Notification Icons vs. Applets

It saddens me to see people writing applets as notification icons
because I’ve been there myself and spent a good deal of time trying to
get traction on the problem but ended up dropping the ball.

The Network Monitor started out as a notification icon. But I was
with that for a number of reasons:

  1. No consensus on what the notification area should be used for. Until
    we have that, I’m worried about serious notification area bloat.
  2. No reasonable way of starting standalone notification icons short of
    “start gnome-netstatus and save your session”
  3. Other less fundamental problems – no keynav, no decent notification
    icon widget, can’t re-arrange icons, problems expanding icons to the
    full panel width …

I think we got tantalizingly close
to consensus
on the first problem, and EggStatusIcon is
an okay start on a widget, but in the end I ran out of time and turned
the Network Monitor into an applet.

Granted, I didn’t care whether or not the Network Monitor worked in
KDE. Cross-desktop applets isn’t an intractable problem, but just
lumping everything into the notification area is no way to approach

Anyway, what I really wanted to mention was that I don’t think problem
(2) above is a session manager
. The notification area itself should manage these icons,
not the session manager … if the panel isn’t running or the
notification area isn’t on the panel, these icons shouldn’t be running,

At some point we discussed the idea that each notification icon should
install a .desktop file describing the icon. In the preferences dialog
you could enable/disable each icon. If the icon is standalone (like
the Network Monitor) it would have an Exec field and the
notification area would spawn it if enabled. If the icon is part of an
application (e.g. the epiphany download icon) the notification area
would only allow the icon to be displayed if its enabled.

All this reminded me that I actually had a good argument
against every application developer’s favourite feature – “Minimise to
Notification Area”. Don’t argue with a butler analogy!