I’ve been following the recent noise about Mark Shuttleworth’s suggestion for future UI improvements in Ubuntu, and they seem to be steadily headed from “bad idea” to “worst idea.” I found the notification behavior in recent Ubuntu releases (especially that horrible, noisy, hard to interpret unified presence icon) pretty awful, but easily disabled without completely replacing the UI (I run XFCE where all is equal, but XFCE users are definitely second class citizens on Ubuntu). Then there was bitching because of the unpopular, unilateral decision to move window buttons to the left, which is pretty much ass backwards as far as most users are concerned. Hopefully, that will remain easy to replace by swapping the theme.
The crowning glory of bad ideas, however, is the latest. He is calling for the addition of “Windicators” to all windows, and proposing that it be implemented in the worst possible way. Let’s count reasons this is a really bad idea:
* Client-side rendering makes every application need a rewrite to use the feature – They just finished getting almost all tray rendering over to the server like it should be, don’t recreate the problem.
* No standard interface – If there were some kind of “I want a notifier” interface added to the standards, that would be one thing, but adding noncompliant behavior, downstream, to one environment is just silly.
* Break existing standard interfaces – DBus, NetWM and friends specify window interactions, that work right with any supporting environment. These don’t fit.
* Break existing assumptions – Except for title bar text (ie. the (n) next to gmail titles to indicate unread messages), the title bar is a title bar. The buttons up there manipulate the WINDOW via the WINDOW MANAGER.
* Replicate existing functionality – We’ve got a global notification area. We’ve got per-window notification. Tell me again why this is better?
* Clutter, Clutter, Clutter – Why the hell would I want more little doodads vying for attention on my screen?
This excellent refutation, and the discussion at OSNews are a more thorough description of the problem. Hopefully, the upstream devs will squash this by refusing to cooperate. Otherwise, this might be nice as it will drive users to other window managers/distros, and help keep the Ubuntu and Linux communities vibrant and diverse that way.