Indicator Applet: Why I like it

I know I tend to moan about a lot of things in my blog, sometimes I celebrate good work, well executed. Rarely do I get the opportunity to agree with the Ayatana/DX Ubuntu design direction. I may not agree with the group’s past choice of language communicating things to the community, but this is something I think it’s got mostly right.

OK so what don’t I like about the old notification area? Well it’s an arbitrary parent-widget, this means that it’s a container for other widgets which are not internally defined but are defined outside. This results is very inconsistent behaviour and a real problem when your trying to keep tabs on design as a distro.

For example in 10.04 I seem to have retained the notification area for the network manager, this looks out of place on the bar and doesn’t behave very nicely in a line, should someone come up with a more interesting way to show these things then all of these icons will have to be in the same system in a meta format that allows for bigger, stranger and even inconceivable future design.

Getting the system upstream…. that’s going to be the hard work considering the people involved. But I think it should go all the way to freedesktop.org as a real standard way of doing desktop indications.

That’s not to say I’m totally happy with everything; the irrational bias against tooltips is verging on comic and mindless. I haven’t seen any real rational against text based state indication (in what ever form it’s displayed). Removal of vital state information has to be based on something solid. Hopefully readable state will still be baked into the dbus service even if it’s rejected from this particular rendition.

Functional right click removal was contentious as well but at least that’s more sensible as it means the items operate under the same rules as every other gnome-panel widget. Alas not having a “Preferences” item in that list does make it an oddball. But then that’s another problem with the design team, you can have any options as long as they’re the welded presets, that’ll be worked on I’m sure.

So despite the rough communication, it is a surprisingly good move forwards in my view for the long term with a bit of time and a bit of community relations work it could prove a popular fork outside of Ubuntu.

Your thoughts?