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Reason NL
May 11th, 2012, 05:01 PM
It all started early 2010 when I got tired of looking at the theme offerings of Ubuntu 10.04 and before.
It wasn't particularly about the graphics of the desktop itself, but because the inconsistencies within the interface that made me decide to jump in and draw (and code) something myself.
After envisioning this "better" theme for quite some time, Gnome 2 had come to an end and Canonical came with Unity to replace Gnome's new offering.
Basically telling me to stop and revise everything.
My initial project started of as the "Unity" theme, but as you all ready know somehow Canonical managed to use just that name to create there new shell for Ubuntu. Not suggesting anything just seems really coincidental.. ;)
This switch to Gnome Shell and Unity made me rethink my idea's and vision.

As I mentioned all over the Internet neither Gnome Shell and Unity are being happily accepted. Although both are starting to mature, they still lack somehow. That's where my ideas shifted from my initial goal.
Instead of theming own of those new "experiences" I became fascinated by creating a new one. Rethinking all what was the Linux desktop and especially how it could be, use what is great and fix where they got it wrong.
This also includes the general and consistent look and feel as well, which was my initial idea anyway.

So to continue this journey I decided to re-energize and take this project a step further and create this new concept.
Recreating, redefining and redesigning my previous efforts and the current leading desktop environments with the help of the community, with you guys!

Giving birth to:

Symphony (Click on the logo for it's website)

http://symphony.2nv2u.com/images/logo-external.png (http://symphony.2nv2u.com/)



But I do want input from all you guys! So please help me/us to redefine the Ubuntu (Linux) desktop.
If you have any experience with either of the interfaces stated below, feel free to constructively criticize and appraise it.

- What do you (dis)like about Gnome Shell and why?
- What do you (dis)like about Unity and why?
- What do you (dis)like about KDE and why?
- What do you miss from Gnome 2 and why?

And to take other platforms into account:
- What do you (dis)like about the Windows 8 Metro interface?
- What do you (dis)like about the OS/X interface?
- What do you (dis)like about the IOS interface?
- What do you (dis)like about the Android interface?

Project website (Look for the concept explanation for now):
http://symphony.2nv2u.com/

Some impressions what I was / am after and attempted before:

Ubuntu WIKI Unity Theme:
https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Artwork/Inco.../Unity%20Theme (https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Artwork/Incoming/Lucid/Unity%20Theme)
Old Threads Unity Theme:
http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?p=9298495
http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1483137 (http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1397770)

zombifier25
May 13th, 2012, 02:15 PM
I can't answer any of your questions (I'm very adaptable when it comes to DEs. I can even live with twm if forced) but I'm looking forward to what you have to offer :)

Reason NL
May 14th, 2012, 12:44 PM
I can't answer any of your questions (I'm very adaptable when it comes to DEs. I can even live with twm if forced) but I'm looking forward to what you have to offer :)

Same here, I can pretty much addept to other interfaces fine, but I do have a preference for certain implementations and workflows.
The same must apply to you, otherwise why are you interested and posted in the first place? ;)

I'm currently thinking to make some hybrid concept between Gnome Shell and Unity and started drawing a simple concept.
I personally like the workspace management from G3 but dislike the way running applications are being accessed.

I would like the workspace management to be scalable (dynamic like G3) and independant of the output (Physical monitors).
All outputs should have the ability to display all workspaces by selecting one. Even cloning (Showing the same workspace on multiple outputs) for example beamer purposes should be possible.

I like the Unity launcher but it needs to be more configurable. The dash itself looks useless to me and needs a different approach. Much more like G3's implementation.

zombifier25
May 14th, 2012, 12:48 PM
Ok, one of my opinion: Windows 7's Start menu has BOTH the search bar (like Unity) and the classic menu (like classic GNOME), and most DEs only have one (which is lacking depending on circumstances) so I would like to see how those 2 can be used together nicely.

Reason NL
May 14th, 2012, 02:14 PM
What is it exactly what you like about the "classic" menu?
The fact that it is configurable and lets you place applications in your own folders?
Or do you miss the basic menu structure like it was in classic gnome (The filter options in Unity)?

zombifier25
May 15th, 2012, 06:39 AM
The filter option is cool, but it requires more pointing and clicking.

