Quo vadis, Epiphany

It’s time for a brief (and late!) recap of some of the most notorious things we did in Epiphany for 2.30, and a short update on what’s already happening in the road to 3.0.


For 2.30 we focused on fixing all the regressions introduced by the switch to WebKit in 2.28. Overall we did a pretty good job, and there’s only a few things missing to reach the no-regressions goal. Here’s everything that used to work in 2.26, didn’t work in 2.28 and that we fixed for 2.30: middle-click to open clipboard contents, bring back our old context menus, up arrow functionality, do a web search with the URL entry contents on Ctrl+Enter too, EphyEmbedSingle::handle-content signal for external download managers, favicon support, send HTTP ‘Accept-Language’ headers with the user language preferences, custom User-Agent support, javascript: and mailto: URI support, close and movement DOM methods for window, shift+click in text areas, and, yes, form authentication auto-completion.


OK, so that’s a lot of stuff, but we were not happy with only bringing back old functionality, we also made some improvement here and there:

GNOME Keyring storage for form auths + Infobar goodness:

In 2.30 not only all your form authentication data is stored in the keyring, but we walked the extra mile to migrate the data in the gecko profile to the new format (not a particularly funny thing to do) and we now show a shiny infobar each time you are about to submit never-seen-before data:

Page cache

After much painful debugging we managed to make the Page Cache support in WebKitGTK+ stable enough for widespread usage. These means that when a page passes some preconditions its whole in-memory representation will be saved for some time, making going back to it with the Back/Forward button blindingly fast. Fast is Good.

Favicons in the Tab Menu:

Back in 2007 I opened a bug suggesting to put favicons next to the page titles in our Tabs menu, arguing that this would make it much much easier to identify a certain page when you have lots of tabs opened; having said that, I promised to attach a patch with the fix “soonish”.

3 years and one week later Olivier Tilloy probably got fed up of waiting and decided to just send a patch himself, making our lives (well, at least mine) much better:

Hey, can you see the bug in that screenshot? An opportunity to contribute!

Disable all plugins at runtime:

Back in the day all you could do in Epiphany was to disable the Java plugin, which nowadays is, to say the least, a feature of questionable usefulness. What we all want to do, surely, is to disable Flash unless we actually need to use it, right? Actually, make it all plugins in general, just in case:


And what about the next release? We haven’t stopped working. In fact at Igalia we are increasing our commitment with the platform, and we are growing the team: Alejandro García is working on rendering performance and in reminding everyone how many years it takes to get anything done in software, always; Sergio Villar is working on libsoup, aiming to finish the disk-cache for 3.0; Mario Sánchez is focused on our accessibility support, fixing bugs left and right (with the help of two of our interns, Diego Escalante and José Millán); Philippe keeps rocking on the media front, and our most recent hiring, Martin Robinson is rewriting and improving our DnD support so fast that it’s hard to keep track of it! Oh, and yeah, myself I’m still working on the GObject DOM bindings, a new post about all the new features I’ve added these past weeks is way overdue.

And what about Epiphany? For the next release (due on Wednesday) you can expect a bunch of bugfixes and some UI improvements. One that I’m enjoying a lot is something I implemented last week; I finally got rid of our statusbar for good, and now by default we’ll show contextual messages in a Chrome-like embedded statusbar (which we already had, but that I have reimplemented and made visible by default):

More vertical space for web content, less code!

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17 Responses to Quo vadis, Epiphany

  1. aklapper says:

    Partially offtopic, but any plans to push sealing of WebKit’s GTK+ bindings in https://bugs.webkit.org/show_bug.cgi?id=37851 for GNOME 3?

  2. xan says:


    Sure, we’ll get to that before 3.0.

  3. Luis Matos says:

    cool stuff … as always. GREAT

  4. Paul Wise says:

    Here is a crash you might want to fix in 2.30:


    In addition I can’t drag URLs to gnome-terminal any more 🙁

  5. foo says:

    How about adding stuff to allow galeon users to switch?

  6. mrmcq2u says:

    Will the fullscreen html5 video dom/javascript implementation be in the next release?

