The Web comes to GNOME, ready or not

Last week, together with GNOME 3.0, we released Epiphany 3.0. This is the result of many months of work (our last stable release was Epiphany 2.30 in May 2010), so I think a few lines about our present and our future are in order.

Epiphany 3.0

Yes, the Bluetooth/Network icons are all wrong. Sorry Jon.

It’s always hard to summarize months or development in a few lines, but one can always try:

  • Epiphany 3.0 uses the (soon to be released) WebKitGTK+ 1.4.0. I’ll write a blog post focusing on WebKit when 1.4.0 is out of the door, but some of the highligts of the release would be: GObject DOM bindings, already used by Epiphany and other GNOME apps. HTTP cache implementation, moved into libsoup later in the cycle. GTK+ 3.x support, which we laboriously kept going through all the development cycle. New APIs for plugin management, icon database and frame flattening, among others. HTML5 media support for fullscreen mode, volume management, cookies and Referer. A ton of bugfixes all across the board, from DnD, a11y, networking, and graphics performance to leak fixes, clipboard handling, history, theming and forms. WebKit 1.4.0 just works a lot better, and you’ll notice the minute you start using Epiphany 3.0.
  • UI refinements all over the place: we use a GtkInfobar to inform of session restoration, a Chrome-like floating statusbar (implemented with GeditOverlay) instead of the pixel-eating traditional GtkStatusbar, we let the old, big and hardcoded EphySpinner go, new and nicer custom error pages, …
  • The download UI was completely rewritten to fit better in the Shell. No more status icons and floating windows, we now show ongoing download information in a unobtrusive bottom bar.
  • We took the GSettings migration as an opportunity to improve a bit our settings. In particular I think we have made the font defaults saner for the modern world, and hopefully people will be happier with how their pages look.

There’s still some small details that we want to improve for 3.0, so stay tuned for 3.0.1 (and more!) soon.

Epiphany 3.2

But we are not resting on our laurels! We are already busy planning and working on the features you’ll see in GNOME 3.2, 6 months from now:

  • One of the main themes of the release will be further integration of the browser with the new GNOME UI and design. We are still in the brainstorming phase, but some of the front runners are replacing our menubar with the Shell’s global app menu (more space for your web content!) or integrating our tab/window management into the Shell user experience.
  • A desktop that does not consider the Web a first class citizen in 2011 is not a modern desktop. For 3.2 we are going to bring your favorite web applications into the spotlight: hi-res launchers with custom .desktop files, separate epiphany instance per application, minimal chrome-less UI, and much more. Also, we have proposed this as one of the GSoC ideas for GNOME in 2011.
  • We are also resurrecting the old idea of killing EphyNode and moving our bookmarks and history storage to something like sqlite, which should give us a much more faster and responsive experience. Martin and I are committed to get this working before I leave the Bay Area in May, so if by that date you see me around and this is not in master or in a git branch you can punch me in the face. Really.

One more thing

A year ago, almost to the day, the WebKit2 initiative was announced. As the project page says,WebKit2 aims to bring the split process model popularized by Google Chrome into the WebKit framework in a way that will allow all ports to benefit from the increased responsiveness, security and stability. At Igalia we have always been interested in bringing this new technology to our GTK+ port, and only a few days ago the last batch of patches in a long series finally landed upstream, allowing everyone to build the GTK+ version of WebKit2 directly from SVN trunk (you can read more details in Alex’s blog post!). We believe a split process model has quickly become a must-have for modern browsers, so we want to announce our commitment to port Epiphany to WebKit2 as soon as it is ready, and make this the default and only configuration available, as in Chrome. We are aiming to have an early alpha to show at GUADEC this year, and we’ll try to deliver a production ready version as early as GNOME 3.4, in 2012. We hope you’ll all be as excited as we are about this new stage in the history of the GNOME browser!

Until next time, happy hacking from your favorite band of gnome web hackers.

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19 Responses to The Web comes to GNOME, ready or not

  1. Bokal says:

    Hi,

    First, thank you for this amazing browser that Epiphany is.

    Thanks for working on the screen real estate problem for the 3.2 release, that’s my main concern with Epiphany right now.

    (and the lack of Feedly extension but I doubt you can do anything about it)

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  2. tobias says:

    and what about a long overdue plugin architecture, so that a otr plugin can finally be implemented?

    that would be nice.

    tobias

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  3. xan says:

    @tobias: I suspect you are confusing Epiphany with Empathy.

