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Settings GUI

  • April 22, 2022
  • Sergios - Anestis Kefalidis

  Welcome back! It's time to talk about hidden preferences.

The problem

  It's a sunny day and you boot up your PC, which uses Xfce, ready to do some file-organizing. You open Thunar and suddenly you realise something. All this time you would have prefered sorting to be case-sensitive. You open the Preferences Dialog but alas, there is no relevant setting. You are left disappointed, hoping that Thunar devs add this option in a future release. You might even create a feature request.

  Little do you know, Thunar does have a preference to enable this functionality but it is hidden away. You can only find it in the wiki and even that is not a guarantee because we might forget about updating the wiki. Then you have to go and manually enable it in the Settings Editor or using xfconf-query.

  Thunar is not the only Xfce application that has hidden settings, Terminal is another prominent application that has preferences that don't showup in its preferences dialog.

Settings Editor à la Shortcuts Editor

  If you have been following the development of Xfce you probably know that I created a Shortcuts Editor widget that can be easily integrated in Xfce apps. Presently, Thunar, Mousepad and Terminal use that widget to give users an easy way of editing shortcuts.

  I've been working on a similar widget for Settings based on the Xfce Settings Editor. The end goal is to have a simplified version of that settings editor that can be easily integrated in Xfce Apps that use xfconf. That will allow us to eliminate hidden preferences (or at least, greatly reduce them).

XfceSettingsEditor integrated in Thunar's Preferences Dialog

XfceSettingsEditor integrated in Thunar's Preferences Dialog.

Searching in the Xfce Settings Editor

  The other big feature that I've been working on is Search/Filtering for the existing Xfce Settings Editor. Simon had started working on a patch for this but never finished it, so I continued where he left off. I am not planning to include this functionality in the separate widget that was described previously.


Previous post

xfce4-terminal 1.0.0 stable release

  • April 2, 2022
  • Sergios - Anestis Kefalidis

  After 15 months a new stable release of Xfce Terminal is out full of improvements for everybody to enjoy!

A new maintainer

  From 2016 until 2020, Terminal was in the capable hands of Igor Zakharov. It became unmaintained for a few months in 2021 until I took up its development in September. This is Terminal's first stable release with me as its maintainer, and I hope you will find it worthy of the quality standards set by my predecessors and the Xfce desktop environment as a whole.

A new versioning scheme

  After asking around the Xfce community about Terminal's versioning scheme and looking into its history, I decided to adopt Thunar's old versioning. That means that the next cycle of development releases will be 1.1.x, and the next major stable release will be 1.2.0. That will continue until we reach 2.0.0 or some major change happens (for example, porting to GTK 4).

Improvements

  For anyone who hasn't kept up with Terminal's development here are the major improvements:

  • The `Scrolling on ouput` preference has been improved and will now be temporarily disabled if you scroll up.
  • Overlay scrollbars are now supported.
  • You can now send signals to the foreground process through the UI.
  • The '--tab' and '--window' command line arguments have been reworked to be more intuitive.
  • For those who use background images, 'Fill' is a new style option.
  • The 'Unsafe Paste' dialog has been significantly revamped and now also gives you an option to temporarily disable it.
  • You can now change the behavior of right click.
  • Accelerators that contain the 'Tab' key can now be changed at runtime.
  • A new Shortcuts Editor was created for Xfce applications, and Xfce Terminal is one of the first apps to support it (requires libxfce4ui 4.17.2 or greater).
  • XfceTitledDialog is used where possible for better synergy with the rest of your Xfce desktop.
For a more extensive look into all the new features you can read my previous blogs (0.9.0, 0.9.1, 0.9.2) or the NEWS file in the code repository.

Under the hood

As far as under the hood improvements go, I spent most of my time rewriting the code that handles the accelerators and the creation of various menus. This removed most of the deprecated code in Xfce Terminal and fixed various small issues or inconsistencies that existed in the old code while also reducing the size of the codebase. At first, this transition introduced a bunch of regressions but thanks to testers in the community it looks like any shortcuts or UI issues created by it have been fixed. A nice bonus of this transition is being able to customize the goto-tab accelerators.

I did also spent some time fixing build warnings and removing code for ancient versions of VTE. All in all, I believe that the codebase is in a better place than it was one year ago and this will enable me to make 1.2.0 an even bigger release.

Future plans

Xfce Terminal

  The future of Xfce Terminal is bright. Some of my goals for 1.2.0 are:

  • Rewriting the Preferences Dialog to use XfceTitledDialog and integrate the Shortcuts Editor into it.
  • Creating a new Settings Editor widget in libxfce4ui by reusing code from the exisitng Settings Editor and using that to eliminate hidden preferences.
  • Documenting all public functions in Xfce Terminal.
  • Introducing Profiles-like functionality which will close a bunch of open issues.
  • Tab restoration outside of Xfce environments.
  • Improved FreeBSD support.
Before I start working on all that, I will take care of any regressions that get reported in this release (there has already been one).


