The Fruits of the First Few Contributor Meetingsby Imported Article

For the past few weeks, we’ve held our Contributor Meetings (previously referred to as "Developer Forums") via IRC. A bit of just about everything has been discussed, and there’s been a good amount of decisions made.

Upstream Collaboration

First off, we’ve rolled out plans for continued and closer integration with upstream projects like GNOME. With GNOME now sharing a similar AppMenu idea, we’ve decided to make our implementation compatible with the one in GNOME. We’re also building a new version of Dexter using gnome-contacts as a base to avoid duplication of effort.

We’re undergoing talks with Yorba regarding the possibility of combining Postler’s fine user interface with the great backend of Yorba’s super-secret mail client Geary. We've reached out to Yorba and they seem to be just as excited as us; this could become a very powerful partnership and we look forward to the good things to come.

Lastly, we’re planning on preparing some of our widgets for possible inclusion in GTK itself so more people outside of elementary can build better apps. This doesn't guarantee their acceptance, but we'll do the best we can to make them available to all.


Besides focusing upstream, we’re working on making our own creations, like Switchboard, even better. A new effort to improve Switchboard plugs is underway; we’re documenting and organizing the process further. We’ve already put together a structured list of plugs required for Luna (the old one became a bit messy during the sprint), and we’re working on a complete plug template and a guide to porting GNOME Control Center plugs to Switchboard which will allow us to keep some GNOME plugs and redo others.


Work is also underway on a new consistent tab bar widget—dubbed the “dynamic notebook” widget in Granite—for all elementary (and potentially other GTK-based) applications. The design is mostly drafted and is undergoing some final touches, while the implementation is already underway. This dynamic notebook widget compliments our existing static notebook widget and brings both new features and a slick design to our tab bars.

In addition to adding the dynamic notebook widget, we’re actually dropping the hinted entry widget from Granite. This is due to upstream GTK’s adoption of the similar placeholder property in the standard entry widget.


Concerning the internal structure of elementary, we have approved the creation of a management team that will drive all the elementary applications teams on Launchpad. Our IRC channel for developers will stay open for everyone (at least for now), so feel free to join the discussion.


We were also able to make a few decisions regarding design and user experience. We discussed ditching minimize and how we can make our apps more intelligent without minimize. As Daniel Foré has previously suggested, the minimize button will be gone, but the close button will do the same thing from the user’s perspective. Thus, the OS will take care of the memory management for the user. Lists (on graphical interfaces) will also be redesigned for consistency, after some discussion and investigation. These decisions will of course take more planning and work before you see their effect, so stay tuned.

Third Party/Community Apps

Finally, we took a look at two new “third-party” or "community" apps by elementary community developers: Footnote and Pantheon Terminal. The first is a note-taking app designed by Harvey Cabaguio (~BassUltra on DeviantArt) and being developed by Tom Beckmann, and the latter is the terminal  app created by Adrien Plazas (aka Kekun), which has been revived by David Gomes (aka munchor). We’ve acknowledged their existence, we welcome their involvement in the elementary platform, and we’ll be looking forward to what comes out of their efforts.

We’re excited about all of the excellent discussion and the massive influx of community involvement with these new contributor meetings. Be sure to let us know what you think, and if there’s anything you think we could do better. Also, make sure to attend the next Contributor Meeting this coming Saturday at 18:00 UTC (in #elementary-dev on if you’re interested in these discussions!

This post is a collaborative effort of many of the contributors who attended the meeting, including David Gomes, Shnatsel, Daniel Fore, and more.

Published January 5th, 2012
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