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Posts tagged with 'desktop'


Yesterday I gave my talk on opportunistic developers on (which I plan on repeating next week). In that session I floated the idea of having a fun challenge next week when Ubuntu Opportunistic Developer Week happens. The idea was pretty popular, so I wanted to share it here.

The idea is simple:

Think of a fun program to write, and see how much you can get completed by the end of the week, Fri 5th March 2010. On Friday I will write a blog entry that showcases screenshots of your progress and (if possible) a PPA where people can download a package to try.

Getting Started

Getting started with this is simple. First think of something that would be fun to write. This could be a GUI front-end to a command line tool, a simple app that does something useful for you that will improve your life, a game or anything else. Pick something that isn’t too hard: something that is a good first step to dip your feet into development. Folks, do share ideas for apps in the comments here so those people who can’t think of something have a pool of ideas available. :-)

When you have idea you can create your app really easily with Quickly. You can first install Quickly from the Ubuntu Software Center by clicking Applications -> Ubuntu Software Center and search for quickly.

When it is installed, just run:

quickly create ubuntu-project <yourprojectname>

As an example:

quickly create ubuntu-project mycoolapp

Now run:

quickly tutorial

This will explain how to get started working on your application. If you have questions related to using quickly, you can join #quickly on freenode. If you have general software development questions, you can join #ubuntu-app-devel on freenode.

Sharing Your Progress

When you have something you would like me to blog, send an email no later than the end of the day Pacific time on Thu 4th March 2010 to me at jono AT ubuntu DOT com and include:

  • The name of your program and a brief description of what it does.
  • A link to a screenshot online that shows your new app running.
  • If available, tell me the name of the Launchpad project where it is hosted and the PPA with the package. This is a great way for people to try your program and possibly join the project and contribute to it!

I will send a t-shirt out to the three app authors who made the most interesting apps with the most progress. :-)

Start your engines folks, let’s see what we can do! I can’t wait to see how you folks get on! :-)

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Earlier this week I announced the plan to put together Ubuntu Opportunistic Developer Week: a week of IRC tuition sessions aimed at helping opportunistic developers scratch their itches and write fun and useful programs using our awesome platform. The week takes place from 1st – 6th March 2010.

The response so far to the call for sessions has been fantastic, and we already have the following sessions scheduled, all visible from the timetable for the week:

  • Welcome! Ubuntu For Opportunistic Developers – Jono Bacon
  • Gooey Graphics with GooCanvas – Rick Spencer
  • Getting your app in Launchpad with Bazaar – David Futcher
  • CouchDB support in your app with DesktopCouch – Stuart Langridge
  • Creating stunning interfaces with Cairo – Laszlo Pandy
  • Creating a PyKDE app – Rich Johnson
  • Creating an application from scratch with Quickly – Rick Spencer
  • Microblog from your app with the Gwibber API – Ken VanDine
  • What’s new in Quickly 0.4 – Didier Roche
  • Building in Application Indicator support – Sense Hofstede
  • Writing a Rhythmbox plug-in – Stuart Langridge
  • Create games with PyGame – Rick Spencer
  • Write Beautiful Code (and Maintain it Beautifully) – rockstar
  • Using GTK+ signals in Python – Sense Hofstede
  • Integrated development workflow with Ground Control – Martin Owens
  • Building multimedia into your app with GStreamer – Laszlo Pandy
  • Speed your development with quickly.widgets – Rick Spencer
  • Web browsing and rapid UI with WebKit – Ryan Paul

Each of these sessions is designed to give you a taste of the topic and get you up and running, enough to be productive and start exploring the features of the tool being discussed. In addition to this we will have a series of showcase sessions:

  • SHOWCASE: Gwibber – Ken VanDine
  • SHOWCASE: Lernid – Jono Bacon
  • SHOWCASE: Photobomb – Rick Spencer

These sessions explain the story behind the app: talking about which tools, modules and technology that was used to put these apps together and what challenges were solved. This is a great way to learn more about tools available for opportunistic developers so that when you need to do something, you know which tool to reach out for.

