ibus-cangjie getting closer to a first release

Two more weeks have passed since my last status update on ibus-cangjie, and we've been busy working.

Let's review the major things which happened since the last time.

First, Benau joined us and quickly fixed a bug in Quick. He's now having a look at improving the order of the candidates, which will dramatically improve the input experience, especially for Quick users. Benau, you rock!

Cangjie and Quick have a behaviour which differs from other input methods, for example they have no preedit text, and the text cursor can move while the user is typing. The latter exposed a bug in GNOME Shell (other environments do not seem to be impacted), which is being fixed for GNOME 3.8. So not only are we trying to provide a great input method engine, we're also helping others to make their projects better. :-)

Speaking about GNOME, I've been collaborating closely with Rui Matos and Allan Day to smooth out some rough edges in both GNOME and ibus-cangjie (ok, they helped me ;-) ). The result is that we now have a much better preferences dialog which integrates natively in GNOME Control Center.

I can't stress this enough: we will try hard to work beautifully in other desktop environments too, we are not tied to GNOME. However, GNOME people care deeply about providing an amazing user experience and they have been extremely helpful. And as I'm myself a GNOME user, I worked on what was useful to me.

But please, come and help us integrate just as well in your favourite desktop environment and respect their guidelines. For example, I got in touch with the Ubuntu/Unity people, and wrote what I learned in a ticket. If you love Unity, feel free to send me patch to fix this ticket. :-)

Now, that was a lot of boring talk. Well, here are some screenshots. First, our new slick preferences dialog, as seen on GNOME:

Cangjie Preferences

Next, the GNOME input menu, with our Cangjie and Quick engines. Notice how the half/full width character option is exposed there:

Input Menu

Finally, I worked on lowering the required minimum versions of our dependencies. This should make it easier for more distributions to provide packages for ibus-cangjie, so that more user can benefit. I'm maintaining a page showing the current status for availability in distros. As mentioned on that page, I'm already maintaining packages for Fedora >= 17 in a side-repository, and Antony Ho is providing pkgbuilds for Arch Linux in AUR. If you are a packager for another distribution, please get in touch and we'll help you package ibus-cangjie (and its dependencies).

Long story short, ibus-cangjie should run on all the following distributions:

  • Debian Experimental (soon on Sid, once it picks up the cython package from Experimental)
  • Fedora >= 16
  • openSUSE Factory
  • Ubuntu >= 13.04

There are good reasons why we can't support older releases of these distributions: they provide old versions of cython, which won't build pycangjie. I'd love to support Ubuntu 12.04 for example, as it is their current LTS. If you can help with cython, please get in touch.

We're really getting close to our first release now, so we more than ever need your help with testing, or fixing the last few remaining blocker bugs.

Before closing, I'd like to remind you that I'll be leading a usability testing lab at the next Open Source Workshop in Hong Kong. Come and join us, your feedback on the user experience will be invaluable to making ibus-cangjie a great implementation of Cangjie and Quick. I hope to see you there!