Friday, June 13, 2008

GNOME Improvement Areas

I have been reading a lot of blogs concerning the future direction of GNOME. Here are my comments based on the needs of Government/Business.

Email: (Evolution): It's improved greatly in the last 5 years, but the area of focus should be calendaring. Rescheduling meetings and adding people to meeting should be easier and more feature complete. One of the biggest improvement areas in GNOME is printing. Success is measured by users by how well things print. The example below is a printout of an address book. I would say this could be improved greatly. :)

Office Productivity (OpenOffice) : OpenOffice is moving ahead quickly and meeting our needs. 3.0 is going to be really nice, and I'm looking forwarded to moving it live later this year. The Base module is coming along nicely, and starting to work as a drop-in replacement for Access. Improvement areas would be increased features to replicate some of the things done in Visio, and also a stronger project management package that reads/writes MS Project files.

Browsing (Firefox) : Except for really poorly designed sites, Firefox works well. One of the worst offenders of using proprietary technology unfortunately is the State of Florida. We are required to enter information and do research from several departments, and a lot of these pages won't work without Internet Explorer. 99.9% of our browing is handled on Linux. The only improvement area that I can think of is being able to print shockwave content. That support call comes up fairly often.

Specialized Applications: Our specialized applications (Fire, Police, Community Development) almost always end up running on Microsoft Windows. In this era of a desire for lower taxes, it amazes me that these vendors develop in a manner that is so expensive for agencies to buy software. The database and operating system choices they make are very expensive to deploy in terms of dollars, and staff resources. We need to really try and push development tools to software developers. One excellent vendor is ADG . Their runtime packages can be deployed fully on Linux, both on the backend and front end.

My thanks to everyone that works on the various open source projects. You have made my life much easier.

I went out on my SeaDoo on Tampa Bay recently and it produced a great wallpaper image. If you like it, use it.


Anonymous said... isn't GNOME's office suite.
Firefox isn't GNOME's browser - Epiphany is.

Jonas said...

For MS Project, you may want to take a loot at OpenProj. I'm not sure how well it reads Microsoft's files but the ones I've tried has worked fine.

Dave Richards said...

Right, I know OpenOffice isn't a part of GNOME. But it's an integral part of the GNOME Desktop.

Anonymous said...

A seadoo turned off. The only useful state for those noisy polluting things.

Anonymous said...

OMG - I didn't realize printing an addressbook was so f'ed up. Wow! Even that old Windows 3.x app - iirc, it was called CardFile - was way better. Here we are 15 years later and GNOME folks can't do better? Give me a break!

christian.sasso said...

Hi, this is my wish: I'd like to be able to scroll vertically one line at a time using Gnome terminal. Ciao! Christian Sasso

Dave Richards said...

Anonymous: I'll be sure to plant a tree this weekend to carbon offset my usage.

Anonymous: Printing from most/all GNOME apps really does need improvement. I have always wish that printing was designed as a plugin system so that non-developers such as myself could create cool reports and submit them back to the developers.

Anonymous said...

Nowadays Epiphany has much better IE compatibility than Firefox (a third party browser, nothing to do with GNOME). Did you try that?

Oded said...

like other commenters i surprised that in "areas gnome needs to improve" you listed 3 items that gnome has no control over and one that is almost not under gnome control (evolution was developed outside of gnome until farly recently and only in the latest stable release it was deemed gnome enough to get the gnome version number)

Philip said...

Anonymous: unless you're talking about Epiphany/WebKit, Epiphany has exactly the same IE compatibility as Firefox, as they use the same rendering engine.

David said...

Good concise blog. I like to see at least someone in government taking things seriously with FOSS software. On the proprietary front you might want to check crossover linux or even the wine project. The best commercial DVD authoring tool for Linux was developed for Windows but it runs fully under wine (I hear I haven't tested it). That maybe a way to go.

Dave Richards said...

Anonymous: We aren't having rendering problems with Firefox. What's happening is that the State is embedding either ActiveX or physical Win32 binaries right into the web pages.

Oded: I know which pieces are under GNOME control. I am RSS fed to planet.gnome which has a lot of OpenOffice and Firefox hackers. So I just kind of put my thoughts on those products too. GNOME itself is mature and feature complete. The desktop works well.

Philip: Same as above, this is way beyond rendering problems. The pages physically are designed for Win32.

David: We are constantly testing ideas to make things easier here. Often the limiting factor is *support*. If you run a supported software package in a manner that they can't even imagine in their minds, you end up having fights with them when problems arise. It's 2008 and they are still thinking client/server. We have 2 people allocated fulltime to the Police Department. 1 of which spends his entire day keeping computers running in the squad cars. They have to push changes out to the cars and they still have binaries and Windows running in the car. Is this 2008 or 1995? :)