Further to my post regarding the new Ubuntu branding design, default themes and the ever-so troublesome button layout proposed for the upcoming new LTS release “Lucid Lynx”, I was reading around the internet about the whole button layout issue until I came across a quote from Mr. Shuttleworth himself that struck a chord in me:
“Moving everything to the left opens up the space on the right nicely, and I would like to experiment in 10.10 with some innovative options there.”
This got me really thinking about the possibilities of that space. What could we do there? How can we utilise this free room effectively? I slept on it for a few days until a couple of ideas blossomed in my head, like fresh daffodils in Spring. So, I present to you, the humble reader, two button concepts that I’ve designed: the Workflow button and the Upload button.
The Workflow Button
Consider this: let us say that you are working on a design in Inkscape. You finish the initial design and now you want to port that file over to GIMP. The process required to perform this flow is launch GIMP (either from a dock, command or menu, possibly changing viewports/minimising Inkscape beforehand), open up the Open File dialog, locate the file you were working on in Inkscape and port it into GIMP to continue work.
We can make this workflow much more direct and simple using the Workflow button.
Note the two buttons on the right-hand side of the titlebar. The left one is the Workflow button and the button next to it is the Upload function. Let us focus on the Workflow button. Essentially, what this button allows us to do is keep our focus on the file we’re working with whilst moving it through different applications as and when needed. It means you can literally jump from application to application whilst keeping the file we’re working on in constant focus. A non-interrupted workflow. So how would this work? Well, if we click on the Worflow button…
…a menu appears, giving us a choice of applications to open our current file into. This menu should be customisable; the user should be able to choose what applications should appear in the Workflow menu depending on what file type you’re working on (any image files, like jpegs, pngs, svgs etc., will give you an application like the list above. Text filetypes would give you a different set of application suggestions and so on). NOTE: yes I know that the menu style I’ve designed here is not currently possible in the confines of GTK, but I’m not limiting my imagination here.
So, to continue with our case study, I want to port this SVG piece I’m working on from Inkscape straight into GIMP to continue work with textures and other effects. Let us click on the GIMP icon…
Two actions could happen here: Inkscape could be minimised or we’re switched to a fresh viewport to open GIMP onto. This could be customised. GIMP has finished loading and…
…has opened our file directly, ready for us to continue work on it.
No need to open the new application browse through our filing system and opening the file we were just working on, we can literally just “jump” from one application to another whilst keeping our current activity in focus. Simple and direct and would be quite a time saver as well.
The Upload Button
And now an explanation of the second concept button. Ubuntu Lucid is looking to have a strong focus bringing various online activities, such as social networking, straight to your desktop. A way that this is being implemented is via the MeMenu. It’s an extremely interesting concept and it’s something that the KDE SC is also very keen on via a myriad of different social networking plasmoids. Another important feature due to evolve considerably in the Lucid release is the Ubuntu One cloud service, offering users 2Gb free of online storage to store files or sync with others.
Thinking about this web-interactivity from the desktop, an idea came to me. What if, for example, you’ve finished editing a photo from your recent holiday and you want to upload it directly to Facebook? Gwenview, the default image viewer in KDE SC, has this functionality, but I think we should be able to expand this function so that you can upload ANY file to ANY online service you need directly from whatever application you’re currently using to edit your file with. Perhaps you’re collaborating with a coder and you’re both sharing code back and forth via a shared and synced Ubuntu One folder you have set up for this purpose. Wouldn’t it be good to just upload the file straight to the Ubuntu One folder directly from the application you’re working in? Wouldn’t it be nice to upload a holiday snap straight from your image editor of choice directly into a Facebook album of yours?
With the Upload button, we can. Whereas currently, if we want to upload an image to Facebook we’d have to open our browser, load up Facebook, find the album we want, open the Open File dialog, locate the image we want then upload it… with this button we can simply upload the image we are currently working on, regardless of what application, directly to Facebook. Or upload a piece of code directly to Ubuntu One. Or post an image directly to Tumblr.
The menu, and the online services, should again be customisable; the user should be able to choose what online service suggestions they are presented with.
The user tailors their own workflow experience.
Is this all possible?
You know what? I have no idea. I’m not a coder/programmer. I’m just a dreamer. If someone checks out these ideas and figures out a way of implementing them, then that, my friends, is all gravy. Assumedly, various Metacity hacks would have to be made. I’m just guessing here. Rather, consider these new buttons an exercise into the possibilities of all that newly created titlebar space made available in Lucid Lynx. These ideas excite me and I would love to see them become a reality. Whether they will or not is another question entirely.
Still, a designer can dream.
Ian Cylkowski aka Izo
Logo & Brand Identity Design, GUI/UX Design
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