Re: Request for comment (GNOME Shell team): release date for GNOME 3.0

On Tue, 2009-11-03 at 17:11 +0100, Vincent Untz wrote:
> Hi,
> The release team is gathering comments from various teams to get a
> proper idea of which of March or September 2010 is more appropriate for
> the release of GNOME 3.0. The decision for the release date is following
> what we set in the 3.0 planning document [1]: we want 3.0 to be out in
> 2010, but we also want to make sure that 3.0 is rock-solid; your input
> will help us take an informed decision.
> It'd be great if someone could summarize the status of the work that is
> being done in GNOME Shell, and how March or September would work for
> you. (Oh, and I know Owen sent a mail to d-d-l, but let's pretend I
> didn't see it ;-))

What's there now

GNOME Shell as it exists now is certainly usable; the major
functionality of using a desktop are there - switching between windows
and applications, launching new applications, accessing your recent
documents, etc.

And I think the basic technical architecture of 
Clutter+Mutter+GObject-Introspection+Javascript has been well

What still needs work

The two big things on our plate right at the moment:


  One of the important components of the GNOME Shell design is its
  interaction with notifications and with messaging.

  We've just started in on the implementation of this now, and the
  initial progress is promising, but there's going to be quite a
  bit of work to fine-tune the interaction and figure out how
  apps participate in this.

 App browsing

  Right now, the shell basically regurgitates the GNOME menus in
  a slightly different form when you go to browse for applications
  beyond those that are shown as your favorites.

  We're currently working on figuring out a better ways of presenting
  this browsing activity and tying it in with searching.

Beyond this:

 Document browsing

  There's no big picture story about how you access and find your
  documents in GNOME 3. The default here is to just say that
  GNOME Shell replaces "Recent Documents" in the panel, and the
  rest stays the same. But all the interest in Tracker, Zeitgeist,
  etc, shows that people aren't that satisfied with the current
  ways this work.

  Whether significant progress is made here for GNOME 3, or we
  stick with the default situation, is really about whether
  people want to continue experimenting as currently, or whether
  a push is made to unify the experiments, figure out the big
  story, and get something into place in the short term. Putting 
  experiments into the default GNOME 3 desktop would be a mistake,
  though hopefully we can provide (via the gnome-shell extension
  system, etc) a good platform for further experiments.

  Anyways, largely outside the narrow scope of the shell.


  Two big areas of work here: one is keynav, the second is exposing
  the user interface tree to AT's. Keynav is partially there, but
  there's a ton of work to make sure that *everything* is keynavigable.

  Exposing the UI tree will likely fall out of the work that is being
  done with Cally, though the exact relationship of that with Clutter
  (is it a separate library) is not, to my knowledge, completely  
  finalized. But exposing a raw tree of clutter actors is in no way
  interesting, so there's probably considerably *more* work to make
  sure that the tree exposed from gnome-shell meaningful represents
  the objects and actions on them, and likely some AT-side to work to
  figure out how to interact with objects in gnome-shell that had no
  correspondence in the GNOME 2 desktop, like the Overview itself.

  (Editorial: unfortunately, accessibility in GNOME has too often been
  partial technical solutions and unfulfilled promise. While not
  regressing on the technical side is important, I don't think that's
  the interesting thing - the interesting thing is to make progress
  on the user experience here. So we shouldn't be grading ourself
  on whether we continue exposing a UI tree to AT's, but whether we
  have AT's that can take that information and present a coherent
  user experience based on it.)


  Clutter and gnome-shell build on top of Pango, so there isn't really
  any problem on the output side of things, and we're using gettext
  for localization, but input is a bit of a problem. We now have our
  text entry widget hooked up to GtkIMContext, but preedit isn't
  there, and auxiliary windows won't be shown if you are typing
  in the activities overview (since no windows show there.)

And of course:

 User testing: 

  We have not (in general) set down users in front of GNOME Shell and
  watch how they succeed and fail with it and how they like it.

  I think we're at a point now where this begins to make some sense,
  and I'd hope to have some initial results by the end of the year.
Time considerations

There's not, in my estimation, to finish the current work, user test,
change it, polish performance and quality, and then ship that by March.

What part of that equation got cut out would be flexible, but the end
effect would be that a GNOME 3 in March with GNOME Shell would be beta
quality - we'd have to either lock it down and freeze it without
finishing everything, or we'd be changing stuff up to the last minute.

If we were really desperate for a GNOME 3 at this point, we could
do that, but I don't get the sense that is the case; generally the lack
of a GNOME 3 isn't blocking people from building desktops with
incremental improvements. It makes more sense to take our time and
do a really good job.

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