Gnome Panel Enhancements



This specification describes enhancements we would like to see in the Gnome Panel in the Breezy timeframe.


The Gnome Panel is ugly and less than perfectly intuitive.

Scope and Use Cases

We need to address at least the following issues (though a discussion is required to identify the full set of issues):

  • panel sizing based on screen resolution and size
  • use of non-menu-like colours on the panel to distinguish the gnome panel
    • from application menus
  • Application clutter: When you add an application to the system it appears in the menu for all users. (JohnNilsson: This is a feature not a bug. Applications meant for only one user should be installed for that user only. See UAFHS for ideas. IMHO the UAFHS spec needs some improvements before it's usable though. )

    • Even when you set up a new user, all the available applications appear regardles of whether they are relevant to that user or not. I (as a geek) may have installed lots of techie applications, but if I set up a new user account for my mother, say, on the same machine I want her to have the original clean interface (or less options even)
      • Users who are not on the sudo list should not have entries in their menus that require sudo. This would make the system menu esp. more newbie-friendly.
  • Menu clarity and look
    • Missing icons should have a sensible replacement, not just the window icon. The standard install looks great, but once you install more applications the menu can get messy/ugly. We should try to minimise this effect by better choices of default icons. Even if we don't have a unique icon for each application, could we at lest have some more variety based on the type of program? Can we give all K-apps a KDE icon? We might be Gnome-focused, but let's handle the user's choice to include other things gracefully.
    • Switching language changes the order of menu items. They are obviously alphabetised in the current language, but when you get used to seeing an item in a certain location, you need to spend time re-locating it. This is esp. true in the long 'Preferences' menu. Is there an alternative way? (the most important options at the top? Or the item most likely to be useful to a newbie first)
  • Do we need the 'About Gnome' button under System? Could we not link to it from inside the 'About Ubuntu' pages?
  • It's not obvious that the menus are clickable. It is also not obvious that 'Applications', 'Places' and 'System' are 3 separate clickable things
    • Some slight 3D button structure would help, or an underlined letter (ie support for Alt+A).
    • Windows-key support: Users who migrate from Windows might not know where to start. Activating the 'Applications' menu with the Windows key would make it obvious.
      • This would also improve accessibility: When I boot into a fresh Ubuntu system I am generally stuck. My special serial mouse has not been detected and there is no way of getting to the config utils or even a prompt (sticky keys are off by default too). Adding Win-key support would solve all these problems.
      • On the down-side, some of us Linux veterans have been using the Windows key for other purposes for quite some time now, and would be disappointed if it was no longer possible to do so. For example, I like to use the Sawfish window manager (WM), and the Windows key is the modifier for WM keymaps. "Beagle" is annoying in that it binds F10 with no option to change or remove that keybind, stealing it from Emacs, where for years I've used it to replay the last recorded keyboard macro, an every-day-use tool. I think that the 'Menu' key is more appropriate for opening the Applications menu than the Window key, which to me suggests 'window manager'.
  • The menu looks flat and gray
    • Yes, it is a nice clean look; the brown 3D-ish highlighter is nice, but the menu itself is slightly flat and boring.
    • Could we add some very slight texture to the background to make it come alive a bit more? Perhaps make all the entries seem more clickable, not just the one being hovered over. Perhaps just a thin brown border on the left edge?
  • Do people like that thought-balloon popup thing that Windows XP does? As long as it can be turned off by an easy to find configuration option, perhaps it would be a great way to let newbies know where to begin. Sawfish has an option like that; when you fly over the title bar or window frame, a balloon pops up offering help on key and mouse bindings. When a new user first starts their session, a thought-balloon could indicate the Applications menu along with the keyboard shortcut bindings, such as 'Menu' or 'Alt-A'. (Lets hope MS does not have a patent on that UI feature; I read they have one on the panel-button where if you have more than one of an application open, it puts them all on one button with a popup menu...)

Implementation Plan

More information on GnomePanelEnhancementsIdeas.

Data Preservation and Migration

Packages Affected

User Interface Requirements

Outstanding Issues

CategoryUdu CategorySpec

UbuntuDownUnder/BOFs/GnomePanelEnhancements (last edited 2008-08-06 16:39:28 by localhost)