I'm developing a mod for grouping icons in the xfce tasklist plugin. Need feedback, please. :-)

Debian Maverick debianmaverick at gmail.com
Mon Apr 21 19:04:18 UTC 2014

Hi all,
in nearly all the task/dockbars I've seen until now, when you select the
option to "group" the icons that are different instances of the same
program, the taskbar will give you a visual feedback of the fact that more
apps of the same type are currently open. For example, let's say you have 3
file manager windows open. In a taskbar that permits you to "group" the
icons, you would see only a single icon for the file manager. When you
click on this icon (or, sometimes, you only need to pass over it with the
mouse) you will see a list of the 3 file manager windows.
On the bar, usually, you see some visual feedback of the fact that more
than one app of the same type is open. In the above example, on a Windows
7/8 os, you would see that the icons are graphically "stacked". On Unity
and many other dockbars you will see some dots near the icon, etc.
So, I was surprised when I found out that this common behaviour was not
implemented in the default XFCE tasklist plugin... You can group the icons
and disable the labels to make the panel similar to a Win7/8 taskbar, but
the current plugin gives you no visual feedback for the grouping, and
therefore you cannot distinguish "real" grouped icons from the not-grouped
ones until you left-click on them, one by one... It's not very good...
I know that one of the objectives of XFCE is to keep it small and light,
but, hey, I cannot imagine how such a basic functionality could be
resource-hungry or could impact performance!

So, I downloaded the latest source code of the xfce4-panel (from ubuntu
repositories), and I started to modify the code of the taskbar plugin
myself to see if I could get what I wanted... So far I got the following
result: http://oi60.tinypic.com/2jaf9yw.jpg

As you can see, there is a nice little number on the bottom-right of the
grouped icons, so that you can, at a glance:
1) distinguish between normal button icons (no little numbers) and grouped
2) you can see immediately how many open instances there are for each

The patch already works, but it's in an alpha development stage. There are
various tests to do and I should add the related option in the properties
of the panel, so that the user could easily choose between: labels without
grouping, labels with grouping, no labels at all, no labels + number of
grouped instances for each application (as in the above screenshot).

I would like to know what you think of this mod, and if you would use it.

P.S.: Thanks to the user cavalier on the irc channel #xfce-dev for the
precious support he gave to me.
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