Back in November we started sharing some of the exciting features planned for the GNOME 2.22 and 2.24 releases, and now that the first GNOME 2.22.0 Beta release is planned for later this week, we have taken another look at the packages set for inclusion and the changes that have actually been made. While nothing groundbreaking will be introduced in GNOME 2.22 (compared to KDE 4.0 at least), this desktop environment does have some moderate changes worth noting. In this article are eight interesting packages that either have noticeable changes since GNOME 2.20 or are new to GNOME. This list isn't all-inclusive or ordered in any particular fashion, but just eight changes that had caught our attention.
Epiphany With WebKit: The big feature coming to Epiphany, the GNOME web browser, in GNOME 2.22 is the ability to use the WebKit backend. While most have heard of WebKit by now, if you haven't, WebKit is a popular (and growing) open-source web browser engine that began as the KHTML library in the KDE Konqueror browser. WebKit is currently deployed inside numerous Apple products, integration with the upcoming Qt v4.4 release, and is used by various open-source web projects. Epiphany has long used Mozilla's Gecko engine, for similar rendering capabilities to Firefox, while a WebKit backend is the big feature for Epiphany 2.22. In order to use the WebKit backend, Epiphany must be built with the --with-engine=webkit argument. If you are after trying out the WebKit-backed Epiphany, be forewarned that the Epiphany 2.21.x development packages found in some distribution package repositories (such as Ubuntu 8.04) are still relying upon the Gecko engine.
Evince Document Viewing: While not as dramatic as swapping out a browser's rendering backend, the Evince Document Viewer has a few improvements. The biggest of these features being Evince now supports page transition effects when running in the presentation mode. Among these transitions are a split animation, blinds, box, wipe, dissolve, fade, and push effects. All of these transitions are done using Cairo. The other new feature for Evince is a plug-in API so that support for new document types can be added without needing to rebuild or modify Evince. Evince in GNOME 2.22 will also have some other minor changes, such as support for links with the mailto: URIs. Originally planned for GNOME 2.22 was annotations support for Evince, which was a Google Summer of Code project. The annotations support is for appending notes to a document and then having the ability to share these notes with anyone else. The Evince annotations support for PDF files will follow the official reference specification by Adobe, which makes it possible to read PDF annotations that were created in another PDF annotator and vice-verse. Unfortunately, this annotation support has been postponed to GNOME 2.24. While on the topic, other planned features for Evince in GNOME 2.24 include tile-based rendering, improving the history tracking, and document thumbnails in the file selector.