I’d like to encourage free software users to, when appropriate, get in touch with developers to ask for enhancements or report errors (“bugs”). Yes, sometimes it takes too long to get an answer. But today I’ll tell you two experiences I had, with a much better result than I expected initially.
Two years ago I asked Epiphany to open pages in a new tab by default, not in a new window. The report was considered “invalid”, because there wasn’t any need to change the application itself, only the the way it was launched. To my surprise, months latter GNOME adopted the behaviour I had asked for. Now the preferred aplication for HTML pages is
epiphany --newtab %s, and not
Something similar happened with Gettext. One year ago, I wanted to use a message catalog (PO file) to update another one; i. e. use two PO files as arguments for the
msgmerge tool. It caused an error, because the tool expected the second argument to be a catalog template, i. e., not to contain any translation. PO files may contain obsolete messages, but POT files don’t have any. I asked the tool to be able to accept a catalog as a second argument, but it was denied. A developer answered I could easily create a POT file from a PO one:
msgfilter --keep-header sed d file.pot. Again I didn’t agree with the response, but there was nothing I could do. Two months latter, Gettext maintainer Bruno Haible agreed to introduce the requested feature, and that’s how my name was included in Gettext’s ChangeLog🙂
Gettext 0.17 was released two weeks ago, i. e., one year after I requested the feature. On the other hand, I never heard about proprietary software giving feedback to whoever asks for features or report errors. Free software scores again!