Friday, January 21, 2011

The Dash Has Landed


User visible changes to Unity have slowed down quite a bit until this week. There have been things like bug fixes landing, and the nm-applet getting indicatorized, and then that getting fixed up. But essentially, Unity has been just the launcher and the panel with indicators for weeks.

Then this week, 2 important new things landed. First, the beginning of accessibility support. I don't use accessibility support myself, so this dimension is hard for me to assess, but as you can see from this screenshot, Unity is now announcing itself.
It isn't reporting it's objects sufficiently to actually use yet, but I'm bumping up the accessability dimension a tad from zero to account for this project. Also, alt-keys work in application menus now!

The other thing that landed is the dash. Now you, can see from the above screenshot that it's a crude first cut at the dash, only let's you click a few buttons. However, there is a lot of work underhood to make that show up. So, I expect we'll see search showing up soon! Than after that, there won't be too much work to get the dash up to functional parity with Maverick!

So, the updated spider diagram shows that Unity is almost covering it's shape from Maverick.
Hopefully with the introduction of the the dash, the left hand side of the graph should start filling in very quickly.

Some other notes ...

Launcher
  • I bumped up launcher quality because crashers have gone down, but I[m still getting menus out of z-order, which makes them show up behind other windows. This effects all of the system, so it's probably really compiz not the launcher, but it makes the launcher unusable at times. This may be fixed today, but sicne it's intermitent, it's hard to say.
  • New animations and new backgrounds make the launcher look nicer
  • The addition of “open new window” and the autohide functions make this close to complete, in fact, I'm wondering what users are really missing now. I guess quick lists and the ability to display status on an icon in the launcher will make it feature complete.
Dash
  • As of today, a panel comes up allowing you to click some big buttons.
  • There is not yet any search.
  • There isn't any animation or mouse over effects and such.
  • The look of the panel so far is "ok", a bit blocky and such. I expect that the look and feel will be refined quickly.
  • The panel appears instanty. That's very nice and I hope that doesn't change.
Indicators
  • With the introduction of the nm-applet in indicator form, the indicators seem feature complete.
  • The indicators also suffer badly from the z-ordering bug I mentioned above.
  • I'm not sure about the whole thing of hiding menus when the mouse is not over them. It seems like it should bother me, but it really doesn't.

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