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Saturday, July 27 2013

Testing GNOME Music on Rawhide

GNOME is working on a new music application, which should be available for 3.10 in September: GNOME Music.

It's not really ready for prime-time yet, so I haven't submitted a review request for Fedora, but if you want to give it a try, I've pushed it to a side-repo.

If you're running Rawhide, give it a try:

# curl http://repos.fedorapeople.org/repos/bochecha/gnome-music/fedora-gnome-music.repo > /etc/yum.repos.d/fedora-gnome-music.repo
# yum install gnome-music

Note: It relies on a yet unreleased version of grilo, so that will come in as a dependency and replace the version provided by Fedora.

I'll try to keep it relatively up-to-date with upstream development, until there's a release to send into Fedora.


Saturday, May 25 2013

IBus Cangjie in distributions

I recently released IBus Cangjie 1.0, and since then, I got it pushed to the Fedora repositories.

That means the following distributions now provide packages for easy installation of IBus Cangjie:

In addition, Anthony Wong has started the work to get his Ubuntu packages into Debian as well.

If you want to help us by getting IBus Cangjie into your distribution, let us know, and we'll do our best to help. :-)

Friday, May 3 2013

IBus Cangjie 1.0 is out

Following on the hard work we have been doing for the past few months, I released IBus Cangjie 1.0 yesterday evening.

I had been meaning to do that for a while, but kept thinking about a few details to change here and there, and constantly postponed it. Well, you know what they say: "Release early, release often". So after our discussion on Wednesday during the Free Software Hackfest at Dim Sum Labs I figured I'd just call what we have now 1.0 and go from there. We can always improve it in subsequent releases. ;-)

All in all, it is a basic implementation of Cangjie and Quick, but I'd like to highlight some of its features here:

  • Both Cangjie and Quick are supported in versions 3 and 5
  • By default you'll only get Traditional Chinese, but Simplified Chinese input can be enabled in the preferences dialog
  • Candidates are presented in the unoptimized but familiar Big 5 ordering, to ease the migration for Microsoft Windows users

I'm very happy about what we achieved. Many people have given me very positive feedback. It seems our strong focus on a great user experience with sensible defaults is paying off.

If you don't want to build the sources, you can get packages for your favourite distribution:

  • As usual, Arch Linux's AUR has the stuff a few hours after it's been released
  • Ubuntu 13.04 has packages too (not the release yet, it's a very recent development snapshot
  • It's still not available in Fedora (but you can help speeding up the review!), but I just pushed the release on my personal repo

Of course, if you can package it all for another distribution, then let us know!

Of course, this is not the end. We have a long road ahead of us to make it the best way to input Chinese with Cangjie and Quick. You're welcome to climb on the bandwagon. :-)

Tuesday, April 23 2013

Kicking off a new, recurring Free Software hackfest in Hong Kong

This is a repost from the article I just published on the Dim Sum Labs blog. Go and check out the web site for more info on all the cool stuff that happens there.

Hackers know it: hacking is a lot of fun.

But what to hack on exactly? Well, we are a group of people passionate about Free Software, and, starting May 1st, we will meet regularly to hack together on various projects.

These recurring hackfests will take place every other Wednesday at the Dim Sum Labs, from 8pm to 10pm.

So come and have fun with us!

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a hard-core programmer or a “complete noob”. We’ll help you learn what you need as you go.

If you’re still wondering, here are some examples of people who might want to join us:

  • you are “just a user” of Free Software, and there’s this silly bug in your favourite application which has been bothering you for a while? Come and figure out how to fix it with us!
  • you are a programmer who enjoys hacking on Free Software projects in their spare time? Come hack with us, instead of doing it alone!
  • you have this brilliant idea which will change the world? Come show it to us, and we’ll hack on it together!
  • you are the main developer of a small project which is dear to you, and you could use some manpower to make it move forward? Come have a sprint with us!
  • you want to learn programming by actually doing it for Free Software? Come, and we’ll help you get started.
  • or any other reason, you will be welcome anyway!

And it doesn’t have to be about code! Writing documentation, designing or translating Free Software, this is all hacking too!

