GNOME and input method integration
Posted Jun 27, 2012 11:15 UTC (Wed) by emk
Parent article: GNOME and input method integration
How many [DELETED BY AUTHOR] times is Gnome going to break my workflow, anyway? I know they want an out-of-the-box experience that Just Works, and I applaud them for that. But in practice, that means that my desktop breaks horribly every year or two, because I'm always running beta-quality software that never has decent drivers or integration.
I rely on UIM and UIM-el to enter a bunch of Unicode characters, including the International Phonetic Alphabet (ɑɦɔ), Egyptian hieroglyphics (𓀀𓁐) and hieroglyphic transliterations (ꜣı͗ˤ). This works correctly in Gnome, in Chrome and in Emacs, plus Java applications and X11. Granted, it took a day of kicking to make everything work, which is definitely not acceptable. But it works.
Of course, none of these character sets are supported by ibus, and the relevant API documentation appears to be in Mandarin.
In order to get a nice user experience, we're now going to standardize on a new input framework. Of course everybody who actually uses Chinese or whatever thinks it's horribly broken. The Gnome folks respond, "Ah, but now that we've made an official choice, you can fix it and make it work. No, we're certainly not going to provide a fallback or work around other people's bugs—Gnome won't work until everything else is fixed; that's the only way to make progress."
And the Gnome team is right—after two or three years of horrible breakage for everybody affected, IBus will finally support the basics: online word lookup, customizable dictionaries, Traditional Chinese, obscure languages, and so on. At which point, they'll standardize on some other incomplete, broken technology—probably Wayland. And we'll go through this all over again.
Gnome, sadly, is all about a positive experience for hypothetical future users. But in the real world, all the non-technical Gnome users I know live in mortal terror of the next upgrade, because it's either going to break their laptop beyond repair, or force them to completely relearn the UI.
I don't know how to solve this. I want a nice UI, too, and that involves hard choices. But I kind of wish we could have a world-class input method first, and then integrate into Gnome, instead of planning on a couple years of nasty, user-visible breakage while third-parties scramble to fix everything.
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