Re: [wmii] Dockapp problem

From: Anselm R. Garbe <>
Date: Sun, 21 May 2006 21:15:06 +0200

On Sun, May 21, 2006 at 07:19:33PM +0200, Denis Grelich wrote:
> On Sun, 21 May 2006 18:05:56 +0200
> "Anselm R. Garbe" <> wrote:
> > I doubt the usefulness of those tiny tray icons in KDE.
> > They are hard to click, because they are too small. They don't
> > tell me much, because an icon has different meanings in
> > different cultures, and to render them, KDE has several 100kSLOC
> > dependencies. Even assumed one would only support xpm's, they
> > don't add much benefit.
> I don't want to protect tray icons in KDE, because about every
> little piece of code claims the need for a tray icon ;) But it
> is not true that icons can't tell you much. I only had a basic
> course of biology in school, but about everyone who is
> interested in that area will tell you, that icons, symbols and
> images are something that the human brain is great in working
> with. About every language I suppose has the saying »Ein Bild
> sagt mehr, als tausend Worte.«, an image tells more that one
> thousand words. Yes, one can abuse images, to create
> bon-bon-coloured LSD worlds on your desktop, but used with
> thought they can provide a great means of displaying various
> information very quickly. That there are culturally different
> meanings for symbols is true. Though there are notions that
> every human brain shares, everyone using wmii or at least a
> computer would understand a well designed symbol ;) (even
> easier than the English language I want to claim.)

I agree that an image _can_ tell more than 1000 words. But this
must not be the case for each icon. Especially if the icon is

> Text may be exact, but there are more often situations where
> you don't want to care about details, and as I already stated,
> an image can have more meaning than a whole sentence. Given
> that screen real estate is scarce and expensive (there were
> discussions about cycling bar labels! WTF oO), this turns out
> to be quite a big benefit. Also, it can give you needed
> information much more quickly than any text ever can. Two
> simple examples that directly come to my mind for when images
> excel text:
> See your inbox. You pretty much don't care if there are 10
> mails in your inbox, or just one. If there is at all, you are
> going to read it no matter how much they are, don't you ;) So,
> displaying a small »letter« symbol in the bar draws your
> attention quicker to itself than »You got mail«, »inbox: xx«
> or whatever, which also disturbs your worklflow more! (of
> course, if there is /always/ a letter icon in your bar that
> gets lit or altered, the effect is smaller, but this would be
> not very thought-out to do something like that!)

A green label with 'M' could transport the same information. One
only has to learn the cognition a green label with M means you
got mail. See such a label as image. With proper UTF8 there
might be glyphs which look like a letter icon, dunno.

> Or, see a traffic graph. You can display the current network
> load as a absolute number. Or you could display a small graph.
> A graph is much easier on brain cycles! In addition, it
> displays the network load's course. You /immediately/ see if
> there's a peak, a change, or a DDOS/Windows box connected to
> the LAN ;) Of course you can have several cycling labels or
> some other ugly insanity. But I don't have to explain how that
> would be.

That is a bad example in my eyes, especially if such a graph is
small. First, the network traffic information is quite useless,
if such a graph only displays the current load -, second it
would need much space to be properly usable, 20px of a network
graph don't tells much. You need at least 40px that such info
really gains benefits from textual representations like network
load (e.g. cur: 10kb/s avg5m: 77.8kb/s avg1d: 45kb/s).
But then you can go and use gkrellm or a dockapp instead.

> So, there is room for images in a usable window manager. Not
> in a minimalistic, but in a usable. And wmii surely
> concentrates on usability (which most of the time /is/
> minimalism, but not here!), at least so I hope.

I think this icon stuff should not be implemented. It has too
less benefit. Supporting instead withdrawn apps in some dockbar
seems the better solution.


 Anselm R. Garbe  ><><  ><><  GPG key: 0D73F361
Received on Sun May 21 2006 - 21:15:06 UTC

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