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The future of Galeon

I’ve also just sent this to the Galeon and Epiphany mailing lists. Let the chaos begin…

Tommi, Crispin and I were all able to attend the GNOME summit last weekend, even though Crispin had to pay his own way :-) So, it was a good opportunity for us to sit down and discuss the future of Galeon. All of us are very much working fulltime which limits the extent to which we can hack on Galeon and the amount of activity you’ve observed speaks for itself.

As such, we’ve reached the conclusion that we have to change our approach if we’re going to avoid Galeon getting stale or bit-rotting; which is important for all of us, as we all use Galeon because we still think it’s the best thing out there :-)

So, what does changing our approach mean? It means considering Epiphany in a new light; Galeon still does a lot of things, small and large, that Epiphany either doesn’t do or doesn’t do as well, but at the same time, there are some areas where they’ve moved in front, and most importantly Epiphany has a bunch of active maintainers who are handling the things that we struggle to do for Galeon. But you say: Epiphany doesn’t fit my needs or I’d be using it already! True, so our proposal is to bring
Galeon to Epiphany.

Epiphany has a powerful extensions mechanism that exposes many of the core structures of the program and there is a general willingness to expose more as necessary. This means that many galeon features can be recast as extensions, and Crispin has already done this for a couple of things: the sidebar is now in epiphany-extensions and he’s got a few more hidden away such as in-browser view-source. Also don’t forget that some other features have been independently ported as extensions already, such as the javascript console.

There are a few galeon features which are hard to implement as extensions and/or are of a class that makes them desirable within the base Epiphany package, and these should be directly ported. I’ve already made a couple of checkins to port back/forward history copying and middle-clicking on history entries.

Between these two approaches and the more pragmatic direction that epiphany is moving in these days (heirarchical bookmark support has just been checked in!), I believe that we can reach a point where Epiphany + a set of extensions will provide the same functionality that Galeon does today.

This seems an optimal solution for everyone; it allows us, the galeon developers, to avoid duplicating work with epiphany team, it will allow users to leverage the best from both browsers and most importantly, it puts galeon on a much firmer footing for the future that is not so much at the mercy of our ability to find time to hack on it.

I hope that this sounds like a good long term strategy to everyone, but if you do find yourself recoiling from it, do realise that the current approach is unsustainable and will almost certainly result in galeon becoming unmaintained or falling too far behind in some areas, meaning that you’ll be struggling to keep using it anyway.

This process will probably take some time given our other commitments, so we intend to make a formal 2.0 galeon release (long overdue really) and keep that compiling against newer releases of mozilla, but our efforts will be directed towards this extension project.

Of course, anybody who wants to help out, either with the extensions or with maintaining the current galeon codebase, is more than welcome!

I’ve added a wiki page at Epiphany/GaleonIssues which lists current stuff I can think of. I encourage anyone to add anything that I’ve missed, but if you want to list a Galeon 1.2 feature please categorise it separately :-)

{ 14 } Comments

  1. "Silver Drake" | 22nd October 2005 at 14:44 | Permalink

    I’m an almost happy Galeon user, and I often thought of switching to Epiphany for a couple of reasons (mainly the fact that it felt lighter and it’s bookmark system looks very interesting). Still there’s some things I like very much in Galeon and would like to still have on a different browser:
    - opening a link in a new tab does not “erase” the history, so I can go back from the new tab as well as from the old one
    - the chance to open *everything* in tabs only
    - one thing is not available in neither browsers: the chance to activate/deactivate single plugins from the browser. Sometimes I have to use QT (via Crossover), which usually I’d keep turned off since it’s quite heavy, and it would be great being able to switch off Flash for a while, so it would be a welcome addition.
    - Having the search engines bookmarks collapsable and with graphics (like in Galeon) would not hurt either.
    Also, a suggestion for a sidebar function, while we are on the subject: site preview like in kazehakase http://kazehakase.sourceforge.jp/screenshots/ss20040828.png

    Anyway, thanks a lot for the incredible work to all of you in the Galeon team did in these years, Galeon is just the best browser around :)

  2. Eugenia | 22nd October 2005 at 14:47 | Permalink

    The thing with Galeon is that is not as usable as Epiphany is. Its interface and preferences are almost chaotic. Maybe the Galeon devs should start cleaning up that part first, before adding one more major feature like plugins and what not.

    While Epiphany does not have all the features Galeon does, most people prefer it not only because it comes by default with Gnome (which is a major help for Epiphany’s adoption) but also because it feels simpler to use.

