My first week at SERI

So, after almost 3 months of “holidays”, I’ve finally started working on my new job this Tuesday in Samsung Electronics Research Institute UK (aka SERI), where I’ll join a team mainly working in A/V and DTV related stuff while, at the same time, I’ll keep contributing to WebKit and WebKitGTK+.

Samsung Smart TV Unveils New Smart HubAs you can imagine, being the first week means that I mostly spent my time learning a lot of stuff about my new job and the tools I’d be using, as well as setting up my development environment and getting to know my colleagues and the things we’ll be working on.

But for the time being I have to say that my first impression has already been very positive and that I’m enthusiastically looking at the future and what it’s going to be next. Surely it will be a very different experience compared to what I was used to, but in a way that’s precisely what I was looking for, and so that’s why I feel very optimistic and motivated about it.

Also, and besides work related stuff, being a new resident in the UK also means that I had to spend some time doing some additional things, such as creating a bank account, getting a UK-based SIM card and starting to look for a place that should become our permanent residence in 2-3 months time, once my wife and my children move as well to the UK (they’re still in Spain), hopefully before Easter. Fortunately, being a EU citizen simplifies a lot the whole thing of coming here to work, since I don’t need any VISA or the like. Just my Spanish ID and/or Passport are more than enough.

Anyway, I’ve just arrived in the UK on Monday and started working on Tuesday (yeah, I love having big margins) so still much to do left, but I’m already on my way so it’s a matter of time that we are settled here, and that we start living the “English adventure” all together again.

But in the meanwhile we’ll have to live with me visiting them every 2-3 weeks and the typical audio/video conference tools.

Can’t wait!

Frogr 0.8 released

During the last weeks, I decided to make the most of some spare time I had while still in “nowhere land” (see my previous post) and so I’ve been working in frogr to see if I could release the 0.8 version before the end of the year. In my mind it looked like kind of a nice and humble Christmas present to the world and, at the same time, a interesting way to spent this time I had between my depart from my previous job and the start of the new one.

And it turns out that, at the end, I didn’t manage to have as much spare time as I initially expected to have (I was pretty busy most of the time, actually), mainly due to many unrelated things I needed also to take care of, but in the end I still managed to steal some minutes here and there and I’m now proudly announcing that the new release is finally out.

But before going on, see the mandatory screenshot, as taken in my Fedora 18 machine:

As you can already spot in the screenshot, some changes are already quite visible, but some others are not, so let’s now comment on the most important ones, one by one…

Ported to GtkApplication and GMenu

It’s no secret that one of my favourite changes in this release is the integration with GNOME 3‘s “global menu” (aka the application menu), which makes frogr more beatifully integrated with the desktop than ever. However that came with a price: I needed to port frogr to GtkApplication first and then implement both the application menu and the menu bar using GMenu, which also made me raise the required version for GTK+ up to 3.4.

Sure I could have kept adding more ifdefs to the code to keep supporting previous GTK+ versions, but I also saw this as a good opportunity to clean up the code and get rid of so many conditional compilation units that were increasingly harder to maintain, and so I did it. As a plus, the OS X specific code has been reduced enormously as well, since GTK+ 3.4 integrates very well with OS X without having to do anything special, as I needed to do when I used GTK+ 2.24 for that port.

Loading and saving ‘projects’

This has been one of the features that several people have suggested in the past in different occasions, and so one of those I hope people will enjoy the most with this new release: the possibility to save the current session into a “project file”, so you can resume your work later.

How it works it’s actually pretty simple: when you save a session to a project, frogr will just serialize your current pictures, sets, groups and local tags to a json file (using json-glib) that you can use to restore the state later. It could be more sophisticated, but I think that it works reasonably well in the tests I did considering what it was designed for. In any case, please feel free to report bugs or feature requests to improve or fix things if needed.

Support for video uploads

Believe it or not, frogr has been almost ready to upload videos since some time ago, since for Flickr a video is just a “moving picture”, and it’s treated in exactly the same way than pictures when it comes to the upload API.