Reason NL
May 15th, 2012, 09:47 AM
It's not only the pointing and clicking that's a hassle. It's not apparent enough.
Although I do like the dash like style (Gnome Shell) which features more control over your workspace. I do agree that it's handy to keep the application categories available.
So I'm certainly going to incorporate this somehow.
I even think all applications need some short line to tell what it's about. This could be a simple line like: With Brasero you can burn CD's, but it should be visible without having to hover over something.

Hairy_Palms
May 15th, 2012, 10:20 AM
ill have a crack at this,

-What do you (dis)like about Gnome Shell and why?

the all applications giant uncatagorised overlay, its a horrible way to access your installed applications, searching through a giant square filled with icons. fine when you have 6 or 8 apps, not when you have 40

the way it handles alt-tab by default (though this can be fixed with an extension)

things i like are the fact it has a good extension framework to try and fix some of its many flaws.
its compositing is far smoother than compiz (at least on nvidia hardware)
the half-maximise ability when you drag windows to the side of the screen


-What do you (dis)like about Unity and why?

ill come out and say i think the global menu bar makes sense on any platform with a top bar. though hiding it till you mouseover defeats the point of having it imo
the launcher is well thought out if only size and position were easily customisable (size is with third party programs, position isnt without a recompile)
the lens i dislike, its not well laid out and hides so many extra icons forcing extra clicks to show them,
global window management buttons on the other hand are an awful idea especially when limited to a certain position on the bar

cant speak about KDE havent used it seriously since the 3.5 days

-gnome classic

the amount of customisation and applets available for the panel
i like the regular menu system too
i dislike the lack of an OPTIONAL search box for applications, as
zombifier25 said above, a simple catagorised menu system with a search box you can bring up if wanted would be ideal, i remember using something called lancelot in kde3 that was close to what i considered a good menu system with a search box

Reason NL
May 15th, 2012, 12:00 PM
I agree that the categorization of the app drawer is a must, especially since it's already available.
Do you think it should be a small menu like it was in classic, or is an overlay giving you the same functional way of browsing through your apps ok as well?

I personally don't like the global menu, and think it's the worst copy action from OS/X and they even manage to make it worse by hiding it's options by default, it does seem to make the desktop less cluttered, but nobody knows it's there unless the try to close the window if it's maximized and it doesn't make sense to have options from a small window in the top left corner of the screen.

I'm currently thinking about the following direction:

- Use the unity launcher as base but loose the dash and lenses.
It should be configurable to be placed on other sides of the screen and have a size option.
Let it only show running applications on the designated workspace unless there pinned.
Show all workspaces to be able to go to them with one click.

- Replace the dash and lenses with a gnome shell like overlay but feature a better way to browse through your apps (including categorization) and facilitate in a way to manage places and workspaces in the same way.


I would like the workspace management to be scalable (dynamic like G3) and independent of the output (Physical monitors).
All outputs should have the ability to display all workspaces by selecting one. Even cloning (Showing the same workspace on multiple outputs) for example beamer purposes should be possible.The workspaces should be completely transparent and detached from the screens attached to the computer. Every screen (monitor) should be nothing more than a view into this virtual workspace system making it more powerful and integrated (Still need to think about different resolutions and dragging windows though).

- Keep the window button on the left side to be able to maximize windows without it having to block the notification bar. Incorporate tabbing into the windows itself to be able to display every application in a tabbed fashion (Basically making tabs in nautilus, firefox, chrome, terminal etc. useless with a reason) This should not be functionality from the application itself unless it's content based. The application should not care if it's displayed in the same spot multiple times so it's doesn't have to facilitate it.

- Get rid of the topbar, the global menu system and only use the top right corner to show the time, notifications, sound and user information and be able to click on it to open a menu.

This is just a starting point, lot's of things need to be addressed along the way.
If you disagree on my above statements, let me know!

Hairy_Palms
May 15th, 2012, 12:56 PM
I agree that the categorization of the app drawer is a must, especially since it's already available.
Do you think it should be a small menu like it was in classic, or is an overlay giving you the same functional way of browsing through your apps ok as well?

i personally prefer a smaller menu, not necessarily quite as small as classic, simply because this allows you to have an eye on other open apps while using it, which is useful for things like IM clients and such, with the overlay you lose the ability to see other open windows


I personally don't like the global menu, and think it's the worst copy action from OS/X and they even manage to make it worse by hiding it's options by default, it does seem to make the desktop less cluttered, but nobody knows it's there unless the try to close the window if it's maximized and it doesn't make sense to have options from a small window in the top left corner of the screen.

well just personal opinion i guess, for most programs the menu is something i access infrequently, with the toolbars having what i use the majority of the time but it seems we agree that hiding the menus until mouseover is bad design.


