Getting a usability patch into gnome-panel package?

Greg K Nicholson greg at
Fri Feb 8 13:36:00 GMT 2008

> doesn't it make sense to remove the "Lock"
> option on individual applets at the same time?

Yes; such a design is described on Gnome Live:

Another (in my opinion, better) approach would be to copy xfce: xfce's
panel items are arranged according to their *order* rather than their
*position*. There are flexible spacers to move items to the end of the
panel. This is very similar to Firefox's and Evince's approach to
editing toolbars.

Panels that are attached to an edge or corner of the screen cannot be
moved by dragging; floating panels can, by a handle at the end of the
panel. (Note that panels can only be attached to the middle of each

The panel's Properties dialogue is used to choose whether a panel is
attached or floating, and (if it's attached) which edge or corner it's
attached to, or (if it's floating) whether it should display
horizontally or vertically.

(If a floating panel is dragged towards the edge of the screen, it may
make sense to have it snap to the corner or the middle of the edge, and
the handle disappear; but it should be possible to drag it back to
floating as long as the mouse button is still pressed.)

In xfce, the panel Properties dialogue is also used to toggle whether an
attached panel expands to fill the screen; it would be better if that
was implied by the presence or absence of a flexible spacer.

This model means:
1. items that appear to be in the corner of a panel are always *right*
in the corner (allowing unwitting users to exploit Fitts's Law)
2. when an item contracts (for example, when an icon disappears from the
system tray) adjacent items always remain adjacent
3. when items are moved, they always end up in a tidy position; trying
to shift an item by just a couple of pixels results in it staying where
it was
4. there's no need to lock anything as nothing can be accidentally

To migrate from a position-based panel arrangement to an order-based
one, I'd suggest replacing any gap wider than about 48 pixels with a
flexible spacer, and ensuring there's a flexible spacer before the last
set of items – to make sure that the clock and system tray (for example)
stay at the far right. This would produce a reasonable approximation
(or an exact replica) of the previous layout in most cases.

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