GNOME Do 0.8 released! Rock Out With Your Dock OutJanuary 29, 2009
The Developers of GNOME Do are proud to release:
Since my big contribution this time has been in the UI area I figured why not do a full walkthrough of the new Docky. 56k people beware, the images are full desktop shots to provide a real perspective on how Docky will look on your system.
What is Docky?
Docky is a dock of sorts. It has a fisheye zoom similar to what is Cairo Dock, launchers, window tracking, standard features of almost any dock worth its salt. However Docky is more, and we will get into that later. What is important about Docky is not so much what it does but how it does it. Docky was inspired partly out of the need for a class project (college student) and partly because I felt every dock on Linux did one thing or another wrong.
Dock Fundamentals, Doing It Right:
From the start I felt Docky had a chance to do a lot right where things had been done wrong with Docks in the past. So I decided to focus on a couple key points.
- Make a dock so simple a 5 year old can use it.
- Drag and drop for everything. Add/remove launchers, rearrange, trash bin, drop files into folders, everything.
- No configuration UI. If there is a need for a separate UI to configure Docky, it is probably not needed as an option.
- Dead simple resizing, just grab the handle and drag.
- Flawless automatic hiding.
- Extreme simplicity and easy of use. Be intuitive.
- Launchers are applications, not windows.
- Stay out of the way. A polite, one time request, is all that is needed.
- Do something new!
Most of these goals are acheived, and for a first release I am pretty happy with it. Docky sports every basic feature I have been missing in my docks and then some. There are obviously still interactions that need to be worked out, otherwise there would be no point of working on Docky. However, I feel at the core of it, Docky is ready for prime time, and I am proud to ship it! Consider this a 1.0 release of Docky.
What Makes Docky Different?
Well it is but a dock after all, if not the newest player on an already too large field of Docks on linux. However from the start, it was clear that with my background in GNOME Do, and my desire to make it part of Do, that Docky could be a lot more than just a dock. There are probably hundreds of Docks for every OS out there by now, some of them more animated than others, but they all work in a pretty similar way.
- Take icon from menu | nautilus | konqueror and drag onto dock.
- Click icon on dock at later time, has the same effect as clicking it in whatever source you dragged it from.
- Icon now acts as “base” for windows of that application.
- Return to step 1.
There are things like applets, and sometimes really shiny things like stacks, but the idea does not really change at all. There is nothing new being done with the concept, just logical extensions to it. So when as a team we looked at this set of actions it became clear that steps 1 and 4 leave a lot of room for improvement. Why do I have to drag things onto the Dock? I mean I launch everything from there, it knows of all the applications I use, it should be able to put two and two together and figure out what to put on the Dock. Additionally, doing this repetatively is kind of annoying to set it up.
So there was a tiny ah-ha moment, and it became clear that GNOME Do already knows what applications you use most. Not only does it know what applications you use most, but it knows what music you listen to, what people you talk to, what bookmarks you use the most. Why not let GNOME Do add some of these to the Dock? Obviously we wont remove the ability to manually add and remove things from the dock (you can even manually remove these automatically found items from the dock in the same way), we just augement that with the ability to have a Dock that is more adaptive to who you are.
Making Docky a First Class Interface for GNOME Do.
Docky needed to be part of Do to make it work, so we had to make it summonable. Summoning and working with Do is no different than any other interface for GNOME Do (oh and there are a lot now). Further, when in “Summon Mode” as it is called, Docky can add any item to the dock provided the dock supports hosting it. That means, for the most part, no actions as they make little sense on the dock. In fact there are many ways to add items to Docky.
- Simply use the item enough in Do, Docky will add it automatically (unless you have removed it in the past, so you dont get items constantly reappearing)
- Drag and drop from the GNOME Menus
- Drag and drop from Nautilus
- Drag the left and right edges of the dock outward to add more items from Do’s statistical guesses.
- Clicking the “+” button when in summon mode.
Any of these will result in Docky adding an item to the dock that functions as expected. By being a first class citizen of GNOME Do, we can do things that no other dock can, and we can do a lot of things other docks do better.
There is always a lot of fuss about these things. Some people insist we do not need another dock for Linux, but I think what they mean is that we do not need another half finished dock. With that in mind, Docky will continue to progress and improve, bugs will be found and quashed, and the experience and simplicity will improve. We will be done when there is nothing left in Docky to take away, when every feature has been scrutinized and reviewed intensively.
- Full dock plugins
- Docky does not use system font in tooltips. (fixed in bzr)
- Docky has some odd interactions with summon mode when zoomed really small.
- Docky can get in the way of drag and drop when not autohidden.
- Icon zoom has a bit of a jitter on some systems (fixed in bzr)