[ubuntu-art] Gtk / Metacity changes

Michiel Sikma michiel at thingmajig.org
Wed Aug 23 17:22:03 BST 2006

Op 23-aug-2006, om 18:05 heeft Mark Shuttleworth het volgende  

> Michiel, you are absolutely right about the aliasing if window  
> corners, and if we are able to achieve that for Edgy I would be  
> thrilled. I also agree that we need proper borders all around the  
> window. +1 on those!

I've had a talk with the developers about this, but they say that it  
is impossible to do such a thing with the current code,  
unfortunately. Of course, we could just make an Xgl theme, which  
would allow such things, but I'm not sure if we're shipping that by  
default yet. Hopefully this will become possible on regular hardware  
in the future.

> However, I don't like the palette direction you are going in, it  
> strikes me as heavyweight and gaudy. That's true for the window  
> frame as well as the widgets.

I'm sort of confused by this. Earlier, you mailed to mention that you  
find the color palette I had used to be not saturated enough. I  
actually have been meaning to tone it down a little because of how  
incredibly "deep" it is this way. I wanted this theme to be more  
lightweight but ended up increasing the saturation in order to get a  
good contrast going on the window frame and the title text; the rest  
of the widgets followed after that.

> On the widgets, some of the changes are interesting. I think I  
> prefer your buttons, they look more enticing and "clicktastic". I  
> definitely do not like the progressbar, it lacks a sense of  
> measured progress, which the dividers (thin vertical lines on the  
> horizontal progress bar) give you.

I've thought about the progress bar dividers as useless. What do they  
really add? They don't show you any progress; one "block" of the  
striped progress bar might mean 10% or 1%, depending on the size of  
the bar. They also don't ever fit perfectly; no developer is going to  
ensure that his progress bar length is just right to ensure a  
"correct" length of the last block. I don't see what the stripes add.  
Thus far, people I've spoken about this agree with me. I guess we can  
see about possibly including the lines, but it wouldn't be my  

Unfortunately, I might need to reduce the rounding (and shadow, even)  
on the buttons. They look nice at the size you see them at in the  
mock-up, but it does not work well for small buttons, I'd figure.  
Unless it's possible to skin small buttons differently, but I doubt  
that. When I tried to make a mock-up of the skin for a desktop  
picture, the desktop icon at the bottom-left became enclosed in a  
strange blob-like thing, which is something we'd probably need to avoid.

> We deliberately made the grippies orange-on-mouseover, becase we do  
> not want the orange to be too ever-present on the screen. Orange is  
> a highlight colour, it should indicate something where there is  
> activity or action. So we have to use it very, very carefully. So I  
> don't like the always-orange press-points on the optionmenu, for  
> example, or the combo box or scrollbars.

As much as I agree with the fact that orange is starting to become  
overly present, I have one major gripe with the orange on the  
grippies as they are in Dapper: it doesn't make sense. This is a  
similar complaint as the vertical stripes on the progress bar. These  
orange stripes lit up as you hovered over the bar; what does that  
mean? Does it mean you can drag those two parts of the bar? Does it  
mean you have the full bar or just those two bits? Why isn't the full  
bar responding? The most important part of any layout is the amount  
of visual feedback that one gets when using the layout. This visual  
feedback was given by means of those orange stripes in Dapper, but it  
simply is not enough to be intuitive. My design suggestion avoided  
the problem altogether because of the fact it is deliberately made  
consistent with other widgets such as the combo box.

As a designer, I'd say there is indeed room to change around the  
grippies/scrollers, but not in the sense that Dapper did. I found it  
to be inconsistent and counter-intuitive. And it just plain looked  
kind of silly. My grippies are far from perfect, though, and I've  
pondered for a long time on how to make them. I now am thinking that  
I might need to make them lighter, similar to how Windows XP uses  
lighter scroll bars to prevent them from being overly present.  
Alternatively, I could try "silver" or "glass"-like grippies.

I any case, thank you for the thorough analysis. I'll continue to try  
and improve on the design.


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