Proposed panel menu structure for hoary

Jeff Waugh jeff.waugh at
Fri Dec 3 09:47:10 CST 2004

Good morning freedom lovers,

The panel menu structure changes you see in warty were made late in the
release process, so we didn't have much time to spend designing it for
acceptance upstream, or optimal GNOME integration. What follows is a design
that I hope will be acceptable upstream with minor modifications, and solve
the challenges we've set for ourselves in Ubuntu. It was mostly fleshed out
at the Oxford conference, so there's nothing particularly new here.

It's important to keep in mind that these changes are "long term temporary"
in nature. That is, in the not too distant future, all of this stuff will
change significantly upstream, so our goal here is to make sure what we do
in the meantime is good, not perfect. :-)

First off, the Applications menu. Simple goal here - let's keep the focus on
the apps. :-) Up top is a 4-8 item dynamic list of regularly used apps, so
you have fassssst access to stuff you run all the time (this will also be
available as a panel applet). Under the application submenus, we have an
"Add, Remove, Update" item (which I'll explain in a later email) and the old
"Run Application..." item.

One thing to note about the dynamic sections -> if there are no items in the
section, the separator is not shown either. Should be obvious, but want to
make sure it's mentioned. :-)

    [Regularly used applications - big icons?]
    System Tools
    Add, Remove, Update  (watch for more about this later)
    Run Application...

The first major change in this proposal is the "Places" menu, which replaces
the top chunk of warty's Computer menu. Here we give users fast, top-level
access to their most commonly used folders, and attached storage devices.

Up top we have a selection of important user places - all of this is dynamic
except for Home. Desktop and Documents only appear if they exist, and we may
add other things listed in the Nautilus Places menu (Templates, Trash, etc)
if we find it necessary. Under those common places, we list user configured
items from the GtkFileChooser -> the ones on the left, under the separator.
If you drag folders to that list, they'll appear here. Handy!

Next we have a dynamic list of the attached storage devices, as listed in
the Disks (aka computer:///) window. When you insert a usb stick or CD, you
will see them listed here. The 'Network' item stays the same (it opens the
network:/// window).

I've put the Recent Documents submenu and "Search for Files..." here, but
marked them with an asterisk, because I'm not absolutely convinced they
belong here. Suggestions or support welcome. ;-)

Most of this menu should be shared with the Nautilus 'Places' menu, perhaps
excluding the bottom three items (including the separator).

    Home            Stuff in Nautilus "Places" menu:
    Desktop           Home, Computer, Templates, Trash and CD Creator.
    [Personal GtkFileChooser Bookmarks]
    Recent Documents >  *
    Search for Files...  *

Finally, we have a 'System' menu. Suggestions welcome for a better name, as
'System' is remarkably generic. Another option is shifting this to an icon
only menu at the top left (like the Apple menu in OS X). I'm not convinced
it's important enough for that, however, but we could include some funkier
stuff to make it so (longer discussion).

Anyway, this menu covers global functions, such as desktop preferences and
system configuration, help and support oriented functions, and logging out.

    Desktop Preferences >
    System Configuration >
    Take Screenshot...
    About Ubuntu...
    Lock screen
    Log Out

So, as a first step, let's shift to the new GNOME menu system (gnome-menus).
That'll give us time to talk these changes through, and then start hacking!


- Jeff

-- 2005: Canberra, Australia      
     "I think a lot of the basis of the open source movement comes from
                procrastinating students." - Andrew Tridgell

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