The GNOME design team is always hard at work iterating, ideating and improving on the form and function of apps and major UI elements throughout the GNOME desktop stack.
And a lot of that design and planning takes place out in the open, on mailing lists, issue trackers, code repos, and communication channels like Matrix and IRC.
One of the best places to get a feel for what the design team is working on is the GNOME Design GitLab. This GitLab group has a specific repo where application mockups are added, with the aim of garnering feedback and response from other design team members.
Three recent app mockups uploaded to this repo have me excited.
New GNOME App Mockups
Before we look at the new GNOME app mockups I want to stress the obvious: it’s easier to make mockups than it is to make an app. Ergo mockups ≠ concrete plans to create something.
In fact, mockups appear early in the creation of an app or planned change. They’re effectively a white boarding of one potential GUI or approach, not an accurately measured blueprint of a finalised one.
So while the app mockups below are interesting, they’re not indicative of anything being developed. Or to put it another way, the GNOME design team produce a lot of mockups and, of themselves, mockups alone are not proof of anything other than an idea or an ambition or an itch being scratched.
Caveats aside, mockups do give us something: a parseable glimpse at where GNOME design thinking is currently at and/or looking to improve.
New GNOME Extensions App
GNOME extensions are a popular part of the GNOME Shell desktop experience, with many GNOME Shell-based distros (like Ubuntu) even shipping a couple by default.
But configuring, updating and removing extensions isn’t the most obvious.
Currently, one needs to use a
chrome-gnome-shell compatible web browser (the current go-to) or a utility like GNOME Tweaks to manage GNOME Shell extensions.
So splitting extension management out into a separate app has real merit, as this “initial mockup” shows:
While I can’t imagine GNOME would want to ship an extensions app by default — outside of GNOME Classic Mode, it doesn’t actually use them itself — making an app like this would be a boon all the same.
Font Manager Improvements
I didn’t realise until very recently that the GNOME Shell desktop lacks a dedicated font manager.
Emphasis there because GNOME Shell does ship with a font viewer that, when combined with the GNOME Characters app, makes a passable attempt at letting one view and install font files.
But an official font manager would be nice, wouldn’t it:
The “initial mockup” above (cropped by me to remove a proposed mobile design) show one possible, immersive approach that a dedicated GNOME Font Manager app could take.
I particularly like the ability to filter and preview specific styles and weights within a font family (other apps just tend to demo the ‘regular’ version).
Clocks App Improvements
With GNOME making the leap to mobile via the Librem 5, some extra thought and attention is being given to the Clocks app, currently a core GNOME app (which Ubuntu doesn’t ship by default, tsk).
Obviously the most important use case for the Clocks app is to relay the time, not just in the “users” location, but in other places they need to keep track of.
I particularly like the “time zone browser” feature present in the (cropped) mockup above. This reminds me of features in third-party Android and macOS world clock apps that let you drag a slider forwards/backwards to see what the time would be in configured locales.
Naturally other areas of the clock app, like alarms and stopwatch, are important, particularly as the app will be used on mobile.
Although not indicative of a pending revamp, these mockups are interesting all the same. I particularly like the idea of an “official” font manager as it’s currently a bit of a hassle to remove a font from Ubuntu (especially since Nautilus lost type ahead).
Additionally, all these mockups are public, up on GitLab (lest anyone think I’ve somehow hacked in to Allan Day’s thought process).