Revisiting the GNOME Panel in general...

This is something that's been itching at me for a while, and Jeff
prodded me in the direction of the list and Davyd's blog post[0].  As
I'm not on Planet GNOME I figured I'd reply on the list instead.

Davyd identified three kinds of applets, I'd like to actually expand on
that list a little bit:

 * Applets directly related to a program.

   This includes most of the current notification icons, especially
   Gaim, Gossip and Rhythmbox.  I think this also includes the current
   CD Player applet.

   And (possibly) controversially, I think this also includes Launchers.

   If I put a CD Player launcher on my panel and click it, Sound Juicer
   (probably) should appear.  Why can't I subsequently use that launcher
   as if it were the old CD Player applet?

   Or another example.  Click the Rhythmbox icon to start it, that icon
   should subsequently serves the same purpose as the current
   notification icon.

 * Applets directly related to hardware.

   I pretty much agree with Davyd here.  Plugging in or activating
   hardware should add the appropriate applet to the panel, removing
   that hardware should remove it again.

   Laptops would get a battery applet because they have one, desktops
   wouldn't, etc.

 * Applets directly related to information.

   These are the informational ones such as pagers, clocks, weather,
   etc.  They're there because the user added them (or got them in their
   default profile and haven't removed them).

To handle all of this, the Panel definitely needs to be a lot more
intelligent about placement of applets.  If I disable then re-enable the
bluetooth in my laptop the (theoretical) applet should vanish and then
reappear in the same position as before.

The panel would also need some way of knowing where the user likes
applets to appear.  Starting an application like Rhythmbox from the menu
would need to place its applet somewhere sensible, and if the user
doesn't lock it onto the panel it should probably vanish and not turn
into a launcher when closed.  (You'd probably want to remember the
location for next time its started though).

You can note an interesting thing by looking at the GNOME 2.8 screenshot
gallery[1], I don't know whether this is entirely indicative of applet
usage but it certainly fits everything I've seen.

People mostly arrange panels in one of two ways:

 1. They fill the panel.  Often they make the panel shrink-wrapped
    around its contents.

 2. They use the opposite sites of the panel, it seems that menu +
    launchers on the left and applets on the right is a popular layout.

So, here's an idea...

The edges of panels could be used as "applet attractors", or "applet
zones".  Each zone would manage ordering of applets within it.  New
applets would pick the appropriate zone and become managed by it.  In
effect, each panel would get a left-hand and right-hand "notification

These could be configured to only accept certain types of new applet.
Explicitly dragging an applet around would override that, and you should
probably still be able to place applets outside of a zone if you so

I'd know that whenever the WiFi card is enabled, the appropriate applet
is in the top-right of the screen where it was last time.  I'd also know
that if I plugged in any new device, the applet would appear at the top-
right because that's where I chose for new hardware applets to go.


Scott James Remnant
scott canonical com

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