My biggest gripe in GNOME Shell is finally fixed.

I know what you’re thinking: “Joey, you’ve been here before, dude” — and I have. But this time it’s different: code has been committed, code has been merged; it is actually happening.

For the rest of you wondering what I’m amped up about, I’ll explain.

Open the Applications grid on the Ubuntu desktop — or any Linux distro using GNOME Shell — and you’re greeted by an alphabetised gallery of application launchers:

GNOME Shell Applications Grid
Applications Grid in Ubuntu 20.10

So far, so-so.

But pay closer attention to the grid. You’ll notice that many app labels are not complete. Some trail off into ellipses.

In fact, quite a few do:

  • Additional Driv…
  • Document Scan…
  • Document Vie…
  • Disk Usage Ana…
  • Firefox Web Br…
  • Language Supp…
  • Libreoffice Im…

And that’s just on the first page!

But the app name truncation isn’t resolution based. It happens on different screen sizes, from low-res VirtualBox 800×600 through to HiDPI displays stretched across 4K monitors.

However, a change is finally on the way.

GNOME 40 (due for release this spring) supports multi-line icon labels on hover, as this short clip from Georges Basile Stavracas Neto ably demos:

Merge !1477

When you can’t read the full name of an app you just hover over it and, voila: full name appears.

While this tiny tweak mean the days of dotty delineated app descriptors are duly done and dusted? Well, since this change has been committed and merged upstream it’s looking possible!

Not that this “issue” was a massive deal for most.

As I said last time I wrote about this: truncated app names are very much a superficial ‘paper cut’. They make the app grid look untidy, unfinished, and poorly optimised. After all: a grid for showing apps should have been designed to accommodate all of an app name, right?

On the flip side, have truncated app names left anyone unable to find or identify an app?

Rarely.

Most folks know that “LibreOffice Im…” opens LibreOffice Impress; and if anyone has been left perplexed by the appearance of the GIMP after hitting the shortcut sub-headed “GNU Manipul…” I’m yet to hear about it.

Fact is most of us tend to recognise application by their icon rather than their name. This is why app docks and panel launchers are popular (and don’t show labels by default), and explains why this issue hasn’t been top of the to-do pile for devs.

Still, those docks and launchers do show full app name on hover and this code commit sort of does the same for GNOME Shell’s Applications screen. If anything, this is more graceful than a regular tooltip.

Now if only GNOME devs could do something about my other pet peeve

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