the next step on the desktop

todd rme toddrme2178 at
Thu Feb 3 02:23:16 CET 2011

On Wed, Feb 2, 2011 at 7:26 PM, Alex Fiestas <afiestas at> wrote:
> On 02/02/2011 09:57 PM, Aaron J. Seigo wrote:
>>> --- About taskmanager:
>>> (1) use only icons (this already happens when taskbar is full):
>>>    - icon size on the panel should be shortcut size (>launcher size,
>>> =Kickoff)
>> i'm not interested in making it a clone of windows7 :)
> I'm not interested neither, but we have to find a way to improve the
> current paradigm, not sure how but we have to do it.
> I'm not going to talk about usability because I don't know anything on
> the subject but I can see a couple of points that are according to the
> experiences I had I think they are as true as the snow is white :p
> 1-Vertical launch menu is way more complex than the "dock" concept.
>        In any kind of Vertical launch menu (Windows* kde3, Kickoff, Lancelot)
> you have a longer number of step to do before you find whatever you want
> to find, or whatever you want to launch. For example right now if I want
> to execute KGet I have to: Click Icon-->Application->Internet->Scroll
> down (yes, this is another step), Click on KGet.
>        Also, the typically this vertical menus doesn't invite you naturally to
> create a set of Favorite applications since these menus are typically
> hidden all the time (I don't know anybody that makes a good use of
> Kickoff Favorite... do you?)
>        Another point is that as far as I know any of our vertical menus offer
> a way to see all the applications we have. Typically the "Docks" have
> some way of doing it so you can add applications to them.
> They usually show something like this:
> To finish, I'm not saying that I want a Dock, and I'm not saying that we
> need to emulate what Windows 7 does, what I'm saying is that Vertical
> Launch Menus are flawed and if we want to move to the next step we
> should not use them by default.
> 2-Taskbar clutters A LOT the panel, and label invites you to read.
>        In the last discussion about "taskbar Icons only" one of the arguments
> by Aaron was: Labels add useful information, and I agree but to get that
> information you have to read, and no matter how fast you can do it image
> recognition is always faster once you know the relationship between
> Image<-->meaning. As an example, we have traffic signs, instead of
> having a signal such as "Be careful, there is an school around" what you
> have a drawing of a boy with a backpack.
>        No matter what I do, my panel is always full of stuff without a simple
> empty space, and that makes me forget momentarily what I was going to
> do. Is like when you go to get something from you desktop (real desktop)
> and once you're in front of it you forget what you were going to get
> because the desktop is full of stuff.
> Again, I'm not saying Let's move to Windows7/Dock paradigm! I'm just
> exposing my concerns and experiences.
> To finish, if we don't come up with something different I don't see any
> problem to copy/emulate/get inspired/ in any other existing solution, no
> matter if it is a Dock (Unity dock works quite well, so it is possible
> after all) or a Tasbar on steroids.
> Be in peace :D

It looks to me like there are three separate issues:

1. How do you launch applications that users use often?
2. How do you launch applications that users do not use often?
3. How do you keep track of open applications?

Popup applications launchers are bad for 1, but good for 2.  Docks,
launchers, quicklaunch, etc are good for 1, but infeasible for 2 if
you have a lot of applications (which is very common on Linux).
Text-based runners are good for 2 and bad for 1, but are useless if
you can't remember the application's name.

As I see it, docks and launchers (assuming icon-only taskbars) have
these advantages:

1. You can have a lot of applications both running and as favorites at
the same time
2. Icon-based search is faster than text-based search.
3. Applications are kept together whether opened or not
4. Reduces the number of independent interfaces

And these disadvantages:

1. Reduced click area
2. Impossible to use when grouping is disabled
3. You can't physically separate the running and not-running
applications (yes, I know this is the same as 3 in the advantages)
4. Additional corner cases that need to be dealt with (like if you
have more than one task manageer)
5. Can lead to ambiguity as to whether an application is running or
not if you aren't careful (this is easily rectified with a good theme)

So I see advantages to both approach.  I think the most important
factor are ultimately:
1. Do you have a lot of launchers?  If so, then the icon-based task
manager is probably better
2. Do you use grouping? If not, then the icon-based task manager is
probably worse.

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