  7. Hylke says:

    Great! I’ve always like epiphany because it was so simple, but it took up a lot of precious vertical sceen space. One thing though: can you give the statusbar some padding? The url is a bit hard to read. 🙂

  8. antistress says:

    All that is very cool stuff but i still can’t switch to epiphany without having sensible session saving !
    See also http://mso-chronicles.blogspot.com/2010/05/why-im-still-on-f12.html


  9. philn says:

    @mrmcq2u: Work on fullscreen HTML5 video is in progress, no ETA though 🙂

  10. ethana2 says:

    I used Epiphany for a year or two and tried Midori time and time again, but I’ve been on Chrome since the day it came out for Ubuntu.

    Chrome is a paranoid browser for Windows users. The overkill security is a constant inconvenience and the incompatibility with gnome-globalmenu and RGBA translucency is exceedingly annoying.

    Implement a JIT and put tabs on top using a native GTK notebook widget and you’ve got a loyal user back.

    There is a lot Chrome does right, but a jack of all platforms is a master of none. All you’ve got to do is catch up, and you’re looking at what I like to call.. “the gnome court advantage.”

  11. Sven Arvidsson says:

    My Eee with its glorious number of 480 vertical pixels is especially grateful for the new statusbar 🙂

    Are there any plans for improving the Adblock extension? It’s really the only thing that still makes me pine for Firefox Iceweasel.

  12. xan says:

    @Hylke: your wish is granted, just did that in master.

  13. Stephen Gentle says:

    Why get rid of the status bar? I think it should at least be an option. That stupid pop up thing is #2 on the list of reasons I can’t stand to use Chrome…

  14. pt says:

    how does it handle the mousewheel scroll, as Gnome doesn’t provide a setting to change the number of linees scrolled.

  15. My thanks for the Epiphany developers for all their hard work, and for this blog post.

    Currently I’m still using Firefox, because there are two things keeping me from throwing Firefox out of the door, which I’d love to do. That is, Epiphany still has no search engine shortcuts/keywords. A seven year old bug can be found for this here – https://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=118618 – in the GNOME Bugzilla. Every browser I know of has this feature now, which enables you to do Ctrl+L, type ‘g epiphany’ to do a Google search for epiphany for example. Of course asking is easy, but this feature doesn’t seem difficult or time-consuming to implement.

    Besides that, I hope something can be done to remove the menu bar and hide it as a compact menu under a button, which could be located at the same line the adress bar is on. Look at Google Chrome (or rekonq). This way you can save more vertical space, and the menu bar is barely used anyway. Of course I realise there is the GNOME HIG, but I hope a way can be found to implement it.

    If I don’t switch to KDE (then rekonq would be my browser of choice) I’ll definetely switch to Epiphany once it has matured some more. Please keep up the good work.

  16. Danilo says:

    Xan, I love epiphany: it’s the sole browser I’ve been using since it was created, and more and more GNOME integration keeps me convinced that it was the right choice.

    Regarding searches: just doing Ctrl+L typing “epiphany” and pressing enter does a Google search for me. For other stuff smart bookmarks are just enough.

    I am having some issues with password saving: there are some websites where I have multiple accounts and that’s still not working (it is a regression compared to gecko based epiphany).

    Also, some crashes (which might be partially my fault, since I am using webkit with pango backend) destroy a bunch of saved passwords and bookmarks for me. I know this is not useful input, but as soon as I have some time to attach gdb to crashed epiphany I’ll post some more.

    Anyway, great work, and keep at it 🙂

  17. I like 2.30.2 fine, but the only reason I’m still using is smart bookmark input fields in bookmark toolbars.
    A few things that would make Ephy truly great:

    * Selective Flash blocking / whitelisting (extensions come back!)
    * Type-ahead-find (for links. extensions again!)
    * Chrome speeds 🙂
    * Customization of middle mouse button behaviour

    I thnk that’s t…oh, and the bug where the letter “i” (copy and pasted) stops workng after a whle 😛 Truly bzarre. Only happens n Epphany, but mght not be t’s fault of course… (good tmng, bug!)

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