The only thing that was missing to remove that almost from here was to generate thumbnails for videos so they could get loaded into the UI. Not rocket science, sure, but something which needed doing and which was not a priority at all until now. And to be honest, it is not a priority yet anyway, but I felt like doing it this time once and for all, so from now on you can upload videos too.

Other features & bug fixes

Besides those three and perhaps more noticeable features, frogr 0.8 comes with several other new things, bug fixes, small changes and refinement that I hope will make this release more stable, useful and fun to use than ever.

Some examples of those other new things are, as taken from the NEWS file:

  • Handle and report errors in a better way (no more mysterious failures).
  • Perform after-upload operations (add to sets/groups, set license…) in parallel.
  • Avoid fetching sets/groups/tags when still not connected yet to Flickr.
  • Hide title bar when main window is maximized (see screenshot above).
  • Renamed the ‘Actions’ menu to ‘Edit’ and brought the ‘File’ menu back.
  • Allow sorting elements in the icon view by size.

Last, I’m also quite happy to tell that the OS X port of frogr has been finally migrated to GTK+ 3 in this release (at last!), and that the whole process of building it for that platform is now easier than ever, thanks to a specific Jhbuild moduleset I created for that purpose, following the lead of GEdit (thanks Nacho for the suggestion).

Check out the README file in the osx/ directory if you feel curious about the process or if you want to build it yourself. It shouldn’t take more than 2-3 commands in the terminal to get something like this running in your OS X machine:

Also, another advantage of having that moduleset created, is that now it’s trivial to properly document (by means of a shell script) the bundle file used to distribute frogr in OS X, instead of just providing an “opaque” pre-compiled bundle, as I used to do in an “unofficial way” with previous versions. Feel free to grab the bundle I’ve just created for this release from the GNOME FTP server.

So that’s it. I hope you enjoy using frogr 0.8 as much as I did writing it, and if you eventually find it useful too, then even better! As usual, check the website of the project for additional information or just to know how to install frogr on your system.

Moving On

Two months ago it was an important day for me. It was the day that I finally told my partners at Igalia that I’d be leaving the company, after almost seven years. It hasn’t been an easy decision to make and so this hasn’t been an easy post to write either… yet one I’d like to write anyway.

But let’s push the rewind button for a moment now…

I’ve joined Igalia on November 2005, initially as a trainee while I was finishing my studies of Computer Science Engineering, and got quickly hooked by the company, the people that was part of it back then and the kind of project they were trying to build.

Igalia as a company is one of a kind, you can be sure of it, and I felt enormously lucky for having found it and having been granted with the privilege of being part of it. And best of all… it happened to have its main office in my own town! I just couldn’t believe it…

I even still recall now how many mates of mine in the Faculty were telling me, back in the days of the University, things like “that Linux thing you like so much is not worth it”, “forget about Open Source, you won’t ever make a living out of it” or even “well, maybe there’s a chance for you to work on that, but it’s definitely not going to happen here”.

I have to say I never believed much in any of those statements (well, maybe a bit the last one), but I swear I couldn’t have ever imagined that I’d be able to prove all of them wrong at the same time without even having to move out of the country, let alone the town.

It was too good to be true. But it was true and real… it definitely was real.

And turns out that what started as a 3-month internship in late 2005, became my first permanent job (and the only one so far) when I became a regular employee on February 2006, to finally become a partner of the company in 2010. Not bad.

I worked on many different projects across all these years, from system administration tasks and pure web development to application development over the GNOME and the Maemo platforms, to end up working on what it probably became the most challenging and interesting thing I’ve ever worked on: the WebKit project and, more specifically, the WebKitGTK+ port.

Additionally, I also met a lot of awesome people while there, both inside Igalia and outside (e.g. at conferences), in some cases  becoming closer to “actual friends” than to “just work mates”, which is yet another great thing I will always feel lucky and grateful for.