Now, many of you will be entirely new to Python and entirely new to coding. To give you folks a head start before the week kicks off, Rick Spencer from the desktop team will be running some beginners Python tuition sessions on the Thursday before Ubuntu Opportunistic Developer Week:

  • Thu 25th Feb 2010 – 15.00 UTC – Ubuntu Opp Dev Week Prep: Intro to Python for total beginners – Rick Spencer
  • Thu 25th Feb 2010 – 16.00 UTC – Ubuntu Opp Dev Week Prep: Intro to Python for programmers – Rick Spencer

We are still looking for sessions, and if you want to contribute and give one, just drop me an email at jono AT ubuntu DOT com.

All of this awesome content is best experienced using Lernid and I have asked Michael, the new Lernid maintainer if he can roll a new release this weekend. So, expect a new Lernid packaged and ready for the week of opportunistic goodness. If you would prefer to use a normal IRC client, just join #ubuntu-classroom and #ubuntu-classroom-chat to join in the fun. :-)

Rock and opportunistic roll, my friends. :-)

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Recently I announced Project Awesome Opportunity; an ambitious goal to build awesome collaboration facilities into Ubuntu that makes working together on projects as simple as possible. Project Awesome Opportunity is not just about coding: it is about people opportunistically creating things that scratch their itches. This could could anything from software to learning materials and more.

The project targets three primary use cases:

  1. Creating a software project – creating and working on a project be as simple as possible using the wonderful Quickly as a tool.
  2. Collaborating on content – working together with Bazaar and sending content to Launchpad.
  3. Fixing a Bug – taking the pain out of how you grab a bug to fix and contribute your fix back to the project.

I just wanted to follow up with the third of these three goals which Martin landed in Ground Control this week. Let me explain how it works.

Imagine you want to fix a bug. I created an example bug to do this demo:

To get started, you first go to your Projects directory and you can see some buttons:

Let’s now see how you can grab a project. Click the Fetch Project button and a dialog pops up where you can type in a project name which is hosted on Launchpad:

As you can see above, when you search, the projects are listed below. Just select the project and click OK and a directory appears in your Projects directory:

If you double-click on that directory you will see a few different buttons. We want to fix a bug, so click the Fix Bug button:

You will now see a dialog box where you can search for a bug within the project. When you search for a bug name or number the bugs appear. Click on the bug you want to fix and click the OK button:

Now a branch of the code will be downloaded to your directory:

When the code is downloaded the directory is named after the bug number:

You can now double-click on the directory and see the code:

Let’s do a simple change and add the following content to the README file:


When you have made some changes, you will see a new Upload Fix button in the file browser:

When you click that button you will now see a dialog box where you can enter what changes you made to the project (this is a commit message, and useful adding details about your bug fix):

Click OK and another dialog box will appear, this time asking for a content for a merge proposal – a merge proposal is a request to the owners of the project to merge your bug fix into the main code base. Enter a message and click OK:

The fix will then be uploaded and your merge proposal made and you can now see a View Request button:

When you click the button your browser will show the merge request page where you can have a conversation with the project developers about your proposed merge, work out any kinks and otherwise collaborate together:

In addition to making the merge proposal, Ground Control also attaches your branch with the fix to the original bug report:

This process takes a significant level of complexity out of the process of fixing bugs and streamlines the developer on the bookends of the process: identifying what you want to fix and submitting the fix. This gives the developer more time to focus on the bug fix itself, which in my mind is the point of great developer tools.

For this feature to flourish and for us to rock the socks off opportunistic developers everywhere, we are going to need your help, particularly with testing and where possible bug fixes. Here are the main ways in which you can help:

  • Fixing Bugs – Martin is largely a one man band on this project and he needs help fixing Ground Control Bugs. If you are interesting in helping, see the bug list here and get involved. He will love you and I will hail you. :-)
  • Testing – Testing is critical to this project. We have a tight timeframe on this, so we need you to help. How do you test? Simple, grab the dailly PPA of Ground Control set up by the awesome Nathan Handler, test it and report bugs.