    Remember, even the Mozilla stuff didn’t take off until Firefox got released and offered a simpler interface. Maybe Galeon should go to that direction too? More users will ultimately mean more developers too.

  3. Philip Langdale | 22nd October 2005 at 15:00 | Permalink

    Eugenia, I’m not sure what you’re writing in response to, but it’s certainly not my blog post.

  4. Ploum | 22nd October 2005 at 15:09 | Permalink

    Applause !

    All I can say is : wow…

    It’s not so often you can read a post so intelligent, so pragmatic, so… You deserve a big bunch of applause.

    It’s this kind of idea who make a project move forward.

    Long live Galeon and Epiphany

  5. root | 22nd October 2005 at 15:26 | Permalink

    The only reason I use epiphany, and not firefox is the ability to put a bookmark in more than one category. Are you dropping support for this?

  6. Philip Langdale | 22nd October 2005 at 15:34 | Permalink

    Silver Drake, you’ll see that most of what you mention it already on the issues page, and I’ve actually already implemented history copying in Epiphany cvs.

    root (Hope you’re not logged in like that), we’re not removing anything from Epiphany; this project is about making Epiphany something that Galeon users will want to use, through a combination of extensions and some core improvements. I don’t think that removing support for topics would help anyone. :-)

  7. Sebastian Dröge | 22nd October 2005 at 16:23 | Permalink

    That’s really great news for both Galeon and Epiphany users :)
    One thing that’s IMHO missing on that wikipage is the tab-completion support for the address bar like in Galeon. This should be doable as an extension right now and I planned to do it but I don’t have the time for it currently. So maybe you guys can do it while you’re at it?! :)
    Thanks for all your work!

  8. Brett | 22nd October 2005 at 17:38 | Permalink

    I’ve been using Galeon since it was the big dog of graphical free software browsers. I want to thank you for all your work, both in the past and the future, and congratulate you on coming to such a mature decision. Best of luck to both the Galeon and Epiphany teams!

  9. Christine | 22nd October 2005 at 18:48 | Permalink

    I’m really rather excited about this prospect, as I have tried using Epiphany but have found myself wishing for a few things such as forcing all links into tabs, complete cookie control, etc.

    Plus, anyone would be able to pick and choose what features they want to add and which they don’t.

    Thank you. :)

  10. Wouter Bolsterlee | 23rd October 2005 at 01:28 | Permalink

    Bookmark nicknames and working Emacs-keybindings are the two reasons I don’t use Epiphany right now. I see these two issues are on the TODO list, so I’m looking forward to switching to Epiphany after years of Galeon pleasure!

  11. Niels L Ellegaard | 23rd October 2005 at 23:45 | Permalink

    I tried getting used to Epiphany for a while, but I switched back because of all the little helpful details:

    New tabs remember the history of their ancestor
    ctrl-return opens a new tab in smart bookmarks
    You don’t need to press ctrl-l every time you open a new tab
    ctrl-left click opens a new tab (useful on laptops)
    etc… etc… etc…

    Everybody likes Galeon for different reasons, but the set of features that I like the most do not require a complete rewrite of Epiphany. Anyway I wanted to wish you guys good luck, and thank you for consistently providing the best linux browser for the last four years.

  12. Phil | 24th October 2005 at 08:01 | Permalink

    Heh; Eugenia is clueless. (What is new, eh?)

    I’m quite glad to see you are joining forces. Working together makes things better for everyone, and I can hardly wait to see what Ephy will look like in 2.14.

  13. Niels L Ellegaard | 26th October 2005 at 03:50 | Permalink

    Please also remember
    “right click” -> “open with”

    Perhaps a copy of this entry could be placed as “files” -> “open with”. This would allow me to use gimp to open pdf files.

  14. Scott | 31st October 2005 at 09:46 | Permalink

    The problem with both Galeon and Epiphany is that they are Galeon and Epiphany and not Firefox.

{ 2 } Trackbacks

  1. [...] Good to hear about Epiphany getting psuedo-hierarchical bookmarks (actually, just organizing a topic-menu in the toolbar based on other topics that bookmarks belong to). That’s the only reason I have to use Firefox, which I really don’t like—almost but not quite integration is irritating. [...]

  2. Tagged bookmarks : Havoc's Blog | 23rd October 2010 at 11:14 | Permalink

    [...] Epiphany seri­ously switch away from tag-based book­marks right when the whole web 2.0 crowd is hav­ing a col­lec­tive hype-gasm about tag­ging and [...]