I'm currently thinking about the following direction:

- Use the unity launcher as base but loose the dash and lenses.
It should be configurable to be placed on other sides of the screen and have a size option.
Let it only show running applications on the designated workspace unless there pinned.
Show all workspaces to be able to go to them with one click.

- Replace the dash and lenses with a gnome shell like overlay but feature a better way to browse through your apps (including categorization) and facilitate in a way to manage places and workspaces in the same way.

- Get rid of the topbar, the global menu system and only use the top right corner to show the time, notifications, sound and user information and be able to click on it to open a menu.

i think i understand, you mean something sortof like this?
http://lh3.ggpht.com/_1QSDkzYY2vc/TTQDJu14rfI/AAAAAAAACs4/IaXgMkYUL2o/s2000/unity-launcher.png

but with the launcher opening a categorised menu overlay instead of the current lenses

well, as mentioned above i think a fullscreen overlay isnt the best choice, but im only one person so anyone else who has an opinion should jump in

Reason NL
May 15th, 2012, 03:08 PM
i personally prefer a smaller menu, not necessarily quite as small as classic, simply because this allows you to have an eye on other open apps while using it, which is useful for things like IM clients and such, with the overlay you lose the ability to see other open windows

My general idea was to use the overlay to see all windows on the current workspace next to each other. Basically giving you the ability to super-tab though running apps, but also give you the ability to click on them without using a keyboard or the launcher.
I meant the overlay to be the management console of your workspaces giving all the tools necessary to do so.


well just personal opinion i guess, for most programs the menu is something i access infrequently, with the toolbars having what i use the majority of the time but it seems we agree that hiding the menus until mouseover is bad design.

This should be the design of the application itself, personally I think having to move my mouse from a little window in the center of my screen to the upper left corner just touse a function of that window cumbersome and counterintuitive. The only reason I can thnik of is that it would be replaced by the new HUD functionality, but this does assume that know what you are looking for.


i think i understand, you mean something sortof like this?
http://lh3.ggpht.com/_1QSDkzYY2vc/TT...y-launcher.png (http://lh3.ggpht.com/_1QSDkzYY2vc/TTQDJu14rfI/AAAAAAAACs4/IaXgMkYUL2o/s2000/unity-launcher.png)

but with the launcher opening a categorised menu overlay instead of the current lenses

well, as mentioned above i think a fullscreen overlay isnt the best choice, but im only one person so anyone else who has an opinion should jump in

Yes, that's basically my starting point at the moment, unless someone convinces me otherwise.
I personally think the overlay should help me defining workspaces and filling them with applications, manage there windows all in order to complete my tasks within the workspace itself.
It should give me a complete overview of all (running) apps, places/files and workspaces in a neat workflow based kind of way (Still thinking about how to accomplish exactly that).

The launcher should help me switch between those applications without having to click twice and visually show me what's running without clicking at all and this all within the current workspace. I don't want to use the overlay if I do something within the workspace itself.

Reason NL
May 15th, 2012, 10:13 PM
I have made a place on one of my servers to host a HTML click-able demo.
(Which does not exists just yet, but will be there in the future)

http://symphony.2nv2u.com/concept

I does contain some impressions of the state bar, launcher placement and window management.

The basic idea behind the state bar is that the whole menu consist of a accordion typed list which will open on the corresponding item depending on which was clicked on the closed bar.
(Speaker icon will open the sound accordion for example)
Also the notifications are stacked for later reference. The faded ones will disappear on a specified timeout. The brighter ones will remain there until the user removes them.

The closed bar show the notification amount on the left and I'm still brainstorming for a better way to show "notification icons" for other running apps, I'm currently thinking about a way to use the launcher / overlay for it because it seems to be a better location. Ideas are welcome off course.

Please note this is a concept and, even though I couldn't resist making it a bit nicer looking, not the final look and feel.

Reason NL
May 18th, 2012, 06:47 PM
New update. Cleaned up the images a bit and added a user state.

Axzercion
May 20th, 2012, 06:05 PM
I personally don't see the use for a menu when you can use a launcher such as Synapse. There are still some things in Synapse which are not good, but it is really useful. To elaborate:
Synapse uses just zeitgeist for recent applications and such. I would like to see it include ALL applications when pressing down. I would also like to see the ability to switch between categories by using alt+1 - 8. It also lacks the proper use of a mouse, so that should be fixed as well if it is to be used as menu alternative.