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  4. nona says:

    I wonder what’s going to happen with Ephy’s Bookmarks. To be honest, I’ve stopped using my bookmarks a few releases ago, they’re more a pain to maintain (taggings etc) and google is most often faster these days.

    I’d suggest either ripping it out, or creating a system where you don’t need to tag anymore, but where it’s more or less indexed and organised automatically (pulled out of text, meta tags, and most commonly typed in tags if they apply etc). The autocomplete could then do a spotlight-like distinction between history, bookmarks, and google auto-suggest search results.

    Other niggles I can think of:
    – use of .gnome2/* instead of XDG_*_DIRs (maybe that’s fixed in 3.0?)
    – certain sites have extremely slow rendering/scrolling performance (maybe fixed with webkit 1.4?)
    – session management could be better, but this applies to the whole of Gnome (why don’t we have any proper cross-desktop/GTK based session management saving/restore all state on exit/startup?). I abuse Firefox’s private mode to have an alternate session I can switch to. But maybe something like this would be more for a Ephy plugin.

    Aside from that Epiphany is still by far my favourite browser.

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  5. Bertel says:

    When can we expect working flash with Epiphany? I am aware that the problem is the flash plugin not currently working with gtk3. I could get by with Epiphany as it is now if it could just play video.

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  6. Evandro says:

    Congrats guys, Epiphany 3.0 is awesome. I can’t wait for the future versions, the future looks very bright!

    Quick question about WebKit: does it support plugins with the gtk3 build? Fedora 15 ships 1.3.14 against gtk2 and gtk3, and only the gtk2 version recognizes and uses plugins. I was wondering if it’s a Fedora bug or not.

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  7. tobias says:

    ehm.. yes, indeed :).

    sorry for the noise…

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  8. Julian Aloofi says:

    The new Epiphany is looking really good. Great work! :)

    Now as you’re mentioning that you’re about to move the bookmark and history storage to something else, I think it would be pretty awesome if Epiphany had the ability to sync with Weave (Firefox Sync) servers. The server as well as client side is Free Software :)

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  9. Arash M says:

    Very Nice! I really like epiphany 3.0!
    It would be so nice if it could shrink tabs a little when tab bar is full like other browsers.
    continue the great job!

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  10. jeff says:

    Thank you for *finally* tackling the “one process per tab” paradigm.

    It’s an absolute must have. This has the potential to win me back from Chromium.

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  11. kad says:

    @xan he might be confused, but we still need a sane extensions/plugins framework for epiphany. The existing extensions have been sadly neglected for far too long imho.

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  12. Sam Thursfield says:

    This is awesome stuff, looking forward to using it.

    Why not add an option to store bookmarks and history in Tracker?

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  13. James says:

    How does the default epiphany layout (assuming that is what is shown in the screenshot) not include the +/- buttons by default. i thought these were what made it gold :)

    Thanks for epiphany!

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  14. Ole Laursen says:

    Looking forward to trying it out!

    Now we’re at the wishlist, I would be neat if you could fix the focus stealing bug. Havoc Pennington opened a report long time ago, it was fixed in the Gecko days, but with Webkit it’s back:

    https://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=151943

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  15. Gustavo Noronha says:

    Rock ‘n Roll! You guys are my heroes =)

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  16. Leif says:

    “I think we have made the font defaults saner for the modern world”

    Really? When I tested the 3.0 release I found the minimum font size *far* too small still. This has been an issue for many years now. The font size is out of touch with the rest of the desktop font sizes. For example fonts on gmail are unbearably small by default and require me to zoom (+) twice just to read email. I believe what I’m referring to is bug 596396 which is still open.

    https://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=596396

    Any chance of this bug getting some love?

  17. Bob says:

    All these changes look great.

    How about WebGL support. Is that also in the works?

    I hope that all these changes will not make epiphany unstable.

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  18. JotaEle says:

    Epiphany 3.0 is fast, neat and beautiful! Congratulations!

    Epiphany 3.0 estas rapida, neta kaj bela! Gratulon! (eo)

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  19. Marcoscan says:

    Epiphany is my browser of choice, even more with 3.0 :-)
    It would be perfect if only there was a “vimperator-like” extension :-)
    No plans about it?

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