Tobias Bernard

Tobias Bernard

Interaction Designer at Purism
Tobias Bernard

Latest posts by Tobias Bernard (see all)

GUADEC is the main yearly GNOME conference, where developers, designers, and other community members gather in one place to watch talks, hack on new features, and plan for the future. Given Purism’s close involvement with GNOME development we used to attend GUADEC as a team before COVID, but of course in the past two years it was remote due to the pandemic.

While online conferences are better than nothing, they’re really not the same thing. That’s why last year a few local GNOME people based in and around Berlin got together in person to watch the remote event and do some hacking, which ended up being very fun and productive. So when we learned that this year’s GUADEC would be in Guadalajara, Mexico we decided to repeat last year’s experiment. Flying to Mexico for a week in the middle of a climate emergency is really not great, especially given that there’s a pretty large local community in Berlin itself and several more people who live relatively close by in central Europe.

Interior at c-base

This year we had the c-base hackerspace as our venue, which was very cool. In addition to the space ship interior we also had a nice outside area near the river we could use for COVID-friendly hacking. We were quite a few more people than last year (a bit more than 20 overall), so it almost had a real conference character.

Since Allan, Jakub, and I were there we wanted to use the opportunity to work on some difficult design questions in person, particularly around tiling and window management. We made good progress in some of these areas, and I’m personally very excited about the shape this work is taking.

Because we had a number of app maintainers attending we ended up doing a lot of hallway design reviews and discussions, including about Files, Contacts, Software, Fractal, and Health.

Some highlights from a Librem 5/PureOS/mobile perspective:

  • Files is moving towards adaptiveness! While it’s not going to be fully adaptive in GNOME 43 (out this September), but Chris Davis, Antonio Fernandes, and others have been doing a lot of preparatory work, and the current plan is to get it done for 44 in the spring.
  • Adrien and I discussed the designs for payments in GNOME Software with Philip Withnall. There’s still a lot of work needed here both design and implementation wise, but it’s great to see this moving forward.
  • Adrien, Philip, and myself did some in-person Software bugsquashing, and got a quite a few UI issues fixed.
  • We had some design reviews and discussions about Contacts with Niels de Graef, and he and Julian figured out how to better support “tel:” URLs for phone numbers without country codes.
  • Playing with Phosh-next and Jonas’ mobile GNOME Shell prototype on real phones was a big hit among attendees 🙂

Of course, inevitably there were also a lot of the kinds of cross-discipline conversations that can only happen in these in-person settings, and which are often what sets the direction for big things to come.

One area I’m particularly interested in is local-first and better offline support across the stack, both from a resilience and UX point of view. We never quite found our footing in the cloud era (i.e. the past decade) because we’re not really set up to manage server infrastructure, but looking ahead at a local-first future, we’re actually in a much better position.

Julian, Adrien, and I at the c-base entrance with the Librem 5

Thanks to everyone for joining, c-base for hosting, the GNOME Foundation for financial support for the event, and hopefully see you all next year!

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