Furthermore I find it important that if I make an application fullscreen, it should stay fullscreen. That should not change when I switch applications. Therefor the panels should stay behind the application that was set to fullscreen. This is especially the case when working with multiple screens.

Also please keep the close,minimize,maximize buttons configurable. I prefer to have them on the right side instead of the left. I can see in the design that it would make the layout of the top panel shift. To compensate that, you can move the top panel items a little to the left. This should keep the interface "steady".

Reason NL
May 21st, 2012, 03:53 PM
Although I agree the computer should "learn" how you use it, it should not mean that you loose the ability to categorize and customize it yourself.
It should always be what YOU want it to be not what IT thinks is good for you, this does not automatically mean it shouldn't suggest you with things it learned from your behavior.

I do agree that the computer should be controllable with ONLY the keyboard, but this does apply to the mouse/touch input devices as well. So a button or way to get into the overlay should be available, of course this might become something you could configure (This even includes a popup on screen keyboard).

The functionality being exposed by Synapse/Gnome DO should be incorporated in the overlay, but Unity and Gnome Shell all ready do this so nothing new there, the task oriented bit from Gnome DO where you cannot only search something but select an action for it as well might be interesting addition.

I will think about the window control position, but as you all ready mentioned yourself, it might not work with the design direction I'm going for. I'll definitely look into it.

About the fullscreen aspect, of course a fullscreen app should remain fullscreen and panels shouldn't hinder it if it looses focus, but this seems to be more like a bug than a feature. I was thinking about an auto hiding control on the top center to exit the fullscreen mode, close the application etc, basically just what all remote desktop applications do when the display the guest in fullscreen, something that, again, should be managed by the window manager not the application (same thing as the tabs in a window exposing the same app in the same space multiple times), this would also help against not responding fullscreen apps as the window (although it's borderless) is being controlled by a different process, and it potentially gives all apps fullscreen possibilities (Think of F11 in your browser being handled by the window manager not the browser itself).
This does expose some potential issues, think of games that capture all the input, so please help me choosing a viable option to tackle this concept.

I'm still focusing my attention at the state bar (notification, time, sound etc.) for now, so if somebody feels a compelling urge to shout something about it please do! ;)

Reason NL
May 21st, 2012, 06:17 PM
Update:
- Another clean up
- Added state with nothing open (just notifications)
- Changed audio state to include output device instead of balance and fader.
- Removed horizontal launcher (for now)
- Added fullscreen window with options (also includes overlay button)

Reason NL
May 24th, 2012, 11:38 PM
Added 2 more pictures detailing the statebar a bit more, felt like fancying it up a bit again, beginning to resemble what it might look like.

Reason NL
June 9th, 2012, 08:41 PM
Anyone?? Seems you guys need some inspiration first... ;)

So, another update:
- Removed old images
- Created a new output paradigm (See below)
- Updated new images added new sound state based on above statement.

The new output concept basically makes it very easy to extend audio and video beyond the current device.
It allows you to send audio to other devices globally and on application bases.
The same concept is used for displaying workspaces. Not only having multiple monitors allow you to view more workspaces, the idea is to use other devices to output to as well!
How awesome would it be to just simply select your TV from the state bar as output device for the current workspace?
What about other machines running Ubuntu which effectively will allow sharing that workspace which another user!
So this concept basically allows all outputs to be shared across all your (network) devices combining displaying and sharing at the same time.
The overlay will eventually support opting workspaces for sharing as well, allowing users to select an workspace from there overlay running on a different machine!

I'm currently drawing the display state so hopefully it will enlighten my idea a little.

Cheers!

Frogs Hair
June 10th, 2012, 03:45 PM
Gnome Sell: I like the window animations and I don't like having to use the overview to search for applications.The calendar requires the installation of Evolution and Ubuntu uses Thunderbird as the default mail client.

Unity: I dislike the current inability to move the launcher. but I find the application search much more efficient because I can search without using an overview. The global menu need some customization options like were available in the Gnome 2 PPA.(no longer supported)

KDE: I like some of the built in transparency effects.

Gnome 2: I really miss noting about it and Mate is available anyway . I found the 3 tier menu combined with the control center and menu xdg just listed the same applications in a different places. This is redundant to me. No matter what menu system is used this just seems like kind of a waste.

