Thursday, October 1, 2009

Tomboy Hits 1.0



It's been just over five years since Alex Graveley made the first commit to Tomboy CVS, unleashing a brilliantly simple note-taking application for people who just wanted to Get Stuff Done.


Tomboy Back In The Day (click for Alex's blog post)



Three years ago (right after I joined the project), Tomboy became a part of GNOME 2.16. It was about this time that Boyd Timothy joined the fun and became a co-maintainer with Alex. Much of the polish in Tomboy and many of the features you take for granted such as notebooks, synchronization, and bulleted lists appeared during his stewardship. After helping with sync, I was "promoted" to co-maintainer, too.

After Boyd and Calvin Gaisford (of Giver and Tasque fame) left to start their own company last year, I was left as the sole maintainer. I'm trying to do my part to build on the legacy left by Alex and Boyd. Fortunately for me, Tomboy seems to attract cool people like Chris Scobell, Stefan Schweizer, Benjamin Podszun, and dozens of others who have contributed major features and fixes.

One of the funny little things that tends to come up at Tomboy planning meetings is the version number. Tomboy's been around for five years now, and really it's been a pretty solid app for the majority of that history, especially once it became part of the GNOME desktop. So why is it versioned like some alpha product?

Tomboy in your dock (click for full-screen shot)


Tomboy runs on every major operating system, is used by 50 kabillion people every day [citation needed], and even if we have more grand plans, Tomboy today really does help people Get Stuff Done.

So we're calling our new stable release 1.0, the first release of the 1.0.x stable series. The next big stable release will be 1.2, etc etc. I hope this arbitrary change will instill a sense of confidence in users, and maybe even get people thinking about what "Tomboy 2.0" might mean.

Here's what's new in Tomboy 1.0 since the 0.14.x stable releases:
  • WebSync add-in lets you synchronize your notes with the upcoming Tomboy Online web service, your own server running Snowy, or any other server implementing the new Tomboy Web REST API, which will soon include Ubuntu One and Midgard. Big thanks to Rodrigo Moya and Stuart Langridge from Canonical for their help on this.
  • NoteDirectoryWatcher add-in from Michael Fletcher (disabled by default) finally lets you edit your note files outside of Tomboy safely, even while it's running, opening the door for all sorts of ad-hoc sync solutions if you don't want to use a server.
  • Underline add-in from Mark Wakim (disabled by default).
  • Faster start-up.
  • UI improvements in note searching.
  • More keyboard shortcuts.
  • Loads of bug fixes.
  • Updated documentation (a complete revamp is on the way for the GNOME 2.30 cycle).
  • Notes and other files migrated to new standard directories.


I'm really excited about this release, because to me it represents a foundation. A lot of cruft has been cleaned up. Tomboy is leaner and meaner. Note and configuration files have moved to standard locations, making backups and upgrades better. Accessing those note files is now a less scary proposition. This is a good foundation on which we can build Tomboy's future.

With that in mind, here are some features I would love to tackle for Tomboy 1.2 if we can:
  • Automatic synchronization.
  • More work on Snowy, Tomboy Online, and social features integrated right into Tomboy.
  • Note sharing via Telepathy, and maybe even collaborative editing.
  • A new innovative workflow for managing simple task lists (with integration points for EDS or Tasque wherever it makes sense).
  • Customizable, themeable, simplified note UI.
  • Rethinking notebooks and search.
  • Better gnome-shell integration.
  • Better Tomboy experience on Mac OS X.
  • Additional memory and performance enhancements.
  • Your ideas and patches!


Personally, I'm really inspired by GNOME 2.28's "Made to Share" slogan, so I expect that will be a running theme in Tomboy 1.2.

I'll make sure to announce when we pick a date and time for our roadmap planning meeting, which is when we will choose what features we really want to focus on this cycle.

You may have read that we now have an official PPA for Ubuntu users. This is all thanks to Alan Pope and Jorge Castro. Since the announcement of the PPA a few other people have joined the tomboy-packagers team so I'm looking forward to being able to provide instant gratification to Ubuntu users on any distro since Jaunty, whether they want the latest stable or the latest development release.

In openSUSE land, the GNOME team is working on a specific organization for repositories like this, but I have the packages ready in my home project, so if you want Tomboy 1.0.0 for openSUSE 11.1 or later (including SLED 11), you can get them here for now:



This post brought to you by the Tomboy Blogposter add-in.

10 comments:

phocean said...

Great ! I couldn't work anymore without this tool !

Paul said...

Sandy,

Thanks for maintaining this great application, I couldn't use GNOME without it. I'd also like to thank you for managing such a welcoming community, especially on IRC and email. You're always there to answer a question or helping someone out with a question.

And don't forget - I hope to have all new help for Tomboy 1.2 / GNOME 2.30!

Hylke said...

Great. Thanks for this great piece of softaware! :)

Anonymous said...

Still no tags...??

Sandy said...

@Anonymous Tomboy has a tagging mechanism but when working on a UI for it, we realized it was not that useful due to our instant search capabilities. We decided the notebook concept was closer to what users actually wanted.

Still, tagging can be done programatically and through our dbus interface, even if we got rid of the old-style UI.

You are welcome to re-enable the tagging UI, which is still in git, and distribute it as an add-in if you wish. I'm just not sure it really adds anything to the user experience.

Sandy said...

Sorry, I meant to specify in my comment that the Notebook feature and other features are built on the tagging infrastructure.

Anonymous said...

Great work indeed. I wonder if it's going to be included in Karmic... I doubt it. But, It would also be nice if we could make some sort of list option with a checkbox option per line, or something. Maybe it can be done.

Thanks for the update, I can't wait for the easier syncing options!

Have a good one.

directhex said...

@Anonymous

tomboy (1.0.0-0ubuntu1) karmic; urgency=low
-- Robert Ancell <robert.ancell@canonical.com> Tue, 22 Sep 2009 11:56:36 +1000

Sandy said...

@Anonymous If you're talking about the features I want to work on for 1.2, you are correct, those will not be in Karmic. However, the development 1.1.x releases and the final 1.2 release will be available for Karmic via our official PPAs which I mentioned toward the end of the blog.

And yes, simple checkbox lists are the sort of the core of what I'm thinking...I intend to blog about this pretty soon.

andreasn said...

Tomboy is one of my favorite apps ever!