Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Look lively boy!

Okay, so I haven't really been doing as much blogging/coding as I probably should have...sorry! The past few weeks have been crazy for me, a *lot* of personal/family stuff was going on, however, this week started very nicely, as I began working for OpenedHand!

This is a dream come true for me, so you can imagine how happy i am ATM :). I'll mostly be working on/with Clutter, which means hopefully you will able to see some cool integration work (for OH and personal projects), especially as I get better at OpenGL & Clutter.

Although I've been away, I have been doing work on Awn & Affinty, heres an account:

  • Beryl window thumbnailer support.
  • Support for international fonts (Varun Ratnakar)
  • Better launcher to window matching code
  • Heavily debugged auto-hide, which should not crash anymore.
  • Better auto-hide animation
  • Bar resizes if it gets larger than the screen width
  • Translation works
  • Some improvements in the DBus backend
I know there is some more info, but I can't remember it right now, and I really need to dedicate Awn its own entry some time over the weekend.


Thanks for all the testers! I have been working on getting all the features in. Svn has a panel applet, so you can have super-quick searching any-time :).

I have been busy pulling out the search & app code into libaffinty, as I have been working on the following two apps (which are part of affinity):

Application Browser

This is an app browser, which is required for the panel applet. This is the main reason for libaffinity, as once you've loaded Affinity, the app-browser loads super-quick. Heres a few mockups I am working off :

As per usual, suggestions are welcome. I hope to commit this over easter.

Desktop Search Frontend

Affinity works fine when you know exactly what you are looking for, but not so well, when you either need to browse everything containing a certain search term, or when you need finer tuning. To this end, Affinity 0.2 will also ship with a search-tool which provides a unified search interface for Beagle & Tracker. Its easy to tell what app it is based on, but I think it looks unique enough not to cause me a problem :). Heres the current mockups I am working towards (about 70% done):

Yes, those fancy reflection effects are in the real one :). This is a much more complicated app, so I hope to commit by the end of next week, but can't promise.

Anyway, I hope that stops the 'are you alive' emails ;). I will back in #awn & forums from tonight.


Daniel Tiecher said...

Wow, when I saw that your RSS feed was updated my mind almost blew up!
I really like these new affinity mockups and where you're heading there.

What do you think about a flip button to change the panel icons on AWN? Imagine something like different AWN views. You could use one side for tracking windows, the other for launchers and yet another one for the taskbar, for example.

Shortcuts could be implemented for easy access to all those views, as well.

Keep up the awesome work!

Anonymous said...

thanx for your work njpatel.. please make the applications with a less use of ram and desktop effects for the users with small resources... your work is very impressive... please continue it.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that's just stunning.

Thanks for your great work, and I hope many Distros (or even Gnome) will adopt this!

Daniel Maclean said...

Excellent stuff dude, great to hear your still alive and things are looking up. I like the new application browser, is a step in the right direction. I had an idea about your new Desktop Search Frontend, you have previews for pictures and documents, wouldn't it be useful if you could preview video and audio as well? I have alot of music which isn't tagged right and i find myself having to preview alot of audio, video is much the same. I find that the nautilus audio preview never works for me and video previews will probably never happen with the speed the Gnome development goes. Congratulations on your new job!

Michael Croes said...

Hey dude! I have been looking at your blog every day (I don't do feeds yet, no proper integration into anything right now I think...) and was pleased to see you posted again... Congratulations on your job at openedhand! Is this replacing your old job now? I'd really love to see the things you work on on embedded devices. I guess my ipaq h3830 will be too old for most new stuff though... The new apps look great, as always with your work. I really hope you get to spend time on Arena too, once the AppleTV runs linux I'm almost definately gonna buy one and Arena would rock on it... It's good to see you're still alive, I was really wondering if you were ok... Keep up the good work, I love it! I don't know if you're accepting donations, but you really deserve (real) credit for the things you do...
Take care!

kiddo said...

Michael, you *might* be interested in since you are not using a full-fledged feed reader application :)

Gianni said...


Take your time but please, do exactly this.

If only the mockup could become a real theme aswell... **me wishes**

Anonymous said...

insanely great !

I'm looking forward to use that new search-tool (with Tracker).

and the new Awn too !

Anonymous said...

iago said...

Hi Neil,

Your work is really amazing; and the tags you're using in your blog too!

You need to introduce semicolons between each tag to separate them :)

The desktop search app looks nice, but I miss the tabs as seen on old Tracker mockups.

Keep on!

John said...

hahahahahahahaha Daniel Tiecher your a funny guy, completely ripping my idea for the flip button as if it were your own. I mean come on, take a look at the comments from previous posts he made, That is if you havn't already, lol.

gigidn said...

Wow ... good work. my 2 cents ... wuld u like to integrate open search? my dream, network and desktop is the same and one click open local or remote folder in a trasparent way ... only a dream? :)

Anonymous said...

Really great stuff!!!
Do you plan to use Xesam (, previously name Wasabi?

v¹n©├źnt said...