Reason NL
June 10th, 2012, 06:20 PM
Can you tell me what difference it makes opening the Ubuntu dash instead of the gnome overlay?
How does this make your searching more efficient even though it requires the exact same mouse clicks and type effort?
Not trying to make your point invalid, just wondering why you experience it as being less efficient.

I'm opting to include the places menu again in the overview, it should include external usb sticks and hdd's as well, never understood what is did within a launcher on unity which suppose to expose applications not devices.

Frogs Hair
June 10th, 2012, 08:33 PM
Notice in the screen shot I can enter dash without my applications minimizing or being hidden.To enter the application screen in the Gnome Shell I have to use a keyboard shortcut or move the cursor to the left corner and select applications to choose applications from the list.

Although search is possible in the shell the overview minimizes or hides the open application and then they return using the keyboard or mouse again .

Reason NL
June 10th, 2012, 09:34 PM
I agree the open windows are removed form view when you start typing in Gnome Shell (You can type immediately when you enter the shell, no need to click anything), it will only show the matching information and applications at that point, but in a certain way so does Unity.
The difference is that the windows from the open applications appear blurred on the background in Unity, which, in my opinion, makes them useless as well and instead give a cluttered and chaotic feeling to the desktop where Shell just shows the background instead. You even have to press Esc twice in both environments to close the dash/overlay.
Functionally there both identical in usage, so the only real difference is in it's appearance, Shell shows all open windows next to each other in a overview, which I kinda like, but removes them when you start typing. Unity keeps them in place all the time and blurs them to be able to display it's information on top of them.

Can you give me an example why you would want to able to keep your windows in place when you search for a application to start?
(You can still see which are running in the launcher itself)

Why does it matter that the desktop gets "cleaned" to give more focus on the things you're looking for?

Frogs Hair
June 11th, 2012, 11:37 PM
In terms efficiency more animation is required. I use Unity,the Gnome Shell, Win 7 and E17 regularly and adapt easily different desktop environments. Many computer users are not or simply don't want to be as flexible.

I have tried KDE , LXDE and XFCE and may explore KDE more . Windows I have to use but prefer the Gnome Shell , Unity and E17. If you have a new desktop environment I would be willing to try ,but I am not type of user that needs convincing.

After 3 releases of Unity and Gnome 2 no longer in development there are still users who want Ubuntu with Gnome 2. Consider the amount of effort that has been put into developing tweaks in order to make the fallback session like Gnome 2.

Reason NL
June 11th, 2012, 11:49 PM
I agree it looks like there is happening more within Gnome Shell, I'm not convinced this is better or worse compared to Unity.
I'm also using quite a lot different DE's and devices and am pretty adaptable as well, but do encounter situation where something seems out of place and is better thought through in another interface.
A agree most people tend to keep things as they where. Even though things might be better otherwise.
This is basic human psychology and things have to grow on them. So is basically starts with people like you and me. :wink:

My goal is essentially taking the good parts, rethink and theme them and make a new experience.
Building the actual shell itself will require a lot more effort than I can provide to make it a viable option. Currently I'm thinking about extending Gnome Shell, but I refrain from actually keep technology in mind for now. Functionality is of greater concern at the moment.
Could you mind taking a look on what I've managed to draw so far (and anyone who reads this for that matter)?

Does this concept seem to be a step in the right direction?

Note that the overlay / launcher is not drawn yet, see my signature for the link.

Frogs Hair
June 12th, 2012, 02:35 AM
what I like about E17 is it's light. It has great animation,the built in ability to add multiple docks on all sides of the screen and a full menu is available anytime an open area on the screen is clicked .

This is good thinking because it allows the user freedom from a centralized menu location. E17 requires some time learn though. The PPA I use requires a whole 17 Mb of disk space and the Lubuntu desktop used 300 plus.

Reason NL
June 12th, 2012, 01:02 PM
The load and size on the system is, for now, not important. I'm nowhere near implementing anything yet.
The animations are also at the end of the line, but these are indeed very important, but again should be functional, they should be used to visualize what happens with objects so people can see where they go (Maximizing etc.).
I'm not opting for burning windows flying cubes or anything, although this should be possible by extending the base in my opinion.
Opening the menu from right clicking on the desktop is not use full for new / unexperienced users.
Nobody knows it's there and what about maximized windows, how do you open the menu then?

