I left it too long to blog about what’s been happening in GNOME design, and I’ve been left with a backlog of things to tell everyone about! In my last post, I wrote about the work the GNOME designers have been doing on the core user experience, including things like the lock screen, notifications, printing and scrolling. In this one I’m going to review application design efforts, as well as work we’ve been doing around application integration.
Application development is a major focus for us in GNOME design. We recognise that GNOME needs new, updated applications, and we’ve been making good progress in that direction. GNOME already has some new applications in the shape of Web, Documents, Contacts and Boxes. Others are starting to emerge, such as Photos, Videos and Clocks. Not only are we assisting in these ongoing application development efforts, but we are also designing other new applications, and we are also working on improving the integration between applications and GNOME 3.
Here’s our recent application work.
Clocks is planned to be a new core app, which will provide handy tools for viewing the time in different parts of the world, alarms, setting timers and a stopwatch. Jon has elaborated his original designs recently, so that we have a fairly complete design for the app.
Hi-resolution mockups for this one come courtesy of Jimmac.
While there are notes apps for GNOME, we don’t yet have one that works well with GNOME 3 look and feel. We think there’s an opportunity to provide a new app that is both highly integrated and more refined than what we’ve had previously, and Jimmac’s stepped up to the plate to design a brand new application.
If anyone wants to help implement this design, they should definitely get in touch. I know this is something that a whole bunch of us would really like to see happen.
This one is a little personal project of mine. It’s an idea for a simple to do list application, modelled on GNOME 3 application design principles. To Do is definitely not one destined to be a core GNOME app, but it would make a good optional application, and could be a nice little hacking project for someone.
Activities Overview Search
Ensuring that applications are able to effectively integrate with GNOME 3 is also a big focus for ongoing design work. Integrated application search is one area where this has been happening.
GNOME 3.4 introduced the ability for applications to add their own search results to the Activities Overview. Documents and Contacts are doing this right now – if you are on 3.4, searching from the overview will give you results from these applications as well as displaying applications and settings panels.
In the future we want to have other apps providing search results to the overview. This will mean that a single search will tap into the full range of apps you have on your machine. We’ve been working on designs for how to display these integrated application search results and preliminary details of the new designs are on the wiki. (No pretty mockups yet, but they’ll come.)
One of the big aims behind GNOME 3 is to radically improve the ease with which users can find content, such as documents, music, videos and so on. It is this aim that led us to develop the new GNOME Documents application, as well as the designs for Photos, Music and Videos.
Each of the new GNOME content applications are intended to improve on the file system (and file manager) as a way to store and access content. They focus on presenting relevant content, will come with effective search facilities, and will allow you to filter content and create flexible collections.
The next step in this content story for GNOME 3 is to bring the benefits of the new content applications to selection operations. With this approach, choosing an item to attach to an email should work in exactly the same way as it does in one of the new content apps. This will closely tie the content applications in with the rest of the system.
The content selection designs are still work in progress. It’s a tricky design to get right and we’re taking our time with it. The current plan is to test a few of the patterns that make up the design before embarking on anything more adventurous.
As you can see from the mockup, the new content selection designs still include the option to use a file manager style interface, should that be required.
Last but not least, we’re pushing hard to achieve consistent application menu adoption for GNOME 3.6. Application menus have been planned as a feature of GNOME 3 for some time, but it was only in the last release that applications got the ability to define their own menus. Now that they have this, the challenge is to ensure that GNOME applications start using them consistently.
I recently proposed a GNOME Goal to promote the adoption of application menus, and some progress has been made. There are still a lot of bugs to be fixed though, so feel free to help out if you can.
<< Fin >>
Phew, that’s it. As you can see, the denizens of GNOME design land have been busy recently, and there’s lots of work to report on. If you would like to help make any of these designs a reality, just get in touch or look in the usual places. The future is looking really bright for GNOME, and I still get excited when I think about all the plans we have. The sooner we can get to where we want to be, the better!