Some thoughts on xfce4 design

Olivier Fourdan fourdan at
Sat Sep 28 14:22:57 CEST 2002

> 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.

Yes, way to go.

> * 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.

Simpler code ? Yes, definitely, go for it !

> * panel objects
> 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.

Maybe a simple alert box when switching to a item w/out menu would
suffice. Keep it simple.

> 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
> position.

What about, for each item, a check box :

[ ] Separator on the left
[ ] Separator on the right

> * 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

ok .

> - xfce global settings protocol


> - config file handling (I'm not sure about this one or how it would
>   be implemented)

Handy but not necessarily mandatory.

> - info / warning / confirmation dialogs

gui lib.

> - running programs (with or without feedback)

glib has that already, hasn't it ?

> - file open dialog (perhaps one special dialog with image preview?)

part of gui lib. zeDek should be investigatiing on that.

> - image handling (loading, scaling, icon themes)

humm, gdkpixbuf has all this already.

> - drag and drop convenience functions

it's in gtk. Maybe the important word here is "convenient" ?

> - special widgets (e.g. clock, icon button)

part of the gui lib, like warning dialogs, enhanced file selector, etc.

> 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. 

I think we must do it. I would like xfce4 to provide a usefull framework
for developping apps.

Olivier               <fourdan at>  
XFce is a lightweight  desktop  environment  for  various *NIX systems. 
Designed for productivity,  it loads  and  executes  applications fast,
while conserving  system resources. XFce is all free software, released
under GNU General Public License.    Available from

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