See Deskbar with/in action(s)

My last two reports contained no news, but since university is over I spend a lot of time on Deskbar-Applet. Most notable I added actions. We now have modules, matches and actions. Modules produce matches and matches have actions. This way a match can have more actions, e.g. open url in browser and copy url to clipboard. If a match has more than one action you will see a list of actions after you selected the match. If it doesn't Deskbar-Applet will behave like it did without actions. You can see how it works in this movie. Currently, the matches don't include revolutionary actions. That's your opportunity to come up with those revolutionary actions and tell me about it. Furthermore, I'm going to update my guide on how to write modules for Deskbar-Applet soon.

In addition, I updated the preferences dialog to reflect the latest changes on the GConf schema. Because everyone likes movies I made another one.

Finally, Raphaël encouraged me to make a late 2.19.6 release. So download it, test it, report bugs and fix them.

More changes:

  • Fixed bug #461627: Change the amount of items in history
  • Always show count in category header
  • Fixed evolution address book search with evo-ldap (patch by Karl Relton)
  • Removed obsolete definitions from GConf and preferences and added new controls to preferences for previously unsupported options
  • Set process name to deskbar-applet
  • Cell containing the icon of a match doesn't expand anymore
  • Print tracebacks if module failed to load
  • Renamed to
  • Made sure that all icons are included in gnome-icon-theme

Apparently, the evolution module doesn't build. Just apply this patch and it builds again.

Update 2:
In addition to the patch from above, has been released containing the applied patch as well. The download location is the same as above.


This looks great!

Will the actions still be quickly accessible from the keyboard so I don't have to grab the mouse to access them?

Maybe a default action for plugins that have multiple actions or a way to assign a key to an action?

actions are nice!

though as a side effect, UI has gotten a bit confusing now:

  • clicking on some search results perform an action directly, while clicking on others gives a list of actions to perform in the right column; looks the same but behaves differently
  • actions of previous searches stay in the right column though a new search has been performed or another direct action has been clicked

my proposal for a more consistent and (I think) less complicated UI for the user:

  • search results with multiple actions have an arrow (>)
  • remove the action column
  • clicking any search result performs the default action
  • hovering over a search result shows a cascading menu with all the actions

This would also be easy to convert to the drop-down-from-panel deskbar UI, which I dearly miss :( I hope it will be brought back before 2.20 because it saved a lot of time vs current windowed mode. Instead of click-type-click-->result, it is now click-refocus-type-click-click-close_deskbar_window-->result (refocus=delay by retargeting your focus from panel to deskbar window elsewhere on screen)

In reply to by Peter Van den Bosch (not verified)

I came accross the problem that actions didn't get removed myself and it should be fixed in SVN already. In addition, I like your idea with '>' on the right very much and just implemented it some minutes ago. I'm not sure about your suggestion for the actions panel, though.
I'm afraid, only the current GUI will be available in 2.20.
Anyway, I'm very thankful that you try to improve Deskbar and I will surely consider you suggestions.

In reply to by sebp

Very happy to see you cared about my feedback, here is some more to bother you :)

Too bad there'll be no drop down UI but I understand the reasons. I hope the focus issues will be cleared up by 2.22. You can probably expect some negative feedback from many users meanwhile; people on the gutsy gibbon forum already started complaining and a bug report about it appeared too. Many like the minimalistic interface, that's why I proposed removing the action column. Other reasons are that the column isn't useful when the desired 'action result' in the first column and a cascading menu being quicker ( Fitt's law). A drop down menu from an arrow (like for opening attachments in evolution) instead of a cascading one might be a good idea too.

The reason why I'd want clicking on any search result to have the effect of executing the default action is not only consistency, but also because it just would be faster. Now I get each time searching for a webpage the choice between opening the page and copying the URL, while 99% of the time I want to do the former.