In other words, I grew up there, both at the professional and the personal level, and I feel endlessly grateful for that. I’m sure my life wouldn’t have been the same now without that stage in my life, so I don’t have more than good words and thoughts about it.

However, and even if I still think Igalia is an awesome place to be part of, I’ve been lately feeling like I needed a change, to try something new, to move on…

I’m not sure about how much that could be related to the fact that my life is now quite different than seven years ago, and that perhaps my priorities could have shifted now I have my own family, but the fact is that at some point I very clearly saw that I would need to try something else, to change some things and patterns in my life, kind of a “fresh restart”.

And after so much thinking, I suddenly realized such a  change couldn’t ever happen if I stayed in Igalia, since it would probably require that the company stopped being as it is in some ways. And that’s something I don’t think I should ask for “just because I felt that way”. That would be too selfish, don’t you think?

So I made the only decision I thought it made sense: to quit.

Sure it was hard, and even tough at some moments, to make such a decision. But once I made it for real, I have to say I felt very well about it, as if everything was making sense once again, as if the puzzle I was trying so hardly to solve was finally complete.

In any case, this doesn’t mean I want to work on something completely different either. In my lollipop world, my plan is to keep working around the Open Source world as much as possible, hopefully also around GNOME and WebKit, the two platforms I learned to love during these years. Well, actually for the case of GNOME I must say it’s a platform I already loved before joining Igalia, but I can’t deny that being part of that company played a major role to help me get more involved on it, so that’s why I think it deserves some credit.

Fortunately, I’m a lucky guy and I can already say that, just two months after making that decision and starting looking for new opportunities, I already found a job where I think I’ll be able to keep working in what I love (see paragraph above) while, at the same time, being also able to try something different and new compared to what I’ve done so far.

Additionally, I think this new job will also help me find answers to the questions that have been crossing my mind lately, let alone learning new stuff… I’m sure I’ll learn a lot of new stuff as well, something I already can’t wait for.

Anyway, I won’t start working there until January, so let’s go step by step.

First I needed to write this post to tell the world about my new situation (check). Second, I need to use these “two months in nowhere” to re-organize my life and arrange many different things related to the short-term (work in progress). Finally, I’ll start that new stage in my life and finally announce here where I’m going to, something I’d rather keep for another post.

Surely I know all this will mean big challenges for both me and my family (we’ll be moving abroad, to begin with), but those are challenges we’re willing to face and can’t wait for. In a way, I kind of feel like I did 7 years ago right before joining Igalia, when I just finished my studies at the University and still had no clue what I was going to do with my life. Back then, the future looked uncertain and full of opportunities at the same time, and if I now look backwards I can clearly see it was even better than what I’ve would ever have expected. Really.

And you know what? That’s exactly how I feel right now, and that’s a feeling I’m liking a lot. And believe me, I’m pretty much aware that my current situation (married and with two children) is quite different compared to 7 years ago. Yet it doesn’t scare me well enough not to feel thrilled about this new stage in our life, a stage I’m already eager to deal with.

So it’s time to move on. I won’t ever forget the great time I had at Igalia, all the people I met here and all the good things that being part of such an special company brought to my life, but I also think now it’s time to look forward and focus on the future.

I have the most amazing family in the world and we’ll be together on this through thick and thin, so I’m already sure we’ll be fine. It’s just a matter of time we’ll get there, so what else can I ask for?

Just wish us good luck. That should do the rest :)

WebKitGTK+ 1.10 is almost here!

As you might already know, the new and shiny 3.6 release of the GNOME desktop is right around the corner, and so it’s the next release of WebKitGTK+, the port of the WebKit web rendering engine to the GTK+ platform.

