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GNOME Shell Design

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Author(s): Marina Zhurakhinskaya

 

The GNOME Shell redefines user interactions with the GNOME desktop. It introduces new ways of finding and launching applications and documents, organizing windows, and switching activities. The new graphical technologies used by the GNOME Shell enable sleek visual effects that make these interactions more intuitive and fun.

There have been a number of design decisions made for the GNOME Shell. One such decision was to use of a special overlay mode that dedicates a full screen to finding and opening a document, launching an application, or organizing windows on multiple workspaces. Another decision was to keep the overlay mode open when the user drags an item to a workspace, but close it when the user activates an item by double clicking. The idea to have an overlay mode originated at the GNOME UI Hackfest that was held in Boston in October 2008, while the idea to have the overlay act differently when an item is dragged vs. double clicked was suggested by a contributor on the mailing list. Leveraging design ideas from the community is one of the goals of the GNOME Shell, and design contributions are encouraged in the active IRC discussions, on the mailing list, and on the special section of the wiki called Designer Playground.

At this session, we will discuss some of the design decisions that were made for the GNOME Shell to date. We'll evaluate how they are working out and how they can be improved upon. We will brainstorm about the design of further new features, such as a task list view for a single workspace, representation of application tabs, window tiling, add-on applets, journal view of documents, and others. The goal of the discussion will be to come up with a fresh set of ideas to make the new GNOME desktop exciting and user-friendly.

Author bio: Red Hat

Marina is a software developer at Red Hat. She writes code, reviews design ideas, and gardens the wiki for the GNOME Shell project.