Remove application icons from title bars

Bug #405426 reported by David Siegel on 2009-07-27
24
This bug affects 4 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
One Hundred Papercuts
Undecided
Kenneth Wimer
human-gtk-theme (obsolete)
Undecided
Kenneth Wimer

Bug Description

Application icons are already shown for entries in the bottom panel window list. Showing these icons in window title bars is redundant, tacky, and often clashes with the theme. It should be very simple to patch Human, Dust, Dust Sand, etc. to not show application icons in the title bar.

Changed in hundredpapercuts:
status: New → Confirmed
assignee: nobody → Kenneth Wimer (kwwii)
Revision history for this message
David Siegel (djsiegel-deactivatedaccount) wrote :
Revision history for this message
David Siegel (djsiegel-deactivatedaccount) wrote :
Changed in hundredpapercuts:
milestone: none → round-5
Revision history for this message
Kenneth Wimer (kwwii) wrote :

the first work on this is already available in my ppa

Changed in human-gtk-theme:
status: New → In Progress
Changed in hundredpapercuts:
status: Confirmed → Triaged
Changed in human-gtk-theme:
assignee: nobody → Kenneth Wimer (kwwii)
Revision history for this message
Dylan McCall (dylanmccall) wrote :

Big issue to keep in mind: By simply stripping the icon, this kills the ability to access the window menu with a left click, which could be a big regression - needs some checking to be sure.

Otherwise, I suggest that this NOT be changed within themes unless there is solid reasoning to do so. Instead, the change could be achieved by editing the defaults in gconf for /apps/metacity/general: the button_layout key could be changed from "menu:minimize,maximize,close" to simply ":minimize,maximize,close".
(Having a GUI to configure that would be beautiful, too, but somewhat out of scope of this papercut)

Meanwhile, could I suggest experimenting with a left-aligned title in the Human theme, as is done with Impression? With nothing else on the left side, it could look quite striking. Center-aligned titles aren't common (or good looking) in many places, so why do it for the window title? Again, somewhat out of scope of the papercut, but it seems a natural next step :)

Revision history for this message
Vish (vish) wrote :

I had thought of this a while ago and had removed the icons from the title bar,
The problems/observations from using this behavior:
1: when there is a single window in the desktop , this move was ideal, the icon made no sense.
2: when there are multiple apps and windows open , *it made window identification difficult* , i was forced to read the titles to pull up a window from behind. this ended up hampering the work flow and i reverted to the icons

The icons in the title bar , are for quick identification, the mockups look good since there is only one window of one app running...

But when there are multiple windows from multiple apps, it is easier having the icons, as they are quick reference ,
For example , GIMP> when editing several images , the scaled version of the image being edited in the title bar ,
*helps bringing up the window from the background without having to remember the title* of the image .

While this is being removed , I like Dylan's idea of being able to restore the icon , Maybe an option in the Appearance>Interface.

How this idea needs to be properly implemented is:
1: when a single window is present , dont show the icon.
2: when multiple windows of the same app are present [nautilus,or other similar apps , which dont show a quick reference] do not show icon
3: If an app provides the icon as a quick reference [as in GIMP] ,when multiple windows of such apps are present , show the images but not the GIMP icon
4: when multiple apps are present in the single desktop , show the app icons.

Even if this goes a little over the scope of a papercuts,
If we look to implement it in with some rules , it is better than just removing the icons..

Revision history for this message
Vish (vish) wrote :

5: Child windows should not have icons.

Oh... BTW my observations are from using this for a month and found it difficult, hence i had reverted.

Since the changes are now being done in the theme, this can be reverted ,
*I hope it is implemented in metacity main itself with proper rules* . so that there is consistency across all the themes.

Revision history for this message
James Schriver (dashua) wrote :

The ability to left click for window option is still accessible, it just feels strange clicking an empty area revealing an option menu. Many will not even know the option is available.

Revision history for this message
David Siegel (djsiegel-deactivatedaccount) wrote : Re: [Bug 405426] Re: Remove application icons from title bars

We plan to add some graphical clue to indicate the window menu click
target. Maybe a subtle, filled disc.

