Xfce pre4.8 test and usability report

Nick Schermer nickschermer at gmail.com
Mon Dec 13 00:10:22 CET 2010

On Sun, Dec 12, 2010 at 9:25 PM,  <timystery at arcor.de> wrote:
> xfce4-appfinder
> - cannot launch custom command directly

In 4.10, xfrun and appfinder will be merged, for now you have to use
xfrun4 for that.

> xfce4-panel
> - I like the handles at the bar's side. However, it may be a little bit unclear that they vanish when pressing the "lock bar" checkbox in the panel settings. It might be a good idea to offer "Lock" in the panel's context menu.


> - I like the objects order tab in the settings dialog. Though, it might be a nice idea to be able to drag and drop items within that list. Furthermore, double-clicking on the panel elements should popup the settings dialog in my opinion.


> - I like that the taskbar can also be used as iconbox. However, an option "show icons in large only" might be more helpful than "show text labels".


> - Unfortunately, I cannot move panel objects when in "add new elements" mode as was possible with 4.6  and found to be very nice by lots of reviewers [1] at that time. Also, it decreases the amount of time I have to spend at configuring the panel. I don't see a reason why a good feature has been removed. Please add this feature again.
> - I cannot delete panel objects when in "add new elements" mode as was possible with 4.6 and found to be very nice by lots of reviewers at that time. Also, it decreases the amount of time I have to spend at configuring the panel. I don't see a reason why a good feature has been removed. Please add this feature again.


> - It is not possible to write custom icon names in object config. Compare previously sent patch [1] from my site [2] to also have custom icon names instead of having to choose for minutes from dialogs.


> - I cannot use a correct sort/display order in starter items with menus.  Compare previously sent patch [1] from my site [2] to allow choosing the wrong sort order but having the correct one per default -- from up towards down, this is not middle-east but LC_ALL=C per default.


> - No indicator in the starter items configuration dialog about that the top-most item is the one to be displayed. Compare my proposal [2], or have a separate entry for that purpose.


> - No separator items in the starter list. They are however necessary when there is content to be grouped, like viewers and editors in the graphics menu; or audio, video, and creation in the multimedia starter menu. Compare my proposal again [2].

You can use the new application menu too if you want complex menus.

> - Menus cannot be taken away from starters unlike the 4.2 panel. this feature was very convenient when several programs of the menu had to be used in within the next minutes. [4]


> - Astonishingly, I had investigated in the previously mentioned four items and someone posted my investigations, Nick got upset [3] about other people's development, but now nothing of all the proposals has been inserted and features have been removed. I can't see any clear benefit of the 4.8 panel in contrast to the old 4.6 panel (or even 4.4). It rather seems that it has bee rewritten for the sake of rewriting software and that the existing features have been ignored par excellence (i.e. ignoring the previously existing code base almost completely -- drag'n'drop would have been found there for the panel item configuration dialog, for example). Also did I miss the discussions on the mailing list during development of the most important Xfce component that distinguishes it from the other big environments.

Not upset but disappointed since it doesn't help to develop good open
source software. Obviously the goal of the rewrite is much larger then
the (relatively small) issues you've mentioned above and there was
obviously discussion about the new panel on ml, irc, bugzilla, blog
and a few hundred commits + devel releases; that could've triggered
you something was going on...

I obviously missed parts of the old code, which is a downside of a
rewrite, but I've no problems fixed that if people create bugs for
that. I know you've create 1 or 2 panel bugs containing a lot of stuff
at once; i suppose you know we don't like that. Anyhow, all small
suggestions have be reported in separate bugs this time. Will look at
the old bug too, maybe there is something I missed.

> - I don't know whether people need the two-line feature enabled via the separator plugin. Looks like a windows user's request and seems to be due to the bad default setups of previous configurations. The 4.4 and older style with an app panel at the bottom and the taskbar at the top did not require multi-row panels. So perhaps the good old 4.0/4.2 default setup [4] might be a good idea. It would also help Xfce distinguish from the standard Gnome setup. And most importantly, package maintainers might change it, but they might keep good, distinguishing proposals.

The multi row feature is a different approach that multiple panels on
1 edge, which has been requested multiple times.

> In the xfce4-session-logout dialog, the key accelerators from 4.6 have been removed. This is bad as users have to mouse-click now or rely on the ability of the GTK theme to highlight the currently selected item when navigating with keys. Anywy, pressing Alt+character is way faster than the mouse or pressing several cursor keys and Return.


> In the mouse settings dialog, my old suggestions to introduce a vpane to be able to adjust the size of the cusor theme field has not been incorporated. Neither is the theme name repeated on the right-hand side of the configuration dialog. Having names longer than 20 characters renders this dialog ugly. Example theme name is "Crystal White Non-An..."

I don't see this problem, long names are properly ellipsized.

> When wanting to login to the newly built pre4.8 after having removed all the Debian Xfce packages, there was no session desktop file on my system. I searched via find for it in my build folders but couldn't find it. I strongly suggest creating one, and after installing to also ask whether a symlink to /usr/share/xsessions should be placed because for example GDM fails to search in other directories.

Should be installed by xfce-utils, location can be tuned with
--with-xsession-prefix=, and defaults to /usr.

Email like this don't happen very often while they contain a lot of
useful information. It's sad that if they arise, it almost every time
the users' last frustration before they switch to another desktop
That said, have fun using Enlightenment and thanks for testing Xfce 4.8.


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