Some other remarks:

  • "extensions with errors" is a bit confusing: seems like there is really something wrong with them; I think it would be better just to place them in the main plugin list, but making them disabled and grayed out. They don't seem important enough to have their own tab anyway.
  • could "Close window after an action has been executed" be turned on by default at the time of the stable release? I think executing a single action is the main use case of the deskbar. Most of the time a window pops up over the deskbar window anyway when executing an action. Besides, it's not much trouble to open the deskbar window again. Maybe middleclick could then be used to activate an action without closing the deskbar window.
  • Related, 1 time escape could then close the window instead of current 2 times (which already is a good improvement)
  • Sorting of plugins doesn't seem to work yet? Their order is also reset on every restart of the deskbar.
  • Three plugins called "web bookmarks" is a bit confusing. At least the browser name could be included in their name. Even better would be to have just one bookmark item for all browsers, which would activate all underlying plugins which aren't disabled.
  • The action "Copy URL to clipboard" isn't descriptive enough when it's listed as a history item : which URL will it copy?
  • clicking one time on a list item isn't a very common behavior in GNOME, most require double clicks (like places list in nautilus); maybe cursor could change into a hand when hovering over actions

In reply to by Peter Van den Bosch (not verified)

The big problem currently is that UI freeze is coming on August 13th. I changed a the GUI almost completly because of all the negative feedback. Nevertheless, entry or button mode won't come back.
The behavior for default actions will added soon. So that when you double click a match (on the left) the default action will be executed.
In reply to your remarks:

  1. I thought about that, too. But time is running away. So this won't make it.
  2. It is turned on by default now.
  3. If you press Escape the window will be closed if your search entry is empty. If not the search entry will be cleared.
  4. Thanks for that. I just fixed it.
  5. You're absolutly right. Because it's a easy fix, it's very likely that this will make it into the next release.
  6. Again. Absolutly right. I have to think about a solution.
  7. History changed dramatically. So this isn't a issue anymore.

Thanks again for your feedback. It's really really helpful.

In reply to by sebp

Lots of improvement in SVN going on, it seems. Like it better now! Thanks for the work. Don't let the negative feedback discourage you. If the freeze didn't happen yet, a couple more suggestions:

  • the history combo is kinda in the way to get to the list when searching for something; you're not using it then anyway. Maybe it could be moved to the bottom or hidden altogether when starting to type.
  • when having a search result with multiple actions, hitting two times enter should execute the first action
  • hitting the up key from within the search field should go to the last item of the list
  • "Copy URL to clipboard" maybe could be replaced by "Copy URL to clipboard"
  • maybe subjective, but using the wording "Recent actions" instead of "History" seems to be a bit easier (mom-proof) and consistent with the rest of GNOME ("recent documents", "recently opened")

In reply to by Peter Van den Bosch (not verified)

"Copy URL to clipboard" maybe could be replaced by "Copy URL [url in bold] to clipboard"

html filtering got in the way, shouldn't have used angle brackets

Why is a new window spawned when the icon is clicked? The old way was much more elegant. I hope it's at least an option.

I only found deskbar with the Tribe 2 Ubuntu release and fell in love with it. coming from Macland it felt perfect. However by tribe 3 it was gone.

I can understand the temptation to keep adding more and more functions to a product, but in many cases people want a simple program. The responce to the changes has pretty much been 95% negative.

I am sure you have a vision of an amazing app that can do a million different things, but is it possible that you could also give us a simple one?

Is it possible we could have the old deskbar back as least as a preference option? Please.

If you have decided that your vision is strong enough and the 95% of people will fall in love with whatever you have come up with, can you please point me in the direction of another app thats like deskbar used to be?

I must say I'm extremely disappointed with the new deskbar. First of all it can no longer be called deskbar because its no longer a bar. The ease of use and functionality has been broken. I'm sorry but this thing is awful and I have removed it from my panel for now until we get back an actual deskbar. .

I just wanted to pipe in and say that I'm very disappointed with the new deskbar gui. I appreciate all the hard work but the new gui makes using deskbar pointless. I liked how I could just click on the button and have a nice text entry box that could search my desktop, the web, launch apps...

The new window is horrible, now that it's the only way to use deskbar I just decided to remove it and look for a replacement. Please reconsider this design choice. As a user I'm begging for the old deskbar to come back....