thoughts

A different direction for a brighter future

What follows is an email I sent to the Enligthenment Developer list today. For some time I have wondered if the project has lost it’s way and I finally decided it’s time to make a move – and announce my new project at http://fyne.io! I know there are others who are thinking about what the future might hold in desktop software – if you want to try something new please get in touch!

I’ve been following the Enlightenment project for 15 years having got involved originally due to the catchy graphics, innovative approach and friendly community. We’ve had up times and down times as some may remember but right now I have serious concerns about the future of this project.

When I joined the Enlightenment team it felt like we were building something shiny and new for those that wanted a slick, beautiful alternative desktop. After many years of development we got E17 and the EFL, but who was EFL for? It enables E but why are we building it (for whom)? Over time this question has become harder to answer and with commercial support came additional confusion as to its purpose. Take Elementary for example. It is documented as being light and minimal, but it isn’t. We encourage developers to build desktop apps despite it not being built for purpose and we allow widget contributions from people who don’t even test with the standard theme.

In addition are the technical issues with our (EFL) codebase. It has evolved organically since the beginning and we have had various namespace changes, splitting and re-combining that brings with it a significant legacy. The Eo/Interfaces project was a chance to leave that behind and build things “the right way” but unfortunately it’s implementation is being heavily shaped by legacy choices or restrictions that are bleeding out through the new API as complexity or confusion. The type of change that we are attempting cannot be completed effectively without up front planning, guiding vision and regular releases to our target audience.

And finally I have observed over the last few years our community becoming less friendly – at times even hostile – towards developers both new and established. When I started Edi to help get new developers on board our mailing list and IRC channel welcomed inquisitive, questioning minds but now I often see contrary thought being beaten back. I don’t know the cause of this change but I do see it damaging our chances of success.

Unfortunately I don’t think these problems can be fixed within the current project and community. Therefore I have decided to work on something new and separate so that I can avoid these shortcomings.

This new project aims to provide a great API for application developers to quickly create beautiful, usable, lightweight applications for desktop and mobile. Driven by design and usability principles it is a chance to break from current desktop app drudgery to create something joyous akin to material design and iOS’s interface simplicity.

Ideally it will be built on top of EFL, leveraging the great work that exists here but abstracting it away from the user so that internal changes and object lifecycle never bother API users. The development environment will be polished such that new developers can easily get up and running using the same tools as the development team. It will be built using modern tooling and platforms that reduce the barrier to entry and allow any potential developers or collaborators to see what we are working towards, how we are doing and how they can get involved.

[snip]

If anyone reading these posts is interested in getting involved then please check out our current status at the fyne repo wiki. I am excited about what can be created if we are not stuck with a significant legacy of old code and negative thinking :).

Photo by Franck Veschi on Unsplash

“hope and inspiration appear from behind the clouds” – Helen MacLeod