Ayatana notifications for Plasma

Aurélien Gâteau aurelien.gateau at canonical.com
Wed Sep 23 16:48:00 CEST 2009


I would like to present to you some work I have been doing for Canonical 
regarding notifications in Plasma.

Before going further, let me state that my goal with this mail is not to 
get this work incorporated upstream, as I understand the Plasma project 
have a different position than Canonical on the subject of notifications.
I decided to write this mail because I believe it is more correct to let 
you know about it in a more "personal" way rather than you discovering 
it in a blog post or a Kubuntu review.

This work provides an implementation of Ayatana notifications for Plasma 
(Ayatana is the name of a Canonical project to improve user experience 
on Ubuntu and derivatives). Ayatana notifications have the following 

- Notifications are queued instead of stacked. This helps reduce the 
"spamming" feeling.

- Notifications are passive: they do not feature actions or close 
buttons. This is probably the most controversial bit.

- Since notifications are passive, they are click-through: when you move 
the mouse over them, they fade away to become almost transparent and let 
you click through them to reach any underlying window.

- Since they do not need any interactivity interface, they are drawn 
using Plasma tooltip SVG.

Here are (slightly outdated) screenshots of what they look like:


An important point: While the patch is integrated in Kubuntu, the 
default behavior is to use KDE notifications. The user can switch to 
Ayatana notifications through an option of the system tray configuration 
dialog (there are even preview buttons to help the user decide).


I attached a patch for you to test if you feel so inclined. I updated it 
this morning to latest trunk. It is a single large patch because I 
believe it is easier to try it this way, but if you are interested in 
the incremental steps, you can find a patchset tarball here:


As I said I do not expect this to be merged but I would be very happy if 
some of you just gave it a try for a few hours and maybe find some 
interesting ideas in it. The queuing and click-through features in 
particular could be interesting.

I was quite skeptic about the idea of passive notifications first, but 
have since changed my mind after using them for a while. I believe this 
new approach needs to be tried for one to make an informed opinion on 
it. The feedback I got from Kubuntu Karmic users is varied: some like it 
a lot, other don't.

Please let me know your opinion on this.

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