This is not a GTK+ 3.0 blog post

20Jul08

I have been trying to follow the intense debate tagged GTK+ 3.0 and actually covering a lot more, from the longest post to the shortest. If I was into film criticism I would say that the story is evolving from decadentism to apocalypticism, with elements of final time, esoterism, conspiracy, dualism and reincarnation. It’s confusing… but solvable, since confusion is just a mental state.

As for the GTK+ 3.0 debate itself there is little-to-nothing I could add to Havoc’s conclusion. Perhaps is worth saying that my employer Nokia hasn’t pushed or inspired the proposal of the GTK+ maintainers and wouldn’t rush to jump out of 2.x if there is nothing new above. I’m sure Miguel knows that, and for the rest his criticism is valid and valuable.

But actually this post is more about GNOME, 3 or not.

Confused in the last years about the lack of leadership? Confused now about the lack of vision? Depends where you look at and what you expect from. Darkness comes when you observe too close your own belly. Visions come when you look for interesting stuff around and beyond. Leadership is nothing you search but something that one unsuspected day pulls you out while you are at something.

Some guys are really into something in the GNOME context. Is it a coincidence that nobody seems to see heavyweight leaders there? Is it a symptom that they are in projects that many don’t see in the core of GNOME? Is it a surprise that they argue less and do more?

Why do you think they enjoy wearing shirts in GUADEC with a big foot? Is it C? Is it GTK+? Federico’s smile? The FreeFA? Find the answers and you will start getting a GNOME vision. Now go back to that toolkit debate and see how much it matters.

Also, who are those guys? Where do they live? Are they students, employees, entrepreneurs? Do they pay rents and phone bills themselves? Nappies? What are their real jobs? What products do they work for? Find the answers and you will start seeing a context of GNOME innovation. Now go back to that toolkit debate and see how much it matters.

I’m not saying the debate about GTK+ is not important. It is but… is it the central debate of GNOME? Do we need to find a vision for GTK+ in order to draw the future of GNOME or is it the other way round? Is the backbone of GNOME a one and only toolkit or is it something else?

All these heated debates about GTK+/Qt or C/C++… how sensible will sound to young and creative developers beyond 2010? Look the runtimes, look the Web. To build a vision around a toolkit and a native environment was a good strategic move ten years ago. Do you think the same strategy will succeed in ten years?

So many questions, it is confusing sometimes. This is why is good to have principles preceding visions and strategies. The principles have been always clear: freedom and collaboration. They brought us here and they will push us forward as long as we keep them in good shape.

Freedom, collaboration, one vision, a refreshed strategy, a context for innovation and… who will stop this? Only ourselves watching our own bellies. Toolkits and version numbers need to be reactors to reach the goals, not talismanic objects becoming an end themselves. Someone has to discuss and find solutions around them, but be suspicious if too many people spend too much time discussing.

Which reminds me to stop this post now.



5 Responses to “This is not a GTK+ 3.0 blog post”

  1. 1 Mario

    All the projects you mentioned are here not because we needed them to write some cool applications, but because we are already stretching the possibilities of the existing underlaying technologies. Most certainly the projects you mentioned are just a part of innovation wave that can be seen on the horizon right now. Desktop environment lead (or at least should) changes in the underlaying infrastructure, and not vice versa. That way we know what we need, and we can get there in cooperation with all stakeholders.

  2. 2 Tom

    Its interesting to note, like you briefly mention how unimportant the old desktop metaphor is becoming. A great example of this as an application would of course be evolution which was so massively important when it was first release (and in many cases is still very important) but for a very significant majority of users has been completely replaced by webmail in one form or another.

    Initives like the online desktop look promising too, to add to your list of exciting projects, but the problem with many of these is they lack manpower simply because they require a visionary lead, and its often difficult to convince others to join who can’t forsee the benefits the project may bring, so they take a long while from announcement to reach a state where they can fit in to a general purpose desktop reliably.

  3. 3 Pavel

    damn, if you would have posted it a bit earlier I would not have written something very similar: http://www.madman2k.net/articles/gnome-prospects/

  4. OMG, this is a bit embarrassing. I’ve lost some weight this week, and I was staring at my belly *just* before reading this post:-/

    I agree with what you say though. Personally I think that the Gnome desktop can make huge strides with the current technologies in place. I think having a Gnome 3 would be great, but it could really be a Gnome 2 release with lots of new features branded as Gnome 3. Then you could keep the marketing people and the people who actually want a good desktop environment happy.

  5. 5 foobob

    so finally, it seems after some time of various blog posts we are getting to some interesting articles about the vision the Gnome. All the kudos to the people behind the projects you mentioned. Yet I think changes to GTK are important as they make the development of those and other higher-abstract projects easier.



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