Yelp Love

Sunday we’ll be having a GNOME love day dedicated to Yelp hacking.
Rather than pasting the announcement yet again, here’s the
email thread, and here’s the
FootNotes story.
There’s a lot of low-hanging fruit, and some of our coolest hackers
will be there to help things move along.

Periodic Table Table

(that’s Fleck for the
google-fu) you should check out the
Periodic Table
. It’s a collection of nearly all the elements (well, 109
of them), organized nicely in a custom-built table. Theo Gray, the
creator of the table, has all sorts of fun knicknacks in the frontend
area at Wolfram, which is about three meters from my (comparitively
boring) cubicle. Note also the
, which should excite any mathematician readers.

An Evening with Ian Moore

Made the drive to Chicago to see Ian
(Remember my ten
you’ve never heard of, but should have?) I’ve lost count of how
many times I’ve been to see him. Certain people (namely, my brother and his
wife) have been pestering him about playing in Indy. And Friday, he actually
played in Indiana, but he played in Evansville. Evansfreakingville!
What’s that? You’ve never heard of Evansville? Exactly my point.

Ian has a new CD out, “Luminaria”. Unfortunately, it doesn’t
seem to be on CDBaby yet, so I’ll give
some linkage to the megaconglomco.
Buy Luminaria. Go on, I’ll wait.

On the GNOME front (as if anyone else reads my blog): Yelp is now using
Gecko, James Bowes has done work on getting man pages back in, and I’ll
be making a gnome-doc-utils release this weekend (including Danilo’s
rocking xml2po). Yelp has 102 bugzilla entries.
My goal is to bring it to a dozen for GNOME 2.10. Who wants to share
in the excitement?

Oh, and it’s still not too late to

Vote For Me!

Introducing the all new Inverse Desktop Bounties for Shaun! If you’re
thinking “How can I get Shaun to work on man pages?� or “How can I get
Shaun to work on full text search?�, then this is for you. You can now
cast your vote for what I should work on.

Mind you, voting isn’t free. But it only costs a CD. And besides
supporting free software development, you’ll also be supporting
independant musicians. You can go to bed feeling good about yourself.


A Plea for Help

Today is the 9th, for a little while longer. Tarballs for 2.8.0 are due
on Monday, the 13th. I’m sure everybody is very excited, and rightly so.
But perhaps you find yourself thinking, “Gee, there’s not much to do this
late in the release cycle. I should just kick back and take a well-earned
break, but I can’t. I’m bored!â€? If so, I have a solution: HELP ME.

Currently, I have maintainer approval to commit the following documents,
but have not yet committed new documentation:

  • Bug Buddy Manual
  • Character Map Manual
  • Eye of GNOME Manual
  • Disk Mounter Applet Manual
  • Geyes Applet Manual
  • Inbox Monitor Applet Manual
  • Keyboard Layout Switcher Applet Manual
  • Modem Lights Applet Manual
  • Sticky Notes Applet Manual
  • Stock Ticker Applet Manual
  • System Monitor Applet Manual
  • Volume Control Applet Manual
  • Weather Report Applet Manual
  • Wireless Link Monitor Applet Manual
  • Network Manual Applet Manual
  • GNOME PDF Viewer Manual

The following manuals appear either maintainerless or ostensibly maintained by
the GDP, but I haven’t heard back from the package maintainers:

  • File Roller Manual
  • GNOME Ghostview Manual
  • Aisleriot Manual
  • Glines Manual
  • Gnect Manual
  • Gnometris Manual
  • Iagno Manual
  • GNOME Klotski Manual
  • Mahjongg Manual
  • GNOME Mines Manual
  • Gnibbles Manual
  • GNOME Robots Manual
  • Same-GNOME Manual
  • GNOME Stones Manual
  • Gtali Manual
  • GNOME Tetravex Manual
  • Clock Applet Manual
  • Fish Applet Manual
  • System Monitor Manual
  • Dictionary Manual
  • Floppy Formatter Manual
  • Search for Files Manual
  • System Log Manual
  • GNOME Terminal Manual

We also still don’t have revisions in place for the User’s Guide and System
Administrator’s Guide. That’s 42 documents. Now you know the question.

I have contributed revisions for a number of these. Somebody has to look
them over, add some administrative DocBook crap, and commit them. So far,
that person is me. I don’t have contributions for all of them. Somebody
just has to update the documents.

