posted by Eugenia Loli on Wed 9th Aug 2006 16:05 UTC
IconToday we feature a very interesting interview with Christopher Forsythe, the developer behind the Growl notification system and project manager of Adium, the multi-protocol chat application for Mac OS X.

1. Why Growl doesn't ship (and enable) by default support for Mail, Safari, iTunes? To me, as a new Growl user, this is something that I expect it would have been integrated automatically. It didn't make sense to hunt and enable them individually.

Chris Forsythe: There are a few reasons. Most of them are technically just because we haven't gotten to it yet. The major problem to address here is that some applications actually ship the entire Growl Preference Pane (the thing to configure and run Growl) with their applications, so we don't want to cause problems there.

Some of it is that we want users to understand how exactly Growl works, and separating things at the time seemed to make some sense.

Luckily your hunting shouldn't take long though. In the Disk Image that we ship Growl in, there are also 2 folders, Extras and Scripts. Both of these contain all sorts of things, such as the GrowlMail, GrowlSafari and GrowlTunes, but also a lot of other things. For instance, we have a add-on we ship in the Scripts directory for Salling Clicker, so that you can get Caller ID information for a BlueTooth cell phone to display in a Growl notification.

Overall, the real problem is just lack of resources, much like any other project (Open Source or not). We'll get around to addressing it, but for now it seems to work alright.

2. Are there plans to allow the customization of the position the Growl alerts are showing in the screen?

Chris Forsythe: Yes. We'll have this added in 1.1. The major hurdle here is that we wanted separate display types to be able to work together. For those who have not used Growl, or cannot because they are not lucky enough to have a Mac (that's a joke folks), your notifications/events can look different per application and per notification type in each application.

3. Are there plans for a small "Growl Server" for Windows or Linux that can display vital information about these systems on a normal Mac OS X Growl Client (maybe via Rendezvous)?

Chris Forsythe: I haven't heard of one, and there really isn't a huge need for it from what I can tell. We have a great bunch of users who have already made this a non-issue.

Rui Carmo has made 3 network notification sending "bindings", 2 in python and one in php. These should allow anyone who needs to to send a notification over the network. We've gotten permission from him to ship these with Growl, and we'll probably be shipping them with .7.5.

Bindings in general make Growl more useful to a lot of people. Not everyone likes Cocoa or Carbon, and no shoe fits every foot so to speak, so we've always accepted Bindings for any language so long as it works. For 1.1 it looks like we'll have Java, Applescript, Perl, PHP, Python, RealBasic, Ruby, Tcl, and the networking bindings mentioned earlier. All in all this should make it easy to talk to Growl via the network from other platforms, and other languages as well.

Neither of those platforms support Rendezvous/Bonjour, so if we ever did implement a Growl Server for those platforms (I really doubt windows support at the very least, Linux is more likely) then we'd have to take that into consideration.

We've also been promised support from Guifications at some point.

4. Some users online said that they would expect better defaults on Adium. The Adium preferences are so many that creates a bitter feeling to users who have to delve in to make it look better or to make it take less space. Any plans on this issue?

Chris Forsythe: With 1.0 we're starting to work on this somewhat. The major issue here is that one of the previous goals for Adium was "So many features you will crap your pants". Some folks took that literally. In any case, that's no longer a goal or even on our radar.

We now apply to a few things. One real goal we have is to no longer add a preference if at all possible. Another is to apply the "80/20" rule to things. For those who are not familiar with this, it's the process of deciding if 80% of your userbase would use something, or 20% of your userbase. If it's 20%, then it's not really something that should be considered.

We've removed a lot of functionality in 1.0. We're currently in the Beta process for Adium 1.0, and only one or two things that changed/ got removed have been brought up.

If anyone has problems finding an actual preference or feature they need, then by all means they can bring it up on our forums.

Then again, this is Open Source, and if someone works on Adium and wants something, it's well within their rights to add it. It may be removed later, but it will at least be considered for a while.

Table of contents
  1. "Interview, Page 1/2"
  2. "Interview, Page 2/2"
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