Your work is simply amazing...

Look at the employment page of Ubuntu, they are looking for a User Interface Developer, and it seems that they really want to do something BING, NEW and completely DIFFERENT:

You have a pretty good potential, and i bet you can do it better =P

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I have a question. First I'd like to let you know that I appreciate your work on awn and it is the ultimate dock-like app I have ever used and I tryed every single one out there. It beats all by simpliciy to configure, power and user friendly behaviour, plus the integration with wnck to allow the modern window managers to do their blings. So I think you write a great software and I am thankful you share it with us.
Now, I look at your new stuff - affinity.

I have downloaded after the initial anouncement that it can be compiled. First thing - it does not use decorations - it looks copletely out of place with a composited environment. All windows have shadow decoration and this one... none. It looks strange.
Second - I am looking at your current screenies - doesnt it look too much like Apple's designe? the close button, the reflections...
Just asking - are you planing to base all your work on apple ideas? I hope not, as they are (probably) going to announce a new default UI and we will be far back again:)

no said...

Hey Neil, very amazing mockups. Maybe you like this one.

Neil said...

@daniel t & anon: I was experimenting with something like this on my own copy, it was like has Awn as a long cube, which rotates. However, I am still experimenting, so I cab;t promise anything :). Maybe when the plugin stuff it finished ;).

@daniel m: good point! I will look into going this, I needed a reason to learn GStreamer anyway :).

@michael: Hey there! Yeah I am working full time for OH. Arena will be getting some blog posts soon (I have done alot of the hard work now, I just need to tie it all together now).

@gianni: I will make sure I do!

@iago: Woops! Thanks for the tip. I this TST still has tabs, the desktop-search-tool is more of a 'browsing' search, where affinity & TST is targetted, therefore the lack of tabs. You'll still be able to use the 'filters'

@gigidn: I have thought about it, but haven't had time to look into it yet. Do know of any projects that are workign on this?

@anon: I didn't know it existed :).
It looks intresting, I'll have a closer look tonight.

@vincent: :)

@anon: I understand your concerns, I am currently putting the finishing touches on a default 'gtk' look for Affinity, so it doesn't look out of place, and has a sane default.

Regarding the UI, Apple were not the first to have that layout for search results, they just made it look good, and I hope to make it look even better and bring a new level of usability to it ;). My designs are not all based on Apple UI, and I hope you will see this as I release more software :).

@no: Dude, that cool sweet! When I finish Awn plugins, I will def. make an Affinity plugin for Awn.

greg said...

Awesome work! I can't wait to try out the new AWN. *anxiousely waits for Feisty Fawn to be released for ultra-super ubuntu/AWN goodness*

scooper86 said...

cool mockups man cant wait to see some new stuff with affinity and awn i use both on a daily basis. Good luck with your new job its always cool when people can work for open source companies they are lucky to have you.

hellzou said...

I love your work :)
I never found a dock that meet my needs as yours.
Thanks ! Keep the good job ;)

Anonymous said...

Very very nice, as usual !!

What font are you using, please ?

Anonymous said...

I think Neil got eaten by a shark. Sad, but there it is.

Shinji Ikari said...


Excelent Work.

(Bye Mac, Bye Vista)

What's your GTK theme?

Daniel Tiecher said...

Take it easy, will you?

I didn't rip you idea out, never saw any suggestions regarding this kind of functionality on AWN before.

And this is a good sign, both of us having the same idea suggests that it is a nice one to add.

And, as stated by Neil, he's implementing this sort of feature so he had the idea before both of us. =)


Daniel Tiecher

Anonymous said...

Dude, are you EVER coming back!?!

Gavin said...

:( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :(

Is our coolest dude still abiding?

Neil J. Patel said...

Guys, if its taking longer than I originally anticipated...theres obviously something major happening ;).

Nick said...

It seems to me Neil that you are paying the price of fame ;). Don't worry though, we do know you have a life and most of us (i hope) can understand that and show patience.
Good luck with your new job, i am really happy you are doing what you really want with your life. Awn can wait a little and so can we.

Anonymous said...

I would be awesome if i could put other objects inside of the awn like a trash can or maybe mac slow's cario clock. I'm trying to get rid of my gnome panel but its just not possible yet.

Anonymous said...

sounds awsome

Anonymous said...

About how major would this be, Neil? ;)

I just learned about the project yesterday... but I'm quite impressed already. Like everybody else here has said, pretty much, I think that the search mockup looks quite good... and I eagerly await v0.2 of Affinity

Marcelo Carlomagno Carlos said...

where are you ?
It was almost a month when the last update was made.

Anonymous said...

excellent stuff, I'll be back for a longer look when I get home from uni :)

AT said...

Yeah, man, I love this stuff. Just found out about it, and its great.

Anonymous said...

His dead again folks....
Remember cats of have 9 lives

Anonymous said...

of = only

Anonymous said...