And it turns out that such a release is going to be a very special one for us, members of the WebKit team at Igalia,  since it comes with some very interesting features, like those I already mentioned in the talk I gave during the past GUADEC, mainly:

  • Beta version of the WebKit2GTK+ API
  • Support for Accelerated Compositing
  • WebGL enabled by default
  • Support for HTML5 Fullscreen and WebAudio
  • Multimedia layer ported to GStreamer 0.11
  • Support for the Low-Level Interpreter in JavaScriptCore

From all those, I’m specially happy because we will be finally releasing the very first beta version of the new WebKit2GTK+ API, based in the multi-process architecture of WebKit2, as well as providing support for Accelerated Compositing and WebGL.

This new WebKit2GTK+ API, as you perhaps already know, will allow applications gain the split process model of WebKit2 out-of-the box, which is awesome. Xan already mentioned  some of the advantages of it becoming beta for GNOME 3.6 in his last post this week, being my favorite ones the “increased responsiveness and stability” (quoting Xan) that will come with it, as well as the fact that it will be not only powerful enough to port old applications and write new ones, but also simpler and easier to use (we are putting a lot of effort on this).

And honestly, I think we are doing pretty well in that regard, even though there’s still a lot of work to do before we can release an stable version of this new API (due for WebKitGTK+ 2.0,  to be released with GNOME 3.8), which will also mean the very first version of Epiphany that will be using WebKit2 by default.

With regard to Accelerated Compositing and WebGL, I’d just like to mention that having them supported in WebKitGTK+ from now on is great because it means you will be able to render visually stunning web content in your browser of choice (epiphany, huh?), as well as enjoy more subtle improvements such as smoother animations or increased responsivenes while browsing. You can visit this post by my mate Martin for more details on this topic.

Anyway, all these are very nice words and all that, but sometimes it’s not that easy to properly understand just with words what exactly those things will actually mean for users, so I decided to spend some time today polishing a bit the videos I used as demos in my talk during GUADEC, and link them from here, so everyone can easily watch them now.

Hope you enjoy watching them as much as I did making them:

WebKitGTK+: WebGL and Accelerated Compositing

WebKit2GTK+: The UI and the Web process

WebKit2GTK+: The Plugin process

mariospr.org

I’ve been thinking for some time already of moving my six years old blog to a more personal domain, and turns out I did it last week moved by the fact that I already had to mess with web development, hostings and domains for a while again, in order to assist my brother-in-law with the set up of a new local business.

So, I finally went after some (quick) thinking for this mariospr.org domain which I think it kinda makes sense considering I’m using mariospr in many places out there already.

One consequence of this change is that I hope I will write more often in my blog from now on, and not only about work-related stuff but also about some more personal things, experiences and the like. Still, I plan to keep using the “Planet [Name]” categories to control what I send to the planets I’m registered in, so if you want to keep track of those other kind of posts, make sure you visit or subscribe to the blog’s feed URL.

By the way, I would like to make the most of this post to say thank you to Lucas Rocha, who have helped me quite a lot to set up this blog without even knowing it, simply by being a good “inspiration” for some decisions I needed to make during the migration process, such as the domain name I finally chose and the font family for the text, for instance.

I even tried the sleek WordPress theme Lucas created, although in this case I ended up  making my own slight modifications to the -also beautiful- TwentyEleven theme, which I will publish as well at some point when the blog has really settled down.

Last, thanks also to my mates in Igalia who have already set up a redirect rule from the old address at blogs.igalia.com to the new domain, and of course to the people who helped update the feed link in the different planets my blog is in, since that means that everything should be already working as expected, even if you’re still using the old URLs.

GUADEC, WebKit and bikes

I'm going to GUADECIt seems this year GUADEC is going to be pretty close to my place and so I will surely attend, but this time I won’t go by plane but by bike, which since some months ago has become my main vehicle for moving around the beautiful city where I live in: A Coruña.

Also, besides hanging around the venue and trying to help as much as possible as the local I am, I’ll be talking about WebKitGTK+ in the afternoon on Thursday 26th, so feel free to come round the room if you feel curious about the current status of the whole thing and the current plans for the short and medium term, which are mostly focused around WebKit2 and the roadmap we’re already following.

