It’s all in the small things

A long time ago, in a book whose title I have forgotten, I read something that went like:

Alice: Oh, there’s problems in our relationship, but it’s nothing. Just small things that annoy me.

Bob: Then there’s nothing to be done. Small things are all that matters in the end.

It is, of course, an exaggeration, but one of those that can perhaps hide a deep truth. Maybe because in many cases small things are indicative of bigger problems, or maybe because we very easily take for granted the parts that work and end up obsessing with small details to the point where they ruin the whole experience for us (see: Death by a thousand cuts).

In any case, in the last weeks we Igalians have implemented a few nice improvements in Epiphany, all of which are available in GNOME 3.1.2. Only small things, but they matter.

Spell checking

Spell checking! I know I hate writing long chunks of texts without it, and I’m probably not the only one. We enable the feature by default, and will perform spell check using the languages selected in Preferences→Languages or, if there’s none, the default system language according to GTK+.

But of course knowing that you have made a mistake is only half of the battle. If you right click on the misspelled word you’ll get 4 suggestions from WebKit to use as corrections. Click on any of them and it will replace your blunder.

Warning on leaving pages with unsubmitted forms

A feature that old-time Epiphany users will remember fondly. Has it ever happened to you writing a huge comment on reddit, or perhaps a fantastic resignation letter to your boss, only to accidentally close the tab losing all of it for good? Yeah, me too. We will now detect this unfortunate situation, and warn you one last time before tragedy ensues.

Hide that menubar

An ability I enjoy from our terminal is the possibility of hiding its menubar. It’s nice to regain those pixels if you are rarely using them. Since imitation is the most sincere form of flattery we went ahead and copied the feature almost verbatim. Right click on any chrome area in the browser and you’ll see the option to show or hide the menubar:

When unselected the menubar will just go away, although you can always bring it back by performing the same action again. The result? Well, there’s not a lot more to hide now!

Symbolic icons in the URL entry

Jon McCann (repeatedly) asked for Epiphany to drop its yellow tint in the URL entry for secure sites, and Cosimo Cecchi suggested in a bug that we should also use the new symbolic icons for the security lock. Both great ideas, which combined give us a more modern look.


about: support finally landed, and with it about:plugins. There’s a few more things we should add here, like the full path of the plugin and a checkbox to disable it, but at least now it should be easier for users to figure out whether the browser knows about a particular plugin or not.

Also rumor has it another well-loved about: page made it into the release, but you’ll have to figure out that one for yourselves.

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14 Responses to It’s all in the small things

  1. Juanjo Marin says:

    This is so true!

    With this changes, Epiphany is starting to be appealing for daily use.

  2. Piotr Pyclik says:

    I’d really like to use Epiphany as my main browser, if only it had some decent adblocker… Anyway, menu bar hiding seems to be a great idea, but some shortcut to show it again quickly (maybe ctrl+m?) seems to be necessary.

  3. xan says:

    #2 We are working on a new adblock implementation, hopefully will be done for 3.2.

  4. Moray says:

    Perhaps it’s meant to be a subtle joke about adding and taking away, but that about:epiphany page has a missing space between ‘à’ and ‘ajouter’.

  5. xan says:


    Hah, dammit. Fixed in git!

  6. Bjoern says:

    Great! I really like Epiphany!

    Regarding the spell checking, what I’m still missing is a easy way to change the dictionary (like e.g. in Firefox -> right click -> language). I think I am not the only one who use regularly different languages in such web forms. Most people have at least two languages they use regularly: their native language and English.

    It would be great if Epiphany would support switching the language for spell checking easily. Maybe the default selection can be even chosen from the header of the current HTML page. This would be really nifty.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

  7. Axl says:

    Those are some great additions, I built WebKit 1.5.1 and Epiphany 3.1.2 on a Fedora 15 install and it’s working great!

    I do have a couple of questions, if you don’t mind. 🙂

    1) Is there any way to select the language for spell checking? I’d love to be able to use it with the secondary languages I use (in fact, it’s where I need the feature the most).

    2) Sort of off-topic, but are plugins broken in WebKit 1.5.1? The about:plugins page is working just fine for me, but the plugins don’t actually load.

    3) While bulding WebKit 1.5.1 I noticed the WebKit2 flags available, but they were disabled by default. Should I use WebKit2 with Epiphany? I tried to enable it but then WebKit fails to build.

    Anyway, really awesome work you guys are doing. It had been a while but I’m back with Epiphany in GNOME 3 and I’m loving it. Please keep it up. 🙂

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  8. Bokal says:

    Good work! and good luck keeping improving Epiphany!

    You wrote in your previous post that you want to replace the menubar with the Shell’s global app menu, how is this idea going?

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  9. Jamie says:

    Looks great! I really like the new downloads bar in 3.0 too. But I was wondering if instead of automatically opening downloaded files it would be possible to show a notification? With both an “open file” and an “open containing folder” button, similar to transmission. Just another small thing which would make me <3 epiphany more.

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  10. bochecha says:

    That’s great!

    Spell checking and ad blocker are the two things I missed in Epiphany.

    I just got a new 13″ laptop, so being able to remove the menu bar is an incredibly welcome change! (I never use it anyway)

    Now, about spell checking, like other commenters before me said it, I type frequently in two languages (sometimes a third, and I’m learning a fourth). I find the way Evolution handles it is pretty good:

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  11. xan says:

    To everyone commenting about spellchecking features: yeah, we likely need a few more things built-in by default, others perhaps as extensions. Let’s start opening bugs and (ideally!) sending patches 🙂

    @Bokal: that is an overall GNOME goal for 3.2. I believe at this point it has not advanced much, but we are busy porting Epiphany to GtkApplication, which is a prerequisite for that anyway.

    @Jamie: could be reasonable, please file a bug and let’s discuss it.

    @Axl: flash does not work without npluginwrapper, everything else should! Ephy won’t work with WebKit2 just yet, we’ll announce it when we are done porting it.

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  12. ReinoutS says:

    In fact we did open the containing folder by way of notification for a time. Then when people complained about that we used notifications. Maybe gnome3-style notifications haven’t been implemented yet, though.

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  13. Aldo Mann says:

    Would the spell checking be in conflict with apps that already have one (as Chromium, LibreOffice, and so on)?

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  14. Felix says:

    Why is Epiphany competing with WebKit’s existing spell checking, which already had multiple languages before. Wouldn’t it be nicer to fix that instead and make it work in Liferea, too? 🙁

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