application launcher icons are mixed with icons of minimized windows

Bug #1016613 reported by Teo on 2012-06-22
This bug affects 1 person
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
Ayatana Design
unity (Ubuntu)

Bug Description

I now, it's the way it is designed, but it is wrong.

And the fact that Mac OS does it this way too doesn't make it less wrong. Apple can afford, or sometimes even _needs_, to do things the wrong way, because Apple users love Apple products just because they are Apple, and they want them to distinguish from the rest. They don't care if occasionally they are actually less usable. So if the prevailing way of doing something, adopted by all competitors, happens to be already the best one, Apple needs to distinguish itself by doing it a different way, even if it's worse.

An icon to launch an application and the icon of an already opened window are two completely different things, and it is demential to have them mixed together. When you need to switch between open windows, or to drag something into an existing but minimized window, you don't want to have to look through a lot of icons, including those of applications that are not open, and pay attention at which ones have a small arrow next to it. Icons of open windows should be grouped together and separated from icons of application launchers.

Also, there are cases where one thing is calling an already opened instance of a program and another thing is to launch a new instance of it (including programs that don't have a notion of "open a new window") and you need to be able to do any of the two things.

And Gnome worked just that way, but then Ubuntu 11.10 came and replaced Gnome with Unity and something that was designed correctly was replaced with something that is simply and plainly worse. I'm talking about this particular aspect, i.e. the way application icons are managed. I'm not saying Gnome is generally better than Unity. But this is one feature that has been a huge step back in usability.

ProblemType: Bug
DistroRelease: Ubuntu 12.04
Package: unity 5.12-0ubuntu1.1
ProcVersionSignature: Ubuntu 3.2.0-26.41-generic 3.2.19
Uname: Linux 3.2.0-26-generic i686
NonfreeKernelModules: nvidia
.proc.driver.nvidia.gpus.0: Error: [Errno 21] Is a directory: '/proc/driver/nvidia/gpus/0'
.proc.driver.nvidia.registry: Binary: ""
 NVRM version: NVIDIA UNIX x86 Kernel Module 295.40 Thu Apr 5 21:28:09 PDT 2012
 GCC version: gcc version 4.6.3 (Ubuntu/Linaro 4.6.3-1ubuntu5)

ApportVersion: 2.0.1-0ubuntu10
Architecture: i386
CompizPlugins: [core,bailer,detection,composite,opengl,decor,vpswitch,mousepoll,compiztoolbox,snap,place,resize,session,regex,grid,wall,move,gnomecompat,imgpng,animation,fade,unitymtgrabhandles,workarounds,scale,expo,ezoom,unityshell]
CompositorRunning: compiz
Date: Fri Jun 22 17:15:50 2012
DistUpgraded: 2012-05-17 16:45:23,028 DEBUG enabling apt cron job
DistroCodename: precise
DistroVariant: ubuntu
 NVIDIA Corporation G84 [GeForce 9500M GS] [10de:0405] (rev a1) (prog-if 00 [VGA controller])
   Subsystem: ASUSTeK Computer Inc. Device [1043:15d2]
InstallationMedia: Ubuntu 10.04 LTS "Lucid Lynx" - Release i386 (20100429)
 xorg:nvidia_current - NVIDIA accelerated graphics driver (Proprietary, Enabled, In use)
 pkg:sl-modem-daemon - Software modem (Proprietary, Disabled, Not in use)
 xorg:nvidia_current_updates - NVIDIA accelerated graphics driver (post-release updates) (Proprietary, Disabled, Not in use)
MachineType: ASUSTeK Computer Inc. M51Sn
 PATH=(custom, user)
ProcKernelCmdLine: BOOT_IMAGE=/boot/vmlinuz-3.2.0-26-generic root=UUID=173acbf5-26a0-49e3-8d2b-f1c142582cbf ro quiet splash vt.handoff=7
SourcePackage: unity
UpgradeStatus: Upgraded to precise on 2012-05-17 (36 days ago) 12/24/2007
dmi.bios.vendor: American Megatrends Inc.
dmi.bios.version: 303
dmi.board.asset.tag: ATN12345678901234567 M51Sn
dmi.board.vendor: ASUSTeK Computer Inc.
dmi.board.version: 1.0
dmi.chassis.asset.tag: ATN12345678901234567
dmi.chassis.type: 10
dmi.chassis.vendor: ASUSTeK Computer Inc.
dmi.chassis.version: 1.0
dmi.modalias: dmi:bvnAmericanMegatrendsInc.:bvr303:bd12/24/2007:svnASUSTeKComputerInc.:pnM51Sn:pvr1.0:rvnASUSTeKComputerInc.:rnM51Sn:rvr1.0:cvnASUSTeKComputerInc.:ct10:cvr1.0: M51Sn
dmi.product.version: 1.0
dmi.sys.vendor: ASUSTeK Computer Inc.
version.compiz: compiz 1:
version.libdrm2: libdrm2 2.4.32-1ubuntu1
version.libgl1-mesa-dri: libgl1-mesa-dri 8.0.2-0ubuntu3.1
version.libgl1-mesa-dri-experimental: libgl1-mesa-dri-experimental N/A
version.libgl1-mesa-glx: libgl1-mesa-glx 8.0.2-0ubuntu3.1
version.nvidia-graphics-drivers: nvidia-graphics-drivers N/A
version.xserver-xorg-core: xserver-xorg-core 2:1.11.4-0ubuntu10.2
version.xserver-xorg-input-evdev: xserver-xorg-input-evdev 1:2.7.0-0ubuntu1.2
version.xserver-xorg-video-ati: xserver-xorg-video-ati 1:6.14.99~git20111219.aacbd629-0ubuntu2
version.xserver-xorg-video-intel: xserver-xorg-video-intel 2:2.17.0-1ubuntu4
version.xserver-xorg-video-nouveau: xserver-xorg-video-nouveau 1:0.0.16+git20111201+b5534a1-1build2

