GNOME 3 System Status Area Mockups

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In GNOME 3, the System Status Area is a place where System Status Indicators represent the status of the system to the user. This is not an area that is variously called the Notification Area or System Tray and should not be used by applications (foreground or background) to indicate their status. This distinction is necessary to ensure the entire top of the screen is designed properly, system owned and coherent, able to be modified or extended, scale well to smaller form-factors, and not become a dumping ground or high-profile branding opportunity.
Status indicators should use a style that is consistent with the text and menus present on the top panel. In general, these indicators should use colors in a considered and measured way. Icons and indicators must not change rapidly or abruptly (not more than once a second). Icon changes should transition smoothly.

Symbolic Icons

Status Indicators should not be considered primary interaction points. Any action that is available through a status icon should also be accessible from elsewhere in the design. For example, network access must also be able to be configured through the system preferences / control-center. So, status indicators must not assume that the user can interact with them. They should only expect that they will be used to indicate status. There are a few reasons for this:

* On smaller form factor devices it may be difficult to interact with small icons
* When a high resolution pointer is not available it may be difficult to interact with small icons
* When the user has a disability the icons may be unusable for interaction
* Functionality must be able to be found by and be accessible to someone using desktop or control center search tools

Like all Top Menubar items, the icons should behave as if they are part of a menu-bar. The icons can be clicked with any mouse button but should always perform the same action no matter what button is used.

The order of system status indicators should be (from left to right):

Universal access

Input language

Audio volume

Bluetooth

Network

Battery and power

In general, if you are not one of these you should probably not be using the System Status Area. Often the Message Tray is a better fit.

Specifically, things that should not be in the system status area:

* Chat or communication clients
* Software update notifications and reminders
* Music players
* New mail notifications
* CD/DVD burning progress
* Bug reporting system notifications

General Guidelines

* Should offer limited, and common functionality
* Each should map to a tool in the System Settings
* Each should offer somewhat menu-like functionality on (left, right, middle, ...) click.
* The dropdown should animate from one to the next

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11 thoughts on “GNOME 3 System Status Area Mockups

  1. I LOVE that this will help Linux become more streamlined and easier to interact with. I also don’t know what to think of things like music players not being in the System Status Area. As long as there is some way of accessing a music player application quickly and easily (perhaps something new and easier method?) I’m happy.

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  2. Those “ON/OFF” switches featured in the mockups are always confusing to me. They are ambiguous. Does OFF mean that the state *is* OFF, or do I slide the switch over to OFF to *set* the state to OFF? And the same for ON, of course.

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  3. “Specifically, things that should not be in the system status area:

    * Chat or communication clients
    * Software update notifications and reminders
    * Music players
    * New mail notifications
    * CD/DVD burning progress
    * Bug reporting system notifications”

    The heck? Most of these things to me are things that definitely belong in the system tray. Mail messages? One of the most annoying thing about Evolution to me is that I can’t stow it away somewhere, and I have to keep the window open at all times. Its perfect place to me, along with its notifications, is in the system tray, along with instant-messaging notifications (preferably blinking) and other things. Music player, definitely! Where else would it be? I play whole albums at a time or sometimes an entire discography from one artist, and I’m in no need to have its window open or have it in… the message tray? What an unfitting thing to keep in the message tray (if I understand its concept correctly)!

    Who did this mockup and had these opinions? :-|

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  4. i completely agree with victor. i would be upset if i couldn’t stow away rhythm box transmision,and my alarm clock application up on the SSA. that’s what i loved about it.

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  5. “In general, if you are not one of these you should probably not be using the System Status Area. Often the Message Tray is a better fit.”

    Music apps, torrenter, all that crap will stil have a place, just not right there.

    Owen: This is GNOME-Shell, not Ubuntu.

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  6. @Mr. Barker
    Yeah that’s what I gather. My only fear is that they won’t be as accessible as they have been in GNOME 2.x.

    Already things are quite inaccessible in my opinion, in gnome-shell. But of course, I bear in mind that it is still in development. But even so, when using gnome-shell I feel that it has fundamental flaws in accessibility. For example: the fact that there is no way to access a window covered by other windows, when using only the mouse, other than having to go via the Applications “corner” just blows my mind. :-\ You have to wait for animations to finish and all this stuff instead of just clicking a button in the Window List applet we have now. I pray for similar functionality in GNOME 3.0. I generally feel like all this compositing stuff is taking away speed from the user. Not because of performance problems, but from the nature of the designs… Looks nice though. ;P

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  7. I understand that “this is GNOME-SHELL, not Ubuntu”, but I pray for more cooperation (from both parts) to create a new, great GNOME 3.

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  8. Why there is no mail icon has been set?
    I belive evolution or thunderbird should always work in system tray and should have mail icon on top right.

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