On Tue, Jan 19, 2021 at 4:35 PM Matthew Miller <mattdm(a)fedoraproject.org>
Overall, like it and think this is a good direction. It didn't
me long to adjust to. I do think we need to communicate this a _lot_,
because change is hard and there exist a lot of negativity around GNOME
changes in general (even when such negativity is really ironic). Let's make
sure to get positive messaging out there.
I've been using GNOME 40 Alpha for a few days now, I figured I could
piggy-back on this thread, with the hope that the right people will read it.
The overall feeling I have is that the redesigned shell is a bit flashier
than before, but a little less productive for me, for one particular
reason. My only major issue with it is that I feel a bit claustrophobic in
it, because I no longer see at a glance how many workspaces I have, which
workspace I'm on, and what my other workspaces contain. As a background -
I'm a heavy user of workspaces, I constantly switch between them. I mostly
don't put two maximized windows on the same workspace. I also use
workspaces to separate apps by type of work, so e.g. a web browser on the
first workspace, dev tools or perhaps VMs on the second, a chat on the
third, a personal browser on the fourth, etc.
In GNOME 3, after pressing a single Super key (or an extra mouse button I
mapped to it), I could see all my workspaces with all my apps and easily
figure out where I am and where I want to move to, or just switch between
windows on the current workspace. In GNOME 40, this is no longer possible,
I can either invoke a view to switch between apps on the current workspace
(the overview), or invoke a view to have an overall view of all workspaces
(the app grid view). This requires me to do some mental gymnastics *before*
I make an action (should I hit Super or Super+A, what do I want to do, is
the next window on this workspace on somewhere else?). Whereas in GNOME 3,
I could hit a button and *then* decide, while *seeing* the windows (instead
of remembering them), which felt more natural, more convenient, and
ultimately more productive. So in GNOME 3 I felt like "seeing my stuff", in
GNOME 40 I feel like "looking for my stuff".
This is perhaps also emphasised by the fact that the app grid view is only
easily reachable from the keyboard. When holding just my mouse, after
triggering the overview, I need to travel across the screen and manage to
hit the 9 dots button just to have a bird's-eye view of all my workspaces.
That's a lot of precise effort needed for something I was used to doing
very frequently with just a single mouse button press. When using the
touchpad gestures (which I love, by the way), it still requires me to do
two gestures, and their animations are annoyingly slow.
I would really really love it if you could add some kind of workspace
indicator to the overview screen (at the top, bottom, or over the windows
preview e.g. in a corner), which would show on which workspace I currently
am and what the other workspaces contain (just app icons would serve well
enough). It could be really small, but it would help a lot. (Not sure if
this is a good argument, but even Windows 10 show you a workspaces overview
at all times). The same info could be shown on the "switch workspace
overlay" that appears at the middle of the screen when you press
Ctrl+Alt+Left/Right. Instead of just black and blue rectangles, those
rectangles could contain app icons, and it would help people navigate.
Except for this one problem, I don't really have any other major design
issues with it. Sure, it still has some rough edges, but the implementation
is far from over, and so I expect those corners to get polished over time.
It looks pretty good and I quite like some parts already (e.g. the touch
* I really find overview-zoom and unzoom animations to be too slow.
them off is, however, too jarring. Hopefully Impatience will be available
as an extension again, but I think we should consider making the default
little faster and perhaps proving options in Tweaks. (I know this isn't
new, just missing it from not having that extension.)
I only find them slow when using the touchpad gestures. I wrote about it in
more details here:
* That said, when using the scroll wheel, the switch workspace animation
feels too _fast_. It's easy to get lost if I have more than two
workspaces. I know, it's all subjective, but that's my impression.
Do you have a free-scrolling wheel? When using a wheel with dents, the
switching feels absolutely fine for me. Although my mind has problems
remembering whether scrolling up means moving left or right, perhaps I'll
remember it after longer usage.
* I don't have a strong opinion about horizontal vs. vertical
alignment, even after using it for a week. Either is fine with me.
I had previously used always-zoom-workspaces, and there's not really a
logical place for that in the new design. The net result of this is that
forget what's on my other workspaces and open up more new windows and
workspaces in general throughout the day.
Vertical has the benefit of making it easier to fit the "all workspaces
preview" on the screen, because of displays' aspect ratios. Horizontal is
probably what people are more familiar with, from phones.
I'm glad I'm not the only one feeling a regression here in the general
awareness of where my windows are.
