The GNOME Shell crew are busy cooking up a tonne of improvements and new features for the next release. Plenty of things have already landed and there’s much more in the pipeline, so I thought it was time for a bit of a review of what’s been happening. This is also a nice sneak preview of what’s coming in 3.2.
Integrated chat and messaging
Amazing work going on here, largely thanks to Guillaume Desmottes. From 3.2, GNOME 3 will have fully integrated chat and messaging. This means that the system will be able to automatically log you into chat and messaging services without you needing to launch a separate application, and you will be able to take calls, reply to chat and room invitations as well as file transfers from the shell itself. Much of this has already been implemented, including a decent chunk of backend work.
Jasper St. Pierre has added notification counters to items in the message tray. This means that it will be possible to see how many emails are waiting for you without having to go to your email client, or how many messages you have missed in a particular chat. Guillaume Desmottes has also contributed to this work.
Persistent workspace switcher
Florian Müllner has changed the behaviour of the workspace switcher so that it now stays extended when you are using more than one workspace. Having tested this feature for a while, I have to say that it works really well and makes using workspaces feel much more natural.
Pretty window picker
An effort is currently being made to improve the appearance of the window selector part of the activities overview. The window thumbnails are being given stylish new decorations, which are already looking nice thanks to Maxim Ermilov. Here’s a sneak preview of his current work in progress:
New login dialogs
Ray Strode is busy working on new fully integrated login dialogs for GNOME 3. These will be super-slick and have the same style as the rest of GNOME Shell.
These are the mockups (no pressure, Ray )
Edit: check out Ray’s new post showing off the new login dialog (and don’t miss the video). Here’s a teaser:
As a part of the messaging integration work, Alban Crequy and Jonny Lamb have added typing notification support to GNOME Shell, so that people who you are chatting with can see when you are entering a reply into a notification bubble.
Integrated contacts search
Morten Mjelva is working on this for his GSoC project, and it is one part of the integrated contacts framework that will feature in 3.2. It means that you will be able to search for contacts from the same place that you search for applications, recent documents, settings, and so on.
This is one of the mockups he’s currently working from:
Clocks for multiple time zones
Adding the ability to display the time for different places around the world is the focus of Stéphane Maniaci, who has been keeping us posted on the GNOME Shell mailing list. I know this a feature that a lot of people want to see, and it sounds like his work is proceeding well.
User menu improvements
This is another Florian Müllner effort. He’s working to ensure that the user menu gives a richer and more consistent representation of the user, and to introduce a toggle switch for a ‘Do not disturb’ mode. The functionality for do not disturb was included in 3.0 but it wasn’t fully present in the UI. When ‘Do not disturb’ is enabled, your messaging status will be switched to busy (if you are available) and only important notifications will be displayed. This will be a great little feature.
Here’s a screenshot of Florian’s work in progress:
Google Calendar integration
The drop down calendar now has Google Calendar integration, thanks to David Zeuthen’s work on GNOME Online Accounts.
Easier window resizing
One item that has been on the wish list for some time and which has finally been fixed is making it easier to grab the edge of a window in order to resize it. To make this happen, Jasper St. Pierre has added wider invisible borders to windows.
Pretty rounded window corners
Another item that has been on the wish list for some time are properly rendered rounded window corners. It sounds like a small thing, but getting this right will make the desktop look a whole lot nicer. And Jasper’s working on it.
Integrated on-screen keyboard
More GSoC goodness, this time from Nohemi Fernandez who has been working hard on creating a nice integrated on-screen keyboard. She already blogged about this, which means I can steal one of her screenshots.
Hot plug hotness
You may have read about this on Cosimo’s blog, but he’s already a way along with making device hot plugging work nicely with the shell. Once this work is completed, you will get proper notifications when you plug-in a removable device, like this one:
And finally, Owen Taylor, GNOME Shell’s intrepid leader, has been doing some research on making performance even better. You can read more about that on his blog.
I’m sure there are things that I’ve missed. There’s lots of minor fixing and tweaking going on, and there are bound to be other improvements before the next release. As you can see though, this is already an impressive amount of work which makes me really excited for 3.2.