I could however think of a way to open the overlay (which will be based on gnome shell) with the contextual menu on the desktop besides a normal button. That way you won't have to move the mouse all the way to that button.
For example right click followed by left click where the first option would be opening the overlay and the mouse would be on top of it when the menu opens.

Frogs Hair
June 12th, 2012, 06:57 PM
what about maximized windows, how do you open the menu then? The menu can accessed on any dock(shelf)the user chooses to place a menu start indicator on. The shelves can be set to appear above or below windows.

Some form of Enlightenment (E16-17) been around for a long time and many problems, window rules, and exceptions have received long term consideration and there are numerous setting options.

Much of controversy surrounding Unity and the Gnome Shell in my thinking comes down to how programs are accessed.There certainly seems to be a lot argument about menus though it has subsided with each release of Unity and the Gnome shell.;)

I can't tell a Whole lot about your project from the screen shots but what you have looks good.

Reason NL
June 12th, 2012, 09:29 PM
Although I agree things should have some degree of configuration options (Unity has none), it should however facilitate in a consistent interface which users can accustom to.
You can't expect people to first configure there desktop before they can even use there computer or to re-accustom to another one which was configured by someone else. To much freedom will make most people feel lost and confused. This is what keeps "normal" users away from the Linux desktop.
The key is to finding the right balance where you can give a user who just want to browse the web, watch some videos and check there mail a simple interface and the power users who want to change everything in a way to accompany there workflow and get thinks done by just pressing some ambiguous key shortcuts to make everything happen.

I'm therefor not trying to make an interface which will suite everybody because of the amount of configuration options, but because it uses a sleek and consistent interface and a clever use of shortcuts to help power users.

I am a applications developer myself and I completely understand what you mean by being able to change everything to suit your needs, but I'm also a user who just wants to use his small laptop for the casual browsing not having to configure it for countless hours.

I do think that loosing (or hiding) the categorization from the menu options is a bad idea though.

I decided to first think about how to shape the status/state of the computer/device. After I'm (and you guys are) satisfied with it I'll commit myself to the launcher and overlay.
I do have some ideas about this and I think I wrote much of it down here already.
I also did have some preliminary screens about shaping the overlay and the workspace management,
but there too outdated and thus not useful to publish anymore.

Thanks for the compliment, even though I'm still in a conceptual phase, I can't resist making it look nice. ;)
Thank you even more for your constructive insides, this will actually help in making something useful. Keep it up! :D

Reason NL
June 15th, 2012, 01:03 AM
Updated the website, made it look cooler and added global explanation and descriptions to current images.
Don't forget to Like/+1 it! ;)

Reason NL
July 12th, 2012, 12:33 AM
Been busy lately, so haven't had much time drawing a lot. I did however added a screen showing the display state and what is should be exposing.

I also made a Google+ (https://plus.google.com/101730812383526274463) page for this project. You can subscribe (follow) this page and be able to comment on specific updates and keep this forum open for general discussion.

I will be posting updates on there as well.

Reason NL
September 12th, 2012, 05:32 PM
Been busy lately, so haven't had much time drawing a lot. I did however added a screen showing the display state and what is should be exposing.

I also made a Google+ (https://plus.google.com/101730812383526274463) page for this project. You can subscribe (follow) this page and be able to comment on specific updates and keep this forum open for general discussion.

I will be posting updates on there as well.

Seems a never ending story. Even though I really like spending time on this project all other daily activities have kept me pretty much occupied.

I've decided to keep this thread from presenting new additions or changes and keep it for what it does best. Opening up discussions and talk about possibilities.

So as this last post about updates to this project, I changed and expanded my goals a bit and started to think about building a new ecosystem. Pretty ambitious but hey, all big things have small beginnings. ;)

Still, for now I updated the site and will be posting updates on the affiliated Google+ (https://plus.google.com/u/0/101730812383526274463/posts)page and stop harassing this thread for that purpose. So if you want to be kept informed please follow the project on Google+.
I will attempt to create an RSS feed for those who don't want to be part of Google's social network (Will be posting about that on here when it's available).