On Jul 28, 2009, at 10:31, dashua <email address hidden> wrote:

> The ability to left click for window option is still accessible, it
> just
> feels strange clicking an empty area revealing an option menu. Many
> will not even know the option is available.
>
> ** Attachment added: "Screenshot-1.png"
> http://launchpadlibrarian.net/29624560/Screenshot-1.png
>
> --
> Remove application icons from title bars
> https://bugs.launchpad.net/bugs/405426
> You received this bug notification because you are a direct subscriber
> of the bug.

Revision history for this message
Hercules_100_98 (hercules-100-98) wrote :

This issue seems to be getting very over complicated.

Keeping icons but hiding them under XYZ scenarios will only lead to further confusion and needless bug reporting by users who (understandably) think there is an issue with their theme or install as icons appear and disappear. There is a lot to be said for consistency.

Revision history for this message
Rich Jones (richwjones) wrote :

Please don't do this. This is a bad idea. I don't think anybody will like this. I love the icons.

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Łukasz Halman (lukasz-halman) wrote :

I vote against. This is not a good idea. I don't see how this could be an improvement for anybody. What's the user's benefit? And what if somebody doesn't use window list on the bottom panel? What if AWN or anything else is used?

Revision history for this message
David Siegel (djsiegel-deactivatedaccount) wrote :

Hercules_100_98, there is nothing complicated here; the solution to the problem is a simplification. Instead of a different icon on each window title bar, there would be a dark dot that would look the same on all windows to enable users to discover the window list.

Revision history for this message
Vish (vish) wrote :

@David:
I think Hercules_100_98 got it mixed up with my suggestion to make this system wide with rules ... :)

I'v attached the screenshot of the present behavior using Kenneth's ppa, note that *all the windows are different apps* ,
*but they are not recognizable* . this was the problem i was referring to. when several apps are present the windows are not differentiable
Top is the Human theme[ppa], below is the Dust Sand.

1 way to negate this is *align the text to the left* , but still it wont solve the problem completely,
because the user has to read the title to know the window behind and if the word is partly covered then its not easy,
Hence i had suggested the list of rules above...

The idea is good , but being implemented the wrong way
[icons are for quick recognition among several other windows and simply removing them actually hampers usability].

Just to clarify, *for people against this move* ,
This is only being done for the Default Human Theme, so if the user changes the theme , they *will* have icons back.

Revision history for this message
Rich Jones (richwjones) wrote :

I still don't understand why this is being done at all.

If it had always been the other way and somebody here had suggested that we add little icons to the top left corner, it would be a popular idea. We shouldn't be changing things simply because one person suggests something as a papercut. There needs to be a design philosophy here! Something grander!

Revision history for this message
David Siegel (djsiegel-deactivatedaccount) wrote :

Rich, there is something grander here. Ken and I are on the design team, and Ken designed the Human theme and guides it as it evolves. Tight control over details like what is displayed in window titlebars is extremely important to provide polished, professional, and consistent interfaces, and for Ubuntu to establish and maintain its identity. I am confident that these icons will eventually be dropped from the default theme, but if it becomes too difficult to use Karmic without these icons they will be left in until some other mechanism for identifying windows can be implemented.

Revision history for this message
Vish (vish) wrote :

Quoting David from another papercut Bug #406438
" Good call, This is not a paper cut because this is a more subtle design issue, not a fix for something that most users consider painful."

The removal of the icon from title bars is just a design aspect and worse , its adversely affects usability

Revision history for this message
David Siegel (djsiegel-deactivatedaccount) wrote :

This is not a paper cut, as removing the icons is a subtle theme issue, not something that addresses a common user pain.

Changed in hundredpapercuts:
milestone: round-5 → none
status: Triaged → Invalid
Revision history for this message
Max Bowsher (maxb) wrote :

Why is this being done? I've just discovered this via it being uploaded to Karmic, and I hate it?

Why change it?

