Re: Gnome 3 Extensions/Themes Website?

On Fri, Jun 10, 2011 at 6:25 AM, Allan Day <allanpday gmail com> wrote:
> Jasper St. Pierre wrote:
>> Welp, I was going to have a thread announcing my work on this, but I
>> guess I'll just hijack this one.
> I knew this was on the cards but I have to say that I am surprised that
> it is actually being pursued in this form.
> Facilitating the unrestricted use of extensions and themes by end users
> seems contrary to the central tenets of the GNOME 3 design. We've fought
> long and hard to give GNOME 3 a consistent visual appearance, to make it
> synonymous with a single user experience and to ensure that that
> experience is of a consistently high quality. A general purpose
> extensions and themes distribution system seems to threaten much of
> that.

How so? I think everybody who installs themes or extensions knows that
they aren't getting a stock GNOME3. We already *have* an extension
system, and we can't tear it out now. The problem happens when you
lump these in with distro packages. Some distros were starting to
package gnome-shell-extensions, which isn't really what it was
designed for. Some distros started to install them when you decided to
install gnome-shell. That's wrong, too.

If we want to replace it, we need to have a better way: the user knows
exactly which extensions he's installed. The user knows exactly which
themes he's enabled. We need to be robust when they break, we need
them to be easy to install, and we need to make sure that they're easy
to use.

I don't think that excluding themes and extensions is going to stop
anybody, either through distro patches and packages, or through
third-party systems and repositories. I've already seen countless
how-to guides for theming GNOME3, and it's annoying.

> I'm particularly surprised by the inclusion of themes. It seems bizarre
> that we specifically designed the GNOME 3 control center not to include
> theme installation/selection and then to reintroduce that very same
> functionality via extensions.

For themes, several people were already making third-party switchers,
and some people (including myself) like to change up the look of a
system every once in a while. I still think that the general layout of
the top panel give an extremely distinctive visual identity.

> So, I would very much like to hear about how this web site will relate
> to our core design goals.

(This part of the message is going to shoot me in the foot later... welp)

The extension and themes website and system is designed to be not
findable from a stock GNOME desktop. There's nothing from the control
center. The biggest I think I'll go is to have a .desktop file that's
only findable via search (if we can do that) that's keyworded with
"customize", "extensions", "themes" with a description "Install
extensions and themes".  This will open up the web site.

You basically have to know, either by reading help (nobody does that)
or from word of mouth or a guide that you browse to the web site in
Epiphany, so that the pre-installed Epiphany extension can make the
web UI integration work.

The Epiphany extension way seems particularly troublesome, Owen
pointed out that "the people who want to install extensions would be
the people using Chromium or Firefox". I may write a Chromium or
Firefox extension by default, but we can't really bundle it with
GNOME3, making the effort quite useless.

Themes won't get a new UX at all besides a repository on the web site.
The third-party theme switcher UIs won't get replaced at all. I'm also
planning on making the web site have an accessible API so theme
switchers can use that along with the "install extension" tool to
browse and install themes from their native UX.

> There are many possible roles for extensions and I am not saying they
> shouldn't be supported at all. They are valuable as a crutch for our
> traditional users who are upgrading from GNOME 2, for instance, and they
> are an excellent facility for developing, testing and experimenting with
> functionality that may eventually get folded into shell proper.

It's a little disheartening that you relegate extensions to the role
of "prototypes" and "users from GNOME2 who haven't seen the GNOME3
way". I think there's many neat things that extensions *can* do that
users want, but will never get in the design, and aren't for pushing
back to GNOME2. Tim's window tiling extension[0] fills this niche, and
looks particularly promising.

In my opinion, the best possible thing for GNOME would to turn from
the "bucket of parts" model to the Firefox model. While you may
suggest that things like GNOME Shell Frippery[1] hurt the experience
and brand by degrading to a GNOME2-based look, I instead like it as it
displays a part of the power extensions have. I would never install it
and use it, though.

> One possibility for extensions would be to turn them into something more
> akin to Google Labs - that is, something that is communicated and
> structured as an experimentation ground, rather than a market place that
> we encourage users to use (the very name 'extension' does just that).
> The other nice thing about Google Labs is that the experimental nature
> of the features it contains is clearly communicated.

Again, you're suggesting that extensions are clearly experimental
prototypes. While they are unsupported from the user's perspective,
I'm hoping that the "shell-version" key reduces the amount of
unintentional crashes.

The name "Google Labs" also directly implies that they're official and
supported (which they are).


> Allan
> --
> IRC: aday on
> Blog:

P.S. I don't want to hurt the design goals at all, and I'd love to
work towards a common resolution here, but I think we need to look
towards the realization that GNOME3 extensions are in common use,
people love writing and using them, so we should stop shunning them.

[Date Prev][Date Next]   [Thread Prev][Thread Next]   [Thread Index] [Date Index] [Author Index]