1. Gnome is at 3.6 they have many things that are changing rapidly. I don't expect them to limit the things they can do to make the DE _better_ just so that they have a stable API for themes.
2. I actually find myself liking gnome3 and gnome shell better then Xfce ( my fallback for the early days of gnome3 ).
The workflow they introduced hurt at first because it was different and scary, but its so natural now I find myself missing it when I work in Xfce or KDE. I know there are some developers who value above all else the freedom and ideals espoused by the FOSS movement and want a system stack that is true to those principles above all others. I am actually enjoying a well _designed_ and coherent desktop experience. Also I have the source code if something really is bothering me I can change it, but I am finding after 15+ years of tweaking config files to get everything to work the way I wanted it to I am now content to just have something that works out of the box even if I have to acclimate myself to some of its nuances. It turns out most of the time what I thought was a problem actually works better for me once I get used to it.
Could you comment on the points that have been made about removed features in nautilus and things like removing launchers? I'm not a heavy linux user myself but those issues stroke me as very significant, to the extent that I would never touch gnome3 because of this.
The fact that you have a fork which is basically a point-in-time frozen version of a tool whose newest version nobody wants to use is pretty telling.
The Gnome team would be wise to listen in on the feedback from the community. If they want a community that is. They seem to think that this "Gnome brand", "Gnome identity" and "Gnome platform" is the most important thing they need to concern themselves with these days.
I just copied a .sh script to my desktop and clicked on it. It launched the application. However the right click and make new shortcut has been removed. Was it a feature , yes. Should they have kept it, I say no You can't keep every menu option ever in all your dialogs. There are other ways ( and better ways ) to do the same thing.
What are those other and better ways? The ability to bind random, personalized, easy to create scripts to file actions has been removed as far as I can tell.
Not being able to drop a shell script into some place to make GUI file management easier is a regression. (I say "some place" because when I was using this feature, it took forever to find the right place as it changed between released/distributions and I had to experiment to find the right set of env vars that are set, because docs were lacking).
I've been using gnome 3.6 for the past month. I've been using Linux as my primary desktop for 18 years. I live in emacs. (unix cred established?) gnome 3.6 may not be perfect, but it works well. It's actually remarkable simple. I may go back to using awesomewm + gnome fallback, but gnome 3 is a solid desktop.
It's not about DE, it's about toolkit. Which used to be a common pond but now they like put a fence around it and dump toxic waste into it. The reasoning revolves around it being easier for them and allowing them to do useful things in other places.
Guess what, not a good recipe for love of community.
but it is about the DE. when GTK was transitioned to the GNOME foundation the Gimp folks essentially let them take it in any direction that benefits the GNOME community. GTK is standalone only in that it has bits that others can use, but it doesn't exist so others can use it. Should they be aware of other who might want to use it, yes. Should they make design decision that hurt their primary purpose so that GTK can be more useful to others ? That's a good question , I tend to side on no.
Indeed - gnome 2.6 was probably around the time when it was just about useable in the 2.x series ... 2.16 was probably about the 'peak' of 2.x (before features started getting removed).
There's a lot more uphill to go; it is actually quite nice to use as a day to day frontend already though.
Some of the things the api changes that have caused pain now will actually make things better over the longer term; take theming - it's all moving towards a CSS driven style.