Some thoughts on xfce4 design

Jasper Huijsmans jasper at
Sat Sep 28 11:28:39 CEST 2002

Hi all,

Since we have been talking a lot about xfce design lately I thought I'd
just let some thoughts that have been running through my head flow over
to the mailing list. Many of the ideas come from the screenshot mockup
by Eugenia.

* move handles
Place move handles on the side of the panel (left/right or top/bottom)
and no longer in line with the popup buttons. This make a lot of code
simpler, since there is no more special casing for the handles.

* panel objects
Let every panel object use the same interface (everything becomes a
module, either builtin or external plugin). Then have only one list of
panel items/objects/modules (I still have problems finding the right
word to use). Panel objects can specify if they need a popup button or

This must be seen separate from the user interface issues with the
dialogs. We can still keep the distinction between right and left
panel controls and the central panel. New items are then inserted before
or after the central panel in the list. 
Alternatively we can have one value for the number of items and one for
the position of the central panel (if not hidden) and add new items at
the end of the list. I don't think this is very intuitive for the user

There are some complications if we allow an item without a popup menu to
replace one without. The user would then lose the menu. I think it
might be wiser to only allow special builtin objects like the central
panel or a separator (I really like that feature from Eugenia's 
screenshot) to not have a popup menu. This means there has to be a
separate way to add these special objects to the panel, presumably from
the global dialog.

For instance, I really don't know how to implement separators in the
user interface. Perhaps a separate tab in the global dialog with a list
of separators. The user could then add or remove separators at a certain

* convenience library/libraries
We have been talking a bit about creating some common libraries for all
xfce apps to use. Some of the things I thought may be useful to have in
a library are:
- freedesktop hints
- xfce global settings protocol
- config file handling (I'm not sure about this one or how it would
  be implemented)
- info / warning / confirmation dialogs
- running programs (with or without feedback)
- file open dialog (perhaps one special dialog with image preview?)
- image handling (loading, scaling, icon themes)
- drag and drop convenience functions
- special widgets (e.g. clock, icon button)

We definitely don't have to implement all these things at once or even
at all, but I would like to hear what you think about it or about any
other design aspects of the panel. 


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