Monday, January 26, 2009

Tomboy 0.13.3, Tomboy 0.12.2, Tasque 0.1.8, and Giver!

There have been some very important Tomboy and Tasque releases in the past month or so that I have neglected to share. I think it's true that Twitter removes a lot of the motivation to blog. Here are the takeaway points:

Shiki-Colors Theme (click for larger version)

So what else is going on? Tomboy 0.13.3 features some fixes that cut down my memory usage by 25% (with ~200 notes). It should also speed up start-up time if you have a big note collection. One user with 621 notes reported a change from 11 seconds to 4 seconds when he upgraded! The fixes were almost all related to extra work done on a per-note basis, so the memory and performance wins are most significant on these large note collections.

That being said, there is a lot more work to do on memory and performance. Ruben Vermeersch blogged about adapting Federico's timeline tracing tools to chart Tomboy start-up performance. This is going to be extremely helpful in figuring out where we're slowing things down. And as for memory usage, I have only fixed the low-hanging fruit; there are more wins to be had! If this is an area of computer science that you find fun, all help is welcome. :-)

Tomboy Startup (click for full-size graph)

My day job of working on the Mono Accessibility team has kept me pretty busy, and it's been hard lately to find time to work on Tomboy and Tasque. Sure, my team understands when I take a few hours every couple of weeks to prepare a Tomboy release, but that doesn't provide enough time for big feature work or difficult bug fixes. For example, we knew about the problems with Tasque and for a month before we were able to fix it and get a release out. Fortunately, Novell has its cool "ITO" (Innovation Time On) program. I accumulate 4 hours of ITO every week; that's basically the equivalent of 10% time! As I used up all of my regular time off with hospital visits last year, I scheduled four days of ITO during the week of Christmas. I was able to use that time to review a ton of outstanding patches for Tasque, fix the bugs in the RTM and SQLite backends, and make it easy to build on Windows and Mac OS X. This is also when I did all of the memory fixes for Tomboy. So a big thanks to Novell for supporting me in this work.

Lastly, I'm really excited about Ankit Jain's work on Giver. I never worked on Giver, unless you count the moral support I lent during that first Hackweek. :-) But I am amazed at how many people are asking for updates, Windows and Mac versions, etc. As somebody who works from home, Giver isn't that useful to me, but apparently it is very popular and more people are learning about it every day. With Ankit's help, this project may not be so dead after all. You can help him out by testing his Windows builds, trying latest SVN, filing issues, and hanging out in #giver on GIMPNet.