I’m a big fan of GNOME Shell extensions

I haven’t used a Windows desktop “properly” for around 8 years or so (and can’t say I miss it, either).

Back when I first started this blog I had a multi-boot set up on my PC that married a (seemingly endless) stack of Linux distros with a version (I forget which) of Windows 7.

— Why am I talking about Windows 7?

Well, because one of the things I really remember being quite “cool” about it — please note: I use the term loosely — was a feature called Aero Peek.

Aero Peek was a little workflow power-up that let you “see” thumbnail previews for all your open apps (and their windows) by hovering over the respective task bar entry:

It also let you quickly reveal the full version of any window preview just by hovering over one of the thumbnails.

In short: it was quite neat, so I’m stoked that I can also use it on Ubuntu.

Dynamic Window Previews

Dash to Panel is one of the best GNOME extensions available IMO. In one stroke it changes the GNOME Shell desktop experience in to a more traditional layout.

Both the Dash to Panel and code-cousin Dash to Dock GNOME extensions offer a window preview feature similar to Aero Peek. It’s an optional setting, but it’s there; it’s not new.

However, both extensions currently use a fixed-width thumbnail for window previews, regardless of an application’s window shape or size.

As you can see, this doesn’t look terrible:

dash to panel window peek

In its present form the feature is pretty much on par with Aero Peek, and even includes the “hover over a window preview to see the app in question” behaviour.

But could it be better?

Enter Dynamic Resizing

Alex, aka BabyWogue, aka “that angry Ubuntu hating guy on Twitter”, lodged an interesting feature request on the Dash to Panel Github.

That request? To “remove titles from thumbnails [and] add dynamic horizontal sizing”.

While the former of these isn’t particularly exciting or noteworthy, the latter?

Well, that most certainly is:

Part of what makes this (semi-trivial) feature look so good is the use of an animated transition. The previews fluidly morphs in size as you mouse over a different open application(s).

And the best bit? This isn’t a mockup.

This is real, working code available in a development branch of the Dash to Panel extension.

So when can you try this?

Well, the code is, as far as I can tell, still stuck in a development branch (i.e. you won’t find this setting available in the most recent Dash to Panel release).

And some refinement is being done to buff and polish the feature, like adding back window titles (they’re kinda necessary to when more than one instance of an app is open), before it can be merged and rolled out properly.

But when it is, you can bet a tonne of folk are gonna dig this.

As someone who uses a mix of tall, vertical windows and regular, wide windows, this minor flourish is gonna add some major pizazz to my desktop experience.

Idea News dash to panel Eye Candy GNOME Extensions