Application Suggestions for Gnome 3.0

Gnome 3.0 is a long way off still and I have already written a wishlist for Gnome, however this time around I thought I write some specific feature requests for the next major Gnome release (coming in more than a year from now). These are applications that I would like to see included by default on Gnome 3.0 for a more full and integrated experience.

1. A home video editor
I have already written an article about video editing on Unix, however I just can’t escape the ghost of iMovie hunting me each time I use Unix/Linux. Kino seems to be a good candidate for this job and‘s DBUS/HAL are coming along well. However, some HIG love is seriously needed on Kino and porting to Gstreamer as well (GStreamer which should also be using HAL by then). Feature request: adding support for normal web cameras too to grab video would be great. If such a video editor app becomes a hit, an application that enables you to create DVD UIs and burn Kino movies as VCD/DVDs should be in order as well.

2. Instant Messaging
Gnome needs an integrated (with Nautilus, Evolution and other apps) multi-protocol instant messaging application. It needs to be doing Jabber, AIM/iChat/ICQ, MSN, Y! and maybe IRC (X-Chat will always be available as a third party app to fill up any IRC voids). More over, the application will need to support video and audio conferencing for the above protocols. Personally, I use all 5 major IM protocols but I also use AIM/iChat, Y! and MSN’s video and audio capabilities and I solely miss those when I am using Unix. A lot of my online friends have an iSight and so video chatting has become a standard in my life (and I can’t wait until my town in Greece gets DSL support so I can videochat with my brother too!).

Good candidates here are Gaim and Gossip (which is currently Jabber-only). My personal favorite is Gossip as it is more HIG-compliant and simpler to use, however Gaim has already started a project to get video support, gaim-vv.

3. A CD/DVD burner
Ah, the Achilles heel of Gnome. Not a single such Gnome app fills up my requirements (both in functionality and in aesthetics) currently. I still have to use KDE’s K3B to do my job. However, the Coaster guys are seem to be in a good road and the Optimystic guy as well (both projects are using’s libburn). Let’s hope that either of the two projects will be ready and fully featured for Gnome 3.0, because I don’t think I have the patience to wait more for something as vital as this.

4. Evolution and peripheral apps
This is probably coming already on Gnome 2.8, so hang on. Having a very professional/office-oriented application like Evolution 2.0 might be a bit of overkill for the Gnome desktop — I admit– however, it does bring a lot of other well-designed features in addition to a capable email client, e.g. an address book, alarm, scheduling etc. And having these integrated to other Gnome apps would be a huge plus.

5. Totem
And we need a video player that is able to play popular formats (and act as a plugin to web browsers). Totem with the Xine backend works great most of the time, however if it is going to be integrated on Gnome probably there will be a requirement for GStreamer. In this case, popular formats will need to be supported, and so a “bridge” between GStreamer and Xine libraries might need to be developed (so instead of compiling your multimedia app with either GStreamer or Mplayer or Xine backend support, you support just one and that one supports the other two — that’s a cleaner way for the user not having to deal with these technicalities).

6. Rhythmbox
As Seth Nickell also defended in the gnome mailing list a few months ago, a movie player most of the times doesn’t make a great music player. I agree with Seth on this, and this is why I would like to see a mature and full-featured Rhythmbox on Gnome 3.0. And this includes the following features: iPod support, being able to do CD ripping via integrating the nice-looking Sound Juicer (not by calling it as an external app), add support for visualization (by porting the XMMS visualization plugins to Gstreamer), and do some basic mp3/ogg tagging. A more sophisticated playlist might be in order as well.

7. Camera/Image viewing solution
The current image viewer for Gnome is the “Eye of Gnome” which is nicely integrated into Nautilus, but the image viewing part of it is not enough. Cataloging and digital/web camera support would be good too. F-Spot is great for that job, however it is written in Mono, and there are many who oppose Mono becoming part of Gnome by default, therefore my vote would go to gThumb (which will of course need to add F-Spot’s clean interface and features and some web camera support too).

1. Quick Lounge
Quick-Lounge was supposed to be included on Gnome 2.6, but it failed a few requirements. Let’s hope its developer will bring the gnome-panel plugin up to speed and have it incorporated on Gnome by default (useful for users who use a single panel for both the taskbar and other functions and want to save some real screen estate).

2. News Feed application
Sure, Evolution already does support RDF/RSS/etc, but in a very limited way. An application like Liferea would be great to have on Gnome by default (however some UI clean up would be required beforehand). Straw is more powerfull but it has a gazillion dependencies and it’s written in Python, which is also not included by default on Gnome.

3. A modem dialer
While more and more people are moving to DSL/Cable connections, there are millions who still use a dial-up modem. For these users Gnome should catter, maybe by creating a front end to wvDial.

4. Personal Finances
A new application that deals with personal finances would be useful to many. While many try to fix Gnucash, the truth is that the code is not as flexible and its extra dependencies make it problematic. The new application doesn’t have to have all Gnucash’s features (which are pretty extensive), but to function as a simple finance recorder.

5. Moving fully to ALSA
The volume control and ESD should be fully ported to ALSA. If I didn’t had added the OSS emulation on my Arch Linux 2 weeks ago I would get some cryptic messages from Gnome’s volume control telling me that some /dev devices don’t exist (they didn’t).

6. The Gonvertor
I always loved little utilities that support converting to and from many categories. Area, Mass, Velocity, Time, Money, Volume, Distance, Digital Quantity are just some of the ideas. I believe that such a tool would add nicely to the Accessories menu on Gnome.

7. PDA/Phone syncing
The gnome-pilot conduit doesn’t seem to support the newer PalmOS devices and there is definetely no support for Pocket PCs and smartphones. A new application taking care of these devices that are so integrated to our lives these days, would be most welcome (or it could be done via some Nautilus integration mounting the devices via serial, USB or bluetooth).

8. Blogging
It will be a lie if we couldn’t see the need for a unified blog application that can take care Blogger, Movable Type, pMachine & LiveJournal. BloGTK seems to be the best solution of all currently, however it lacks LiveJournal support (found in Drivel though) and it is written in Python (which is not included by default on Gnome).

As you can see, there are so many nice apps that can’t be included on Gnome by default because of the language that they are written, maybe the Gnome Project would consider including the C++, Java, Python and GTK# bindings on Gnome 3.0 by default. I believe that these are most important bindings and they should be further supported by the Project.

While distro/BSD makers can include some of these apps on top of Gnome for their product, the fact remains that Gnome should be the one who should provide the most-needed modern applications to the distro makers in order to free them from extra work, as this is one of the reasons OEMs would prefer a fully integrated full-featured DE than a bits and pieces put together.

On another note, all applications mentioned here are requested to be HIG-compliant (and as an additional note, the HIG itself needs an update to include some guidance besides widget placement but overall usability architecture and steps on how to get there).

If Gnome could at least pull through the applications mentioned in the first page of the article for Gnome 3.0, I would personally be a very happy user and it would also make distro makers happier as well, driving the number of distros that shipping with Gnome, higher up.


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