Proposal for default panel layout w/ some modifications to the panel

I was thinking about what would be a good default 
layout for the GNOME panels would be. I also thought
about (minor) changes to the panels that hopefully
them more user-friendly. Comments are welcome as I
probably don't know what I'm talking about as well as
think I do.

I propose that there be three default panels: a
menu panel, a slightly modified aligned panel in the
lower-right hand corner containing solely a pager, and
another slightly modified aligned panel containing
and applets.

Menu Panel

**Detailed description of the menu panel**

The menu panel would have only two items: a menu
the "Main Menu" at the left end, and a menu labeled
"Running Tasks" at the right end. 

The "Main Menu" would be pretty much the GNOME "start"
menu. It would have at least five entries: "Programs",
"Settings", and "Help", "Lock screen" and "Logout".
should not be *much* more than five entries, though,
maybe just a distribution or vendor-specific menu, if

The "Running Tasks" menu would be a list of, well,
running tasks that would be no different then what one
gets now if one clicks on the icon at the right end of
the current menu. However, if there were no running
the menu would have an item, saying "No tasks running
right now".

This menu panel, as with the current one, would not be
movable; it would always be at the top of the screen.
also would not be removable (except perhaps by

**Justification for the setup of the menu panel**

The reason for labeling the menu listing the tasks
"Running Tasks" rather than leaving as it is now, a
labeled by a small icon representing the currently
task, is that the term "Running Tasks" is descriptive
and looks like
a menu label, while the icon currently used doesn't
like a menu label at all, and it is easy to overlook.

Further, having the "Running Tasks" menu have an entry
when there are no running tasks, rather than be
empty when there are no running tasks (as it is now),
because 1) an empty menu is nearly invisible, so that
user might click on an empty "Running Tasks" menu and
conclude that the menu does nothing or is broken 2) an
empty menu looks wrong or broken, so that users who
on an empty "Running Tasks" menu and *do* see the
of an empty menu might conclude that the menu is

Also, "No tasks running right now" is a good choice
the entry in the "Running Tasks" menu when there are
running tasks because it not only shows that there
well, no running tasks, but that there could be
tasks as the session goes on--which is why the entry
"No tasks running right now" not just "No tasks
"Right now" also hints to the user that the contents
the menu change with time.

I figure that a menu labeled "Main Menu" will probably
more obvious than a menu from a button with a GNOME
logo, and that a user looking for where to change
settings or find help would probably go to "Main Menu"
just to see if what they are looking for might be
This is also why "Settings" and "Help" are in this
menu, and also why the menu has only a handful of
entries, so that "Settings" and "Help" would be easy

The proposed layout of the menu is motivated by

1) Fitts' Law. The "Main Menu" and the "Running Tasks"
are likely to be frequently accessed, so it makes
sense to
put them at corners of the screen where the user can
zoom the mouse right over.

2) Having a "Running Tasks" menu available means that
a user
who does not have room for both a tasklist applet and
their other panel "stuff", especially buttons, can
have something to use to quickly access running tasks.

3) A "Main Menu" better accounts for entries that
"fit" well into categories, such as "Lock Screen",
Out", "Run ...". Currently, these are under the
menu of the menu panel, a menu that seems to be an
ambiguously named catch-all for things that don't fit
under the "Programs" or "Help" menu. 

A "Main Menu" is also in a sense an ambiguously named
catch-all menu, but one that seems to suggest that it
is the
menu to go to if one is in doubt about what part of
the GUI
to go to do "stuff", whatever that "stuff" is.

4) Simplicity. With only two menus, there are fewer
to look for "stuff", and those places stand out more.

Aligned Panel with Pager

**Detailed description of the aligned panel with

This panel, as said before, would solely contain a
pager and
be in the lower right-hand corner.

The modifications would be 1) the panel applet could
not be
removed from the panel (except by advanced users?),
and 2)
the panel itself could not be removed (except by

**Justification for the setup of this panel**

A pager of some sort is needed to navigate workspaces.
If a
user were to remove it by accident or by futzing with
it to
see how it worked, he or she would lose important
functionality and might not be able to figure out how
to get
it back without help. By making this panel
non-removable, the
user is not faced with such a problem.

Aligned Panel with Buttons and/or applets

This panel, as said before, would contain various
buttons and
applets. The default contents would vary depending on
distributor or vendor. Sun, for example, might have
icons for
StarOffice, the HotSpot browser, and a terminal.
Ximian might
have icons for Evolution and Red Carpet. By default,
panel would have hide buttons.

The main modification would be to have a message
dialog pop
up if the panel were removed telling how to get the
back. Other than that, it would be a normal panel.

**Justification for the setup of this panel**

The point of this panel is 1) to be a dock for
commonly used
apps, and 2) to show off what the GNOME panel can do.
the other two panels, the presence of this panel is
not so
critical. If a user removes it by mistake and can't
out how to get it back, he or she can use the menu
panel to
get real work done. Thus, this panel would be


I don't claim to be a UI expert. I'm just a user
this out as a proposal to work from and as a starting
for further discussion.

Any thoughts or comments?


----I am a fool for Christ. Mostly I am a fool.----

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