Panel resizing

Matthew Paul Thomas mpt at
Fri Nov 16 05:07:10 GMT 2007

On Nov 16, 2007, at 4:29 PM, Ted Gould wrote:
> On Fri, 2007-11-16 at 16:12 +1300, Matthew Paul Thomas wrote:
>> So to avoid the panel looking ugly at different resolutions, I think
>> you'll need a couple of other things first. An icon style that is
>> robust at all sizes from 16px*16px upward (so, for example, it doesn't
>> feature 1-pixel strokes). And a smart image-resizing algorithm, that
>> can shrink (large) icons so they don't look blurry at any size.
> This is a problem, and the way that we combat it is to make several
> versions of every icon.  I believe there are three, but I'm not sure on
> that.  Basically, super small, bigger and then scalable.

There's 22px/24px, 32px, 48px, and "scalable".

> As long as the icons on the dock use the themes correctly this 
> shouldn't be a big deal.
> ...

Unfortunately they don't, as you can see by playing with the "Panel 
Properties" window in Ubuntu 7.10. The most egregious example is the 
Ubuntu icon itself: despite the presence of 
/usr/share/icons/Human/scalable/places/distributor-logo.svg, the Ubuntu 
icon in the "Main Menu" applet doesn't scale beyond 48px, and the 
Ubuntu icon in the default "Menu Bar" applet doesn't scale at all. (The 
latter might be constrained by the non-resizing "Applications" text; I 
think that's an example of basic aesthetic incompatibility between text 
menus and a manually-resizable panel.)

Even if the icons did use the themes correctly, that wouldn't work well 
for panel sizes such as 30px, 31px, and 41px to 47px inclusive, just as 
it doesn't work well now. With a panel size that was specified in 
points and scaling itself based on the screen resolution, you might 
easily end up in those pixel ranges and not know why the panel looked 

> Think of it as we suckered the art team into hinting all the icons
> already ;)

That's why I suggest combining a scaling-resilient icon style with a 
smart resizing algorithm. Each icon would need to be drawn only *once*, 
and the panel would look much more consistent at different sizes. 
Artists could spend less time redrawing the same icons at different 
sizes, and more time increasing theme coverage.

Matthew Paul Thomas
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