Teo (teo1978) wrote :
Teo (teo1978) wrote :

I hoped this huge step backwards in usability would be reverted in 12.10 but unfortunately the demential mixing of launcher icons with open window icons is still there.

What is the next step? Copying also the reverse scrolling of touchpad and mousewheel from Mac OS?

Teo (teo1978) wrote :

Actually, there is NEW ADDITIONAL ISSUE in 12.10, which make it even more demential.

Now SOME programs (most) have only one icon in the launcher which serves both as a launcher icon (if no window of this program is open) and as an icon for existing open windows.
But OTHERS (e.g. Firefox) have the two things separated: one launcher icon for opening new windows, and an icon on the bottom for open windows.

The second is as it should be for ALL applications, only with the two area much more separated.

Stephen M. Webb (bregma) wrote :

Thank you for your suggestion. However, the changes you are requesting aren't really a bug and require more discussion, which should be done on an appropriate mailing list or forum. might be a good start for determining which mailing list to use.

Changed in unity (Ubuntu):
status: New → Opinion
Teo (teo1978) wrote :

If it's not a bug then it's a wrong design. The difference between the two is only in the magnitude of the oversight.
Nobody in his right mind would defend mixing launcher icons with open window icons. Prove me wrong by mentione ONE single advantage in having them mixed.
Gnome had it right, so there is nothing to figure out or invent, it's just a matter of going back to the way it was in gnome which was plainly better.
I have no idea why ubuntu chose to replace gnome with unity, which is objectively inferior in usability. Maybe it's more stable or something, but it is has been a huge step backwards in usability.

Teo (teo1978) wrote :

I forgot, there is one thing that is CERTAINLY bug (even from the point of view of those who don't consider this issue a bug):
SOME applications have their open window icons separated from the launcher icon (and the launcher icon keeps opening new windows), while OTHER applications have the open windows share the same icon as the launcher icon.

This is inconsistent and hence a bug. Even those insane people who think it's ok to reuse the launcher icon for open windows, will agree that all applications should share the same behavior.

See screenshot

Changed in unity (Ubuntu):
status: Opinion → New
Changed in unity:
status: New → Won't Fix
Changed in unity (Ubuntu):
status: New → Invalid
Changed in ayatana-design:
status: New → Invalid
teo1978 (teo8976) wrote :

@andyrock would you mind elaborating on the reasons that lead the design team to the decision to not fix it?

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