The next step is building in top-level support for the awesome Quickly model of creating new applications and working on those applications at a code/UI and development level. This will neatly mesh together the application development ease of use of use in Quickly and the integration with Launchpad with Ground Control. Didier is a total rock star with Quickly, and 0.4 is sounding awesome, and I am excited to see how these tools will work together and make opportunistic development accessible for all.

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Something we have been spending some time working on in this cycle has been fixing the mess that is the system tray. This is based upon an awesome specification submitted to Freedesktop by KDE. The spec has been implemented by KDE, we have written an implementation for the GNOME panel and it shipped in Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx Alpha 2.

This work has a range of benefits:

  • Better usability: no more confusing mix of left and right click menu options.
  • Multiple indicators can be scrubbed: click once and move your mouse between them instead of having to click multiple times.
  • Icons are properly spaced.
  • Separate panel icons can be specified which helps improve theming.
  • Better KDE and GNOME integration.

I have blogged about this work before, but I had not yet seen the last bullet in action. Here, my friends, is the KDE application Kopete running in GNOME having it’s indicator rendered using GTK menus and respecting GTK icons where appropriate:

Of course, the equivilent happens running GNOME/GTK+ applications in KDE. Rocking!

We have also started adding application indicator support to many of the applications we ship in Ubuntu, and of course these patches are going upstream as they are written. Over the next week or so patches for Brasero, gnome-bluetooth, gnome-control-center, Vino, gnome-disk-utility, and gnome-power-manager will be sent upstream, and we have already sent Nautilus and Rhythmbox patches upstream. We have also seen the community create application indicator patches for Transmission, LottaNZB, Lernid and more.

If you would like to add this rocking support for your app, take a look at this guide and feel free to hang out in #ayatana on Freenode.

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Twitter, and Facebook have become an increasingly common medium in which people are communicating. While Google Wave vies to be the next generation of communication (as we waxed lyrical about on the recent Shot Of Jaq), in reality email and microblogging are unlikely to be unseated as primary methods of communication. Naturally, we want to make these methods of connecting people rock good and hard in Ubuntu.

Today Ken VanDine uploaded a new Gwibber to Lucid which adds improved reliability, multi-column views, a new theme and more. It looks like this:

I love you Ryan Paul. I cried 140 individual tears of joy.

This leads me to a simple conclusion:

Goodbye Tweetdeck. You suck considerably more than Gwibber.

No more ugly Adobe Air app. No more closed source Twitter client. No more lack of support. No more horrible notification bubbles. Instead, sweet, native, effortless microblogging, right from my Ubuntu desktop. A veritable ass kicking at at it’s finest.

Now, this is cool in of itself, but then combine it with the ability to tweet/dent right from the Me menu:

Microblogging built in, sleek and elegant. I am stoked, and Gwibber is rocking the house. Also, if you are the opportunistically development minded, don’t forget that you can build microblogging support into your apps with Gwibber’s API too, and there will be a session on how to do this at Ubuntu Opportunistic Developer Week.

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In the continued interests of helping to make Ubuntu rock as a platform for scratching itches and making awesome apps, I am putting together a new online learning event: Ubuntu Opportunistic Developer Week, happening online between 1st – 6th March 2010.

The week will be just like our previous online learning events such as Ubuntu Developer Week and Ubuntu Open Week, but instead providing a week jam packed with awesome sessions about writing applications that scratch your itch, and predominantly focusing on Python tools and frameworks, Bazaar, Launchpad and infrastructure. The goal for the week is give attendees a head start on a given technology useful for applications.

