guadec thoughts, #1- health of GNOME and helping users kick ass

I have a number of GUADEC thoughts I’d like to throw out there; they will probably come in dribs and drabs. So this is GUADEC thoughts #1 :)

  • GNOME is, overall, very healthy. We’re a little diffuse right now- not the sense of direction and drive we had around 2.0. But otherwise, we’ve got a lot of people, a lot of energy; a lot of companies (large and small) investing in a diverse number of projects; we’ve got a lot of people shoring up our infrastructure (gtk, various GL-bits, etc.). So we’re poised and ready. When we find our focus and define our problem, we’re going to attack it relentlessly, and it is going to be pretty awesome to see, I think.
  • Which brings us to what the next focus will be. :) In retrospect, much of our work in 2.0 and since could be summed up as ‘make the user experience not suck.’ We’ve polished, trimmed, tucked, and made things Just Work, such that we can legimitately say now we’ve got a pretty solid basic experience (though of course it is still not perfect and still needs much work.) I’ve been pimping a number of specific improvements for a while (people as first-class object, search as primary file interface, collaboration, etc.) for a while, but after listening to Kathy Sierra’s excellent talk at GUADEC, I think the overarching theme that is going to carry us forward once we figure out how to do it consistently will be ‘helping our users kick ass’. So far, we’ve gotten out of the way- if you know what you want to do, we won’t stop you. But if you don’t know what you want to do on Linux, we haven’t helped you- we’ve left you with a big, blank screen and pretty poor tools. Really, our user experience is only complete if you’re a hacker- in that case, Linux has the tools to really help you kick ass once GNOME has gotten out of your way. So I think GNOME of the future (3.x? Topaz? Whatever!) must help non-hackers kick ass. Now that we’ve gotten out of user’s way, we need video editors, sound editors, picture tools, great collaboration, innovative data gathering and filtering- tools that help people do what they want to do. Luckily, we’ve got the beginnings of great tools in all of these areas and more. Lots of them were demoed at GUADEC. Somehow (I’m not sure how yet) we’re going to put those things together, so that in a few years, our users will sit down and really be able to quickly kick ass with the help of GNOME. We’re not there yet, but we will be. GNOME: Helping Users Kick Ass.