* Launching something from the dash using the mouse requires a LOT of
travel: up to the top left corner, then down to the middle. Then, it
that new windows prefer to appear back up in the top left, so it's back
to there again. Maybe:
1. the botton edge of the screen could also be "hot" and bring up the
2. new windows could bias more towards appearing in the center of the
screen even if that makes more overlap.
* Actually point #2 might be important enough that it's worth
directly. The top left of the screen is rarely where I want a
non-maximized window to appear.
You can enable "Center new windows" in the Tweak tool. It's the lesser evil
for me. It would be great if Shell could be a bit more friendly in choosing
a new window location. Currently it makes more sense to me to choose
"center new windows", because if I open just a single window, I can
immediately work in it (opposed to having it opened in the far top left,
from where I'd need to move it). Once I open a second window, both options
are similar, I need to grab it and move it somewhere else (but it's easier
to grab in the middle of the screen).
* The borders around the window positions in the overview make for even
real-estate in that view, which is unfortunate. I don't have a great
suggestion, except maybe thinner margins.
I do have suggestions. Yes, the windows seem unnecessarily constrained and
small (even though they might be of the same size as in GNOME 3, I didn't
measure that). It would help if the windows could actually extend *over*
the zoomed-out wallpaper edge, so they would kinda look like floating in
front of/above the wallpaper. I don't see any reason why they must be fit
inside the rectangle. Quite the opposite, it would look pretty modern to
break the boundary (when needed, e.g. many large windows on a single
workspace) and it would be easier to recognize their contents.
I do understand why the wallpaper is zoomed out (I think), to indicate that
this is just a single workspace and along the right edge you can see
peeking a different one. If you make the margins thinner, this message
might be less obvious. I'd solve that by appending an arrow overlay over
the peeking edge of the next workspace on the right (or left). The arrow
would make it clear that there's a next workspace there, even with thinner
borders, and it would also make it clearer where to click to get there
(currently you can click anywhere on the peeking workspace bar, but it is
not really obvious.
* A dash-to-dock feature I miss: I want the terminal icon to launch a
window rather than focusing an existing one. I know that's not new in
design but it'd be nice to not have to use this extension. I might be
to train myself to middle-click, but I'd rather swap the behavior.
Just the terminal icon, or any icon? In the first case, that would make it
inconsistent, and in the second case, that would make it less user
friendly, I feel. I defined a custom shortcut to launch gnome-terminal in
Settings and I use that to invoke new windows. But, since I have it at my
second place among favorites, it would be nice if I could have an
alternative to middle click when using Super+number shortcuts. Currently
Super+2 always focuses the existing terminal window, it would be nice if
e.g. Super+Shit+2 could launch a new one (like a middle click).
* The first time I dragged a window to a new workspace, I was confused as
where it went. I think it's probably the right behavior, just a surprise.
Maybe an animation can help here?
This is one of the very rough edges of the redesign, I feel. Moving windows
feels *very* unpleasant. It's like an animation is missing or something,
everything happens too suddenly and there is no easy check that the
operation happened correctly (because there is no preview of all the
workspaces visible). This action would benefit from a much slower animation
(if there is some in the first place, or adding it), or alternatively
keeping the workspaces zoomed out after the move (so that a person can move
other windows easily, without constant zooming in and out), until a person
clicks a workspace to zoom into.
* If I have a single window on the second workspace and drag it to the
third, that second workspace (naturally) becomes empty. If I then
immediately launch a new application or new window without leaving the
overview, that new app lands on that workspace and everything is fine.
If, however, I don't launch a new app and return from the overview, the
empty workspace is collapsed, which in pratice means that the window I
dragged to the right is now back on the workspace in front of me, and
there are still just two workspaces.
There's not even an animation making this smooth, but even if it were, it
really feels like strange behavior. Consider not collapsing single empty
workspaces between occupied ones.
I created a video here:
The animation would help, but perhaps the best solution would really be to
not automatically remove an empty workspace which is not the last one. Add
a close button to it, and people can close it if they want.
I do have one further request which I'm not sure whether is design-related
or implementation-related. Please highlight (put a colored border around)
the current workspace in the grid app view. You can switch between
workspaces in that view, but it's very hard to tell which workspace is
currently selected. Also, highlight the target workspace when moving
windows (or app icons) to them (in all views). That will make drop
operations much more pleasant. Thank you.