So, I am looking for volunteers. If you feel you could give a tutorial about a given Python module or associated technology (e.g. Glade, Launchpad, Bazaar etc), please drop me an email at jono AT ubuntu DOT com and I will liaise with you to get it scheduled. I am also look for some showcase sessions: stories about how you put together an application, how it scratched your itch and what tools you used. Thanks to everyone who contributes to leading a session!

The week has already been added as a Lernid event and I am going to encourage session leaders to create slides for their sessions. As each session is confirmed it will appear in Lernid and on the wiki page. Rocking!

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In the continued interests of making Ubuntu a rocking platform for opportunistic developers, today we formulated the plan for Project Awesome Opportunity. The goal is simple: build an opportunistic development workflow into Ubuntu. You will install one package from Universe and your Ubuntu will be hot-rodded for opportunistic application development, making development more fun and more accessible for a glorious itch scratching smackdown.

At the heart of the project is Ground Control by Martin Owens and Quickly by Rick Spencer and Didier Roche. I have been thinking about the challenges of how we build a great first incarnation of a platform optimised for opportunistic developers, and it struck me that we can divide the first set of tasks into three broad areas:

  • Creating a Project – we need to help opportunistic developers ramp up as quickly as possible: they feel the itch and they are ready to scratch right away.
  • Collaborating on a project – it should be really simple grab code, create a contribution and submit it to the project.
  • Fixing a Bug – bugs are at the heart of software projects, and we should optimize the bug fixing process making it a doddle for opportunistic bug fixing developers to grab some code and make it work.

A key part of this workflow which I designed yesterday is the Fixing a Bug component, and this is something I am really passionate about us trying to deliver in the Lucid timeframe. This is not a formal project that my team is working on, this is something that I am focused on in my spare time and coordinating with Ground Control author and rock star, Martin Owens.

Let me explain how it works:

Opportunistic development lives in the Projects/ directory in your home directory. When you load this directory in Nautilus, you see this:

Ground Control places three buttons that identify the key use cases we are keen to satisfy. When the user clicks the ”Fix Bug” button the following dialog box appears

For the first cut of this feature a bug number is required, but the feature could also include a search box for finding bugs and even potentially have an option on the Launchpad project page saying ”Fix a bug on your desktop” (or some other descriptive term) and when you click that link, Nautilus opens up and is fed the bug number.

When a bug number is submitted, Ground Control will create a branch that the bug affects (typically trunk) into your Projects/ directory. You can then go and hack the code:

When a source file in the branch is changed (and ultimately the coder fixes the bug), we now see an ”Upload Fix” button:

At this point the branch has the fix committed, so the coder clicks the button and then sees this dialog box:

This dialog box asks for the following:

  • The first box is the content that goes into the commit message.
  • The second box is the content that goes into the merge proposal.
  • The third box is optional additional characters for the branch name.

When the user clicks the OK button, the following process occurs:

  • Bazaar commits to the local branch.
  • The branch is pushed to the branch location specified.
  • The branch is added to the bug report.
  • A merge proposal is made.

So, I fleshed this idea out over the last few days and documented it and had a chat with Martin Owens who created Ground Control, and he has committed to finish off the current feature set of Ground Control and creating the Fix a Bug feature in the next two weeks. Martin has volunteered to invest a significant amount of time and effort into solving this problem in Ground Control, and I am going to be working to grow awareness of the project, handle the packaging in Universe, and help to get more people involved in testing and translations. See the Create a Project, Collaborate and Fix a Bug blueprints for this feature. Feel free to subscribe to them to track progress.

For this feature to flourish and for us to rock the socks off opportunistic developers everywhere, we are going to need your help, particularly with testing and where possible bug fixes. Here are the main ways in which you can help:

  • Fixing Bugs – Martin is largely a one man band on this project and he needs help fixing Ground Control Bugs. If you are interesting in helping, see the bug list here and get involved. He will love you and I will hail you. :-)
  • Testing – Testing is critical to this project. We have a tight timeframe on this, so we need you to help. How do you test? Simple, grab the dailly PPA of Ground Control set up by the awesome Nathan Handler, test it and report bugs.
  • Moral Support – Martin Owens is doctormo on Freenode. Ping him and tell him he is awesome. He and I hang out in #ubuntu-community-team: buy him a virtual beer.