Hey, anyone still bothering to check in at this website should check out Gnome Dock. It used to suck, but it's come a fairly long way recently and it has features that AWN lacks and/or Neil refuses to implement.

At least it's better than sitting around for weeks waiting for Neil to bother doing something.

Greg said...

If Neil chooses to have a life outside of this blog then I say that's his choice. besides, the guy just got a new job and has said that there are other issues at work in his life currently.

Neil has always been courteous to our demands/requests and has shown the Patience of a saint when someone comes in and quite abruptly and rudely demands a feature (I am not saying YOU are, I'm just saying there have been.)

Let the man have his breath of fresh air. Drag him back before he can get that and we just might kill AWN/Affinity all together. There is nothing worse for a one man project then to lose the love of tweaking it.

Anonymous said...

Neil, where are u? GNOME needs your fresh air, don't leave GNOME to those Nazi GUIs

DarkMaster said...

Hi! I think that your AWN and Affinity are really the most extraordinary and revolutionary linux apps around. There hasn't been anything lately so incredible, beside Compiz and BeryL! But there's one thing I don't get: where is in AWN the autohide feature you talk about in your post? I can't find it but I'd really need it badly!

You really are great! Go on, have a nice day, a nice time, work and fun and thanks for your time in doing this :D

Anonymous said...

An avant svn update yay you're still alive

QUASAR said...

the autohide feature is in gconf, use gconf-editor to configure.

Anonymous said...

Another svn update for those watching here, including a gui for moving launchers about and bug fixes

Ben said...

AWN is Awesome, keep up the good work!

Justin said...

does anyone else think the autohide feature needs to leave a few pixels of the bar still on the screen? To me it just doesn't feel right with it all gone.

Gavin said...

Hey guys, according to a forum post here and here, our favorite coder is going to make a new blog post shortly. Be patient, guys! Also, check out the forum more often (he makes lots of updates on there.

Ado said...

Bonzer. Sensational. Your dock is the best Neil. And don't get tempted to change the auto-hide so that a few pixels show. I love it just as it is. Before Avant, I used an auto-hidden gnome panel for my launchers and it always irritated me that it peeped out from the bottom a little. Congrats. Good on ya. And thank you.

Sergiu said...

Thanks for the great work on AWN!

v1ncent said...

We... Need... An updatee!!!!

Neil J. Patel said...

Updates in the next few days, just putting the finishing touches on applets :-).

v1ncent said...

Wow, you're fast responding, Don't you?

Again, all your job is amazing.
I'll be waiting for the AWN update =P


Daniel Anderson Tiecher said...

Wow! My excitement meter just skyrocketed!

Anonymous said...

Nice update :)
This project is really coming along
Thanks a lot and keep up the good work
me <3 avant dock

Johan said...

To quote a Tori Amos song, "where's Neil when you need him?".

oriol18 said...

I like awn dock, but I can't make any plugin, but I have any ideas.
My ideas are:
-When you cross the icon, instead of "fade" or "jumping icons" icons can make zoom as Mac OS X dock
-A trash icon who works like Mac OS X waste-basket icon.
(Yes, I really like Mac OS X appearance)
Thanks for your work, and if you can't do this soon, don't worry.
Oh, and the "Maximized windows don't cover the bar" is a very interesting option.

Neil J. Patel said...

like awn dock, but I can't make any plugin, but I have any ideas.

-When you cross the icon, instead of "fade" or "jumping icons" icons can make zoom as Mac OS X dock

This is not something that I am actively working on. It can be implemented later, however.

-A trash icon who works like Mac OS X waste-basket icon.

Latest svn includes applets support (like the gnome-panel), and ships with workspace switcher, trash and separator applets. :-)

Oh, and the "Maximized windows don't cover the bar" is a very interesting option.

That is also available in svn.

I really need to write a new blog entry...

LuCypher said...

I really want to know what is the GTK theme (window decorations and controls) of the white desktop-search image.

David said...


I was just playing with your Fluttr mashup and I think it's great. I'm new to Linux development and I'd like to start helping out with projects like clutter and awn. Do you think we could chat sometime? I just have a few questions about IDEs, generating files like autogen, and starting points for GTK+/clutter development.


Neil J. Patel said...

@LuCypher: I'm a bit behind everything at the moment, so you'll have to wait a bit :-).

@David: Of course, but you'll be hard pressed to find me on IM, best thing to do is email me as I have increasing unpredictable behaviors in regards to which times I code :-). Email: njpatel_AT_gmail_DOT_com.

LuCypher said...

Obviously I'm Joking. ;-)
Good work guy!!!
Keep it on, the community really needs people with such great ideas like you.

Cpt-Falcon said...

Hi !

I'd like to know what is the font on the screenshots of desktop search front end ?? On what OS the screenshot was taken and if there are any special configuration (like LCD cleartype) ?

Willem said...

So Neil, I know you're concentrating on awn right now. And you're really doing a great job as well!
But any word on when we can expect this Desktop Search Frontend? This is the number one application I'm looking forward to.

Tim said...

Good Job! :)