Re: Suggestion: Remove the Window Title Bar

On Fri, 2011-10-07 at 12:47 -0700, Gavin Engel wrote:
> Federico, that is a very interesting read.  One thing I wanted to
> point out is that there is a pseudo-Global-menu extension for
> What do you think?

Wow, that's pretty elaborate.

I took a quick look at the sources; it also works in pretty much the
same way I described (it scrapes the widget hierarchy to extract menu
labels and such), and then transfers the serialized version through X
window properties.  This is pretty clever, but it will have exactly the
same problems as any implementation that tries to reconstruct menus "on
the other side".

>  Also, is the placing menus in the window titlebar (example) just as
> tricky to accomplish as the Global-menu system you described?  

If the window manager is in charge of the title bar, then yes - it's
just as tricky.  Anything that involves reconstructing a menu outside
the application's window area will run into the same problems.

However, if the application were in charge of the title bar (instead of
the window manager), then it would be a different matter.  We've started
wetting our toes in this area - see Cody Russell's work on "client-side
window decorations" and my regretfully unfinished follow-up:

What I wanted to do there was this:

1. Extract the code that draws the window frames from Metacity/Mutter,
and put it in GTK+.

2. Allow GtkWindow to manage its own decorations with the frame-drawing

3. Extend GTK+ and window managers so that apps can say, "I want to draw
my own window decorations" without ill effects (this is way harder than
just saying "don't decorate this window").

The *purpose* of all that is explained in that blog post - it's to make
document windows more tangible, and not just containers for an

The Kwin maintainer is adamantly opposed to client-side window
decorations - with reason; he doesn't want apps adding all sorts of
crazy crap to titlebars, and yielding "unmovable/uncloseable" windows
when an app is not responding.  Sadly, during the Desktop Summit in
Berlin I didn't have a chance to sit down and tell him about my plans.
Hopefully we'll meet again at some point and talk about this.

(N.B. my knee-jerk reaction is that I don't think menu-in-the-titlebar
is a good idea, but I haven't felt it in action.  It seems to be about
reclaiming vertical space at all costs, rather than rethinking a UI to
be more space-efficient.  A mega-menu seems like a better idea for apps
that need just a few commands.  For apps that need lots of commands,
something like the new MS Office and its contextual command windows -
that only appear when you are in the right context - seem like a better
idea.  It's like organizing a workshop's space; you don't want all your
tools at hand all the time, just the most frequently-used ones; for the
rest, you have drawers or cabinets hopefully organized in functional
groups (all the sharpening equipment, all the finishing


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