We only have one rule: we will only hack on Free Software projects during these meetings.

If you want to have more details, use the form below to leave a comment.

Otherwise, feel free to just come. No registration needed, just show up with your own computer, say hi and we'll start hacking together.

Remember: Wednesday May 01, from 8pm to 10pm, at the Dim Sum Labs.

Sunday, March 10 2013

IBus Cangjie in your own language

Cheng-Chia Tseng recently opened a ticket in the IBus Cangjie bug tracker, submitting a Taiwan Chinese translation.

This is itself is pretty awesome, but we didn't stop there: Cheng-Chia helped me set up a Transifex project for IBus Cangjie.

That means it should now be very easy for translators all around the world to translate IBus Cangjie into their own language.

I copy-pasted his zh_TW translation into a zh_HK one, because Taiwan and Hong Kong translations are usually very similar. So even if this is not perfect, it is still much better than nothing. Also, a zh_CN translation is being worked on.

This is fantastic. From the very beginning, IBus Cangjie was made to enable people to benefit from Free Software on their computer. But until now, they had to be able to read English.

Thanks to Cheng-Chia's efforts, this is what Hong Kong and Taiwan people will see:


Cheng-Chia, you rock! :-)

Friday, March 8 2013

IBus Cangjie now has a website

A couple of minutes ago, I finished setting up a simple website for IBus Cangjie.

Check it out: http://ibus-cangjie.opensource.hk

Nothing fancy, it's just a bunch of static pages generated with Sphinx, but the result is not too horrible. Help to make it better is obviously welcome. :-)

One thing missing is the features section. I'll upload a page with nice screenshots very soon.

If you package IBus Cangjie for your distribution, do let us know, and we'll add instructions for it on the appropriate page.

The website is hosted on Open Shift, which is pretty awesome to use, and Sammy was kind enough to give us the opensource.hk sub-domain.

Also, if you use Fedora, I have just uploaded new packages of the latest development snapshot of IBus Cangjie to my side repository. Be sure to update and give us feedback!

Sunday, January 27 2013

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!

Sunday, January 13 2013

Progress in ibus-cangjie

I recently announced ibus-cangjie, the IBus input method engine for Cangjie and Quick that I have been working on.

It is now almost two weeks later, and there is already some good progress to report on.

I have added wildcard support to the Cangjie engine, and implemented a first pass at the Quick engine.

Thanks to Wan Leung's work in libcangjie, both Cangjie and Quick will now respect the user setting for full-/half-width characters.

I've also made a bunch of changes to the documentation and the build system, which should make it easier than ever to try it out, or to package it for your favorite distribution.

On that note, I have just published a repository for Fedora 18, so if you want to try ibus-cangjie, it's as easy as the following commands (as root) :

# wget http://repos.fedorapeople.org/repos/bochecha/ibus-cangjie/fedora-ibus-cangjie.repo -O /etc/yum.repos.d/fedora-ibus-cangjie.repo
# yum install ibus-cangjie 

Please try it, and let us know what you think!

Now, we're getting closer to a first 1.0 release, not much is missing, so if you think you can help, then we'll gladly accept the patches. :-)

Finally, I'll be organizing a usability testing lab at the next Open Source Workshop in Hong Kong, so if you can't install ibus-cangjie on your own machine, just come and you'll try it on mine. This should allow us to get valuable feedback to make it rock.

Monday, December 31 2012

Introducing ibus-cangjie

Hong Kong people write (mostly) Traditional Chinese. On a computer, most of them use the Cangjie and Quick input methods.

In the IBus platform, these were implemented through ibus-table, with dedicated tables.

Unfortunately, this led to a suboptimal user experience for Cangjie and Quick, and as a result Hong Kong people have been turning themselves to other input method frameworks like GCIN or SCIM.

This is a problem for GNOME (starting with version 3.6), because GNOME integrates IBus out of the box. What this means is that Hong Kong people can not have an excellent user experience on GNOME out of the box, because they need to choose between a rock and a hard place:

  • using a poor implementation of Cangjie and Quick, provided by ibus-table
  • spending time fiddling with their system and installing non-default components to end up with a better inputting experience, but not properly integrated with the rest of the OS

I love GNOME, and I want Hong Kong people to love it too. And for that, GNOME (through IBus), needs a first class user experience for Cangjie and Quick.

