Second day at the GCDS

Here is my account of the things I saw and learn during the second day of the Gran Canaria Desktop Summit, a day later than intended thanks to the fine folks at Nokia who invited us to a party  which began at the sensible and European (and therefore quite alien for a Spaniard) time of nine and a half.

I attended many talks yesterday, of which the three that I found more interesting where the ones about Tracker, Zeitgeist and GnomeShell. It is true that the sum is sometimes bigger than the parts alone, and we might well be before one of such occasions.

Tracker indexes your information items (on the filesystem and on the Internet), and records properties and values about them. In the future, such values could be not only basic types but also objects themselves, thus creating graphs of information that represent more accurately the complex ways in which we interact with our data.

Zeitgeist strives to solve a complex problem with an elegant solution. The problem is identifying what the user is really doing at a given time, understanding the activities that are going on even if they involve several different applications, files and whatnot. The solution, at its simplest, is just logging events and then analize them in order to extract the history and the current situation of the user’s interaction with the system. Events can be of two types: activities that the user does (i.e. open a file or URL) and notifications that just happen (i.e. incoming email or changed location).

The most interesting point about Gnome Shell is not its concrete user interface, but the technologies behing it. The actual code is just a few thousand lines long, thanks to the use of JavaScript and several libraries to make it able to access Clutter, the window manager and other GObject-based libraries seamlessly. Its use of the two other projects mentiones above offers an exciting playground for developers to try their crazy ideas about how the interaction with our computers should be.

And now, time to run to the conferences again. If you are in Gran Canaria, don’t miss the Gnome party tonight!

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