Over the last year, Libadwaita has been exciting and contentious in the Linux community, particularly among GNOME Desktop devotees. And, of course, not without cause, as it is the new path that the GNOME Project has followed since its version 41.
But first, for those not in the know, let me explain what exactly Libadwaita is. In short, Libadwaita is a GTK 4 library that complements GTK by implementing the GNOME Human Interface Guidelines (HIG). Or in other words, Libadwaita separates GNOME and GTK.
It is the successor of Libhandy, which played a key role in shaping the visual language and user experience of GNOME apps until GNOME 40.
GNOME 42, the most recent release, includes Libadwaita 1.1. And now, half a year after 1.1, as a pleasant surprise for all lovers of the popular desktop environment, the stable release of Libadwaita 1.2 has been announced.
So let’s quickly walk through it and see what new it brings us.
Libadwaita 1.2 Highlights
The adaptive messages layout is one of the primary features highlighted in the new version. This is no surprise, given that one of the core Labadwaita developers works at Purism, a company that collaborated with GNOME on software development.
But let’s get back to the point. The GNOME messages interface sometimes “overflowed” outside the primary application screen. Fortunately, this is no longer the case, thanks to Libadwaita 1.2.
Adwaita Message Dialog (AdwMessageDialog) is a new widget that replaces the currently utilized GtkMessageDialog. It is fully adaptive, and when scaling down the window, it first limits its size to that of the parent app. Then, if that isn’t enough, it positions the buttons vertically.
The other significant new feature in Libadwaita 1.2 is the Adwaita Entry Row widget. It is a new type of boxed list row with an inline entry whose title doubles as the entry placeholder.
The well-known all users “About” dialog, which provides extra information about the application, has also changed. Initially planned for Libadwaita 1.0, it is now included in Libadwaita 1.2.
The new window is fully adaptive and delivers significantly more and better-structured details previously challenging to integrate.
Finally, we should add that a few styles have visual enhancements in Libadwaita 1.2. This is especially true for the tab bar in the GTK theme’s dark variant, where the contrast is improved, and it is much easier to recognize which tab is now selected.
Apart from the things mentioned above, Libadwaita 1.2 also includes several minor adjustments, detailed in the official announcement.
So, in conclusion, what can we say? This new Libadwaita 1.2 is designed to be more modern, supports a more proper dark variant contrast, style classes updates, improved messaging windows, and much more.
Finally, the good news is that probably Libadwaita 1.2 will be included in the soon-to-be-released GNOME 43, as the presence of the “libadwaita-1.2-rc” package can already be seen in the recently released GNOME 43 RC version.