Happy Birthday SpaceFM (0.9.3 released)
SpaceFM 0.9.3 has been released (see notes). This minor maintenance release stabilizes adjustment of the task manager columns and corrects a few issues.
Happy new year! And happy birthday to SpaceFM, which is now two years old (first pre-alpha release was on Jan 13, 2012). I see this blog had about 100,000 visits this past year, which while a little slower than some years (no doubt due to my fewer posts), it’s still great to see the level of interest, and from around the world too. I’ve made the 2013 and 2012 annual reports public if you’d like to see a bit about your fellow readers and some stats.
Update on SpaceFM Development
SpaceFM development hasn’t been too active the last few months aside from basic maintenance of the 0.9 series, and a few feature adjustments. While this may not be as exciting, it is good news to see that SpaceFM has reached a great level of stability, both in terms of its feature set and in terms of bugs. There are very few active bug reports, and reproducible bugs are usually addressed promptly.
This is a nice place to be in terms of development, because there isn’t much that needs to be done. SpaceFM is generally a complete and capable basic file manager (and DM) that doesn’t change quickly, which I feel is an asset in the current world of Linux. So as a minimum I aim to do the basic maintenance to keep it current, and since SpaceFM is also the file manager I use, I’m easily motivated to do so. SpaceFM also runs in a wide variety of environments and systems, dating back to HAL, etc., as well as the most current GTK3 and udev. As your extensible file manager, you can take it and all your custom tools with you.
Of course no software is ever done, and there are many ways that SpaceFM can develop further. If you find yourself bored with the pace of development, I strongly encourage you to get to know SpaceFM’s Design Mode and Dialog features better. SpaceFM probably does more than you realize, and you can extend it in many ways.
That said, there have been a few things going on here at Ignorant Software. I put quite a bit of work into a new design for SpaceFM’s side panes, particularly a new Bookmarks pane that is more tightly integrated with Design Mode, making SpaceFM’s bookmarks very powerful and context aware. This also involves some redesign of the panel behavior in SpaceFM, making placement more flexible. And it includes some unique new features. The design is mostly complete and looks inviting, yet it’s just a design – a long, long road from seeing reality. I was a bit discouraged by the amount of work it looks to be to implement, especially in light of poor upstream support lately in GTK. It’s a gamble to invest work based on an API whose future is uncertain. So for now this next stage of SpaceFM is pending, mostly waiting for more extensive development time.
SpaceFM contributor OmegaPhil has been working on newly designed archive handling in SpaceFM, which includes a configuration dialog that allows one to set custom handlers to create and extract any kinds of archives in any way, rather than the current hard-coded commands. This work is largely completed and we’re finalizing some of the design choices and behavior before it enters early testing. No precise timing on this but plans are to make a testing branch available for this relatively soon.
In a slightly longer term plan, OmegaPhil’s handler configuration dialog will see double duty in SpaceFM, as I extend it slightly as a dialog to configure handlers for network types as well, and perhaps filesystem types. This will allow separate handlers to be set for each protocol or filesystem being mounted/unmounted, and will enable SpaceFM to make better use of unlimited fuse filesystems and diverging mount solutions ootb. It can currently do this with a custom protocol handler, but the new dialog will make this more user-friendly and capable.
One final thought on completion and development… SpaceFM is ad hoc by design in its handling of devices, networks, and filesystems. This flexibility can be misinterpreted as dysfunction or poor design when it’s not fully configured. Many distros simply package and ship SpaceFM without providing a default session file, for example. This gives you the vanilla configuration. Yet because SpaceFM is designed to work across such a broad array of environments, these defaults are minimal at best, and may not work well with your system without some adjustment. This is especially true of SpaceFM for several reasons. It’s not associated with a DE or other fixed set of system tools (yet can use any). It uses minimal dependencies (basically just HAL or udev, and gtk), and uses only stock GTK icons (it doesn’t have dependency on any icon themes). This gives it a very plain and unassuming look ootb, but rest assured you can give it very different looks and behavior in many regards.
So overall I’m pleased that SpaceFM has reached a mature level of stability and ability. While it’s not my primary project now and gets less attention just because it works well, I think it’s in a very good place for its users and developers. Thanks for your continuing interest!