Power to the people

Some design tasks fall into place fairly quickly. Others seem to refuse to be resolved, despite your best efforts to wrestle them into shape. I managed to finish up one such task last week, for the power settings panel. It had been dogging me for what seemed like an age, so I’m really happy to have it more or less sorted.

The design of the configuration options was actually resolved last cycle. The status part of the design remained unfinished, however. That power status part was the tricky bit, since it had to represent power information for both the actual device which GNOME is running on and any connected devices which might have their own power status. Last week, after many iterations, I finally came up with what seems to be a nice solution.

Power Mockups

So, the power panel design now incorporates configuration options, device power status and status information for connected devices (you can find more information on the wiki). This is nice because it makes the system settings panel a superset of what’s found in the shell power menu. It also makes the power panel much more interesting and useful than it was before.

The best part is that Richard has already implemented a lot of the new design.

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27 Responses to Power to the people

  1. Emmanuel says:

    I don’t get why there should be power status informations in the control panel. Why duplicate informations already provided by the sell power menu ?

    • Allan says:

      Emmanuel – system status icons might not be easily accessible on some devices (imagine those little icons on a touch screen). Also, status information is often relevant to settings, and making sure that system status is consistently displayed throughout system settings establishes a convention that will make it easier for users to know what to expect from each panel.

      • berz_ says:

        If the issue is that system status icons are not easily accessible on touchscreens this itself should be fixed. I also do not think it is logical that if a user wants to check the power status of a device he or she has to go through “system settings”. The information can stay in the settings window though, as it might be useful when configuring things. I would not change a thing about this work, but would still like to see information about the power level of devices added under the power indicator too to accommodate the “just checking how much power I have left” usage scenario in a simple and quick manner, consistent with checking the power level of the main battery.

  2. Malizor says:

    It’s an improvement.

    But it still lacks “When lid is closed” when it runs on a laptop.
    I still don’t get why some decided that this is an advanced setting…

    • Allan says:

      Malizor – I’ve already discussed that elsewhere so you’ll have to forgive me for not going over it again here.

      • Robert Smol says:

        Hi, I am sorry for being ignorant, but what is the outcome of Lid closed? I mean it there are lot of people requesting this feature, so it is obviously needed by us.

        I have 3.2 now installed and when I come home, I want to connect my external monitor and close the lid and work on my high resolution screen.

        When I am connected to power, I start radio, let it play to speakers and closed the lid as I do not want to have the screen to light up the room.

        There are situations when closing lid == suspend is not wanted.

        Otherwise the mockup looks really easy to use. The point of showing battery even when on AC I think was answered bellow OK.

  3. bochecha says:


    Horizontal bars for status is slightly confusing to me, but it’s probably because I’ve only ever seen vertical stacks to represent the power status. It does its job well though, with those colours and “units of charges”, so it might just be a case of “that’s not what I’m used to” rather than “this sucks”.:)

    The only thing that worries me is that when there is no battery and plugged devices, the panel is quite small vertically. Isn’t that a bit troubling when the bigger system settings window reduces that much after the user clicks on the power panel?

    On the other hand, clicking on that panel might not make much sense if you don’t have any battery or plugge devices. How about completely hiding the panel in such a case? (just like the discussions about removing the Wacom panel when no tablet is connected)

    • Allan says:

      Bochecha – I think the mockup is wrong there, it needs to have extra padding towards the bottom. I hear what you’re saying about desktops, the panel does feel a bit redundant there. But then I still think people want to control automatic suspend on those kinds of machines. (I can definitely imagine them wanting to disable it.)

      • bochecha says:

        > “But then I still think people want to control automatic suspend on those kinds of machines. (I can definitely imagine them wanting to disable it.)”


        I don’t want to beat a dead horse here, so if you have already answered this somewhere else, feel free to point me to that somewhere else so I can read it up myself.

        What makes this particular setting (autosuspend **on a desktop**) more “important” than, say, “on power button pressed” or “on lid closed”?

