Things have been rolling along in GNOME Shell land.  We’ve been experimenting and evolving the design as we go.

If you were reading this and this carefully you may have noticed links to a design document for the Shell.  I’ve just put out a long overdue update for that document.

Please read the GNOME Shell Design PDF and let us know what you think.  Higher resolution versions of some of the figures used in the document may be found here.  We’ll be adding these to the wiki soon.

Once you’ve read the document please grab the Inkscape SVG mockups and try to make them better.  I’m sure that you can.  My drawing skills are not exactly legendary.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and seeing your modifications.

As usual find us on IRC -shell on GimpNet or .

Make sure to try it out too.  It is really easy to use from jhbuild.  See

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39 Responses to Mockturtlesuppe

  1. I’ve been wondering if it would be possible to add a ‘save’ button to each workspace? This should allow me to save the state of the applications on the workspace. It would be great if I could have a e.g. ‘research development’ workspace that I could load whenever it would suit me.

  2. Rabe says:

    Wow, great improvement.

    The glow for the running apps imo isn’t the perfect solution. It lowers the contrast. I can’t bring a better one, but a bold font could do a good job, as one example. Worth another try would be a little shiny gradient in the icon-“box”. For example a golden lower right corner.

    Anyways really awesome looking thing. 🙂

  3. dr88dr88 says:

    I don`t like the more apps apps in the new design I miss the categories in the more apps. I am now following the gnome shell fore a view months an I like the progress it is making but the more apps menu that is landed in the last 2 days is not a positive change in my view.

  4. Goran Rakic says:

    Do you have any thoughts how to minimize usage of ellipsies?

    I am not sure that having two columns for places and recent item will be suitable for native languages with wide script (eg. Cyrillic) or users requiring large fonts for accessibility.

  5. javier says:

    looks very cool!

  6. Mike says:

    But why only the small program menu in the top panel and not a “GNOME global menu” like thingy?

    I would like that, especially the different menus in Empathy (roster vs. chat windows) are so annoying.

  7. twilightomni says:

    What about those snazzy looking monochrome tray icons? Is it a custom theme or actually built into GNOME Shell?

  8. dr88dr88: Hi, the more apps is not at all final; we had a goal of adding scrolling which fixes some problems. Look for an improved UI to land in the next week or so.

  9. Dylan McCall says:

    I like the thoughts about the windowing area, around page 29. This needs to happen 🙂

    One thing that would really help it along is if Pango’s text markup language had a simple way of specifying a title and subtitle style (among others). Perhaps the effect of that style could be affected by the GTK theme (think CSS), allowing for a more consistent visual design.

    As it is, a lot of applications use title bars for titles (see the sorry state of many dialogue boxes) because they don’t have a consistent way to do text formatting themselves; the window manager provides the most definitive title style we have.

    I also like the messaging tray, still. I was thinking of cobbling together a conceptual window list replacement that shows only minimized windows, windows marked as urgent and items passed via dbus (in a style similar to the existing window list, + pretty animations). Could fill a similar role 🙂

    One big issue I have with lots of window lists and notification icons is that, upon clicking something, the reaction happens somewhere else entirely. For example, clicking the Pidgin or Empathy icon can cause the buddy list to appear on the other side of your screen.

    I think it would make sense for a notification icon / thing to feel like the window itself, instead of a vague reference to a window somewhere else. (Even though, technically, it would still be a vague reference).
    So, when “opened”, it could raise just a little above the panel. Perhaps the user could drag and drop it back into the usual spacial window area, too. Things would feel way more connected and logical than having one list with shortcuts to the spacially arranged windows right above it.

  10. iain says:

    I know its 100% bikeshedding, but please can you remove the neon highlight behind the application name text? In something that otherwise looks so elegant and clean it just looks so tacky and dated – it looks like something that would have been in E14 (Yes, I’m *that* old)

  11. Pingback: Pablo Estefó (pestefo) 's status on Sunday, 15-Nov-09 03:35:09 UTC -

  12. Jones Lee says:

    The monochrome applet icons is the way to go.

  13. Pingback: Javier Jardón (jjardon) 's status on Sunday, 15-Nov-09 04:06:59 UTC -

  14. Pingback: Bognár András (bognarandras) 's status on Sunday, 15-Nov-09 07:20:09 UTC -

  15. glandium says:

    > The Top Menubar is a horizontal strip across the entire top of the primary screen. (…)

    There are less and less 4/3 desktop screens ; more and more are 16/9 or 16/9. I much more mind losing vertical space than horizontal space. Please allow the “Top Menubar” to sit vertically on the left. The GNOME panel allow that, I would really much mind if GNOME shell loses this possibility.