Videos showcasing features and improvements in this release:

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Xfce accepted to Google Summer of Code 2022

  • March 11, 2022
  • Alexander Schwinn

Xfce accepted to Google Summer of Code 2022

Good news, Xfce has been accepted to Google Summer of Code 2022 !

This time not only different thunar projects will be mentored, but as well some xfce4-terminal, xfce4-screenshooter and xfce4-panel projects. Check our Xfce GSoC Wiki for a detailed list of project ideas !

If you are not much involved into Xfce yet and interested in software development, now might be a good opportunity to contribute to Xfce while even getting payed for it !

In case you are already involved in Xfce development, you might be interested to mentor a GSoC contributor and add some project idea to the ideas-list for which you can do mentoring.

For more detailed information, best check the guides on the official GSoC page.

Hope to see you there !

xfce4-terminal 0.9.2 development release

  • March 5, 2022
  • Sergios - Anestis Kefalidis

xfce4-terminal 0.9.2 development release

  A new xfce4-terminal development release is here, and this time it is special. This version serves also as the release candidate for xfce4-terminal 1.0.0. If you want to help keep xfce4-terminal bug-free, this is the time to test and report any bugs you find!

Changes

  For this release I focused on fixing regressions and minor annoyances, so I have no fancy new features to write about in this post. Most improvements are related to accelerator-handling and most fixes related to UI/UX regressions (or accidental changes) that were introduced in the transition to XfceGtkActionEntry. You can see the full list of changes in our wiki.

I want to thank Gael and Theo for bringing a lot of these issues to my attention.

Future plans

  If no major bugs are discovered, I will release xfce4-terminal 1.0.0 in a couple of weeks. After that I will focus on my long list of Thunar issues.


Previous post

A better toolbar for Thunar

  • January 21, 2022
  • Sergios - Anestis Kefalidis

A better toolbar for Thunar

  Welcome to my first Xfce development update for 2022. Happy new year!

Toolbar and Custom Actions

The problem

  In the past, there have been quite a few discussions about the toolbar and which items it should contain. Both developers and community members wondered: "Should the reload button be removed?", "Why isn't the search button a toggle in the toolbar?", "Should toggle buttons exist in the toolbar?". As you might expect, there was no perfect answer to those questions. Some people liked one thing, other people liked the exact opposite.

  You can see all that in the following links:

The solution

  Here comes Merge Request 173 which introduces the ability to customize the toolbar. That is done through a new "Toolbar Editor", which is based on the existing "Columns Editor", where the user can reorder and hide toolbar items.

Toolbar Editor

The toolbar editor.

  Instead of being satisfied with the ability to customize the toolbar using built-in items, I decided to take it a step further and give users the option to add their custom actions to it. Presently, only actions that are used on directories can be displayed as items in the toolbar but in the future we could expand that functionality if there is user demand.

Toolbar

A custom toolbar.

Other improvements

  I have also been working on some smaller improvements. Thunar can now handle shortcuts that include the 'Tab' key and I am prototyping a spinner element to let users know when a search is ongoing.

Future plans

  This is probably the last big feature that I will develop for Thunar 4.18. After this is merged I will probably focus on fixing regressions and bugs.


Previous post

xfce4-terminal 0.9.1 development release

  • December 10, 2021
  • Sergios - Anestis Kefalidis

  Welcome back! For the last two months, I've been working on fixing regressions introduced by 0.9.0 (thanks to all the people who use try the development releases) and a few new features and enhancements that the community has been asking for.

Enhancements

  The `scrolling-on-output` preference has been slightly reworked. Previously, you were unable to scroll-up while the terminal was printing (the view would be immediately scrolled back down). The new, improved behavior follows the printed lines only if you haven't scrolled upwards. If you have, the view stays there and you can continue the automatic scrolling by going back to the current "end" of the terminal screen, i.e. by scrolling back down.

  Additionally, as was promised in the previous release, I reworked the checkbox to disable the 'Unsafe Paste' dialog. Now you can disable the dialog temporarily instead of being forced to permanently disable it and then having to re-enable it (disabling it permanently is not advised).

New features

  A new scrollbar type has been added, called overlay-scrollbar. This scrollbar is provided by GtkScrolledWindow which xfce4-terminal now uses for its terminal screens. Overlay scrollbars are slimmer, therefore they save some horizontal space. If you like the old scrollbar style that is still available (and will probably be the default in the final release).

  This version also includes the XfceShortcutsEditor widget that I wrote about in a previous post. Keep in mind that you need libxfce4ui 4.17.2 (or greater) to use this feature, otherwise the entry will be hidden.

  Last but not least, you can now customize what the right-click action. Instead of opening the context menu, you can configure xfce4-terminal to paste the clipboard or the current selection.

Release notes

  You can find the full release notes at the following link: Release Notes


Previous post

A shortcuts editor for Xfce and a couple of other things

  • November 25, 2021
  • Sergios - Anestis Kefalidis

A shortcuts editor for Xfce and a couple of other things

  Welcome to another Xfce development update! In this one you will learn about the new Xfce Shortcuts Editor and a couple of upcoming Thunar features.