If you’re feeling bored this weekend, please jump on IRC and give me a hand
in #docs. I could really use some help here.

Generic Names Considered Harmful

In response to Bryan Clark’s Fear
and Loathing in .desktop

Only applications that are a part of the GNOME Desktop should take the
Generic Name in their launcher and title bar, when other applications due
[sic] this it is a bug and yes it *is* confusing. Third party applications
that are installed are not part of the GNOME Desktop and therefore should
have their Product Name displayed to show that they are an addition to what
GNOME already has.

Do let’s keep in mind that it’s not our menu. It’s the
menu. When Epiphany sets its Name to ‘Web Browser’, it shows up that way
in any desktop that uses the menu. If a user is running
KDE, she’ll see Epiphany as Web Browser. If a user is running XFCE, she’ll
see Epiphany as Web Browser. A little pretentious of us, don’t you think?

This is a serious interoperability problem, not to mention the fact that
it completely breaks the specification.
Why does the user have both KDE and GNOME installed, you ask? I don’t know.
Maybe it’s a stock Fedora install, which installs both. Maybe it’s a big
corporate environment or university where the admins have decided that users
can choose which desktop to run. Maybe Unix is a multi-user operating
system. I hate having to remind people that Unix is a multi-user
operating system.

Help – Contents should bring up the Help Browser where it would
display GNOME Email and Calendaring.

Yes, fine, it should. And while we’re at it, Help should contain
more than a single link, and Contents isn’t all that descriptive. But
there is still a listing of available documents. The documentation team
is constantly having to chase the latest whim of how to rename everything
on the desktop. If we call Epiphany ‘Web Browser’, then the listing of
the documentation needs to be ‘Web Browser Manual’ or some such. And the
document itself should talk about ‘Web Browser’. You have effectively
renamed Epiphany to ‘Web Browser’.

That’s fine. We can do that. People haven’t been doing it, but we
can do it. But that brings us right back to the same interoperability
problem. The fact that the documentation systems don’t interoperate
right now is irrelevant. We want them to, and they will just as soon
as I find time to work on it again. Why make things harder for something
that is clearly a good future goal?

Ugh, you *do* know which web browser you have installed just by
looking at them. You have Web Browser, Firefox Web Browser, Galeon Web
Browser, Opera Web Browser, and Mozilla Web Browser. If you’re looking
for Epiphany just get used to the fact that it’s the default, by being
so web browser savvy (i.e. having 5 installed), it would be safe to
assume that you know which one each browser really is.

Again, right back to the multi-user thing. Let’s face it, we’re not
taking over the home market any time soon. Large multi-user deployments
are probably our biggest market right now. I didn’t install five browsers;
my sysadmin did.

Possible Solution the First

One possible solution is that applications always put a real,
honest-to-goodness name in the Name field. Epiphany is ‘Epiphany Web
Browser’. Rhythmbox is ‘Rhythmbox Music Player’. The panel can then
have a list of blessed GNOME application, and display generic names for
those application. That way, Epiphany will show up as ‘Web Browser’
in GNOME, but still show up as ‘Epiphany Web Browser’ in KDE.

But this gives us a magic morphing interface, which as a rule, are
virtually impossible to write documentation for. Now what do I call
Epiphany in the documentation? Epiphany? Web Browser? What does its
listing in ScrollKeeper say?

Possible Solution the Better

Have each application always put a real, honest-to-goodness
name in the Name field. Then, we always display that. But,
at the top of the Internet menu, we can put a faux ‘Web Browser’ entry.
This entry would launch your preferred web browser, which of course
defaults to Epiphany. We can do the same thing with Email. Put the
magic entries at the top of the menu, and maybe make them visually
distinct or something. So Epiphany is still there as Epiphany, but
we also get the nice ‘Web Browser’ thing.

This has the advantage of making the ‘Web Browser’ entry really do
what people expect it to do. It also makes quick, visually distinct
launchers for the common applications. Now I don’t have to look
through a dozen or so items in Internet for Web Browser and Email
(probably the two most common Internet things). I’ve got pretty
launchers right at the top of the menu.

Best of all, we can actually do something with this in documentation.
I could actually do similar cleverness in the documentation listing.
Generally, I can do some rather clever things to the listing of docs,
but there’s not a whole lot I can do to the docs themselves.

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States
This work by Shaun McCance is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States.