So that is the goal. Let’s see if we can rock it and fire up more opportunistic developers.

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Something I have talked about extensively recently has been my passion to see opportunistic developers served well on the Linux desktop. These kinds of programmers are people who want to write small, focused, fun little applications that scratch an itch, even if that itch is to have fun. These kinds of developers are having a whale of a time filling the iPhone App Store with scratch-your-itch type of applications, and I am really keen to see more of these kinds of applications on the Linux desktop, and making Ubuntu the perfect platform to develop them on.

We have been seeing a growing movement inside the Ubuntu community in helping to make Ubuntu a rocking platform for opportunistic developers. While all the components are Open Source and can be shipped on any distribution, I am really keen for Ubuntu to really optimize and integrate around the needs of opportunistic programmers and I just wanted to highlight some of the work that has happened here.

In much the same way that Linux/Apache/MySQL/PHP (LAMP) became a popular arrangement of tools for web development, we have been seeing a similar scenario in Ubuntu too, in which a set of tools work well together and are often preferred by developers. These are:

  • Python – a simple, easy to learn, flexible and efficient high-level language.
  • GTK – a simple, comprehensive and powerful graphical toolkit for creating applications.
  • GNOME – the desktop environment that ships with Ubuntu, offering many integration facilities.
  • GStreamer – a powerful but deliciously simple framework for playing back and creating audio, video and other multimedia content.
  • Glade – an application for creating user interfaces quickly and easily, which can then be loaded right into your Python programs.
  • DesktopCouch – a framework for saving content in a database that is fast and efficient, hooks neatly into Ubuntu One and is awesome for replication.

In Ubuntu land we love this framwork. Many of our applications are written using them and this helped make it simple for others to get involved and contribute patches and bug fixes. It has been interesting seeing many folks settle on the same set of tools.

There are of course may other tools and facilities that can augment this list, but this is a common foundation in many applications. Fortunately, all of these ship with an Ubuntu system except Glade, but you can install Glade 3 by using Applications->Ubuntu Software Center.

Many of you will have heard of Quickly which provides a devilishly simple way of generating a new application, hacking on the code, changing the GUI and saving it to bazaar. Quickly also provides some awesome features for uploading the code to Launchpad and releasing your program to others in a Personal Package Archive.

What I like about Quickly is that it automates much of repetition surrounding software development and it ultimately allows you to deploy software to a PPA which people can then download and use. Now, PPAs are a little more complicated to install right now: you need to know what a PPA is, know where to find it, and click a few things or enter some commands to switch it on. Fortunately, the rather awesome Ubuntu Software Center which everyone’s favourite Vogt…Michael Vogt…is developing, is going to be extended with functionality to better support PPAs. This, combined with the ratings and review features coming to the Ubuntu Software Center is pretty rocking. I am not sure of the specifics of how PPAs will be supported, but I believe they will first begin on visibility and then follow up with integration features later. If you want to get started with quickly take a look at this entry.

With Quickly able to get folks up and running with development, I wanted to make it easier for opportunistic developers to get their hands on code snippets and examples to learn from. As such, I created the Acire and Python Snippets projects. These projects provide a simple means in which you get access to a freely available regularly updated library of examples, across a range of different areas. With Acire you will always have a growing knowledge base of real code that you can read, run and share, and the community works together to regularly add to and support that knowledge base. The response so far has been great and you can read more about this in my previous blog post.

So, at this point we have all the tools needed to build applications, learn from code examples, and publish packages that ultimately will be visible in the Ubuntu Software Center. The one area that neither Quickly nor Acire has particularly served well is improving on how we collaborate together on software. Few Open Source projects have one sole developer, so we really want developers work well together, in conjunction with translators, documentation writers, bug triagers and more.

