Recent goings on in GNOME design

Things have been busy in GNOME design since 3.0 was released. We’ve been hard at work, taking care of the small details as well as embarking on new projects. I’m sure I’ll have missed plenty of things, but here is a rundown of what’s been happening.

  • I’ve been busy with GNOME Contacts, which is a big new feature that is planned for 3.2. A full report on that will be coming soon!
  • Me and Lapo have been working on a cool printable cheat sheet for GNOME 3. It’s getting there…
  • We’ve been playing around with some ideas for alternatives to traditional menu bars. Mega menus seem to be a popular idea (thanks to Calum for the pro tip!)
  • Jon McCann has been hard at work on the design details of GNOME OS. As usual, he’s been moving mountains, designing great UX for a range of things such as software updates and installation.
  • As a part of his installer work, Jon gave Gtk+ assistants (or wizards, as they often get called) a design refresh (see the GNOME OS installer designs). This has mostly been implemented, from what I hear.
  • There have been lots of theme improvements, which have mostly been worked on by Cosimo. Many of these changes made it into 3.0.1. I think Lapo has done some cool stuff here, though he’s refusing to give the exact details.
  • A bunch of us worked closely with Alberto Ruiz on his Gtk font picker redesign. The new dialog should arrive in 3.2.
  • The design of the Activities Overview has been evolving to become even more awesome. Jimmac has done some amazing work improving the usability of the Windows and Applications buttons. We’ve also been looking at how we might use paging in the applications view. This stuff is hot.
Application picker

Mmm, paging... (Click to view full size)

  • Dark themes landed thanks to Florian. We had hoped this would be part of 3.0, but it wasn’t quite ready in time. That’s OK though: it gives us another cool feature for 3.2. :)
  • Jimmac designed a control center panel for configuring tablets.
  • There have been lots and lots of tweaks and minor design improvements. The control center has been a particular focus of this work. Bastien worked with Jimmac to improve the system information panel and Matthias  has given the network panel some much needed improvements (the list is much nicer, in particular – see the screenshots in his recent blog post). He’s also been working on improving how we present locked panels by making the lock button nicer and putting it in the toolbar.
  • The UX of Richard‘s color work has been the focus of considerable activity. It’s a complex topic, so much of the work has involved simplifying possible interactions and streamlining the UI.
  • There have been plenty of discussions about things that we know need improving, such as improving window border interaction and adjusting the theme for devices with small screens.
  • And a bunch of people met with Stéphane, one of our GSoC students, yesterday to discuss the best way to display time zones and weather information in the calendar dropdown.
Phew! I shouldn’t leave these updates so long…
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22 Responses to Recent goings on in GNOME design

  1. anonim says:

    Hi

    Do you know if your evolution mockups are being taken into consideration by the evo dev team? Maybe for 3.2 – 3.4?

  2. Para-Dox says:

    Great job Allan, like every time. ;)

    «We’ve been playing around with some ideas for alternatives to traditional menu bars. Mega menus seem to be a popular idea (thanks to Calum for the pro tip!)»

    Juste one note: I think if you want replace menu bar, int the window, by one button, please use multi-column like in mokup[1]. With only one column is to heavy.

    «Jon McCann has been hard at work on the design details of GNOME OS. As usual, he’s been moving mountains, designing great UX for a range of things such as software updates and installation.»

    Works from jon are great, but do you think creat a “Gnome OS” I a good idea? What will happen to the other distribution? I don’t think it’s a good idea to make all jobs in the same community.

    And, about installer, why don’t work directly with Anaconda and First-boot team? They are good designers like Máirín Duffy.

    «The design of the Activities Overview has been evolving to become even more awesome. Jimmac has done some amazing work improving the usability of the Windows and Applications buttons. We’ve also been looking at how we might use paging in the applications view. This stuff is hot.»

