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ubuntu 10.10 windicators

Mark Shuttleworth just announced the plan for the empty space on the right created by moving the window buttons (controls) to the left: Window Indicators or "windicators".



What are Window Indicators?


Window Indicators will be just like the current Panel Indicators: they will have an icon which indicates the state and clicking it brings up a menu.



Purpose


The "windicators" purpose is to banish the statusbar:

We can replace these (statusbar items) with a combination of windicators and temporary, overlay status bars. I really liked the Chrome browser’s use of overlay status messages, so kudos and thanks to them for the inspiration. The net result of those two steps, in apps where we can, is to save about 5% of the vertical space for your stuff – real content.

The idea is to replace the statusbar with windicators and an temporarily overlay statusbar - like in Chrome.



Windicator ideas


There are already a few window indicators (or "windicators") ideas for Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat:

  • Online / offline status indicator and toggle options for the mail client, chat program or Gwibber, the broadcast messages application.
  • An "unsaved" indicator, that tells people that the contents of the file they are working on have changed and potentially lets them save it or set autosave properties.
  • Progress indicators, which show that an action is in progress, and possibly also indicate the extent of the progress. The associated menu would enable one to pause or cancel the operation, and perhaps define the behaviour on completion of the action.
  • A "basket" indicator, which shows if any items have been selected for purchase,
  • Sharing indicators, which would show if a document is shared with multiple people, and enable one to setup such a share.
  • Volume indicators, which would show the loudness of application audio streams, and enable one to set the volume for that specific application.



Look



The windicators will not only behave like the current appindicators in the panel, but will also look the same: monochrome by default and semantically colored with red for critical problems, orange for alerts, green for positive status changes and blue for informative states that are not the default or usual state.



Ubuntu Netbook Edition integration


ubuntu netbook edition 10.10 windicators maximized

You probably already know that UNE 10.10 will get a Global Menu by default. The new window indicators will integrate with this global menu:

When the window is maximised, and we are using an application which can include both indicators and window titles, the window indicators will be inserted into the panel as well. They will appear on the right of the panel, and be the leftmost indicators. For example, here is the application, maximised (note the dodgy Ubuntu logo in the top left – that’s the panel, not the window title bar you’re looking at).




Opinion


It seems we won't get an "Esfera" in Ubuntu, however another mockup we posted a while back looks a lot like this one. It's the mockup made by Izo:



And indeed, this does seem very useful and makes moving the window controls to the left more easy to accept. However, this means a lot more work for the Ubuntu team since the applications won't come with a windicator by default.

One thing which bothers me is the consistency: some applications (probably only the default applications) will have a windicator while others won't. Even though the windicators sound really useful, maybe using a "widget" (or whatever you like to call it) which is useful for all the applications would have been a better idea for the space on the right.

But these are just speculations, we'll have to wait and see exactly how they plan on implementing these window indicators in Ubuntu 10.10.


What's your opinion on the new "windicators"?
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