  16. glandium says:

    > 16/9 or 16/9

    errr… that was supposed to be 16/10 or 16/9.

    Obviously, the message bar would also need to be allowed vertically on the right, too.

  17. Pingback: Bognár András (bognarandras) 's status on Sunday, 15-Nov-09 08:19:59 UTC -

  18. blabber says:

    i never used four workspaces

  19. Pascal Terjan says:

    > Make sure to try it out too. It is really easy to use from jhbuild.

    Well this doc lacks the part “Buy a new laptop” at the beginning…
    With my Centrino 1.6 + 768MB RAM (most of it already used by evolution and galeon) + Radeon Mobility M7 LW , it needs several minutes to display itself and then it’s not usable…

  20. Is it possible to get a diff between the old and new versions?

  21. Stéphane Démurget says:

    Pascal> where’s the bug report or logs? I’ve got an ‘old’ Centrino 1.4 with 512MB of RAM with Nvidia just released legacy drivers for F12 and it’s super swift and I just ran it with the nouveau driver without 3d acceleration at all and it was not really usable but it certainly did not take “several minutes” to start. How come you need to wait that much time? You do not have any swap or what? :p

  22. javier says:

    I would love to see something like moblin’s Pasteboard Panel integrated into the gnome-shell.

  23. I really like the ideas for the notifications at the bottom of the screen. It seems more natural and looks great.

    However, maybe the application browser could benefit greatly from some GNOME Do elements, it would make the thing a bit more intuitive and multifunctional.

  24. z says:

    would be cool if the workspaces could have different wallpapers. that would improve usability as well.

  25. Raphael says:

    I really like that the current GnomeShell makes MDI viable again. Also workspaces finally get a conceptual function, not merely a technical one. However; I would like to make use of that space in the top bar. The top bar is always visible and according to Fitts its one of the most important places on the destop. There is room for more than just a clock and the application’s name. Mike suggested the Gnome global menu; why not? Or add more relevant status information.

    Also; why do I have to manage my windows manually. This is the 21st century – can’t you make my application windows behave as they should? E.g. drag and drop; why do I still have to arrange windows for drag and drop? The window-manager should automatically make way for the other windows as soon as the drag and drop operation is initiated.

    Looking forward to the next post!

  26. Rob J. Caskey says:

    Here is how it is: there is a release dare for software with no formal usability or acceptance testing and no must have features which can’t be backported. Linus can go without 3.0 but Gnome is afraid they can’t subsist without satisfying the egoes of hobbiest developers.

  27. Chris says:

    I love it where you guys are going.

    Still, there’s one inconstistency, if one may call it such: while the activities overview makes it very easy to spot and choose open windows/activities, the same cannot be said for the individual workspaces. These still are the traditional clutter of overlapping windows. And as GNOME 3 looks like it will shed the traditional taskbar it will become even harder to find a window when it’s completely hidden by another window in the foreground.

    The only solution would be using the Scale effect. So why not re-think the whole windows-model and go more into the direction of a tiling window-manager?

    I would like it very much if windows didn’t overlap anymore but shrank to fill all space except for the window that has the focus.

  28. Pingback: Owen’s Photolog » Blog Archive » Ideas for GNOME Shell

  29. I posted my own idea for a slight alteration to the GNOME Shell design here:

    Namely, I wanted to provide a faster way for users to launch common applications that would build on what people are already familiar with. Huge animation gifs within!

  30. manuel says:

    I’d like a zoom function similar to that of compiz to be implemented into gnome-shell. I really like how the interface is coming along but in my particular case I use a 42″ tv as my monitor for a media center pc. Gnome-shell would be really good for it but most of the times when i’m web surfing from my couch Zooming into the text is a must. It’s the only compiz feature I use and I imagine that a lot of people with eye problems could find it handy too.

  31. KC says:

    I really like where this is going. However, as an former Global Menu user I can tell you why the “Global Menu” would not be a good idea.

    1) When menus are contained within the application there’s less problems dealing with the menu representing the window that’s in focus.

    2) When windows are not maximized it takes the user far less time (less distance) to get to the menu functions associated with the program you are using. An example would be dealing with Nautilus when it’s not maximized. All of the copy/ paste / etc functions are were they should be and the user (especially a new user) isn’t hunting to find the menu.

