Conceptual ideas for Gnome Shell


I had recently the time to test the new gnome-shell on my karmic koala. First I have to say, it looks nice and has some nice features. And I know it is not feature complete right now. But still I have two ideas how the experience could be improved.

1. While in the old panel style desktop, users have to click on "Applications", a "Category" and then the application to start an application, this changes in the gnome-shell to one additional click on "Activity". So you need to perform 4 instead of 3 clicks. This is unfortunate, but not a real big issue, because people do not start so many applications.

However, I found one irritating thing in the process. Right now gnome-shell displays (when "Activity" is clicked) a side bar, with some shortcuts for applications below the title applications. And a small browse button right of that title.

When a user activates this side bar, she/he automatically clicks on the word application, but nothing happens, because you have to click "browse". I would encourage you to make the whole title of this section click-able, so when someone clicks on the title the application menu opens.

2. In Gnome 2.26 the desktop is provides several workspaces which is a good concept. It is used by many people in the following way. The first workspace is used for communication applications like mail, chat, micro-blogging. The second is used for surfing. And the last for multimedia applications (e.g. music). In between the workspaces are used for the daily work.

The old workspace model does not really support this way to work. However, gnome-shell is designed with the idea to support activity based workspace usage. To improve this, gnome-shell should not be too concentrated on applications, but on activities.

First it should be able to show different shortcuts below the "Application" title in the side bar. So applications for communication are shown when the first workspace is selected. This feature would require some good defaults, but it should also allow easy reconfiguration (especially for the work related workspaces), because this is highly user dependent.

Also certain application are used in different contexts. For example: on one screen the browser is used as a surf tool, while on another workspace it is used as head for a web-based desktop application.

And finally when you work on certain tasks you use several different applications. Example: you work on a web-application project, then you use let say Netbeans on one workspace and on another you have firefox running to show the pages produced by the web-application. It would be great if for such tasks workspace groups could be created, which automatically start the associated applications.

If anybody is interested I could draw some "screenshots" to illustrate the ideas.


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