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Archive for the 'GNOME' Category
A while ago I was shocked to see Allan create a transition design using manual frame by frame animation and decided to shed some light at how I do the motion graphics you can see in the previous few posts in the hope of more people picking up the tool and investigating alternate paths.
Please do understand that this is not a general introduction to Blender and that there is great amount of books, documentation on the web and even youtube screencasts. This series only looks at the bare essentials to be able to create these 2D transitions and will hopefully spark interest in learning more of the amazing tool that is Blender. Here’s a few links I recommend if you need a more in depth look:
I have my doubts about completing the series so any cheering counts if you actually enjoy this one and would like to see it come to an end. If you don’t want to miss a part, feel free to subscribe to the channel.
As Allan already mentioned in one of his useful summaries, I’ve been pondering how how to improve the layout of the application picker in shell’s overview. While the mockup he showed does address the small click target problem, it still felt out of place with relation to the dash. I tried to apply different lipstick on it, but there was something inherently wrong with the layout and the overview lost its clean, “no boxes” feel.
The reason for the windows/applications toggle was easy extensibility. We thought of using shell to access people/contacts in the same way as we access applications. We thought to present documents in a better way without exposing the filesystem here as well. We thought the orthogonal arrangement ala Sony’s XMB would be fun on touch devices. Over time, I have come to the conclusion that extending the scope of shell might do more harm than good. I’ve never been a fan of all-in-one solutions ala iTunes.
Looking up people in a well designed contacts app might be an extra step to go through, but it won’t force us to kludge in some mode switching. We don’t yet have answers to finding & reminding, so I’m not stepping onto the thin ice just yet.
After some frobbing in Inkscape and Blender, I came out with a streamlined layout the overview, using a toggle button on the dash to expose ‘all apps’ for the less commonly used ones:
There are currently a couple of benefits to this approach — removing an item (favourite) from the dash is a matter of dropping it back to the ‘all apps’ pool without the need to show a temporary delete icon. We’re only removing it from the dash, not really uninstalling or deleting it. The ‘…’ button (“show me more…”) lives in the context of application launchers rather than arbitrarily floating in space.
You probably noticed the app picker here uses a pager instead of a scrolled view. Obviously this would require the apps to not be auto sorted and we would have to give the user the ability to sort the list. That way the pages would aid us better when finding a less frequently used app (“I know it’s down here among X and Y”).
How the transitions feel adds to the experience. I was aiming to have the launchers behave like a swarm when you toggle the button on and off. Sadly Blender trunk seems to misbehave with regard to the follow path constraint, so I have to punt that for now.
I regret we didn’t have time to go through this iteration before the 3.0 release, but I think the change is worth the pain.
“Perfect is the enemy of good.”
You will likely be flooded with mentions of GNOME 3 if you follow Planet GNOME, but still I cannot but add to it. I am proud and happy to have been part of the effort to release GNOME 3. Thanks goes out to everyone involved — mccann, thos, mclasen, hadess, hbons, aday, andreasn, vdepizzol, vuntz, fmuellner, halfline, owen and jclinton*, but especially my Italian amico Lapo, who’s done so much to the project to very little credit. We would not be here without you!
* I deeply apologize for leaving you out, because I cannot possibly name everyone
Allan’s new rule says that if you don’t blog about it, it didn’t happen. Thus here’s me telling you about the recent icon design sprint for GNOME 3.0. There’s not much to say, I’ll be honest. This post is about pretty pictures.
GNOME shell exposes application icons in higher resolution than usual, so the fearless Italian led the icon design faction of the design team to fix up the most visible app launcher icons to include the ridiculous size of 256x256px. We also investigated possible workarounds for applications shipping horrid icons, but in the end it’s more important an application is recognizable more than it is pretty, so we backed up from all of those ideas.
All this work is of course on top of the base themes, which are also in a better shape than ever. Big shouts to Lapo, Andreas and everyone involved!
Yesterday I posted a bit on how we plan to simplify the overview in Gnome Shell by dropping the tiled view. One thing that wasn’t so fancy about the new workspace panel — it still relied on the user to set up and manage the whole workspace environment .
It would be far more desirable to have Shell take care of most of that management stuff. Heavily inspired by zones from Moblin, here’s the latest proposal:
- There are no empty workspaces (apart from the initial state of not having any windows open whatsoever). If there are no longer any windows on a particular workspace, it gets merged with the adjacent one.
- To launch an application in a new workspace, you drop the launcher on the [X] target thumbnail. Similarly you can launch it onto existing workspace or move windows to a new/existing workspaces.
- In all other aspects it behaves the same as the previous iteration.
In future we might come up with a decent rule of what applications to run in a separate workspace by default (Gimp being one of those potential apps). We need to make sure the concept of workspaces is easily understandable in this case though, as suddenly they move from the realm of optional power-tool into a core functionality. As apps can be launched from outside of the shell overview, we would probably need to make the workspace switching animation much more pronounced. One such transition might zoom out the desktop a bit, slide to the right workspace in stack verticall and then zoom in again. Obviously all this in a fraction of a second.
Initially shell exposed two views. A tiled view for an overview of your workspaces (something we can’t expect majority will want to manage). A linear view that presents application windows for easier switching (and dropping documents on). Exposing the mode switch to the user wasn’t good design and even if we presented the tiled view only when rearranging windows or selections of windows across workspaces, it felt like too much of an odd case.