    I must say that so far I really like what I’m seeing. It’s very touch screen friendly.

  32. Josh04 says:

    I like it, but it’s nice to have a list of applications visible so you can see at a glance how many programs you have running.

    Also, a more technical query: Why isn’t the top panel an adaptation of gnome-panel rather than it’s own beast? You drop all the awesome extras (and pre-built configuration) that gnome-panel already has.

  33. Pingback: Zmiany, zmiany, zmiany… « livio’s way

  34. nicu says:

    I hate having my full name shown on the desktop, I know my name, I don’t need to have it reminded to me at every minute. Is possible to supply a bogus name to the system, but that would be counter-productive, since some applications make legit use of your name.
    For me, it would be more pleasant if instead of the name would be an avatar/user icon.

  35. bash says:

    I played a bit around with the SVG in Inkscape. I changed the titles in the top bar all to bold. Also I made the font-size of the active window title and the time a bit smaller. So the name on the right and the activities tab on the left stick out better.

    As for currently active windows, I find the solution with shiny circles not perfect. I tried a different approach. If a programm is running, a small circle in the top right corner of each application tile displays the number of open windows.

    You the svg with the ideas here:

    I know the font is not perfect. It’s Segoe UI the default font of Vista/W7, but it was the first font that came to hand and I was to lazy to search for another one.

  36. lassegs says:

    I agree with the poster about having his full name always visible. I also think the clock has to much focus. Here you should let there be some option to customize.
    Also, I don’t get KC’s or the documents reasoning against a global menu bar. Noone uses the menu bar anymore, only geeks do. Regular users right clicks if they are going to try to do something advanced, but they arent going to go hunting in the usually overcrowded and messy menu bar. OS X solves it with the global bar, I dont see any reason not to do the same with GNOME3. But there are other ways to get rid of it, look at Firefox 3.6 mockups, IE7+8, Chrome and several other Windows interfaces. The menu bar is just one icon. Cleaner, saves space, and a lot prettier.

  37. Akshay Dua says:

    Yesterday, I requested my wife to try out Gnome Shell for the first time. The idea was to see how a person with no past knowledge about the shell starts using it. The results were truly surprising.

    First, she was completely stuck just looking at the interface. She thought that ‘Activities’ wasn’t actually an active button (so to speak). In fact, she was confused why someone would list exactly one application after the plural word ‘Activities’. Funny! Also, she was surprised why the application was ‘File Manager’, since she hadn’t even started anything! So, I told her that she should click on ‘Activities’ to begin. Solution: (i) Something needs to be done to make ‘Activities’ look like a click-able button to attract the user to it. (ii) Saying ‘File Manager’ when nothing is running is probably not such a good idea. Saying nothing is probably better.

    Second, she was stuck again! The main problem was that the view changed so dramatically that she did not know where to focus. She wasn’t clear that she could start typing because the text box was so blended with the left column. She, also did not know how to browse the applications because the ‘More’ button was so inconspicuous. Solution: (i) Make the left panel of the Activities view more prominent so that the user first turns to the left. (ii) Make the text box and the ‘More’ button even more prominent so people know that they can browse the applications.

    Third, she started Firefox by clicking on the icon, and when the application opened she laughed. Why? Because she did not understand why the current application needs to be shown next to ‘Activities’ if its the one she is already in front of her! She thought that space could be better used for more important information. Solution: A list of small icons for each running application is probably a better idea next to the ‘Activities’ button.

    Fourth, I asked her to change the desktop theme and she had no idea what to do. She did not know that her name on the top right can be clicked and that ‘System Preferences…’ was listed there. Preferences are attributes that people usually discover by browsing first, and since the shell does not provide a browse-able menu for it (unlike applications) it is very hard to figure out where they are. Solution: (i) Provide menu for preferences in the ‘Activities’ view. (ii) Make the user name on the top right appear click-able so people actually are attracted to it and discover a menu when it is clicked. (iii) Maybe have a power-button icon next to the user name in the top right? It could indicate that system related settings are accessible there (not sure about this).

