People menu: online desktop and instant messaging in GNOME

Just after GUADEC, I made some general comments about this whole “online desktop” idea that was nicely presented by Havoc and Bryan in Birmingham. My main argument is that we should not have a separate “online desktop mode” but try to turn our desktop into a web-aware environment.

Now that Empathy has been proposed for GNOME 2.22, I think it’s time to start thinking about interesting ways of integrating the instant messaging stuff and online desktop stack in the desktop (note that there’s no garantee that Empathy and online desktop will be accepted as official modules but, as a strong supported, I still think it makes sense to bring those ideas at this moment). In my opinion, we should take advantage of the fact that Empathy is a framework-ish aproach for instant messaging (not simply a standalone application) to bring a seamless integration of its features in the desktop environment.

So, I had this idea (that should be more detailed and discussed) of a possible (and feasible) way of integrating Empathy and online desktop stuff in the desktop: a People menu in main menu bar.

People menu mockup

Some general comments:

  • The People menu should be optional and only activated if online desktop and/or Empathy are available. There will be many users who still want to use their favorite messenger and don’t want to use this online desktop thing anyway
  • The “About me” would run the “About me” capplet which would need to have some additional features for setting up messenger accounts and defining your web presence on several online services (online desktop integration)
  • The “Contacts” menu item could run an application like Soylent with easy access to your messenger and Evolution contacts to start different communication ways (e-mail, chat, video call, etc)
  • The “Messenger” menu item would connect you to your configured messenger services and show an icon the notification area
  • The “Home page” would open the browser in your GNOME online desktop home page
  • The “Web activities” would start the now called Mugshot client which notifies you about the web activities of your friends
  • The “Web board” would activate the Bigboard sidepanel with lots of cool web stuff (I think Web board is a more appropriate name from the user point of view)
  • The “Recent talks” is obvious :-)

This is just an initial/rough idea with the aim of setting some kind of direction on how we could integrate instant messaging and online desktop in GNOME. There are still many things to discuss and decide.

Comments?

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