Desktop designs…

Today, I’m lazy, so I’m using a PDF document because it provides better control on the formatting, which is useful for the desktop design comparison thing which I want to do. This blog will just be a comment section. Font size should be large enough for comfortable full-screen viewing on screens larger than 13″.

The PDF file is here.


10 thoughts on “Desktop designs…

  1. Maarten May 25, 2011 / 10:06 am

    Interesting, your idea looks a bit similar to the QNX Photon GUI, but without the taskbar. A vertical “panel” makes a lot of sense on today’s widescreen displays.

  2. christoph May 25, 2011 / 1:13 pm

    Most desktop environments (at least KDE and Windows) allow you to move the panel to either side of the screen, resize it, and even allow it to auto-hide. Do not try to find something which fits all users.

  3. Hadrien May 25, 2011 / 1:28 pm

    I do not try to find something which fits all users, but rather good defaults which fit most users.

    Flexibility is very important, but I think the power of good default settings that give a nice first impression (and that most people will choose to keep, making writing tutorials easier) is not to be underestimated.

    Although many DE have support for moving the panel on the sides, some test this situation significantly more than others. This screenshot from Windows 7 showing some serious widget alignment and size problems is self-explanatory, I think.

  4. Coxy May 25, 2011 / 3:49 pm

    Your idea is what i do to windows xp. You can just move the taskbar to the left and make it a bit wider. A much better idea on widescreen displays.

  5. Hadrien May 25, 2011 / 4:23 pm

    Yup, something like that except with more polish, a way to “partially minimize” the panel (only icons remain, like on the default Win7 taskbar, in order to even save horizontal space when we are greedy) and a standard way of keeping track of notifications when the user is away :)

    I don’t want to reinvent desktop design, just to take inspiration from the existing ones and find better defaults.

  6. James M Long May 26, 2011 / 7:52 pm

    Hello Hadrien,
    I have been following your website and the OSNews articles for quite a while and have gone back and read everything you have posted so far. I wish you luck and endurance in continuing the OS and the articles, they have been great to read so far. The Desktop layout article has made me go back and rearrange mine a lot and I agree that most of the panel tools don’t see to work well in the vertical mode, icons scaling too much, limits on width and much more. But I am working around as much as I can and maybe someday others will also look at the desktop and do some of the things you have suggested.


  7. Hadrien May 26, 2011 / 8:07 pm

    Aren’t you JamesM from OSdev ? Your name looks familiar…

    Anyway, thanks for the kind words :) I really hope this thing will succeed myself.

  8. jhominal May 27, 2011 / 3:30 pm

    My reactions:
    – I am not sure why you put “requires 3D acceleration for no good reason” in Unity and Gnome 3 – for me, it is purely an implementation point, not a design one. (And, indeed, a version of Unity that does not rely on OpenGL is in development/available on )
    – The choice between a horizontal or vertical global items panel is not really solvable at the level we are discussing – it depends a lot on usage and implementation. For example, on Windows 95…Vista, a vertical panel is good if you routinely have a lot of items in the task bar, but wastes a lot of space and shows titles less clearly if you do not. I am personally using a horizontal panel at work (where I have a dual 1440×900 screen setup – and I do not use any application that would benefit from having 900 vertical pixels instead of 850), but a vertical panel on my laptop (a 1280×800 screen, and sometimes I run windowed applications whose content uses 768 vertical pixels)
    – The “notification system” on every desktop system is a tool, provided to application developers, to show information – however it does not map to the same usage in every system: in Unity, notifications are transient and non-actionable; in Windows, notifications are transient and actionable; Android has both transient, non-actionable and persistent, actionable notifications. I want to point out that “notifications being transient” or “notifications being deleted forever” is not a bad thing, as long as you explicitly tell application developers that they should only use these for transient, non-critical messages. You should also read that blog post (and probably the rest of that blog); it adresses precisely the “If you were not there, you never hear about [notifications]” point in classic desktop.

  9. Justin May 30, 2011 / 2:01 am

    This is why I like WindowMaker as my window manager. All the important stuff is on one side of the screen. I’ve tried most other environments, but always go back to WindowMaker, because it’s the most space efficient while also keeping all the important stuff visible, so productivity is maximized.

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