Re: The relationship between Desktop and Panel

On Tue, 28 Jul 1998, John R Sheets wrote:

> > Do you agree with me that icons on the desktop aren't exactly the most
> > efficient way to do things?  If so, how do YOU suggest we make it
> > self-documenting that there are easier things to do than put the icon on the
> > desktop?
> I don't have an opinion yet about how we should do the GNOME
> desktop, although I think it would be nice to have an easy way to
> separate the icon-bearing desktop from the rest of the screen. 
> Assuming we allow permanent icons on the desktop in the first
> place.  Maybe a splitter bar, or collapsable side-panel
> ("blotter"?) with configurable tabs for different groupings of
> desktop icons.  Something that would make it easy to sweep the
> mess away temporarily (or vice versa).  I definitely think we
> shouldn't put icons all over the desktop.
> Probably the best way to handle this is to give users _some_ sort
> of visual space, to play with their favorite icons & links,
> similar in function to the windows desktop, yet (and here's the
> twist) not, nor ever (??) on the root window itself.  So the
> floating desktop (or blotter or whatever) is a separate
> (themable) application that provides a configurable space for
> users to put all their junk.  It can be shrunken, minimized, or
> closed.  It can have tabs to switch through different categories
> of junk, or perhaps a more complex tree hierarchy.  If you don't
> want the clutter, don't install it.
> Another benefit is that you only have a single menu entry on the
> panel, which you would rarely need if you use session management.
> This blotter app could also be linked (both ways) to the panel
> through CORBA.  Thus, you could drag menu items (or complete
> drawers?...) from the panel to the blotter.  Inside the themable
> blotter, you could, for example, change the way the drawers open
> (to the side, or with different graphics, etc.), while still
> maintaining the same dynamic menu as the original panel drawer. 
> You'd also want to be able to drag icons from the blotter back to
> the panel.  And eventually embed applets in the blotter, too? 
> Hmmmm, don't want to duplicate tooooo much functionality (still
> brainstorming, so forgive any toe-tromping).  
> How far we would go depends on how far we want the panel to go,
> and it's ultimate primary purpose in GNOME.  I think the panel
> should always be at the center of things, with the blotter as a
> prettier extension for the desktop.
> Anyway, how's that for a start?

The blotter idea (similar to Windowmaker's paperclip) has merit, but I
believe it would have more useablity if it were used in a "taskbar" type 
function.  Yes, yes, I know.... THAT is a WM thing and is not inherintly 
a part of GNOME (although I believe it is stated somewhere on the GNOME 
page that the Panel was orginally/still is headed towards taskbar 

This leads to another thing entirely. What can GNOME expect GNOME
compliant/compatiable window managers to do for it in terms of UI? Should
we expect the WM to feed GNOME information about currently running 
applications for display in the panel/blotter/whatever? Or should we 
leave this a job for the window manager to handle on it's own?

The whole window manager issue leaves a giant gaping whole where the
need for a panel with a "foot" menu would be. My own personal
opinion is that the typical implementaion of root menus is a far better 
approach to application menus than the start/foot/K menu is any day.  
It takes less room, it's available anywhere on the desktop, and it's 
fairly intuitive.  

Don't get me wrong, the panel is a great thing and I wouldn't run 
GNOME without it.  However, it would be interesting to see a transparent 
panel where only the applets, drawers, whatever, were visible (obviously 
user choice).  But why stop there? Let's thwart the somewhat stale 
tradition of a one-dimensional static panel and move to something more 
interesting like the recent development of moveable app buttons in the 
enlightenment window manager. We could take those wonderful applets
in the panel and let the user put them anywhere they want on the desktop
(possibly even size them).  

For example, let's say I have the GNOME panel running on the bottom of my 
screen, and that it's hidden because I think it's ugly and a waste of
space (just an example). The problem is I can't readily see my email/time 
applet that I think is so cool. The panel leaves me no choice but to either 
leave the the big wide bar visible, or move the mouse to the bottom of the 
screen just to check the time.  Either way, it leaves users with little
choice, and should be avoided (possibly use gmc for desktop applets?).

Most people are overlooking the fact that a user should (IMHO) be able to 
hide, show, move, and place any functionally involving screen real-estate
(etc.) anywhere and anytime at will. Which means that GNOME users should 
NOT have to rely on having something so obtrusive as the panel running in 
order to be productive, and should NOT be restricted from using desktop
icons (they have uses like dragging documents to a printer/email/trash/rpm
icons and/or applets) So please, let's make GNOME work based on the
interlinking functionality of its componants, and not dependant on any 
particular one of them (did that make sense?).

Kevin Shallow

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