To do this we have the rather awesome Launchpad and Bazaar which are a doddle to use. Launchpad provides everything you need to work together on a software project and I have become a bit of a Launchpad fan as I have got used to using it. In my earlier days I tried Sourceforge, Trac and other systems, but Launchpad is rocking it for me.

While I love Launchpad and Bazaar, their integration in Ubuntu could have been better. As an example, to get code in and out of Launchpad so you can contribute to a project, you use the bzr command and the process typically works like this:

  • You download some code from the Launchpad project with bzr.
  • You branch the code: this effectively means making a duplicate directory of the code.
  • In that duplicate directory you add a feature, fix a bug or make some other kind of improvement.
  • You then commit your changes to your local branch: this effectively tells Bazaar of the changes you have made.
  • You then upload your branch to Launchpad (this is called pushing a branch).
  • The final step is to propose a merge. This is when you offer your branch and it’s changes to the project maintainer to merge into the main codebase. Launchpad ties together nicely with bzr to handle this process and has a web front end for doing code review.

Now, understanding how all this works and doing it a few times takes a little getting used to, and much of it is learning how to use the different bzr commands and how they hook in with Launchpad. Well, very recently my friend and yours Martin ‘doctormo’ Owens has released his Ground Control project which provides a graphical interface to the whole process by building it into the file manager in Ubuntu. I cannot tell you how bloody cool this is. It works a little like this:

  • You create a Projects directory in your home directory.
  • Click Places->Home Folder and go to the new Projects folder.
  • In there you can see a button to login to Launchpad. Click the button, enter your username and password. Job done.
  • You now see a a button where you can select a project to work on. Click on it, enter a project name, select it and it creates a new folder.
  • Now go into the folder and there is a button to download the code. Click it, select a branch and the code is downloaded.
  • You can now hack on your feature and a button will appear to commit your changes.
  • Finally, you will then see a button to propose a merge. You enter some text to describe your change, and it is uploaded.

No commands. None. What I love about Ground Control is that it is highly contextual: it is built into the file manager and it only ever shows you a button for what you can do at that time. It is simple, quick and Martin has done a wonderful job with it. Go and see a video demo of Martin showing Ground Control here.

Ground Control is still very very new so expect bugs, but do give it a go, report bugs, and importantly, he is looking for help to make sure it has full translations support. If you have done this before, drop him a line. The Ground Control Launchpad project is here.

With each of these components we are seeing more and more gaps in the integration and ease of the development process getting filled. I am hugely excited about this and I am excited about it bringing more and more people to Ubuntu as a development platform and it ultimately generating more and more Free Software for us all to use. We still have a long road ahead though and plenty of good work yet to do. If you think there is a gap you can fill, come and help us rock it. :-)

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Recently I have been talking about how stoked I am that we are solving the problems in the notification area with Application Indicators based on this spec from the KDE team. We are now shipping this functionality in Lucid with Rhythmbox, Nautilus, Empathy, XChat-GNOME, Lernid and other applications using it.

Application developers are pretty excited about the technology, and as such we have scheduled a tutorial session about how to make use of the application indicator framework as part of the awesome Ubuntu Developer Week. The session is today, the 26th Jan at 7pm UTC / 11am PST / 2pm EST lead by the always awesome Ted Gould. More info on joining the session is here or you can use Lernid to join really easily.

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Something we have been spending some time working on in this cycle has been fixing the mess that is the system tray. This is based upon an awesome specification submitted to Freedesktop by KDE. The spec has been implemented by KDE, we have written an implementation for the GNOME panel and it will ship in Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx Alpha 2. We have also started adding application indicator support to many of the applications we ship in Ubuntu, and of course these patches are going upstream as they are written. I would to encourage GNOMErs to join the discussion on the XDG list regarding the spec.

