[ubuntu-art] Netbook Launcher Ideas

Michael Ralston michael at ralston.id.au
Thu Apr 16 03:03:36 BST 2009

I posted a page to the artwork wiki about a month ago about some ideas
I had for netbook launcher. Thorsten since deleted it while he was
cleaning up the wiki, but never mind. I'll repost the text of the page
here for those who haven't seen it.

I'm currently studying a course in User Interface Design at Newcastle
University. I am required to design, implement and evaluate a user
interface. I also currently use Ubuntu Netbook Remix, and Netbook
Launcher on my desktop. I would like to contribute to the evolution of
Netbook Launcher via my User Interface Design course.

The text below is from the project proposal for my user interface
course, and some of it is redundant to somebody that already has an
understanding of how Netbook Launcher works. The design is also
influenced by Mayanna / Gimmie and Long_Term_Vision.

The user interface of most major operating systems displays the icons
and names of the applications installed on the computer. This requires
that the user learn the purpose of each application so that they may
perform the tasks they require. A more natural approach would be to
choose from a list of tasks, which then opens the relevant
application. For example the task of writing a letter could open the
word processor with a letter template.

Most major operating systems allow users to store their documents,
images, music and other files in a directory structure. Users may
store everything in the one directory, or use a hierarchy, but either
way it eventually becomes cumbersome to find and open the file a user
needs. The application launcher should provide a more convenient way
of accessing user's documents.

User activities are increasingly more web oriented. The process of
opening a web browser, and then navigating to the required web page is
slow and inefficient. Many websites can now be considered applications
themselves and deserve this acknowledgement as a task in the
application launcher. People are also more commonly using their
computer for communicating with family and friends. An application
launcher should provide a facility for initiating communications with
a users contacts, whether they be in Gmail, Windows Messenger or
Facebook for example.

The interface will contain tabs for the categories: system, tasks,
documents, contacts. Each tab will display customized options relevant
to the category selected, including recently used options. The
interface will also provide a text entry box for searching for
applications, tasks, documents and contacts. This box will have
keyboard focus when the application launcher is visible. After
entering text into this box, search results will be displayed in the
main area of the application. This combination will allow the user to
quickly locate the tasks, documents and contacts that they wish to

Attached is an initial mockup, you can also view the progress at:

-- Michael
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