Well luckily Jon came up with what I believe is an elegant solution that works around the limitations of the linear view. In addition it also helps to gradually introduce the workspace concept to curious users who would have otherwise not bothered.
Here’s a very crude motion mockup of how the sidebar behaves:
- The workspace sidebar is hidden by default, ignored by the majority of users. It would slide out on cursor proximity and or when a drag is initiated on a window or a launcher.
- This interface relies on animation – it would be hard to grasp if things just popped from one frame to another. Things need to scale and slide to aid the spatial relation between workspaces and windows.
- The IOS like rectangle navigation we had in the linear view only gave you an idea of the number of workspaces and the position. The thumbnails make it much easier to identify a workspace to switch to or drop a window/launcher to.
- The interface would work just as good horizontally, but it’s more common to scroll documents vertically and we already use the bottom of the screen for messages
Now while I think the workspace thumbnailing addresses the most useful part of the tiled view, we still rely on the user to do workspace “management”. So the next step is to make the Shell do the heavy lifting. Stay tuned.
First and foremost I want to thank J5 for organizing this year’s event. Lacking any sort of organizational talent (have hard time organizing my own day), I appreciate the effort one has to put into making an event like the Summit happen. In addition it has been great to see the sponsor support for an important event like this, Collabora in particular (for the best kind of sponsorship .
It’s always a bit amazing to walk the premises of MIT with a slightly unfair feeling of belonging there. The new media lab building is like time travelling to the future. Including the fear of robots attacking me in the hallways.
My private agenda has been quite successfully met. I have found a partner in crime for the execution of the visual theme for GNOME3 in Matthias Clasen, who has fiercely hacked at the most important bits of the widget theme to play well with the window decorations. And while it may sound like a bit of a setback to continue on “dead end street” of theme engines, we are actually going to see the work of Carlos Garnacho land and the final theme being executed solely CSS style, by designers rather than engineers. While Matthias has exposed some of the things I’d like to draw in gtkrc through the clearlooks engine, there is still things that aren’t yet achievable (such as drawing gradients for all the widget states rather than one). Also worth noting is that we’re standing on the shoulders of Benjamin Berg, Hylke Bons, Lapo Calamandrei and Thomas Wood here.
Forgive the lack of hinting on the font
You may have heard we’ve gotten the amazing Dave Crossland aboard and work on getting Cantarell ready to be used as a default screen font on GNOME3. It has been my pet screen font for quite a while despite some rough edges as it’s a typeface with the right pedigree (passionate designer understanding the collaborative free software culture rather than a commissioned work). I’m happy to have it be part of the GNOME3 identity.
System Settings work has also moved forward despite (or maybe due to) the lack of my contributions.
In the Gnome Shell land, Florian’s relayout branch is getting ready to land. Florian was quicker implementing the newest iterations than I was able to produce comps for them. It was fun to see an actual demo of something I planned to introduce.
The summit has successfully injected more enthusiasm for GNOME3. I hope the end result will show the amount of love that went into making it happen. We’re getting there!
See the whole set
Took me a while to find some time to write up about this year’s GUADEC. I’ve done a bit of a pause and it’s been a bit different to what I recall. The first thing that stroke me is that I didn’t recognize a lot of the young crowd. Being one of the oldest in the conference is both great and a little depressing. But I choose to focus on the part that GNOME is a healthy project attracting young developers.
Design is in
I also sensed an increased interest in design. No more were we approached to provide some bling in the form of icons (hi Christian). We had a nice session with people from Epiphany project about page flow and tab organisation, “appification” of web pages and general role of Epiphany in GNOME. I made way too many promises, sadly.
The enthusiasm for involving design people gives me some hope the UX advocates project has a chance.
Jon made a fairly convincing point that we lack a polished user experience, but also need to make a convincing experience for application developers. He also suggested a marketplace should be part of GNOME, and not let to fragment on the distro side, forming a viable application ecosystem. Learning from Android, Moblin/Meego or WebOS has been a thought that resonated with the audience.
Jon allowed me to demo some transitions from the new reskin we worked on recently. We may have freaked some shell developers a bit, but it really hasn’t been a dramatic redesign it may have appeared so at first. The greatest part was that Florian later showed us about 60% of the changes proposed implemented. Love when that happens. We had a good discussion about how to address some behaviour, mainly window to workspace and launcher related drag and drop. Expect some visualisations of that.
Iterating the indicator for running applications. Final design on the right.
The same “spotlight” effect can be used for active system indicators.
You can follow all the design work as it happens in the gnome-shell-design module.
As always Pippin blew us away with some nifty demos of a visual design / prototyping tool built on top of clutter, Cluttersmith. Sadly it will be some time before we can taste the sweetness of rapid prototyping.
I even got stuff done! Based on the work we did during the UX hackfest in London, and the pixmap based prototype Hylke has worked on, I’ve actually found time to start implementing the window manager theme. It’s currently not using any pixmaps at all, but there are some obstacles still ahead of us.
A much larger and important piece of the theming puzzle will be the widget theme (these need to work together).
There is a ton I have missed that I regret, mainly the design pattern focused new HIG BOF, but I have enjoyed this year’s Guadec a lot. So that was another Guadec a mythical Lapo Calamandrei didn’t attend. Maybe the next one. Thanks to all and the GNOME Foundation in particular.