Xfce Interface Guidelines

Simon Steinbeiß simon at xfce.org
Fri May 4 14:48:39 CEST 2012

Hi everyone,

since the Gtk3-discussion seems to have come to an end for now, I'd like to raise a (new?) topic that would play well with the transition (because all UIs will be touched to some extent).
For a while I've been thinking that it would be great if Xfce had (or followed) some Interface Guidelines.

As illustrative example I'd like to refer to recent work on Ristretto's UI that I did with Stephan. We mostly redesigned the toolbars and it was quite a bit of back and forth until we reached a "satisfying" result ("satisfying" only, because it doesn't mean it's especially consistent with any other part of the desktop, or at least that was not the main focus). After having finished that, our attention was drawn to some inconsistencies in the menus (Bug#8723). To be honest I hadn't thought about that before, and this leads up to my point: there are no guidelines for app-designers in and around Xfce and whether apps or core components are visually in line is more a question of chance (or of the respective dev's attention to the rest of Xfce).

Personally I think that devs shouldn't have to bother too much with UI design, ideally there would be comprehensive guidelines that should be easy to follow and give all Xfce related stuff a consistent look (Xfce Header is a good example of a recurring element, but there are no direct guidelines as to in what cases and where to use it exactly, at least not that I know of).

Obviously an enterprise like this is not to be taken on lightly, existing Interface Guidelines of other Desktops/Os's would have to be reviewed and a consensus about what good applications look like would have to be reached. I'm willing to contribute in this field, but it would be nice to determine, whether you are interested in writing down and fixating a few guidelines. (There's of course the counter-argument that things have worked fine up to now, so why should you restrict yourselves and put up new guidelines.)

 - Simon

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