Evolution Hackfest 2013: It’s a wrap!

Hicolor_apps_256x256_evolutionGUADEC 2013 is over and it was a blast, kudos to the organizers and the whole community for making it a great success.

As I announced previously an Evolution Hackfest took place on the 5th and it was quite a productive and eventful meeting.

A lot was covered but here are the highlights:

Release schedule

As announced by mbarnes in the mailing list, we agreed that the 6 months release schedule was harming to the current state of Evolution, it needs several major rewrites in several components, and the 6 months cadence is stopping that from happening.

The plan is to have 3.12 be the last release following this schedule and to have a release in 2015 in sync with GNOME 3.16. In 2015 we should be able to evaluate if we want to stick to the yearly release cycle or if we want to switch back to 6 month releases.

Webkit Composer

Tomas Popela is working hard in providing a WebKit composer by 3.12. The current work is based on WebKit1. The agreed plan is to aim on having a WebKit2 based mail composer/renderer by 3.12 and to deprecate gtkhtml by then.

We also agreed to enable this composer by default on master.


Milan and Fabiano are the two people currently working on this. EWS is the HTTP API that Exchange > 2003 provides. The plan for now is to work full steam towards feature completion for the Exchange 2013 server EWS protocol. We also talked about using Philipp Whitnall's tools to record/replay HTTP traffic and use it for unit/regression testing within evolution-ews.


We would love to see something similar to Philipp Whitnall's approach to record HTTP traffic applied to other protocols such as IMAP, SMTP, POP and LDAP. People with suggestions as to how to approach this and willing to help is more than welcome!

A11y and killing the GNOME Canvas

GNOME Canvas is still used in several UI components within the Evolution shell, namely the calendar view and the addressbook. Some people argue that right now everything is mostly done with cairo so switching to a drawing area might just work in the short term.

Moving forward, to have a full featured widget with a11y support the plan is to use WebKitGTK+ to provide a rework of those widgets. With the resources we have at hand right now it is not realistic to expect this to happen before Evolution 2015.

Moving e-mail handling to EDS

For the sake of robustness and allow other mail clients and infrastructure pieces (shell) to use EDS for email handling, Srinivasa Ragavan has been working on a patch to split the email handling infrastructure from Evolution and merge it into EDS.

This is something everyone seemed excited to see happening, the plan right now is to see if Srinivasa and Tristan can find the time to implement this during the Evolution 2015 development phase.

UI Improvements

There are tons of low hanging fruits within the Evolution shell that could be improved, here is a non comprehensive list of things that we mentioned:

  • Spinner instead of text while loading a message
  • Background message caching to avoid to show that spinner in the first place
  • Show greyed out icons in clickable areas of the message list view
  • Use headers in account side bar to avoid indentation of the folder tree
  • Remove the status bar and the offline button (indicate activity through a bar similar to the one used in Epiphany
  • Remove multiple/confusing views of the message list, have a single one
  • Improve/update the icon set
  • Simplify the mail search interaction interface, use modern Gtk+3 widgetry
  • Improve the attachment/download/open/open with UI and workflow

A more complex task would be to come up with a proper threading view for mail conversations, but this won't be a low hanging fruit at all. Probably something for 2015 or 2016 depending on how many people we have contributing.

Bright future

I think everyone was really happy with the outcome of the hackfest, the next 18 months are going to be a fun ride. 3.12 is promising to be a great and stable release and 2015 has the chance to deliver the great email experience that the free desktop deserves.

I would like to thank everyone who showed up, apart from Red Hat, we had
representatives from SUSE, Intel, Collabora and several community members. I hope I can start showing the progress being made by the community soon!

3 thoughts on “Evolution Hackfest 2013: It’s a wrap!

  1. Oh, sorry, I thought those features had been worked on.
    I’d like to say that I’m very glad you’re planning on working on email integration into EDS!


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