Monday, March 29, 2010

Ubuntu's notification area

Here's a quick comparison of the behaviour of Rhythmbox and Banshee when "closed" to the notification area. Rhythmbox adopts Ubuntu's new code of practice for how applications should behave, and Banshee doesn't.





Mini-player appears with album art, track and title information, play time, and play bar with manipulatable grabber.

Show Rhythmbox menu, including current track and album, with option to display Rhythmbox full screen.Open Banshee.

Show applet menu.Show Banshee menu- play, next,
shuffle etc.

I have to say I prefer Banshee's behaviour. I can get the information I want about the current track just by hovering. I can open Banshee with one click. And if I want the menu information, I can get it with a right-click.

With Rhythmbox, I've lost he ability to send the application to the notification area with one click and I've lost the ability to get information about the playing track by hovering .

The new specification for the Ubuntu notification area originally said that music players didn't belong there, and Rhythmbox simply quit on hitting the close button- the only option was to minimise it to the taskbar.

I like to keep the taskbar for documents I'm looking at as much as possible, so I didn't like Rhythmbox being there. If the taskbar is not to full, it's possible to see what's playing, but to control play maximising Rhythmbox was the only option- with the annoying risk of hitting the close button and quitting the program afterwards.

Fortunately Ubuntu seems to have relented and allowed music players back in the notification area.

(No such redemption for the update notification, which now appears- and gets lost- in the taskbar. It was a lot more noticeable in the notification area, and seemed to belong there more naturally.)

I like to send applications that run in the background to the notification area on hitting the close button- Transmission is another example, and again I preferred the behaviour of the icon before it adhered to the new code of practice.






Show transfer rates up and down.


Open Transmission menu.Open Transmission.

Show applet menu.Open Transmission menu.

Of course there are good reasons for these changes. Previously icons in the notification area were arbitrary interfaces used for arbitrary purposes, with different and confusing behaviour.

Having looked at all the good reasons for the changes, I much preferred my old icons with their arbitrary interfaces. I liked being able to restore applications with one click, and to hover with my mouse and get information I need.

Sadly these useful features seem to have gone out of the window in the name of progress.

I can only hope that when the transition to the new specification is complete, the advantages of consistency will shine through, and we'll look back at the previous notification area and see it as a dog's breakfast, rather than remember it with nostalgia.

1 comment:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.