Shortcuts Editor

  As you may know, I'm the maintainer of xfce4-terminal and a developer for Thunar. It just so happens that both of these programs have a ton of shortcuts. Until now, there was no GUI for changing shortcuts. Users had to manually edit the `accels.scm` file which is doable yet cumbersome.

  Additionally xfce4-terminal, being a terminal emulator, has the problem of its shorcuts colliding with the shorcuts of terminal applications, rendering them unusable. To fix that issue users needed to once again dive into the `accels.scm` file and change the default shortcuts manually.

  That is why I created a new widget called XfceShortcutsEditor in libxfce4ui. Applications that use XfceGtkActionEntries for their accelerators can easily integrate that editor in their UI and enjoy the benefits without any additional complexity.

Thunar Shortcuts

The XfceShortcutsEditor integrated in Thunar's Preferences dialog.

Termianl Shortcuts

The XfceShortcutsEditor as a separate dialog for xfce4-terminal.

Thunar improvements

  As far as Thunar specific improvements go, I'm happy to announce that the next version of Thunar will have a customizable Statusbar. By right-clicking, users will be able to hide/show information that they (don't) need.

 Additionally the folder properties dialog now displays the type of contents of the folder (i.e. the number of files and folders insdie the folder).


Previous post

xfce4-terminal 0.9.0 development release

  • October 16, 2021
  • Sergios - Anestis Kefalidis

  Welcome back! Since I became maintainer of xfce4-terminal I've worked on replacing deprecated parts of the codebase, closing old bugs and merging Merge Requests which have been sitting around for a while.

GtkActions

  The majority of my time was spent on dealing with the, now deprecated, GtkActions/GtkActionEntries and GtkUiManager which were used for creating the menubar, toolbar, right click context menu and for handling the shortcuts. All of that logic was moved to Xfce's own XfceGtkAction entries which are supported by the Xfce team. As a nice bonus, this transition slightly reduced the size of the codebase. Some deprecated parts remain, like the UI for changing encoding from the menubar but I've decided to transition slowly to make sure that things remain stable.

Sending signals

  The most exciting new feature is the ability to send signals to foreground processes. This is done either through the right click menu, or through the `Terminal` entry of the menubar. We have Cyrille Pontivieux to thank for the initial implementation of this, which I simplified and later transitioned to the new menu/shortcut system.

Release notes

  You can find the full release notes at the following link: Release Notes


Previous post

A couple of big features for Thunar

  • September 16, 2021
  • Sergios - Anestis Kefalidis

A couple of big features for Thunar

  Welcome to my first post-GSoC blogpost. Google Summer of Code might have ended but I'm continuing my daily work on Thunar and Xfce Terminal (more on that later). This blog-post is accompanied by a video that showcases what is written here.

Recursive Search

  I'm happy to inform you that my work on implementing a performant recursive-search in Thunar has been met with success. Users will be able to recursively search their filesystem (including remote folders and other special locations like Recent and Trash) and sort the results like they would in any folder. Presently, searching is depth limited but in the final version you will be able to select a custom depth or no depth at all, to make sure that this is useful even for older machines and at the same time makes use of the resources of faster systems. As this is a work in progress there are some bugs and crashes but it looks like the big issues have been solved at last. You can see for yourself at: link.

Shared Thumbnail Repositories

  Additionally, I wanted to give users the option to create shared thumbnail repositories from within Thunar. That's why I've been working on creating a script to create Shared Thumbnail Repositories using any thumbnailer that implements the D-Bus thumbnailing spec (tumbler being an example of such a thumbnailer). You will be able to use this script from Thunar through a custom action.

Xfce Terminal

  Lastly, I wanted to let you know that I've become the maintainer of xfce4-terminal. I've been working on resolving old issues, fixing bugs and merging MRs that have been sitting stagnant for months. I've got a lot of exciting things to show you on that front, so stay tuned.


Previous post

Shiny new things in Thunar thanks to GSoC 2021

  • September 11, 2021
  • Alexander Schwinn

Shiny new things in Thunar thanks to GSoC 2021

GSoC 2021 is over now and I am happy to tell you that both students working on thunar did an excellent job. Alot of nice stuff has been added thanks to them !

In order to allow you to discover all these new features, Thunar 4.17.5 was just released. (Note that this is a development release. It still might have some rough edges)

For details about the new features check the summaries provided by Sergios and Yongha:

Besides these, here as well some more new features added during GSoC for which I thought they would be worth to mention:

Bookmarks got moved into a separate 'Bookmarks Menu' and a 'create bookmark' option was added (MR !109 and MR !71)

bookmark menu

A new menu item "Set Default Application" was added to the "Open with" submenu (MR !79)

Open with - Set Default App

A new section 'Default Application' was added to the 'thunar-chooser-dialog' (MR !81)

Default App Section

On top there are still various open merge requests with partial finished features, most of them from GSoC students for which I did not find time so far. So expect more new stuff to arrive soon !

You as well might want to keep an eye on xfce4-terminal, which received alot of activity recently, since it is now maintained by Sergios Kefalidis.

If you find a bug on any of these new features, please make use of the xfce bugtracker.

Happy testing !