    I prefer the design atach to the bugzilla #649795[2]. I think the image that you show on this article is too heavy, not enough space. And we lose sections in “Applications”. :(

    Note about section in Application: We can replace it by a tags system (like for Epiphany’s bookmark). Also, an application can be in multi-tags. What do you think?

    About the system information: Is it planned to show other informations like devices of the computer? Because it still lacks a replacement for Gnome-device-manager.

    But anyway, you did a great job. Good continuation. ;)

    [1] http://gitorious.org/gnome-design/gnome-design/blobs/raw/master/mockups/menu-experiments/eog-menu-experiments.png

    [2]http://bugzilla-attachments.gnome.org/attachment.cgi?id=187509

  3. Dread Knight says:

    Really awesome stuff! I’m really excited. Not a big fan of Unity overall.

  4. Miguel says:

    Thanks for share all this great stuff Alan.
    “…adjusting the theme for devices with small screens.” This is nice also, I personally think that the vertical space between UI elements can be smaller.

  5. fabioamd87 says:

    what about some integration of PackageKit, for example dragging application from the menù on Thrash remove it, or just rightclick and select remove.

  6. Piotr Pyclik says:

    Hmm, paging seems like a good idea, it surely looks great. Please make sure though, to leave the ability to scroll applications list with mouse.

  7. John Stowers says:

    Yuck. Paging. A thousand minus points (comment left on bug)

    • Allan says:

      Thanks John. ;)

    • jihedamine says:

      I think paging is the best choice for this use case. Having x dots representing the number of pages is more elegant and cleaner than having a big scrollbar. Moreover, I think it makes more sense and it’s faster to switch to the next set of applications than to scroll and progressively discover the next line of applications.

  8. Leif says:

    Paging reminds me of the “early” days of web search search that required clicking through page after page of search results. Last year Google dropped paging of image search results and opted for “infinite-scroll”. Other examples include Twitter and Facebook that autoload results as you scroll instead of paging now.

    Rather than paging, how about just an auto sorted list of all applications based on frequency of use. Frequently used apps get sorted to the top and rarely used ones get bumped down to the bottom. Net result, less scrolling.

    • You are giving examples that aren’t relevant to the use case. Tweets and search results will not benefit from spatial memory. You are not going to go back to find a specific tweet on the last page.

      For application launchers the benefit is there. Even though you don’t know the precise location you get trained to look for the less commonly used app in the bottom right corner and in relation to the neighbouring items. With scrolled view, you create a “blind space” in the middle of the scrolled page. Of course paged view relies on not having an auto-sorted list and giving control to the user as to how to rearrange things.

  9. Søren Hauberg says:

    Thanks for working on this stuff! It really does like like you are making great improvements to an already good shell :-)

    I have to say that I think the whole concept of an “Unlock” button is confusing. Most windows with an “unlock” button has no purpose until you’ve actually unlocked them. This always takes me ~10 seconds to realise — time I just spend on clicking buttons that does not seem to work. Fortunately, I don’t change my settings too often, otherwise this would drive me crazy. Somehow, the “unlock” mechanism feels like an implementation detail and not really something I (as a user) should be thinking about: if you want my password, then ask rather than ask me to locate a button that allows me to give you my password.
    Søren

  10. pclouds says:

    Should the cheatsheet also be part of gnome-help?

    • Allan says:

      pclouds: that could certainly be something worth exploring in the future. The cheat sheet that we’re working on uses a lot of graphics, so it’s not the typical kind of thing that you find in help. Plus the translation situation is a bit different.

  11. sergeant says:

    Please don’t put anything in the title bar.
    I just have found a way to remove it when maximized through editing the theme file and enjoying it.
    Without the title bars the interface becomes so clean and streamlined which I think was the goal of Gnome Shell.
    Please let me know how I can advocate putting the menu in the top panel.

  12. WM says:

    A little question, is there any keyboard shortcuts to switch between the windows and applications tab in the GNOME Shell overview?

  13. Pingback: Stopped Clock Blog

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