Wishlist: Evolution Instant Messaging integration

Apart from the missing code required to sync evolution-data-server’s contacts with Empathy (Nat once wrote an Evolution plugin for Pidgin but nowadays Empathy and the Telepathy stack are official part of the GNOME platform) I’ve spent an evening a few weeks ago thinking about how I’d expect integration of Instant Messaging in the Contacts User Interface of Evolution while having a beer in my favorite club. Calling the currently available options poor is an euphemism – they simply do not exist. Evolution developers have neither plans nor time to work on such stuff for Evolution 2.30 so I was in the mood to come up with some mockups of what I’d expect.

Sometimes I wish GNOME had a bounty program (either separate or integrated in Bugzilla) so I could say “If you code this as an Evolution Plugin and it gets accepted by maintainers you get xxx EUR”. That idea is obviously still missing mentors that help the coder with implementation issues though.

Evolution Mail Composer

Current Dropdown:

Current Evolution Mail Composer

New Dropdown:

New Evolution Mail Composer

New Context Menu:

New Evolution Mail Composer Context Menu

Evolution Contacts

Currently:

Current Evolution Contacts

New, with context menus:

New Evolution Contacts with Context Menus

18 Responses to “Wishlist: Evolution Instant Messaging integration”

  1. Michael says:

    I agree that this would be nice but before it can happen, Empathy needs to support the concept of meta-contacts, e.g. more than one account per contact.

    Also, this reminds me now *bad* the current icons in Empathy are. New ones are already in gnome-icon-theme for 3.0, hopefully the will be used by Empathy…

  2. Peter Robinson says:

    You also miss the ability to call them or if they are offline to also text/sms them. I’m not sure what moblin does with the integration between social networks, evolution-data-server, telepathy etc. I think mojito does some of that. It would be nice to see a lot more cross integration of communication mediums.

  3. bochecha says:

    In the same vein, it would be nice to have integration between Empathy and the « About me » dialog.

    Currently, I have 2 accounts in Empathy. My personal informations remain desperately void…

    Of course, that might not be as useful as the integration with Evolution you’re talking about, but it would still bring more consistency in the desktop :)

  4. The mockups look sweet! All seems very doable once we catch our breath after 2.30.

  5. foo says:

    This whole “separate software for separate communication protocols” idea is completely fucking wrong. There shouldn’t be evolution and empathy, you should open your people folder in nautilus and click one of “send longer message”, “send instant message”, “call”, “video call”. People should be first class objects on the desktop, NOT APPLICATIONS. FAIL

  6. pinky says:

    I like the Contacs mockup. In the contact I shoul definitely see the online status of the user and decided if I want to write a mail, a SMS, start a text chat, a voice chat, etc.

    But mail composer mockup doesn’t feel right to me yet. If I decided to write a mail, why should I choose in the To-header an IM address and than use the context menu of the To-entry-flied to start a chat? You also wouldn’t do it the other way arround: Open a chat window, right click in the chat text entry field and choose “I want to write a mail”. If you want to write a mail you will go straight to the mail appilcation. But while typing I see one scenario where this cvould make sense. Imagine I have a chat session with a friend and we start talking about a topic where I should forward a mail to him, write him a more detailed text about the topic than a short chat message than I could say “Wait a minute I will send a/the mail to you”. Now it would be nice to trigger this task directly out of the chat window.
    But back to the Mail Composer. Here I don’t see such a scenario, especially not which would be worth to clutter the To-filed and the context menu like in the mockup. Maybe a simple option in the right click menu of the to filed which says “write instant message”, “write sms”, “call person” would be enough without choosing the IM, phone,… address in the To field and than go to the context menu. If there is only one IM, phone,… address for the contact this simple menu could start the chat, call,… session straight ahead. If there are more addresses It could still than provide you a list of addresses.

    What I could imagine which would be really useful: If I start writing a message to foo and he is online than it would be nice if the Mail Composer would notify me somehow about this so that I can decide to start a direct chat instead of writing a mail. A popup would probably be to bothersome in the long run but maybe a “online status” directly beside the to, cc, bcc filed or something like that wich allows me to start a chat session by clicking on it.

    Just some idea and thoughts. I hope you find the useful.

  7. aklapper says:

    @pinky: Thanks! I don’t spend much time in the Contacts view as my work is heavily mail-centered. If I add a new contact I still keep the mail view. If I send somebody an email I use the autocompletion feature in the composer. That’s my motivation to clutter the Composer – I want to send a message to the person and while choosing the name from the dropdown I realize that the person is online. I agree that realizing this earlier, before opening a composer window, would be great, but as I don’t use the Contacts view I see no other way to display this piece of info to me.

  8. miik says:

    exactly, evolution/empathy should be merged.

    why not use IM (XMPP for example) for mail-long messages?
    do not make the user think about the protocol.

    hopefully Wave will bring a change here.

  9. aklapper says:

    Words are easy, but I don’t see any merge happening in the next years with regard to available manpower. :-)
    Google Wave is very interesting, I agree.

  10. Olivier Le Thanh says:

    The famous quest for the unification of contacts in the whole Gnome desktop.
    The Galago, Solyant, Gimmie, People, .. projects all tried to achieves that in their own way. Sadly it seems that all of them are abandoned now.

  11. pinky says:

    @aklapper:

    One option would be not to add all IM addresses of the persons into the To-field of the mail composer but just an online status widget directly next to the To-field.
    The To-field than shows only email addresses, because that’s what probably most users expect from their mail composer. Once you selected a mail address evolution looks in the address book for possible IM addresses. If the contact has one ore more IM addresses Evolution checks the online status and set the online status widget accordingly.

    This way you also see if a contact to whom you wirte a mail is online and can than decide to contact him via IM, e.g. by clicking the online status widget.

  12. Paul Johnson says:

    Now can we get integration between Evolution and an IM client other than Pidgin? I’d like to synchronize to Gajim.

  13. aklapper says:

    @Paul Johnson: Sure, just write that plugin.

  14. pvanhoof says:

    It’s called Nepomuk Contact Ontology (http://www.semanticdesktop.org/ontologies/nco/). For IM support (availability status, for example) we’d need to add some definitions on top of this, though. At the desktopsummit I had some initial discussions about this with a few Telepathy guys.

    The way for Evolution, any application, to query this would then be SPARQL.

  15. Srini says:

    Andre,

    IIRC, in 2003 there was a GNOME/Novell bounties and one of them was for this. There was a nice mock/animated image. Also a patch to work with ‘Gaim’ and Evo’s auto-completion was there. But it was broken later.

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