I think the Application Indicator framework rocks. It solves a problem that has niggled me for years: with it system tray applets now have a consistent UI in terms of spacing, a unified left click to access the menu (no more confusing different left/right menus in different apps), you can scrub between icons, KDE applications render their application indicator menus in GNOME as GTK menus and vice versa and the whole shebang is a lot more accessible.

The Application Indicator team have produced C, Mono and Python bindings and documented it all on this wiki page. I wanted to have a play with it with Python so I knocked together a simple little script that demos how it works:

#!/usr/bin/env python
# [SNIPPET_NAME: Create an Application Indicator]
# [SNIPPET_CATEGORIES: Application Indicator]
# [SNIPPET_DESCRIPTION: How to create an application indicator and add items to it]
# [SNIPPET_AUTHOR: Jono Bacon <>]

import pygtk
import gtk
import appindicator

class AppIndicatorExample:
    def __init__(self):
        self.ind = appindicator.Indicator ("example-simple-client", "indicator-messages", appindicator.CATEGORY_APPLICATION_STATUS)
        self.ind.set_status (appindicator.STATUS_ACTIVE)
        self.ind.set_attention_icon ("indicator-messages-new")

        # create a menu = gtk.Menu()

        # create items for the menu - labels, checkboxes, radio buttons and images are supported:

        item = gtk.MenuItem("Regular Menu Item")

        check = gtk.CheckMenuItem("Check Menu Item")

        radio = gtk.RadioMenuItem(None, "Radio Menu Item")

        image = gtk.ImageMenuItem(gtk.STOCK_QUIT)
        image.connect("activate", self.quit)


    def quit(self, widget, data=None):

def main():
    return 0

if __name__ == "__main__":
    indicator = AppIndicatorExample()

To make this as helpful as possible for people I have added it to python-snippets which you can of course enjoy using my little Acire tool that I blogged about recently. If you want to give it a go, I recommend you use it with another app that uses Application Indicators, and then you can play with scrubbing between icons and using the arrows on your keyboard to move around. It is pretty awesome.

To continue playing with it I thought I would have a go at writing an application indicator plugin for the always awesome Getting Things GNOME. I only had time spend an hour or so on it last night, but my work in progress is available in this branch. Most of it is complete, but what I am missing from the framework is a signal when a user clicks on the indicator icon: I need this to re-generate the dynamic list of tasks in that menu. I spoke to Ted Gould about it and he said this is likely to be added in the future. When it is ready I will propose it to upstream GTG for inclusion. :-)

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We are currently looking for two paid home-based contractor positions in Europe or the USA to come and work at Canonical to write some upstream code to help GNOME applications fit into the full Ubuntu desktop experience. This is an awesome opportunity for talented GNOME developers and a a great way to dip your feet into the Ubuntu development team. The roles involve these elements:


  • Create patches for GNOME Desktop applications to provide complete integration with the Ubuntu desktop experience
  • Work with upstreams on planning and creating packages
  • Work with upstreams to get patches integrated upstream
  • Fix integration related bugs and other bugs


  • Ability to hack in C and Python
  • Experience with bzr, git, and other concurrent versioning systems
  • Experience with launchpad and bugzilla bug tracking
  • Social skills needed to interact with upstreams and Ubuntu teams
  • Ability to set work schedule and systematically report on status

If you are interested, we are looking to fill these roles ASAP, so email me at jono AT ubuntu DOT com ASAP and I will forward you on to the right people.

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After a wonderful week in England with family celebrating Christmas, Erica and I flew home to the East Bay. We were sat at Heathrow having a cup of coffee and I was thinking of what I occupy myself with on the plane ride over. Unfortunately, Lernid hacking was out of the question as I had no net connection on the plane, so I got to thinking of something else. After some busy hacking time at 35,000 feet I am proud to show of the results of my labor: a little program called Acire.

Let me provide a bit of an introduction.

