Martin Owens: Indicator Icons, keep an eye out in natty.

It’s not just the convertion of these indicator icon dependent applications that is the issue. Natty users will open these applications and wonder: a.Did the shortcut fail? b. Did the Unity launcher fail/bug? c. Did the application fail to start? Natty users aren’t even sure what happened. Look I’ll give a more complicated case. I use Shutter, the screenshot capture application. I configured it to start when I boot up. I am now on my desktop (unity) and I want to use Shutter. I go to the Unity launcher (let’s make it simple, it’s already there). I click it. Nothing happens. Tip: Shutter is already running, but Natty user wont know that. There’s no visual cue!

via Planet Ubuntu on 4/19/11

On the Ubuntu development mailing list there has been a long thread about the desktop experience in natty concerning those little icons that used to appear in the top right corner called ‘indicator icons’.

As you probably know there has been a whole bunch of work going on for the past few cycles to convert all the gnome panel applets into indicators and Natty will be the first release that removes the functionality for both the applets and those icons. Some apps though need those icons to still work, and some of those are propritary apps. So there will be a white-list that allows those selected programs to continue to work. You will need to keep an eye out though for obscure apps which haven’t been either converted or white-listed as they may silently fail to work. In Martin Pool’s own words:

One consideration about the applet whitelist: at the moment the Unity Launcher invites you to install applcations like radiotray, whose only UI is an applet icon. (I think this is not the only example.) This is leading the user up a blind alley.

In this case there is upstream work to support appindicators, which is great, but it requires manual xml editing and it’s not in Natty yet.

It seems like these each need to be either
* fixed before release
* whitelisted
* not recommended if you’re running Unity

radiotray is not all that important of an application, but just having nothing happen is icky.

Do you use any applications which haven’t been converted to the new indicator system?


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