Shotwell was created in 2009 by Yorba, a company focused on building Free Software for the GNOME desktop (such as the Geary email client). Over the course of the last several years, Shotwell has become the go-to app for managing photos on a pretty high percentage of Linux desktops.
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Unfortunately, maintaining software takes time, and it seems the crew over at Yorba just doesn't have the time anymore. This could have spelled the end for this handy-dandy piece of software.
Luckily, Yorba and the elementary OS teams came up with a plan. Shotwell is being forked and renamed "Pantheon Photos" (the new project already has a Launchpad page if you'd like to check it out and get involved). Going forward, chief development responsibilities will be handled by the team and community behind elementary.
There are three very big reasons why I think this is a great fit.
First, Shotwell (or..."Pantheon Photos") is written in the Vala programming language, which, as it so happens, is also the primary programming language utilized by the elementary os project. So they've got the technical expertise necessary.
Second, the rag-tag crew behind the elementary OS has shown an amazing ability to get things done. Their first release was less than three years ago, and in that time they have built a pretty remarkable system (comprised of a surprising amount of custom software) that has risen to the top 10 on DistroWatch.com.
The third reason is pretty simple. The elementary team, led by Daniel Foré, produces amazing application designs. This is apparent by simply checking out a few screenshots on their website. Will this crew be able to take Shotwell and improve the already quite good design? Absolutely. Without a doubt. My gut tells me that, once they get a chance to implement some new design ideas, Shotwell (I mean Pantheon Photos... that name change is going to take me a while to get used to) is going to be one of the most attractive and easy-to-use photo managing tools on the planet.
I should also give a quick tip of the hat to the Yorba team. The work they've done on Shotwell has been nothing short of excellent. And I am quite excited by what this new infusion of talent will bring to the project.