You probably already read some news related to this coming from my mates in the Igalia WebKit team, (like the improvements in Accelerated Compositing or the migration of our handsome browser Epiphany to using WebKit2), yet I will try to deliver an interesting talk to y’all. I just hope I’ll be able to do it (but please forgive me if I don’t).

So that’s it. As usual, just feel free to talk me if you see me around if you want. I’ll basically be around the venue most of the time during GUADEC, and will attend a11y and WebKitGTK+ BoFs on the 30th and 31st, so I’d say it will be pretty easy to find me.

WebKit Watcher 0.2 released

Some time ago I wrote a (very!) small android application to scratch an itch I had: being able to easily check the status of WebKit buildbots right from my phone, which turned out to be quite useful in some scenarios.

And no, I’m not the kind of guy that does the “Land Patch / Goes Home” thing, but sometimes you see yourself in the situation of having to leave your workplace before than expected and after having committed certain kind of patches a while ago. And in such a situation WebKit Watcher has proved to be a helpful tool many times, at least to me.

So, what’s new in this 0.2 release? Not many bells and whistles, to be honest, I just scratched a couple of small itches more I felt today, while going back to working as gardener for the WebKitGTK+ port. Basically:

  • Replaced the main view showing only the core bots with a (static) list of the different platforms, so you know can  now check the results for all the bots of a specific platform. Selecting a platform will take you to the typical view showing the results for every build bot associated to it.
  • Added possibility of checking the results for all the bots in a single list view (‘All’ item in the main view), as previously only those “marked” as ‘core bots’ were shown in the application. Now you can check the results of all the 43 bots, in case you want to.
  • Removed unnecessary permission CHANGE_NETWORK_STATE, as I personally hate apps asking me for more permissions than those strictly needed. I’m still wondering why I added that in the first place…

And now, some screenshots that will make your eyes bleed because of the ‘design’ of this app:

  

I told you it was so beautiful!

By the way, you can grab it and install this app through several ways:

Frogr 0.7 released

As you might already know Flickr has added support for OAuth a while ago, which is meant to be the obvious replacement to the old Flickr auth API that has been available since a long long time ago, which has been used by many applications our there, like frogr. But the important point here for apps using the old auth method is that it won’t be longer available after July 31st, which means they should get updated if they want to keep working as so far.

Frogr 0.7

So, this is the main point of this release: to update the internal implementation of the Flickr REST API in frogr (which, ideally, will be released independently as a library at some point) to use OAuth instead of the old authentication API.

Additionally, in order to make things easier for users of older versions, the application will take care of exchanging the authentication token from the old system to the new ones used by the OAuth API. If you want to know more details about this, check the related API. For the rest of you, you shouldn’t notice anything the first time you run this new release.

Still, some other things were included in this new release that are worth mentioning:

  • Ability to import tags already present in pictures  (e.g. as set by f-spot or shotwell).
  • Allow users deciding, right from frogr and on a picture-by-picture basis, whether to set the geolocation information for pictures when uploading them to Flickr.
  • New tags are added to the auto-completion without having to upload anything first.
  • Allow using a dark version of your theme if available (e.g. Adwaita).
  • Some redesign of the menu bar, thinking of a future migration to GMenu.
  • Added menu accelerators for the most common operations.
  • As usual, bugfixes, cleanups… that kind of stuff.

Also, you can check the announcement mail or the NEWS file if you want for more detail about this new release, as well as the website of the project for additional information, such as knowing about ways of collaborating or how to get frogr installed on your system.

I think that’s it. Enjoy!

Back to FOSDEM

So it seems I’m going to FOSDEM this year (yay!), together with a bunch of other Igalians who will be attending as well, coming from different places from across the globe (well, mainly from Europe this time).

I know some people will probably disagree with me on this, but for me FOSDEM is one of the greatest events of this kind, and so I’m quite happy to go there this time, specially after not being able to attend last year due to some unexpected (and unavoidable) personal matters.