I love Python and I love PyGTK and as I have waxed lyrical about recently, I am passionate about how tools such as Quickly are lowering the bar for opportunistic programmers to scratch their itch. The problem is, much as Python and PyGTK are incredible for writing apps, like any other tool they still need to be learned, and the best way to learn is by downloading, running and playing with code snippets. Traditionally this has involved finding scattered bits of sample code online and stuffing it into a directory. Not only do we download other people’s sample code but we often write our own little code snippets as we learn new parts of these tools, and these would be perfect to share with others. Unfortunately, many of us never end up putting them anywhere online. Acire is a first step in making this whole process easier.

Right now, Acire is a tool that allows you to browse snippets easily. It looks like this:

The combo box in the top left provides different categories of snippets. In the screenshot above you can see the general category PyGTK, but there is no reason why we can’t have sub-categories such as PyGTK -> TreeViews. When you select a category, the list underneath it shows all the current snippets. Clicking on a snippet not only loads the code in the view to the right, but also provides a simple description and location of the snippet underneath the code. You can then run the snippet by clicking the Execute button or copy the full code to the clipboard by clicking the Copy button.

To make snippets work in Acire, I have created some simple metadata tags that snippet authors should put at the top of the snippet in the code. Here is an example:

# [SNIPPET_NAME: Actions]
# [SNIPPET_DESCRIPTION: Demonstrates using Actions with a gtk.Action and gtk.AccelGroup]

To test this out I have already added this meta data content to all the examples from the PyGTK Manual. This functionality already makes browsing available snippets, running them and looking at the code an absolute doddle.

I have just got in from a day of traveling, I am exhausted, and headed to bed. I will get the code online tomorrow and talk more about plans for Acire. :-)

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I am really excited to see Ted’s post regarding some of the improvements coming to the desktop notification area. This part of our desktop has become something of a wild west – icons look ugly, are spaced too close together, have left/right click inconstancy, often provide obscure and inaccessible widgets and cannot be easily controlled across notification icons with a single keyboard shortcut. This approach will fix many of these issues.

This approach has two distinctive components – the user interface improvements and the technology to implement. The user interface changes I think are really interesting and bring some distinctive benefits:

  • Application indicators are more consistent – no more left and right-click inconsistency. Always left click to see the items.
  • Scrubbing – you can click once on an app indicator and scrub left and right through other indicators with your mouse.
  • More accessible – importantly, scrubbing also applies to the keyboard: this means you could bind a key to the indicator applet, hit that key and then use the arrow keys to navigate through all the indicators.
  • Themable panel icons – you can set a specific icon to be a panel icon for an indicator: this should make it easier for creating single colour panel icons for light and dark themes.
  • KDE/GNOME compatability – one thing that really excites me is that by using this spec, KDE applications running in GNOME will have their application notification menus rendered with GTK widgets and vice-versa.

I am really excited about the opportunities this brings to the desktop, and I am also really excited about us working with our friends in KDE on this spec.

I wanted to give this a roll in my more native Python tongue so I added the Karmic PPA and started playing with the module. I contributed my code as an example on the wiki. Here it is to show how it works:

import gobject
import gtk
import appindicator

if __name__ == "__main__":
    ind = appindicator.Indicator ("example-simple-client", "indicator-messages", appindicator.CATEGORY_APPLICATION_STATUS)
    ind.set_status (appindicator.STATUS_ACTIVE)
    ind.set_attention_icon ("indicator-messages-new")

    # create a menu
    menu = gtk.Menu()

    # create some labels
    for i in range(3):
        buf = "Test-undermenu - %d" % i

    menu_items = gtk.MenuItem(buf)


    # this is where you would connect your menu item up with a function:

    # menu_items.connect("activate", self.menuitem_response, buf)

    # show the items



I basically created an indicator object and threw a GTK menu into it and as if by magic my app appeared in the notification panel, properly spaced out and enjoying the benefits I mentioned above. Pretty simple. :-)

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