        All of those seem to me like cases of settings for which it is possible to pick a good default that suits most use cases, and so no configuration should be presented to the user (in system settings that is, gsettings/gnome-tweak-tools are natural hosts for those).

        Can you share a bit of your thought process?

        Again, I’m genuinely interested in how designers think and why I don’t get to the same conclusions as them. Sure, the answer is mostly because I suck at design, but perhaps there are a couple of things I can learn.:)

      • Allan says:

        It’s not really about weighing up relative importance; each of the examples that you mention have different factors that need to be considered and each one is largely examined on its own terms. Turning off autosuspend (or changing the time delay) doesn’t have negative consequences and it is something that seems to be required for a number of use cases, so it goes in. You’ll find separate assessments for the other issues that you mention if you look up the appropriate bug reports.

  4. Fabian says:

    So you can’t change the behaviour for “On battery power” when no battery is connected, e.g. when a laptop is run plugged in with its battery removed?

  5. ausserirdischegesund says:

    This is simply beautiful!

  6. nicomede says:

    it seems good to me but, look at the keyboard “unit of charges” in the second screen: they are 5 of ? 6? 7? the same for the battery status.
    I mean, it could be nice to put all the unit of charges always visible (gray is a nice colour for them) and then colour the “charged one”.
    So for the keyboard you have the first 5 unit of charges coloured in green, and the last (1|2) coloured in gray

    my 2 cents

  7. Carl says:

    This might be a silly thing to say, and I don’t really have an opinion on whether or not it’s good or bad, but what’s the rational for the language “Charging- fully charged”?

    Can a device be both fully charged and charging?

    • Allan says:

      Heh, good question. ‘Charging’ is intended as shorthand for ‘you’re plugged in and running off mains power’ (other terms that have been used there aren’t very nice, such as ‘on AC power’ or ‘on mains power’). Suggestions for alternatives would be very welcome!

  8. Debarshi Ray says:

    Looks nice!

    Looking at the last two “no battery” diagrams makes me wonder if the default is to suspend after 10 minutes on workstations, because in the previous diagrams the default for the “plugged in” scenario is to never suspend.

  9. Jasper St. Pierre says:

    Yeah, I agree with nicomede. I think having a separator for the empty bars would help counting more.

    • Allan says:

      I’ll try it.:)

      • Mattias Bengtsson says:

        I’m not certain about the separators actually, as pretty as they might be. When I was looking at the mockups i found myself counting the “parts” to see how much battery time your mockup device had left, whereas I, with a more classic widget, would just glance at the bar swiftly and get a rough feeling for how much battery time I had left. What I’m saying is basically that the extra detailed power bar might interrupt me more than the information I’d might gather is worth.
        This is of course just a feeling.:)

  10. rolandixor says:

    This would be wonderful!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Where does the setting for “behavior when you hit the power button” live? For instance, on many systems (GNOME-based tablets, for instance), it would make sense to have the power button suspend without prompting, rather than bringing up a dialog.

  12. Anonymous says:

    What does the linked “Screen Settings” dialog look like?

  13. rufong says:

    i’m here via ian hex’s g+. i appreciate the work u r doin, and your aesthetic! my asus b121 shows at full charge, 4;24hrs, then after 5mins, 3;22hrs, then 2;45hrs soon after..GRRR rather disconcerting, hehe
    i’ll c if i can reproduce/scrnshot after it charges again, then ‘bugit’ if there isn’t one already..

  14. There’s one thing that I don’t see in the mockups (which probably isn’t in upower yet either). Dell laptop batteries (at least) check the wattage of the connected adapter before charging.

    If the adapter doesn’t export a wattage (due to a loose cable or malfunctioning adapter), it doesn’t charge the battery, and just powers the laptop.

    Windows 7 specifically displays a message about this, and the power icon is different. If/When this is added to upower, is there space in the mockups for it?

    Just thought I’d put this up here as a data point. I really love the design itself!

  15. I think this is amazing work… These look like actually usable power settings😀

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