Opposite to other occasions, this time I’ll be there not only as an attendant but also as an speaker, talking about WebKitGTK+, its status and the roadmap of the project towards WebKit2 (the split process model “flavour” of WebKit), together with my mate Philippe, on Sunday afternoon. Thus, for the first time ever, nobody will be able to accuse me of going there just because of the beer event, which wouldn’t be true anyway.

For the impatient ones, the talk will be mainly about reporting on the work done during the last months in “WebKitGTK+ land“, as well as on the stuff that is already planned for the upcoming releases. Good examples of those would be, for instance, the ongoing effort to add support for Accelerated Compositing, or just the new features related to WebKit2GTK+ such as, of course, the solution for enabling accessibility support there. Ah! And of course, we’ll try to run some demos there too… fingers crossed!

Besides, I’m of course looking forward to meeting some people I haven’t seen for a while now (haven’t attended to the latest Desktop Summit either, due to very good reasons too), so if you see me around and want to chat and/or meet for a while, just let me know. I must look shy, but it’s usually a matter of minutes (seconds?) for my shyness to go away…

So that’s it. Just a final line to say “thanks” to my company for fully sponsoring this thing.

See you in Brussels!

Accessibility support in WebKit2GTK+

As Piñeiro already mentioned in some posts, last week a bunch of hackers attended the ATK/AT-SPI Hackfest 2012 here at the Igalia offices, in the lovely city of Coruña.

As the guy working on accessibility support for WebKitGTK+, I attended the hackfest to join some other great people representing different projects, such as Mozilla, Orca, AT-SPI, ATK, GTK+ and Qt. So, apart from helping with some “local” organizational details of the hackfest and taking some pictures, I spent some time hacking in WebKitGTK+‘s accessibility code and participating in some discussions.

And from that dedication I managed to achieve some interesting things too, being my favorite ones a big refactoring of the a11y code in WebCore (so it’s now better organized and hence more readable and easy to hack on) and pushing my patch for enabling accessibility support in WebKit2GTK+, after going through a meticulous process of review (see the related WK bug), which started with the patch I wrote and attached back when attending to the WebKitGTK+ hackfest, as I mentioned in my previous entry in this blog.

Yeah, I know that some weeks have already passed since then and so perhaps you’re thinking this could have been done faster… but I’ve spent some weeks on holidays in Barcelona in December (pictures here!) and so I wouldn’t have much time before January to devote to this task. However, the patch got integrated faster than what I would expect when I proposed the first version of it, so I’m quite satisfied and happy anyway just by being able to announce this at this moment. Hope you share my joy :-)

So, what does this mean from the point of view of accessibility in GNOME? Well, that’s an easy question to answer: from now on, every browser that uses WebKit2GTK+ will be as much accessible as those using the previous version of WebKitGTK+, and this is definitely a good thing. Of course, I’m certain there will be bugs in this specific part that will need fixing (as it always happens), but for the time being this achievement means “yet another thing less” preventing us from pushing for upgrading some applications to switch to WebKit2GTK+, such as devhelp (some ongoing work already done, as my mate Carlos announced yesterday), yelpliferea… and the mighty Epiphany browser, which is rocking more and more ech day that goes by.

Last, I’d like to share with you an screenshot showing this new stuff, but as I am a little bit tired of always using Minibrowser (that small browser we use for testing WebKit2), so I decided to try instead that new branch Carlos recently pushed for devhelp, so you could check that what I mentioned before is actually true.

So here you have it (along with a couple of additions done with Gimp):

As you can see, devhelp is running and Accerciser is showing the full hierarchy of accessible objects associated to the application, starting in the UI process (GTK+ world) and continuing in the Web process, where all the accessible objects from the WebKitGTK+ world are being exposed. As I explained in a previous post, the magic making possible the connection between the two process is done by means of the AtkSocket and the AtkPlug classes, also represented in the screenshot attached above.

So, that’s it.