Shiny new UI in Empathy 3.2

One of our main goals during this developement cycle was to continue improving Empathy's user experience by re-designing different parts of the UI. To do so our Empathy team at Collabora worked closely with designers from the awesome GNOME Design Team.

The log viewer has been completely re-written based on an original design from Matthew Paul Thomas (Canonical). As you can see, this new log viewer now displays calls and offers different options to easily search through the mass of logs.

Empathy 3.2 will also introduce a whole new experimental user interface for audio and video calls designed by Nick Richards (Intel). The new UI is based on Clutter and allows users to select the webcam and microphone used during the call, move the video preview around, etc. It should also gain support for video effects once Raluca finishes integrating her work with Nick's design. This new UI will be optional in 3.2 as it relies on new Telepathy API but will definitely become the default as soon as those API are stabilised.

Not actually me

I have to say that working closely with designers is a really enjoyable experience. It's good to have people to ask to when we are unsure about the best way to present a feature or an option to users. I'm really looking forward to continuing to improve Empathy with them.


1. Le lundi, août 29 2011, 17:36 par Emilio

That's me!

2. Le lundi, août 29 2011, 17:40 par Rahul Sundaram

I have several years of Pidgin logs. Does Empathy support importing Pidgin logs yet?

3. Le lundi, août 29 2011, 18:15 par Paradoxe

Great works. ;)

4. Le lundi, août 29 2011, 18:26 par Jonathan Blandford

Actually, that's a great idea Rahul. I'd love to be able to import logs from xchat as well.

5. Le lundi, août 29 2011, 18:27 par zekopeko

The implemented log viewer isn't fully complaint with the mockup mpt provided.

1. The toolbar

It look like elements are left aligned. It isn't clear from the mockup but I think that the "Profile, Chat, Call, Video" buttons should be left aligned, the "Show All account" should be center aligned (probably with the What field), "Search" box should be right aligned.

IMO the "Show" and "Search word should be above the widgets not below them. Makes more sense to "Show" All account instead of All account "Show". Same applies to search.

2. The scrollbars on the Who, What and When columns should not cover them. In the mockup they start below them (examine the mockup).

Suggestion: Since you have a limited, fixed number of entries in the What box I suggest the default size of it be just enough to show all list items in the What list box.

3. The top entry in the Who, What, When lists is Anything. In the mockup it is clearly separated by extra spacing and dotted line.

I hope you fix those issues. I'm glad that we finally are getting some design driven UI in Gnome but it is important that coders implement them as per the specification. Remember that a desinger probably thought it through far more than the coder did.

6. Le lundi, août 29 2011, 21:35 par mpt

zekopeko, you’re right that the account menu should be centered and the “Search” field should be right-aligned.

You’re also right that by themselves, the “Show” and “Search” labels would make more sense above their controls than below. In a toolbar that contains labelled icon buttons, though, aesthetics make it a bit more important that any labels for menus and text fields are vertically aligned with labels for those buttons. They aren’t quite at the moment, but once they are, it will look much better.

7. Le lundi, août 29 2011, 22:27 par Lapo

The history window is overly complex in my opinion, the video call windows conceptually works, but I think it needs more work design wise, it's quite unpolished atm (while an improvement). Apart from the fact that the overlay is not so nice, what is going to happen when there is no video? Also the frame around the video windows should be removed, I'd avoid using the primary toolbar for writing info text, and there are several details which could be improved in general.

8. Le lundi, août 29 2011, 22:35 par Nathan


Am I the only one having problem accessing gnome's bugzilla? Firefox and Chrome are both complaining about an expired certificate, and in firefox I can't override this.
Going to does not help either (I guess it redirects to https)

9. Le mardi, août 30 2011, 00:00 par Vadim P.

The call UI wastes a lot of screen space at the top. I hope it'll be possible to compact it, because right now Skype does a better job than the new design even (nevermind the old!)

10. Le mardi, août 30 2011, 10:34 par Guillaume

Rahul: yes, the telepathy-logger has a Pidgin backend which should fetch its logs as well.

Jonathan: I don't think there is such plugin for XChat; patch welcome. :)

zekopeko, mpt, Lapo, Vladim: please please please, file bug reports for such issues. That's the best way to get things improved.

Nathan: that was a certificate issue which should be fixed now.

11. Le mardi, août 30 2011, 12:54 par nedrichards

lapo: the call window hasn't received any visual design yet - but then again it's targeted at 3.4 so I'm not too distressed by that. The focus right now is making sure it works and there's a *ton* more features to integrate as well. It's certainly a thing to work more in in the next cycle.

12. Le mardi, août 30 2011, 16:00 par Jussi Kukkonen

Awesome. I was sure a bug report as rambling as mine was wouldn't lead to results in a long time... The resulting history window looks a lot better already -- although I'll reserve final judgment until I see searching in action: that is the real test. I also have some addiotional suggestions but no point in pushing those before actually testing the current State of the art...

Anyway, thanks to mpt, Emilio and other empathy developers. Empathy may sometimes make me want to rip my thinkpad in half, but it's still way better than the alternatives :) Keep up the good work.

13. Le mercredi, août 31 2011, 19:39 par mpt

I have reported bugs on some of the issues zekopeko pointed out:
* vertical alignment
* horizontal alignment
* icons

The separator after "Anything" is present. Maybe it was hidden when Guillaume’s screenshot was resized.

14. Le vendredi, septembre 2 2011, 12:56 par manny

would love to see an easier first time account log-in screen.

people dont like to read wizards the first time they launch the app, instead they just want to see the icons for the service they want to log in.

it has to be something easier like skype messenger, msn or ftalk: just place your login name and password.