Xfce design SIG

Anzan Hoshin Roshi anzanhoshinroshi at gmail.com
Sun Jun 19 20:08:36 CEST 2011

On 19 June 2011 17:29, Mișu Moldovan <dumol at xfce.org> wrote:

> Hi,

Hi Misu,

I'm just a user.

I loathe these ideas. This is why I have migrated all of my boxen to Xfce
and why many thousands of people have as well.

> I'm an Xfce contributor mainly involved in localization, but with
> interests in usability and design (I use my own true dark GTK+ theme). I
> appreciate Xfce for its extraordinary flexibility which allows me to
> configure my desktop just the way I find it more productive.
> Lately I've been trying and using for some time the alternative GTK+
> desktops (LXDE, Unity, GNOME 3.0) and I've been chewing some ideas for
> improving Xfce that draw from the experience of using the alternatives.
> I have also followed the evolution of other desktops (KDE, OSX and
> Windows mainly, but also the likes of ROX, Haiku and Syllable).

I have tried these as well except for Haiku and Syllable.

> I've read the pages at https://wiki.xfce.org/design/start and I think
> you are doing a great job, but my ideas are much more radical in
> comparison (not necessarily better, mind you). If I'm allowed to, I
> would like to list them:
>  1) minimizing the waste of vertical space (so precious on a widescreen
> display). Currently a typical app like Midori in Xfce, in a maximized
> state, loses vertical space to: top panel, title bar, menu bar, toolbar,
> tabs, status bar and bottom panel. That's a bit too much. Some apps try
> to compensate for this by merging some of these elements (e.g. Chromium
> merges the title bar with the tabs and the menu bar with the toolbar).
> But the right approach seems to be to do it at the desktop level, like
> Unity, which merges the menu bar and the title bar in the top panel for
> maximized native apps.

The universal menu is confusing because if you have more than one
application open in a workspace (eg, Chromium, Xchat, Pidgin) you only have
a menu for one of them. This is broken for any use other than maximised apps
or for a tablet or smartphone. I use Nexus S, with Gingerbread Android
2.3.4. This kind of thing is appropriate there.

There is no need to be miserly about vertical space.

>  2) diminishing the scrollbar (as seen in Ubuntu 11.04 and OSX Lion).
> Given the fact that scrollbars and their buttons are rarely clicked
> (because of scroll wheels and keyboard usage), they are generally a
> waste of pixels. They should be slimmer or invisible when static (as in
> mobile OSes) and showing buttons only when the mouse cursor crosses the
> scrollbar area. It seems GTK+ theming is not enough for this, Ubuntu
> 11.04 has bundled some specialized extra packages (*overlay-scrollbar)
> that implement a new GTK+ widget that enables this dynamic behavior.

The length of the scrollbar gives instant information on the length of the
document being viewed. It needs to be visible.

>  3) putting the Win key (aka Super) to good use: window manager
> keyboard shortcuts. I've been using such a setup for several years and
> after seeing that Unity is trying something similar in Ubuntu 11.04, I
> wonder maybe it's not such a bad idea to dedicate this key to the
> actions of the window manager. From a usability perspective, Win-Q seems
> a better fit for closing a window than Alt-F4. And it's easy to use it
> for everything: Win-F puts the app full screen, Win-1 gets me to the
> first workspace, Win-LeftArrow changes to the left workspace etc.

Thinkpad keyboards, such as the one I use, do not have a Windows key.

Alt-F4 etc are standards that do not need to be broken.

> I am aware this would be rather radical, but the shortcuts are
> configurable and to help a bit, Xfwm4 could display the associated
> shortcut in the tooltip that appears when the mouse hovers on the window
> buttons. There is also the benefit of using only one hand for any
> shortcut, as most keyboards have two Win keys.
> Other more general ideas related to Xfce are:
>  a) proxy settings should be centralized in the Xfce settings manager
> for all Xfce native apps. I wonder why this is not a general GTK+
> setting? I am aware of the environmental variables, but still...

That's interesting.

>  b) there should be a downloadable live CD image and a virtual image of
> the stable Xfce release available prominently at xfce.org, so that
> interested users could rapidly test a default Xfce desktop. I've seen
> the list at http://xfce.org/download/distros, but there are too many
> choices there, some are outdated and none of then seem to showcase Xfce
> apps such as Midori. For the record, live images do boot in VirtualBox
> and the like, but a full-blown virtual machine would be a bit better.
> Well, besides getting you bored, I hope I haven't enraged you too much!
> I would love to debate this kind of issues and use my limited time and
> testing/design/development abilities to help implement the consensually
> agreed enhancements.
> If any... Because I think one of the best things in Xfce is the
> conservative spirit, the fact that only tried and true solutions get
> implemented. I hope Xfce will also adapt what the experiments of Chrome,
> Unity, OSX etc. turn as viable enhancements.


> Thank you for your time,

Thanks for yours.

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