This thread will remain open for everything else of course, so please don't stop answering my previous inquiries or criticize the ongoing process.

renearts
September 24th, 2012, 03:24 PM
Hey, saw your comment at tweakers.net (yes I'm a fellow Dutchie and tweaker), I really like your ideas about a better shell/DE. I've been fiddling myself with Gnome Shell and Unity and my current desktop looks like this:

http://imgbin.org/images/thumbs/ext8975.png (http://imgbin.org/index.php?page=image&id=8975)

It's Gnome Shell 3.4 with the Unity-2d launcher, Dash and even the HUD is working. Currently the best config for me. But there's room for improvement which triggers my interest for your ideas.


My thoughts/complaints/good things about Gnome Shell and Unity:

first of all:
- I absolutely L-O-V-E the dynamic workspace management from GS, specifically with the Desktop Scrolling extension.

- I like both the Unity and GS panel. Both are configurable, feature indicators/extensions. I like the Evolution/Calendar integration in GS panel. Preferred location for panel: top. I like your idea very much as well. Does what it should do and provides necessary and essential information. Also the notification center looks great!

- I like the Unity Dash a little better than the GS overview: Dash seems a little more intelligent with the lenses and less disturbing my view. Though both can be used quite efficiently (hit Super and start typing to search). I also like the Win7 menu, which effectively does the same. I think this (press Super and start typing) is a key feature for an efficient workflow.

- I like Unity's Global Menu; in general the idea of a global menu. But not Gnome-shell style (too many clicks to get where you want to be). I also (as in a reduntant, keyboard-only way) really like the (idea behind) Unity HUD, but it isn't quite mature yet. Biggest annoyance: the naming is inconsistent so it takes too many tries to find what i want. Example: I want to change some settings; randomly start guessing if it should be options, settings or preferences (and if you also have translated programs: opties/instellingen/voorkeuren). So you might need to search for 6(!) different keywords.
Suggestion: let it display the currently accessed menu structure and all avaliable options. So when you type 'Edit ' it shows all available items in the Edit menu. Or a combination with the (normally hidden) global menu can be made. But most important of all: consistency!

- I like the Unity launcher/bar, especially the full (non 2d) version. Nice look and feel, location on left edge is fine to me. Icons are large enough and size is configurable. I liked the intellihide mode... Other launchers can be fine too (i.e. Docky)
I dislike the Gnome Shell launch/favorites bar (and extension to get it on the desktop): with a lot of applications opened the icons get way too small. Also not too much animation/information from the icons, which other launchers do.

I think your notification center and top panel look very nice: the concept is very appealing IMHO. I also like your philosophy of separating workspace and application management.

So far my two cents, probably I'll be thinking about this the next days so maybe some additions might follow :)

Reason NL
September 24th, 2012, 08:07 PM
Hey, saw your comment at tweakers.net (yes I'm a fellow Dutchie and tweaker), I really like your ideas about a better shell/DE. I've been fiddling myself with Gnome Shell and Unity and my current desktop looks like this:
I couldn't resist using the Ubuntu news item to get some exposure for this project, especially since Canonical is focusing to much on making the Dash cluttered with stuff we don't want giving this project more incentive of being realized. ;)

Instead of playing with existing components I decided to draw everything from scratch to be able to focus on what I (and all those willing to participate) want in an user interface instead of being handicapped by what is currently being offered from a technical perspective.

This being sad, thanks for you willingness in sharing your experiences, useful inside and uplifting comments. :D



I absolutely L-O-V-E the dynamic workspace management from GS, specifically with the Desktop Scrolling extension.

- I like both the Unity and GS panel. Both are configurable, feature indicators/extensions. I like the Evolution/Calendar integration in GS panel. Preferred location for panel: top. I like your idea very much as well. Does what it should do and provides necessary and essential information. Also the notification center looks great!

- I like the Unity Dash a little better than the GS overview: Dash seems a little more intelligent with the lenses and less disturbing my view. Though both can be used quite efficiently (hit Super and start typing to search). I also like the Win7 menu, which effectively does the same. I think this (press Super and start typing) is a key feature for an efficient workflow.

- I like Unity's Global Menu; in general the idea of a global menu. But not Gnome-shell style (too many clicks to get where you want to be). I also (as in a reduntant, keyboard-only way) really like the (idea behind) Unity HUD, but it isn't quite mature yet. Biggest annoyance: the naming is inconsistent so it takes too many tries to find what i want. Example: I want to change some settings; randomly start guessing if it should be options, settings or preferences (and if you also have translated programs: opties/instellingen/voorkeuren). So you might need to search for 6(!) different keywords.
Suggestion: let it display the currently accessed menu structure and all avaliable options. So when you type 'Edit ' it shows all available items in the Edit menu. Or a combination with the (normally hidden) global menu can be made. But most important of all: consistency!

