Introducing Gwibber 2.30
Gwibber 2.30 brings some significant new features and user interface improvements, including a multicolumn messaging mode and support for persistent message caching. Under the hood, Gwibber 2.30 has a much-improved backend that is more stable and has a smaller memory footprint. The backend exposes some of its core functionality through D-Bus, making it possible for third-party applications to take advantage of Gwibber's messaging capabilities.
The Gwibber 2.30 user interface is cleaner and more intuitive. The sidebar has been collapsed into an icon strip that uses less space. The icon groups are highlighted with the color of the associated account. Users can drag the slider outward to expand it into a more conventional tree view. The new target bar at the bottom of the window makes it easy for users to toggle sending for individual accounts. Gwibber has a new account management user interface that was developed by Ken VanDine. It streamlines the account preferences into a single window that is largely consistent with Empathy's account manager.
One of the most significant enhancements in Gwibber 2.30 is the new multicolumn user interface. It allows users to view multiple streams at the same time in a single window. A drop-down menu allows users to select which stream is displayed in each column.
Gwibber is included out of the box in Ubuntu 10.04, which is scheduled for release this month. Gwibber is a key ingredient in Ubuntu's Social from the Start initiative, which aims to make messaging and social networking a central part of the Ubuntu user experience. In Ubuntu 10.04, Gwibber can be launched from the "Broadcast" item on the messaging menu. Ubuntu's new Me Menu has an integrated textbox that is powered by Gwibber. The Me Menu offers a convenient way to send a message to all of your active Gwibber accounts.
CouchDB and SQLite backends
Gwibber 2.30 uses Ubuntu's DesktopCouch framework so that it can its message cache, accounts, settings, and other relevant information inside of a local CouchDB database. Although DesktopCouch offers a lot of compelling advantages, such as seamless synchronization, it has some performance limitations and is difficult to package.
Users who do not want to rely on CouchDB can instead use Gwibber's SQLite backend. This alternate storage backend obviates the DesktopCouch dependency and also offers improved performance and stability. If you want to run Gwibber with SQLite, you can obtain it from the 230-sqlite-backend branch on Launchpad. I am currently working to integrate this alternate backend directly into the latest code in Gwibber trunk so that it will be easier to maintain it alongside the existing CouchDB backend.
In future versions of Gwibber, SQLite will be used by default for all message caching. CouchDB will be used for storing accounts if it is available, with the ability to automatically using SQLite instead as a fallback when DesktopCouch is not installed.
Gwibber 3.0 roadmap
I have already started to assemble a roadmap for Gwibber 3.0. The next version will likely add support for Buzz and Reddit. Some services that were supported in earlier versions will be making a comeback, including Ping.fm, RSS, and BrightKite.
Other significant features on the roadmap include support for new-style retweets, improved direct message handling, Twitter lists, Facebook filters, more comprehensive inline media previews, better scrolling behavior, nickname autocompletion, and unread message notification in the sidebar. Several of these features are already implemented in experimental branches and will arrive in the nightly builds soon.
Now that Gwibber 2.30 is out, I'll be updating this blog more frequently with information about new features and other Gwibber-related projects, including the upcoming mobile ports and cross-platform version. Stay tuned for more details!