The big innovation (and controversy) coming out of the Desktop Experience team here at UDS seems to be the new notifications work going on. This is a big concern of mine, as I’ve worked on that code locally, and have definitely wanted to see some progress here for ages. Unfortunately, the upstream is more or less dead or limping due to conflicting time constraints on the lead developer, Christian Hammond.
Weighing in, I think that Canonical’s work here is looking really good, and has a wonderful design, but I do worry about some of the edge cases. The biggest other concern is that no effort until recently was put into contacting Christian Hammond at all, so it’s essentially a fork/reimplementation, even if it is one that makes sense due to upstream’s stagnation (until recent developments). Now that Libnotify and Notification-Daemon are up for proposal for GNOME 2.26, it’s only now that we’re looking into replacing it… It’s both unfortunate and opportunistic of Canonical to pull this out of their hat at UDS.
For those that are not here at UDS Jaunty at Google, it is important to understand some of the changes that we have discussed here. The first of which is the removal of “Actions” from notifications. This means that there will be no more buttons inside the notifications at all. The way that applications currently use libnotify is somewhat abusive to the original spec, where they should query for capabilities and then use an action if the daemon supports it, but changing the daemon now to simply never show actions will likely leave you with notifications that say “Please click the button below”, and there is no button to press. Bugs to be filed, users to scream at us…
Notifications now are simply there to show you the data about what’s happening on your machine. This can happen in two ways; Synchronously, as you press a button like the volume or brightness controls, the notification comes up and shows you the change, and “normally”, how instant messengers like Pidgin with the libnotify plugin currently work.
Instead of having “Actions” inside of the notification window, they will be moved to a panel applet, which will allow you to get to the application in question by clicking it. There have been a lot of discussions on what this panel applet will be like, but it is probably the biggest missing component in the discussion so far, since we haven’t seen any prototypes on it, or what it’s interface will look like. The Design team that’s working on this seems to be doing so behind closed doors and beyond all contact by mere mortals like myself.
So, despite the conflict of the Bazaar vs the Cathedral in the situation we’re in, I’m feeling pretty good about the general work being done. I’m really hoping that I can be a part of it and it won’t be this cabal-like situation where I have to bring patches to Canonical’s door and sacrifice a goat in offering to the Gods of the New Notification Daemon. Or, you know, I could always get off my bum and send my resume in ;).
*: I had planned to insert all kinds of wonderful pictures and a link to the wiki here, but unfortunately Google has outright outlawed the usage of cameras inside the buildings on their campus, and Canonical has to wait for some more design work before the wiki is up. GNOME community developer 0, Enormous Global Companies 2.