Just after 2.22 was released, I took a look at the upcoming Gnome release, and I said, for probably the fifth time, that I wish Empathy and Telepathy would make it into Gnome, but that it wasn't going to happen because
- The licensing was wrong (libempathy is GPLed because it is forked from Gossip), and
- The was no API documentation
Although I've said it before, this next part bears repeating. The inclusion of Empathy (and Telepathy) into Gnome is huge. Why? Well, just look at the history of GStreamer.
GStreamer came into Gnome as an immature and underpowered framework for audio and video. It took a few releases to mature, but it does pretty well these days (We all know it can be improved) and the next release will see more advanced features like DVD menus. Totem uses GStreamer. Rhythmbox uses it. Banshee uses it. Elisa uses it. Pretty much every application that wants to add audio or video is now using GStreamer ... even some KDE apps.
Telepathy is likely to work the same way for messaging. Right now, telepathy has real backends for text, voice, and video. It handles quite a few protocols through its own plugins and virtually everything else though libpurple (from Pidgin). In a couple of Gnome releases, we should be seeing Evolution, Ekiga, and Empathy in a giant symbiotic relationship. Suddenly, you will see that the person you're emailing is online and accepting IM/voice (but no video), and you will be able to click to start the conversation. This isn't too much different than the way GMail works now (and is a killer feature), but the desktop integration will be complete, meaning an easier time communicating for the Gnome user. I'm really looking forward to this eventuality. Oh, and can we get Soylent while we're at it? ;)
If you use Ubuntu, consider voting for Empathy.
ALERT: Ubuntu is considering replacing Pidgin with Empathy for Intrepid.
Also included in the final cut was another next-to-impossible-to-approve application called Conduit, which I use daily and which I'll be writing about soon. What was keeping Conduit from being considered was
- The total lack of keyboard utility, and
- An impossible accessibility situation
While I'm talking about new applications in Gnome, I should mention Hamster, a time-tracking applet which has some interesting features. We should be seeing good keyboard shortcuts and maybe even a connection to virtual desktops in order to track time.