    Fifth, I asked her to run many applications and add an extra desktop and then switch to particular applications. She found it hard to do this by going back to ‘Activities’ and clicking the respective application in the scaled view because the windows were simply too small. Although she thought the interface was quite pretty :). She also liked the Alt-Tab interface but found it very hard to distinguish between different instances of the same application. Also, Alt-Tab seemed to work across application groups only, and not among individual application instances, so there was no way to switch to a particular instance of a running application by simply alt-tabbing. Also, the reduced screenshots were not that helpful to her while alt-tabbing for finding the desired application. All in all, pretty difficult to switch to a desired app. Solution: (i) Provide a small button to exapand each desktop in the ‘Activities’ view to fill the screen space (ii) Instead of restricting window titles to the size of the scaled window, it would be better to have a common long space to show complete window titles as the user hovers over different app windows (iii) Along with showing an Icon and the name of the app in the Alt-Tab view, its better to show the window title in a separate space below/above the application list as the user Alt-tabs her way through the apps (iv) Alt-Tab should cycle through all instances of all applications (v) Alt-Tab should be linked to the desktop in some way, like highlighting or raising the currently selected window each time Alt-Tab is pressed. (vi) The scaled app windows can certainly be larger (vii) My personal idea about efficient app switching, which is probably a bigger change, but I think is a great idea, is that Alt-Tab should switch to the next most probable application rather than the one that was last switched to. I think if one draws a unidirectional graph with the current applications as vertices, and a directed edge for each successful Alt-Tab switch, one would discover a pattern of which application a user switches to after which. Of course, one would have to define a ‘successful Alt-Tab switch’, but utilizing this information could result in switching to the desired app instance with a single Alt-Tab, instead of the current situation where people end up Alt-Tabbing through a sea of applications before they find the right one (which of course is not necessarily the one last switched to).

    Sixth, I asked her to find a particular file and she could not figure it out. There was actually no way to get to the ‘gnome-search-tool’. Bad. Solution: (i) integrate file search in the Activities view

    Seventh, I asked her to install an application. She figured this out but it took time and it wasn’t an intuitive process. She started PackageKit by typing ‘install’ in the Activities view, and then clicking on the add/remove application icon. However, the reason it took a long time, was that the application to add/remove an application is not considered an application at all! It can only be accessed by either typing the right keyword or through ‘System Preferences’. This is pretty counter intuitive, since you either have to start an administrative *application* by browsing the ‘System Preferences’ menu, or you need to know the right keyword to type. Solution: Adminstrative tools are applications and should appear as a category under the applications tab and not anywhere in ‘System Preferences’. The preferences menu should be limited to apps that set system configuration only.

    Eighth, I asked her to shut down the system. This time she knew how to do that because she had seen the user menu on the top right already. She claimed however that it would be much easier if these common “activities” were available through the ‘Activities’ view. LOL, I could not stop laughing. Solution: Provide a gnome-do like interface to the search bar in the Activities veiw. It currently lists applications, and preferences, but could (and should) show user actions, and file search results as well. Now, I agree that there is limited space on the left side, but we should think hard if its really really necessary to show scaled windows on the right when the user is typing in the search box. Why not simply utilize the space for well organized search results? So the workflow would go as follows: When ‘Activities’ is clicked, we see whatever we see today in Gnome shell. Now, if the user clicks a scaled window, then all is well and good and we go back to the desktop. If the user starts typing, then we replace all those scaled desktop images with search results. If the user suddenly does not want to search anymore, she can click the ‘clear search’ button and is returned to the original actvities view.

    Ninth, I asked for general comments. She said Gnome shell looks awesome but does not direct the user actively to the features it provides. She also said that too much space is allocated to recent documents and it can be easily replaced with more important information. She would not mind if the list of recent documents were hidden behind a button rather than show up every time. Also, she was not clear why the application icons (below the applications menu header) in the Activities view does not represent the most frequently started applications. Even though she started rhythmbox many more times than other applications it did not seem to show up there (we were just playing with that to see what would happen).

    Well that’s it for my long comment, but I thought I should put this out there since sometimes in all the excitement about new features, we forget about users that have not seen screencasts for those features before hand 🙂
    I personally love Gnome shell, but my wife really brought up some great points, and I think it will be awesome to see them incorporated. Oh, and did I mentioned that she (my wife) is doing her Ph.D. in Computer Science and is an active Mac user?


  38. David says:

    @Akshay: Truly informative! I’d like to add a few more solutions for the various issues that came up.

    For issue #2: (iii) When ‘Activities’ is clicked, the button and application menu get replaced by a wide text box that expands in-place and has ‘Search for applications and documents’ in grey.

    For issue #3: (ii) The use for the application name and icon would be more understandable if the entire menu for that application appeared next to it. Users are already used to clicking on such menus, so they would be more likely to infer that the application name might be clickable (in addition to ‘Activities’).


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