDAV and Tasks APIs. At least evolution, gnome-calendar and gnome-todo were affected. The bugs have since been fixed, but until every single user out there installs the fix, everybody will be susceptible even if they have a fixed copy of evolution-data-server. This is because Google identifies the clients by the OAuth 2.0 API key used to access their services, and not the version of the code running on them.
We are therefore phasing out the old Google API key used by GNOME so that users updating their systems will have no connection to the one that was tainted by these bugs.
If you are using Fedora 25, make sure you have evolution-data-server-3.22.3-1.fc25 and gnome-online-accounts-3.22.3-1.fc25. For Fedora 24, the versions are evolution-data-server-3.20.6-1.fc24 and gnome-online-accounts-3.20.5-1.fc24.
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.
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.
Out of a mojito bar in South Beach with a lobotomised plastic picnic spoon and a crew of control freaks.
3.22 is here
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.
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.
Thanks to Kalev Lember for the wonderful screenshot.
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:
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.