mercredi 20 juillet 2011

Growing SeedKit

SeedKit being more than a year old, now is a good time to do a retrospective, get an overview of what's coming next and where you could help.

By lowering the entry barrier for building, distributing and maintaining a Gnome application, the SeedKit project wants to attract new contributors and make current developers' life easier.
The approach taken is simple: let developers reuse their web UI development skills, tools and community.
Furthermore, the resulting UIs will be more flexible, eyes-pleasing and dynamic, thanks to the amazing progress of the HTML/CSS/JS threesome in WebKitGtk and Seed.

So where are we now ?

We currently provide an GTK widget rendering HTML/CSS/JS content where native libraries and services are accessible from the JavaScript context.
DBus services, GObjects or custom code can be invoked and/or bound to DOM elements data and events.
End result: building an HTML UI communicating with local lower level systems is now possible. This might prove a great alternative to Gtk+ or Clutter.

For the full-blown SeedKit applications (lets call them hybrid for a minute) scenario, a runtime environment is provided. For now it only consists of a simple launcher but will hopefully be augmented with a standard library and a set of guidelines (mostly following the HIG 3) to ensure consistency among hybrids and 'classic' applications.

So yeah, you can run your hybrid application on your computer... Great, but how does it fall and deploy in the hands of the end-user you might ask ?

That's what is coming next.
We have no intention to build a versioning, dependencies and provisioning management system from scratch. Thus hybrid applications should be easily installed from distributions channels, namely packages and repositories.
Thus templates for .desktop files, rpm specs and debian recipes will be added soon to make the packaging a breeze.
If you are a bored packaging wizard, drop by the seedkit-devel list, we need you!

Another missing piece is the aforementioned standard library. HTML alone is far from providing the high-level concepts required to express a user interface naturally (sliders, modal windows, tree, list for example). Web developers already provided solutions in the form of libraries like Mootool, JQuery or ExtJs.
jQuery and its UI widgets will become the favoured target and will be packaged with each application or depended upon if provided by distribution's package. Some help with converting Gtk's Adwaita CSS to jQuery-ui would be great.
Also, we'll build jQuery-esque convenience wrappers for common operations like signals/events connection, data binding, internationalization and files access.

The vision and execution are still in their infancy so now is the good time for you to get involved, shape them to your tastes and need and have fun building the next big thing together ! Gnome developers, designers, web developers, translators, bug hunters will be welcomed with open arms.

Lets get in touch at the the Desktop Summit in Berlin, I'll hopefully present SeedKit in a BoF session.

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