Maps and clocks and contact locations

Once upon a time, three intrepid individuals made Empathy publish your location to your contacts, and show your contacts’ locations on a map. Today, I noticed that the Location tab is missing from Preferences—I guess Debian’s Empathy is built without GeoClue support for some reason—and as a result the map looks rather forlorn, what with none of my contacts publishing their location:

Empathy's empty Contact Map View window

A map is an obvious demo to build, but I don’t think it’s that useful (even when it had more than zero contacts on it, I never looked at it).1 So what would be more useful? For starters, here’s some “relevant art” from Skype, showing a contact’s local time in their tooltip:

Raúl's Skype tooltip shows it's 6am where he is.

Adding that to Empathy might be a useful first step. But unlike Skype, it’s possible to use this information outside the IM app. So, if I spend a lot of time chatting to friends in Melbourne and New York, why not automatically add those timezones to GNOME Clocks? (The last two mock-ups in that section look particularly bare—perhaps the names of some contacts could show up in the space where “local time” does for Boston.)

For this to be useful, of course, someone would have to fix the publishing of location information in the first place. But if fixing it produced a more compelling feature than a map, it would not be such a thankless task.

  1. Top designers agree! To quote Allan Day, “I could live without contacts on a map ;)”. []


#1 Philip on 05.11.12 at 2:20 pm, perchance?

#2 Will Thompson on 05.11.12 at 2:22 pm

@Philip: That looks like the kind of thing that would help do this well.

#3 Jonny Lamb on 05.11.12 at 3:41 pm

I think this is a very good idea, how did you think of it? I have submitted a patch to the XEP for user location:

#4 Carlos on 05.14.12 at 4:36 am

Muy bueno.

#5 Henri Bergius on 05.14.12 at 11:21 am

IIRC, the main problem with the user location XEP is that popular XMPP servers like Google Talk don’t support it.

Other than that, it would be great to finally have GNOME become more location-aware! This allows great things, as outlined in

This is an area I’ve been trying to push for years…

#6 Will Thompson on 05.14.12 at 11:28 am

@Henri: Yes, Google not supporting PEP is an issue. It might be interesting to engineer some kind of fallback to a Gnome-controlled PubSub server, to allow people to continue using their Google account but gain these nifty features.

#7 suvi on 05.21.12 at 1:13 pm

looks great, I hope it works fullscreen as well