Xfce usability thoughts (was: Cobind desktop feat. Xfce)

Olivier fourdan at xfce.org
Mon May 31 17:06:09 CEST 2004


A quick answer to what strikes me the most:

On Mon, 2004-05-31 at 16:29, Benedikt Meurer wrote:
> No I haven't see that so far. Looking at the article, it gives a slightly 
> wrong impression of Xfce. Xfce4 has not much in common with Gnome 1.x, its 
> like comparing milk drinks with mosfets, both share some chemical 
> characteristics, but thats all you can compare about them. Atleast thats my 
> understanding, but I may be wrong.

I got the exact same impression when reading the article. In fact, I
would tend to think that Xfce (as it should be spelled) has a lot more
in common with GNOME 2.x because of the compliance to fd.o standard and
GTK+-2.x libs.

> To be fair, it is also questionable if this behaviour is good or intuitive, 
> since one usually cannot distinguish the windows by title - just look at the 
> two Terminal windows (ttyp2 and ttyp3). So the ability to close separate 
> windows using the tasklist widget isn't that usefull at all usually. Therefore 
> it may be worth adopting the windows way of "close all or nothing".

It's been a while since I ran Windows, but if it's really working that
way in Windows, then I'm glad I'm not using it :)

Seriously, the current behaviour is useful with apps that adjust their
name, like the vast majority of apps. I don't see the point with that
"close all or nothing" behaviour.

> Anyway the problem that other windows (on the same layer) cover the panel 
> should be fixed in 4.1, since the window manager and the panel now both 
> support partial struts.

xfwm4 clearly supports it, but I'm not that sure that the panel should
benefit from it. I think it would make more sense to use struts if the
panel was a dock type window. Whether or not it's suitable to turn the
panel into a dock type window is really another story.

That would make Xfce behave a bit more like GNOME.

> Honestly I don't have any opinion on this topic. Olivier, Jasper, any 
> comments/ideas here?

Well, the problem is that we have no artist to design icons at a large
size. I've heard/read somewhere that OS X is using very large icons that
are scaled down to look as good as possible at all size.

> Having the taskbar in vertical orientation doesn't seem like a good idea to 
> me, but I dislike the panel in vertical orientation as well. There may be 
> situations where this comes in handy. But for now I cannot think of any good 
> way to handle a vertical tasklist (maybe rotate the text?).

Neither X nor pango support vertical text. And I'm not even sure that
would be very usable (think of your neck at the end of the day :)

Seriously, the vertical taskbar has been suggested a while back when I
write the current implementation, but I'm fairly against it because I've
yet to find a usable setup of the sort.

Thanks to the recent task list plugin for the panel, I guess this is
something that could be acheived with the current code anyway, by simply
running the panel in vertical mode and switching the taskbar off.


> The whole menu thingy can be disabled.

And it's a module, so you don't even have to put it in the panel anyway.

>  > One other thing that I forgot with regard to XFCE usability. The task
>  > switching that is enabled by alt-tab would be much more useful if the
>  > display of applications being switched was richer - color icons, program
>  > name, not just title bar label. Again, see OS X 10.3. Our experience is
>  > that users struggle to determine which app is being switched to out of
>  > several because they cannot identify it visually and the title bar label
>  > is often not consistent with it's name and thus, they are looking for
>  > the app name when the alt-tab display is showing document name from the
>  > title bar.
> IIRC this has also been discussed, but I think its worth to rethink on this 
> issue prior to 4.2.

Well, I'm not willing to add app icons to the WM any time soon.

But adding the program name is definitely a good idea, I'll see what I
can do.

 - Olivier Fourdan - fourdan at xfce.org - http://www.xfce.org - 

More information about the Xfce4-dev mailing list