The initial description of this "bug" is an *opinion*, not a description of a problem.

I have never found the icons to be redundant, tacky, or clashing.

Even worse, this has been changed without regard for providing any method for users to revert the change, without either abandoning the Ubuntu default themes entirely, or diving into gtkrc files.

Revision history for this message
Oli (oli) wrote :

-1

This is/would be:
 - Your opinion
 - A regression in usability, in my opinion
 - Annoying to many, many people, judging by some of the comments

You can do this through your window manager's theme if you really want to cripple your own system like this, but please don't try to break things for everybody =)

Max Bowsher (maxb) on 2009-09-02
summary: - Remove application icons from title bars
+ Application icons have been removed from title bars, without adequate
+ discussion, or configurability to revert. Please put them back.
Revision history for this message
Vish (vish) wrote : Re: Application icons have been removed from title bars, without adequate discussion, or configurability to revert. Please put them back.

Max Bowsher , pls dont change the bug titles , it totally changes the meaning!
Report a new bug instead :)

summary: - Application icons have been removed from title bars, without adequate
- discussion, or configurability to revert. Please put them back.
+ Remove application icons from title bars
Revision history for this message
Alexander Sack (asac) wrote :

this is a regression for me. i have a large screen and usually use window decorations to pick apps that are in the background as i organize my windows so i can still see the top left corner somewhere.

Revision history for this message
David Siegel (djsiegel-deactivatedaccount) wrote :

Oli, this is my opinion but that does not mean it's not correct. It may be difficult to understand how this issue could be anything but a "mere opinion" because it is a subtle visual detail and not an obivous bug like "the program segfaults," which you would of course not call an "opinion."

I am not sure what you mean by "adequate discussion." Do you mean you should have been asked, personally, to wiegh in? Do you propose we put this to a vote, then add up all the "+1" and "-1" comments to see which direction to take? Who would participate in this poll? Is there a mailing list that has historically made good UI decisions that we should consult with? "Extensive discussion" sounds well meaning but misguided, as it would just mean that the issue would be buried in endless "+1" and "-1" comments. This change was discussed with the design team, and with members of the desktop tream and we decided to test it. I do not know who decided to upload the test to Karmic, but the tacit majority seems to like the change.

Revision history for this message
David Siegel (djsiegel-deactivatedaccount) wrote :

Alexander, thank you for reporting that this change has broken a valid use case for you. Can you please give a couple personal stories about how you use toolbar icons? I understand that removing them does break a feature that people actually use, but I strongly believe there's a better way the computer can help you find your windows on your large screen -- yes, even better than 9px square, grainy, scaled-down icons! :) I am personally working on discovering those better ways, and your stories can help me ensure that valid use cases affected by this change will not go unredressed.

Revision history for this message
David Siegel (djsiegel-deactivatedaccount) wrote :

Sorry, I meant "titlebar icons," of course.

Revision history for this message
Max Bowsher (maxb) wrote :

David,

You claim the existence of a "tacit majority". If they are tacit, how do you know they are the majority?

I second Alexander's assertion that the top-left icons are a useful visual discriminator. I don't want a hypothetical 'better way'. I want the old way back, which worked.

I do not know what to think about your comments about this being a "test". The first I knew of it was when it landed in Karmic. If that landing is intended as a test, where is the call for testing?

Revision history for this message
David Siegel (djsiegel-deactivatedaccount) wrote :

Max, I see five "nays" on this bug. I am assuming more than ten people have experienced the change.

*I agree that these icons are useful.* I never said they were useless. The test was a branch of human-theme in a PPA, perhaps Ken knows more about the change in Karmic.

Revision history for this message
Nikola Kovacs (nx) wrote :

"redundant": it's not, because the icon on the taskbar button has no visual connection to the window. I.e. if you're looking at a bunch of cascaded windows the icon on the taskbar won't help you identify them.

"tacky": and the icon on the taskbar button is not? IMHO the small round button is ugly, I liked the application icons better. They added some color and variety to the otherwise bland title bar.

