[Panel-devel] Systray (was Re: Drag'n'drop everything)

Gábor Lehel illissius at gmail.com
Thu Aug 18 17:59:22 CEST 2005

Might it be a good idea to distinguish "status" and "notification"
areas? If only for the sake of clarity -- the (or at least, my)
systray at the moment is certainly more of a status area, the only
notification it does being the Kopete icon spinning when I get a
message; and yet it gets referred to as a "notification" area.

Here's the systray icons I currently have:
KNemo (network/connection monitor, like the one in the windows systray)
Keyboard layout
Volume control

What's the common thread? They're all things that I have running
pretty much always, from the moment I turn on the computer to when I
turn it off, hidden in the background 90%+ of the time, and hence I
don't want them taking up space on the taskbar (that's there for the
apps I'm actually, you know, doing stuff with). Most of them also show
some sort of current status (network monitor lights up when there's
activity, keyboard layout shows the current one, kopete icon changes
depending on whether I'm connected, amaroK has an icon overlayed for
the play/pause state and the icon "fills up" as the song progresses;
the volume control should also indicate the current volume somehow,
but it doesn't).

So, I think it might be a good idea to split out the status area and
the notifications area seperately. The status area would stay much
like it is currently, I think. (Or at least, I don't have many ideas
to improve it -- maybe the intention could be clarified, the apps
providing a list of (usually just one) monitorable items to the panel,
and the panel/user deciding which ones to show). I'm not quite sure
what to do with the current systray icons that don't provide any sort
of status, just quick access. Some of these are legimitate in my case
(Konversation), others less so (Kaffeine, I'm looking at you), but it
largely depends on the users' preference (for instance, I only use
Kaffeine for viewing the occasional video, while others may use it as
their "always on" media player, as I do amaroK). Perhaps seperate them
out (have the taskbar handle them?), as they do after all have
seperate purposes, or just dump them in with the status area anyways,
for better simplicity of "what the fuck is the difference between
these five different groups of small icons on my panel?". (Either way,
having to click through two menus and two dialogs before some apps
will let you exit should be rectified somehow, but that's more on the
apps' end to deal with.)

Then there could be a seperate notifications area, for things like new
mails received, storage medium inserted, IM requests, contacts
joining/leaving, et al... it'd show an icon for the each of the apps
providing notifications, with (a) number(s) for how many, and if you
click on it expands (or should I say, extends) into a list, letting
you do stuff with them. When there's new notifications, well, it
should foremost be configurable what should happen as notifications
can vary greatly in importance -- "you have 2 minutes of battery life
left" vs "random person in your buddy list has left the internets" --
but it'd probably just flash once or twice (maybe briefly display a
message saying what the notification is) and increase the counter, the
aim being after to all to let the user deal with it how (s)he likes,
as opposed to anoying them into clicking on it just to make it go away
(being able to really easily dismiss the notifications without looking
at them further would be convenient, as well). Anyways, I'll refrain
from diving into deeper speculation on the details. (which is only
partly out of mercy, but mostly because this is as far as I've thought
about it =)

On 8/18/05, Aaron J. Seigo <aseigo at kde.org> wrote:
> On Wednesday 17 August 2005 10:16, Niels Voll wrote:
> > Aaron J. Seigo wrote:
> > >hey Niels, good to see you here =)
> >
> > thanks for the warm welcome :)      I hope it's ok to de-lurk.
> heh .. of course =)
> > A) continuous monitoring / metering / status
> >    - of hardware (CPU, network, io, ...)
> >    - of software services/deamons/background processes (antivirus,
> > firewall, ...)
> >    - real world (time, weather, public service alert levels, ...)
> these should all be applets, except perhaps the AV and firewall examples, but
> those would fit into category 'B'
> > B) discrete event notification / alarms
> > C) tiny pop-up GUI controls (volume, screen resolution, keyboard
> > mapping, ...)
> these are the only two things that should appear in the systray. and only the
> most important items of type 'C' should be there. today we have waaay too
> many type 'C' systray icons =/
> > D) often used or favorite links/shortcuts/aliases ("often used" would be
> > an attempt at measurable criteria while "favorite" is subjective)
> these should all be put into the app launcher, which is separate from the
> systray. so these are already covered and separate. you can have as many
> launcher areas as you wish, too.
> --
> Aaron J. Seigo
> GPG Fingerprint: 8B8B 2209 0C6F 7C47 B1EA  EE75 D6B7 2EB1 A7F1 DB43
> Full time KDE developer sponsored by Trolltech (http://www.trolltech.com)
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