Hacking Gnome panel applets is too hard

Luis Villa complains about there being no really decent Gnome weblog posting program, and he’s not wrong. Personally, i use the web UI for Wordpress, but I used to use both gnome-blog and BloGTK. I thought that I might hack category support into gnome-blog, because it’s in Python and ought to be pretty trivial to do. However, it seems to be rather difficult to hack on a panel applet. For a start, it has to be installed into /usr (or at least the .server file has to be). So that needs to be done as root. Secondly, the configure file for gnome-blog seems to want the pygtk development files, which I don’t understand; it’s all Python! The development files are for compiling C against the pygtk headers, aren’t they? Thirdly, in order to test a change I’d made I’d need to remove the applet, install my new version, and re-add it to the panel. That seems really hard to me; it enforces a C-ish “make a change, run a script to ‘compile’ it, restart” sort of workflow on me, and not having to do that with Python is one of the reasons I like Python. Why can’t I install an applet somewhere in my home directory? (answer, according to #gnome: bonobo.) That would make things much easier. Apparently there may be a configuration option or compile-option to pass to bonobo that will make it look in other places for .server files, but that sort of low-level tweaking scares me. If it’s that easy, I’d love to see distros incorporate that little switch as a matter of course, so that the panel will be able to load applets with their .server files in $HOME/.local/servers or similar. Anyway, I won’t be hacking gnome-blog any time soon. Deskbar is also an applet, and presumably suffers the same problem, but it has a -w option to run it in a window. It would be great if other applets supported that. Failing that: what’s the workflow for trying out an applet? I can’t see any way of making it easy…

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