Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Backlogs and Real Life

The last three months have been a bit crazy, with far too much "real life" hitting us upside the head. Things have finally settled in a bit so that I'll be able to get my head above water and surface again. Aside from diving head first at the new day job and surviving the holidays, much had happened in the tech world.

I still haven't had time to finish my writeup of SVG Open (partly since I accepted the new day job while I was attending it up in Mountain View). Then there was the Google Summer of Code Mentors' summit. Great things happened there. Then I had to prep for our visit to New Zealand as co-organizer for a Libre Graphics Day miniconf and as a speaker at the main linux.conf.au. Then we had SCALE8x come 'round where I presented yet another talk and then also run the Inkscape booth on the show floor. Toss in getting a new tech (adaptive UI) going, starting a new project with other CREATE guys, and doing battle across the board to help get proper CMYK support out for end users everywhere.


On top of all that was work for Inkscape and trying to get new features solid for the next release, 0.48. Thankfully I was able to squeeze the time in to finish up the basic support and UI for per-document color/swatch palettes. This allows for basic colors to be stored as a set in a given document, but also for gradients to be included in that. One big thing that inclusion accomplishes is breaking down the artificial barriers software engineers have imposed on artists for far too long. Assets had been artificially separated by their *implementation*, without regard for how artists actually are used to working. This also enabled many workflow enhancements including making art recoloring easier, indicating which swatches are in use on the selected object, etc.

Work on the new input devices dialog also came through. Aside from more end users getting their hands on tablets and such, we had a push in that the ugly outdated GTK+ dialog is being removed. And just in the nick of time we had Krzysztof step up and investigate some of the win32 tablet bugs and get some insight on the problem with Aiptek and others showing up with broken names. I was able to help refine the fixups there wile getting them set to be reimplemented in the new dialog.

And then there is the basic work on adaptive UI. This is a very promising area, and is just beginning to show the tip of the iceberg. I'm implementing internals based in part on Michael Terry's work with INGIMP he has presented at LGM. Though 0.48 will only expose a tiny bit of what can go on, the support in Inkscape will give it some very useful functionality in even the near term. We're looking at only giving 0.48 a few set layout modes, but with some handy logic behind the scenes to assist users getting what they need without having to think as much.

Unfortunately, though, we were unable to find time to work in support for Wii remotes, joysticks, and the SpaceNavigator someone at LCA lent me. We are on track to get more in, and 0.49 might even see some of that. Some of this (like using guitar game controllers) might sound a bit silly. However there are some very interesting ways these can be worked in and give Inkscape some nice functionality for average users. And, of course, more hardware toys always makes the geeks happier.

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