Matthew Barnes (mbarnes) wrote,
Matthew Barnes

Coming Soon in Evolution 3.4

I’m overdue for an update on what the Evolution team has been up to lately.  This development cycle should be interesting, as we have several projects converging for the next major release in March: Evolution 3.4. It’s still pretty early in the 3.3 cycle, so everything is still tentative at this point. But here’s some of the major features we have cooking, in addition to our steady stream of bug fixes and incremental enhancements.

New D-Bus Service for Email

Srinivasa Ragavan is working toward breaking email handling out of Evolution and moving it out to a separate D-Bus service as we do currently for address books and calendars. That will allow for things like new mail notifications without having to have Evolution running, and also provide a more formal way for other Evolution-Data-Server clients to access mail stores.

Evolution, Meet WebKit

Dan Vratil has taken on the task of porting Evolution’s email rendering from our old and outdated HTML engine (“GtkHtml”) to the more modern WebKit/GTK+. Dan tells me he’s taking advantage of WebKit’s full support for JavaScript and CSS (which GtkHtml lacks) to make rendering more efficient and to unify the email, contact, task, and memo previews with a shared style.

We’re treating email rendering and email composing as separate projects. Right now it’s looking like we’ll continue using GtkHtml for email composing in Evolution 3.4, but fear not -- we’ll get to it. We’re as eager to drop GtkHtml as anyone.

Automated Account Setup

Punit Jain is merging the automated mail account setup feature from “express” mode into the regular Evolution Account Assistant. This is the feature where you give Evolution your email address and it checks the address’s domain against a database of known service providers and can often populate all the server details for you, making account setup quick and easy.

Goodbye GConf

Rodrigo Moya has been porting all of Evolution’s simple GConf keys to dconf and fixing up our code to access the new keys via GLib’s own GSettings API. So one less package dependency for Evolution 3.4. As for the not-so-simple GConf keys, see below.

New Backend for Microsoft Exchange

David Woodhouse and his team at Intel, along with Chenthill Palanisamy at Novell, have developed a new Evolution backend that can talk to Microsoft Exchange 2007 and 2010 by way of Microsoft‘s “Exchange Web Services”, a publicly documented SOAP-based API.

The new backend package is called “evolution-ews”.

In order to avoid all the craziness of the GNOME 2-to-3 transition, the backend was originally developed exclusively for Evolution 2.32. Chenthill has been busy porting it forward to 3.2 so it can start syncing up with GNOME’s regular release schedule.

Hopefully Microsoft will stick to its Web Services interface for a good long while so we can stop having to write new Exchange backends every few years.  :)

New Backend for Kolab Groupware

Christian Hilberg and his team at kernel concepts and tarent GmbH have developed a brand new Evolution backend for Kolab Groupware servers.

The new backend package is called “evolution-kolab”.

As with “evolution-ews”, the initial development was targeted at a fixed and now older version of Evolution, and Christian is ready to begin forward porting it and eventually syncing up with GNOME’s regular release schedule.

Saner Account Storage

As for me, I’ve been toiling away for most the year on those not-so-simple GConf keys I mentioned earlier -- the ones that we stuff account information into in the form of XML blobs.

Evolution’s account storage will soon move to plain text files in a simpler .ini-style syntax. Account data will be easier to read, easier to edit, easier to back up, easier to copy to other systems.

We’ll also introduce another new D-Bus service to manage these account files and also centralize some account-related background jobs that Evolution currently handles (but shouldn’t) such as GNOME Online Accounts monitoring.

I could ramble on about this but I’ll save it for a separate blog post.

As you can see, quite a lot going on at once. Any questions, feel free to email me, or email Evolution’s development mailing list, or jump on Evolution’s IRC channel: #evolution on GIMPNet (


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