That's what we set out to achieve with Wan Leung Wong a couple of months ago, and the result is ibus-cangjie, a dedicated IBus engine for Cangjie and Quick.

Wan Leung has been writing libcangjie, a low-level library to handle the complex mappings between English letters and Chinese characters, as defined by the Cangjie and Quick input methods.

At the same time, I've been wrapping that in a Python cangjie module, which is then reused in ibus-cangjie.

We're not yet to a point where we can get it included in Linux distributions and used by all, but I think we recently reached that sweet moment where we can be confident enough to announce it publicly. Consider this our call for testing and wider contribution. (or our Christmas / New Year gift, if you celebrate these :-) )

Given the target audience of this announcement, here are a couple of technical highlights first:

  • libcangjie is a native library written in C++, as the goal was to be as portable as possible. We absolutely want other platforms to reuse libcangjie and help us improve it, be it on other OSes than Linux or with engines for other input method frameworks
  • both cangjie and ibus-cangjie are full Python 3 modules. I tried to keep compatibility with Python 2 for some time, but it became too hard to do so I dropped it. I'll accept patches to restore it, as long as it's not at the expense of the Python 3 code.
  • I wrote above that we started ibus-cangjie to make GNOME a great desktop for Hong Kong people, and our current focus is on GNOME integration, but that's only because we use GNOME ourselves. If you use another desktop and want to help us get ibus-cangjie in tip-top shape for it, we will gladly welcome your patches!

But that's all boring behind-the-scenes details, what about the user-facing features?

At the moment, here's what ibus-cangjie can do:

  • input Traditional Chinese (by default, but we have an option to also input Simplified Chinese) with Cangjie, both in its versions 3 and 5;
  • provide a user experience which is more in line with what users expect of the Cangjie input method which, we believe, is better than what ibus-table could offer.

That's not bad, but it's obviously not enough. Here's what's known to be missing, and on what we'll be hard at work:

  • input with Quick is still completely missing (this will be my number one priority from now on, any help is of course welcome) ;
  • wildcard support for Cangjie is missing (it needs to go in libcangjie, and is a pre-requisite for implementing Quick) ;
  • we need an icon for the settings application;
  • we need a way to let the user input full- and half-width punctuation and numbers;
  • we need to make a kickass ordering of candidates, so that the most frequently used are always on the first page (right now, stuff is ordered alphabetically by the input sequence, which is just terrible) ;
  • we want to provide adaptive ordering of candidates, based on some fancy frecency algorithm (in option, the default will be the static ordering) ;
  • we want to allow suggestions for "next possible characters" based on the whole sentence;

That's our plan, and we're hoping you will help us move things forward so that GNOME (or your favourite desktop using IBus) finally becomes a compelling operating system for Hong Kong people.

Cangjie should be in a testable state at the moment, so your general testing, as well as specific feedback on the user experience will be warmly welcome.

If you can help us with the code, get to the GitHub pages and hack away. Alternatively, if you're in Hong Kong, I'll be organizing a workshop/hackfest on ibus-cangjie in the next few weeks.

Finally, if you want to talk to us, hop on #linux-hk on Freenode, or join the Hong Kong Linux User Group mailing-list. We don't have dedicated communication media at the moment, so we'll use these for now.

Sunday, December 9 2012

GNOME Calendar preview in Fedora 18

Calendar will be a new core application for GNOME.

It's still very early in its development, but it's starting to look pretty nice and to be usable.

If someone wants to try it out, I made a repository with the latest Git HEAD packaged, just run the following:

# wget http://repos.fedorapeople.org/repos/bochecha/gnome-calendar/fedora-gnome-calendar.repo -O /etc/yum.repos.d/fedora-gnome-calendar.repo
# yum install gnome-calendar

Ultimately, I'll push it to Fedora proper (unless someone beats me to it ;-) ), but for now a side-repository will do.

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