Re: Discussion for a more robust panel layout

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't order not guaranteed to be
respected in an XML file? You mention using order within the file to
determine order of icons. Maybe add an attribute to each item,
something like order="<number>". The problem I see with that idea
though is that when you insert a new applet you have to change the
order attribute of everything after it. That's not a good design, I
know :-(

For those padding elements, it'd be nice if you could choose between
static sizes and relative sizes. Maybe the padding objects could have
properties window just like the applets do? That might be too
complicated. Anyway, I think relative sizes are only important if the
panel is expanded.

I feel like there's a shortcoming in this percentage of free space
system. How do you plan to indicate right- and left-alignment? What if
we create a sort of applet group? An applet group consists of one of
more applets. The panel layout would consist of zero or more of these
groups, separated by padding elements. Unless there is padding as the
first element in panel the first applet group should be left aligned,
and similarly the last applet group should be right-aligned if no
padding exists there. Every other applet group is separated by a
padding specified as a percentage of free space.

Now for a neat idea for an edit mode for the panels. This idea is sort
of in the same vein as making the panel layout handle resizing nicely,
but I'm thinking of a way to improve usability of the panel when
you're moving stuff around. The main point is to give users visual
feedback about spacing. Also, I think this would be absolutely
necessary if implementing applet groups as described above, otherwise
there would be no way to move a "group" vs. just moving an applet.

I'm picturing in my head a mode that is automatically entered when you
start dragging an applet anywhere on the panel, or if you explicitly
open some sort of panel edit mode. A red (or other color) bordered box
indicate the boundaries of an applet group. You can drag applets or
applet groups by grabbing their border.
If you move an applet or applet group close enough to another then it
snaps to surround the applet or applet group you're dragging. Being in
a group indicates that the applets you're dragging is now positioned
directly beside the icon to the left/right with 0px (or some other
small, predetermined padding amount) space between them.
Each applet group has a padding block separating it from other applet
groups. There will be some sort of lines with percentages written into
the middle to indicate percentage of free space attributed to that
padding area, like a measurement for a wall in an architectural
The basic idea here is that any applet you put on the panel
constitutes a group, and you can easily say that two applets belong
together this way. Also, the size of your spacing is visually
indicated so you can easily tell spacing characteristics. If this all
makes as much sense as it does in my head then I'll be relieved!

I think that the applet groups makes for a nice way of preserving
groups, and even if no one likes my idea of panel edit mode then this
would still make a good way of implementing a left and right alignment
area on the panel. Thoughts?

Martin Meyer

On 3/20/07, Luis Villa <luis tieguy org> wrote:
On 3/20/07, Manu Cornet <manu cornet gmail com> wrote:
> Hi!
> Recently the problem of changes of resolutions has been raised [1] on
> the usability list. I would like to start a discussion about how to
> manage the effect of resolution changes on the panel layout better
> than what we do today. This implies another way of storing the panel
> layout.
> I know Vincent Untz already thought a bit about this and there were a
> few short talks on this matter, but I'd like to make a proposal and
> try to start a discussion about this.
> Here is the wiki page I set up for this:
> Does this seem sane to you? How would you do otherwise? How would you
> enchance the current proposal?

I'd just make sure that one of the use cases which the final design
covers is devices which rotate, like tablet PCs and iphone-like
devices. It seems likely that they will become more common, and while
I can't think of any situations offhand where they are substantially
different from merely changing resolution, it should be kept in mind.

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