- I like the Unity launcher/bar, especially the full (non 2d) version. Nice look and feel, location on left edge is fine to me. Icons are large enough and size is configurable. I liked the intellihide mode... Other launchers can be fine too (i.e. Docky)
I dislike the Gnome Shell launch/favorites bar (and extension to get it on the desktop): with a lot of applications opened the icons get way too small. Also not too much animation/information from the icons, which other launchers do.
As mentioned on it's website I'm currently focusing on the State of the computer, I'm still figuring out what should be there and even more so also what shouldn't!
I'm thinking about adding a security section where you will be able to view and configure what all running applications are (capable of) doing.
Think about accessing the Internet, certain file locations or devices. A bit like the permissions Android uses but with the ability to change them at runtime.

I strongly believe this should not be a location for hidden running applications or even a way to start ones (Ubuntu sound menu) we have the launcher for exactly that purpose, being able to hide applications from the launcher even if they are running is a different goal altogether and I'm convinced dedicating different concepts for the same purpose is counter intuitive.
I opt for showing all running applications within the launcher in the overlay.
So if consistency is what you want you'll definitely get it! :) Even if it will be consistently bad.. ;)

Even thought the Unity HUD has some great potential, the current implementation leaves a lot to be desired.
I personally hate the global menu, it places functionality from a specific bordered object in a completely different position. Not intuitive at all! In Unity they even manage to hide it upfront leaving user confused on how to get to these options since there no where to be found. Couldn't be any worse.. :S I think the menu should be part of the window, maybe in a way Firefox does it with 1 button (A fourth button?).
The fact you have to type search to find options is cumbersome indeed, I will take you suggestion in consideration. Come to think about it, why shouldn't it just expose the menu as is as you type along?

The super key type combo will definitely stay!
Still questioning whether to create a small dash like shell just for when you hit the super button once to type stuff to be able to start applications and find stuff besides the overlay, for example hitting the super button twice and clicking the launcher overlay button will get you to the overlay.
Although I kinda like the idea, it adds another abstraction which will make it more complicated to use for basic computer users.
Still considering options about this any ideas are welcome!

Your screen looks cool by the way, nice Icon pack a bit too Unity though. :)

My current vision for the launcher and workspace management is a marriage between Unity and Gnome Shell. I completely share you view on the flexible workspaces. As you may have picked up already from my previous posts, I'm even convinced another Monitor should be a just another inside for one those workspaces. If you think about it, this would make sharing workspaces with different devices extremely easy!
Of course dragging applications on another device is a different matter, very difficult to manage, but It would be freaking awesome! ;)

Current ideas about the launcher:

- Shares a similar look to the Unity / Win7 launcher.
- Should always be visible (unless it's configure to hide or dodge) without having to enter an overlay (Not the Gnome Shell way)
- Should facilitate in being able to open different windows from the same program with 1 click.
- Should facilitate a way to change to all currently available (even network attached) workspaces on all attached monitor (Every monitor / workspace has it's own launcher showing only processes on that workspace).

Current ideas about the overlay:

- Shares the basic concepts from Gnome Shell.
- Application section gets an overhaul and should facilitate in something like the lenses in Unity, I thought about naming them Venues, any other ideas are welcome. ;)
- There should be 3 default venues: Software center, Applications and Places
All should have some sort of categorizing, not a giant scroll pane!
- The launcher in the overlay should show all running applications (The ones on the current workspace should be marked differently) on the current device and should show an overview of all windows on the current workspace like Gnome Shell does (I also like dragging new applications to new and existing workspaces a lot).

Current ideas about windows management:

- Windows should control there own tabs (Not the applications) making it possible to run multiple instances of one program without the application even knowing about it.
This would also open up the ability to show all tabs in the overlay as different windows.
- Windows should manage full screen (Not the applications) leaving the user the ability to close them if the applications stops reacting. Still need to think about controls though.
- There should be an option to fix windows maximized (or next to each other) for small devices like tablets and phones.

These are currently some basic ideas I've been thinking about.

I've added some very basic concept images showing my ideas about the launcher and overlay on 2 monitors side by side.
Unfortunately this forum has resized them to 1024px width so it's hard to read, but it still shows what I mean.

Thanks again Rene for your reply! Stay around... I've heard dutch people are very capable of designing stuff. ;)