GCDS, D-Bus, Telepathy, and other items

Hello, internet! I’m at the Gran Canaria Desktop Summit. I’m a big fan of this “conference beside a beach” concept: interesting people, talks and projects, in the sun beside the Atlantic. There are a *lot* of Collabora people here; the head-count on the roof of the hotel last night exceeded 20, with still more people arriving today (and others stuck in Madrid). As ever, it’s good to catch up with colleagues and others!

Bringing GUADEC and aKademy together seems to have been a partial success. It’s interesting to learn about projects from the other side of the fence, and I’ve had some productive conversations about the state of using Telepathy in KDE. That said, it’s a bit sad that so much of the cross-desktop schedule seemed to be a talk about a GNOME implementation of a concept, followed by a KDE implementation of the same idea. Maybe putting the duplicated effort in people’s faces could help improve matters, but that seems unlikely.

Earlier today I gave a talk about profiling and optimizing D-Bus APIs (grab the slides!), including Bustle, a D-Bus visualization and profiling tool I’ve written to help visualize bus activity and find issues. I think it went quite well, and it lead to some interesting questions and discussions afterwards. In the talk, I mentioned a few examples of sub-ideal API design in other frameworks, but largely focused on the problems we’ve found in the Telepathy API, and how we’ve gone about fixing them. A couple of people mentioned that this might have reinforced the impression that Telepathy is really hard to use, which was not what I intended at all! On the contrary, the improvements I talked about have made Telepathy a lot more developer-friendly than it was when I first got involved: both the D-Bus API (if you ignore the deprecated bits) and the higher-level client-side convenience libraries (telepathy-glib and telepathy-qt4) have become significantly easier to use. It’s telling that a lot of the changes that have made developers’ lives easier have also made the D-Bus API more efficient, sane, and correct.

Of course, there’s still room for improvement. As I mentioned, contact lists are quite awkward to work with, which is a shame because most Telepathy UIs would like to use contact lists. :-) libempathy-gtk has a couple of contact list widgets you could reuse, some of which I’d like to see in a smaller, API-stable libtelepathy-gtk; I hear that there’s talk to extract the Python contact list widget that’s being written for GNOME Games to a library that other Pythonic Telepathy applications (such as pyhallebard for which I can’t find a website right now — thanks Anonymous!) could use.

In other news, Tracker 0.7 sounds (among other things) like a potential solution to the silly unfortunate situation where every music player uses its own library database, and thus your DAAP server either needs a separate database or to be built into your music player. Mojito looks pretty interesting; I’d love to see a UI for it on my desktop. It annoys me that I have to check so many disjoint sources at the moment. It might be nice if it could show me blog post titles from my LiveJournal or Facebook contacts; I suppose I should start hacking. :)