"and often clashes with the theme": and the icon on the taskbar button does not?

Revision history for this message
Stefano Angeleri (weltall) wrote :

it seems this broken "design decision" went in the latest version of ubuntu. so this means another file to edit each time to have back a working behavior where you can identify a window from it's icon and not have just a anonymous window with an almost invisible black circle over a dark brown title bar. and no it's not redundant to have an icon on the top left.

Revision history for this message
Stefano Angeleri (weltall) wrote :

as i can't edit my comment i did some screenshot to prove the fact this isn't "redundant".
Look evidence A:

http://img98.imageshack.us/img98/2847/schermatawindows2003ine.png

now tell me which windows are there exactly so i can just click on one and get the one i need (for example gnometris) the taskbar is perfectly visible so it shouldn't be a problem to catch the right one without moving the mouse down to the tool bar or using alt tab as the visual hints are all down there right?

now after you've noticed you can't figure it out look (don't do this before having found out what all the window are in evidence A else you are cheating) at evidence B:

http://img145.imageshack.us/img145/2847/schermatawindows2003ine.png

now try to catch gnometris easier no?

Revision history for this message
Dylan McCall (dylanmccall) wrote : Re: [Bug 405426] Re: Remove application icons from title bars

Weltall, I think the important question here is why you have 9 windows
open over such a small space. Workspaces are your friend!

The change may have been nicely accompanied by left-aligned titles, to
make the windows easier to pick apart.

This discussion should really be moved to a mailing list, but I'll bite:
The benefit to removing the icons is simple. With an icon, it is not
obvious to users that they can click there for additional
functionality. This functionality is actually really useful, including
keeping a window on top. Lots of cool stuff. So, by replacing that
icon with a proper, neutral button-like thing, it is more apparent
what it does.

Revision history for this message
Vish (vish) wrote :

On Wed, 2009-10-28 at 14:28 +0000, Dylan McCall wrote:

> This discussion should really be moved to a mailing list, but I'll bite:
> The benefit to removing the icons is simple. With an icon, it is not
> obvious to users that they can click there for additional
> functionality. This functionality is actually really useful, including
> keeping a window on top. Lots of cool stuff. So, by replacing that
> icon with a proper, neutral button-like thing, it is more apparent
> what it does.
>

This is not a valid argument. There are other ways to make the actions
obvious.
- the app icon can exist beside the circle
-or-
- the app icon can be made to change on hover.

Either way , my comment , is just to say that the argument is not a
reasonable one to make the change ;)

The present change was a design decision by the design team ;)

Revision history for this message
TAC one (tacone) wrote :

Having some experience using a Mac I discourage this choice.
Less is better, but when I'm in MacOS I have often trouble recognizing application windows fast. I find the icon to be a nice help.

Revision history for this message
Stefano Angeleri (weltall) wrote :

well as the entire application titlebar can show the same menu with right click we could also add a picture of a mouse with the right button black and making it move over the title bar so they notice they can even save time to access the same functionality by not reaching a little dot on the left of the window...
except this sarcastic annotation really it doesn't look a valid point to hinder other people work and the 8 window were to show a point except the fact i usually work with more things togheter and i prefer my dual monitor setup over work areas :)
and the problem is there also with 3 windows :)
so you have to consider not everyone works better with work areas and not everyone is the same plus work areas are out of this discussion which is based on other things and problems, not on how many windows I've per workspace :).

Changed in human-gtk-theme:
status: In Progress → Fix Released
Revision history for this message
biarritx (biarritx) wrote :

Is the a simple way to add back the application icon in the titlebar ? It helps me to identify windows

Revision history for this message
Stefano Angeleri (weltall) wrote :

apply this patch from your root folder ( / ) it will allow you to show again icons (you need to change theme and go back to this theme in order to have metacity reload the data or reboot the system/logout/reboot gdm) should work i hope i didn't forget any part of it as i did it some months ago

Revision history for this message
biarritx (biarritx) wrote :

Thanks! It works fine. "My Ubuntu is back!"

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