More effective launcher area with the workspace switcher and the trash relocated

Bug #790591 reported by Niklas Rosenqvist on 2011-05-31
This bug affects 11 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
Ayatana Design
unity (Ubuntu)

Bug Description

The workspace switcher and trash launcher items are completely unnecessary in the launcher. The functions they provide are very useful but their position is far from optimal.

The trash which you relatively rarely access has one of the best positions in the Unity UI according to Fitt's law. The workspace switcher which some people use frequently, those who prefer it over keyboard shortcuts, is not providing the fast access it requires due to it's location in the middle of the launcher. They are both taking up valuable launcher space and by removing them the launcher could be used purely for the launchers which the user wants quick access too. But we cannot remove them purely from the UI since the workspace switcher is a handy launcher and the trash is an item familiar to new users migrating from OS X or Windows and familiarity is a huge plus for new users.

What we could do to provide even more effective workspace switching and freeing up launcher space is to create a “launcher bottom area” which you can see in the provided mockup. It would gracefully frame the launcher items. (The mockup also features the lenses integrated into the Dash which is another feature request:

By having the workspace switcher in the very bottom left corner it could be easily accessed (Fitt's law) providing effective workspace switching. Since people manage windows in many different ways it should also provide a context menu where the user can choose which window management function it should provide: Expo, Spread, alt+tab, “show desktop” and let the icon change accordingly.

I first proposed this idea in the following Ayatana thread:

And then further developed it here, providing a mockup:

See the attached image for the idea visualized.

description: updated

I agree with the problem but as you know I disagree with the solution. The trash is too hard to access (i.e. if it's not quick to access we can remove it altogether and use an alternative such as nautilus panel and/or launcher context menu and/or the dash). In terms of looks it doesn't fit into the launcher design.

I'd favor this approach:
Make all non-application icons align at the bottom, let the user rearrange and remove them according to his preferences. That way he can also control which control goes into the screen corner.

I'm sorry but I can't vote in favor of your solution. With items aligned to the bottom of the launcher it looks really weird when the launcher overflows and both rows collapse into one. My solution would make the items always accessible and, IMO, be consistent with the user interface.

In this bug report the user reports testing that have been made on when items like the trash gets folded into the overflow stack and how it's confusing to users:

You can and should collapse the app-icons independently of the other icons, add a separator a là Mac Dock.

I still think that the solution I proposed is the best,. Remember that the launcher items have padding and wouldn't have the same quick function as the workspace switcher has in my design, but you are more than welcome submit a bug report of your own :)

Not sure what you mean by padding. The only difference besides design is the size of the targets. But larger targets are easier to hit so imo that's desirable.

I don't think we need another bug report for that. We have identified an area - literally - that could need some improvement but we have different solutions. There might be yet another, superior solution. Comments are welcome...

I said padding but what I actually meant was margin. If the cursor is at the very edge of the screen, next to a launcher, it can't be clicked. There is a margin here. This wouldn't be a problem with my solution, just like the BFB.

But as you say, other ideas are more than welcome! :)

affects: unity → ayatana-design

>If the cursor is at the very edge of the screen, next to a launcher, it can't be clicked.
It can, if it can't that's a bug: bug 790695 (note the "sometimes", sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, at least for me)

I like the idea of an android-style solution where as a trash button only appears when an item is being dragged.
this way it is not taking up valuable space, and is only appearing when it might be being used.

> I like the idea of an android-style solution where as a trash
> button only appears when an item is being dragged.

I thought of that too but the Unity trash doubles as a system wide trash as well that can be used for dragging and dropping files from any nautilus window or the desktop.

Paradoxically (because hidden by default) however this design would make the removing launcher items via dropping on the trash more discoverable...

Supposed to be only affecting Ayatana design so the unity entry is being marked invalid.

Changed in unity:
status: New → Invalid
Changed in unity (Ubuntu):
status: New → Invalid

I changed the bug to ayatana-design when I learned that it was a more appropriate category but then also changed the unity affections to invalid but later learned that those should stay the way they were. That's why I'm changing back the status to new.

Changed in unity:
status: Invalid → New
Changed in unity (Ubuntu):
status: Invalid → New
Sebastien Bacher (seb128) wrote :

setting the unity component to incomplete to indicate that's blocked on design input

Changed in unity:
importance: Undecided → Wishlist
Changed in unity (Ubuntu):
importance: Undecided → Wishlist
Changed in unity:
status: New → Incomplete
Changed in unity (Ubuntu):
status: New → Incomplete
DavidBriscoe (idbrii) wrote :

Niklas: In the comment #1 mockup, wouldn't the trashcan be very hard to select with a mouse since the user has to push their mouse all the way to the left to get the launcher to show (since autohide is on by default), then move a bit to the right. But they cannot move very far right or the launcher will hide again.

Also, isn't Unity supposed to be both touch-screen and small-screen friendly? The launcher is about thumb width, so anything smaller starts to get difficult to touch.

Since the AppIndicators can be the same size or even smaller I guess that the current size on my mockup wouldn't make such a big impact though if the appLauncher get's resized to a smaller width I know that it might get troublesome. That's why it's just a mockup and I think that an idea like this needs to be reviewed by the Ubuntu design team.

And the trash positioning may need some research on how and how often people access the trash, I myself usually do it from within nautilus.

RomanIvanov (ivanov-jr) wrote :

These icons are not necesary most of the time but grab valuable space on small screens (laptop).

Trash - could be cleaned from Nautilus
SwitchWorkspace - have to be done as shortkey. Non advanced users can not understand these feture, it even dangerous for them some times.

It might be ok to keep them by dafault. But please allow to hide them to advanced users.

We just need option to remove/hide them on panel.

luisjone (luisjone) wrote :

+1 Why would you force it? Just don't get it.

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