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PopOvers Arriving On GTK!

GTK for long time was considering as the main weakness of Gnome. These days, GTK has been transformed to one of the most slick UI Toolkits around. Many new widgets have landed in the last year, and theming has received major improvements. While there are much left to be done, the overall outcome already looks pretty good.


The above figure is an experimental design for GTK List Widget, made 10 days ago by Allan Day. The hot part here is the Popover Menu rather the List. Popovers are core items of all modern UIs, but they were missing from GTK.

The design roadmap of GTK reminds a lot of Bootstrap Twitter Framework, and the GTK Popovers are not an exception.


They (Gnome devs) are working on them and hopefully Popovers will arrive in Gnome Three-Point-Twelve. No guarantees.

You can try them your selves from Gtk Popovers Branch.


GtkPopover is a bubble-like context window, primarily meant to provide context-dependent information or options. Popovers are attached to a widget, passed at construction time on gtk_popover_new() or updated afterwards through gtk_popover_set_relative_to(), by default they will point to the whole widget area, although this behavior can be changed through gtk_popover_set_pointing_to().

The position of a popover relative to the widget it is attached to can also be changed through gtk_popover_set_position().

By default, no grabs are performed on #GtkPopovers, if a modal behavior is desired, a GTK+ grab can be added with gtk_grab_add().

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  • Eduard Gotwig

    +1 ! The elementaryOS devs also will be very happy about this!

    • alex285

      Elementary OS has became really cool. We should do some posts about it.

    • JaSauders

      Indeed. Elementary OS is a really solid distro. I used to run it but it was a really claustrophobic experience, however family members of mine love its simplicity so it works for them. I wonder if other distros such as Linux Mint (Cinnamon oriented) would adopt anything like this. I REALLY like what is happening in GTK/Gnome, but man, in the name of getting things done, at times I still fire up Cinnamon. :/

    • vikoadi

      If only this popover came before 3.10, so elementary can just use popover in Isis. Or will elementary get rebase Isis to 3.12 for not reaching “Its done when its done”? We’ll never know…….

  • Itxaka serrano

    That kind of looks horrible. That won’t be the final implementation will it? Because it looks like…disconnected.

    • alex285

      This is experimental designs. I wrote this down ;)
      I haven’t tried the current implementation of Popovers to see how they look like at the moment.

  • Marcos V.F.

    Another type of menu for Gnome? AppMenu, Gear Button, traditional layout and now PopOvers…it’s a pain for the end user.

    • alex285

      Quite the opposite. Popovers simplify menus and enrich content without bottleneck interfaces. Can also be used as “smart tooltips”.

  • lnxslck

    main weakness of Gnome is poor resolution

  • kenbw2

    What purpose does this fulfill that normal drop downs don’t? Surely it’s just a presentation difference

    • alex285

      Are you suggesting that Popovers are same as Menus? I am just reprinting someone else comment.

      Popovers are not menus. Menus display a list of text items (possibly accompanied by icons) associated with either an action, selection, or a submenu. They are super limited in what they can display.

      Popovers are a sort of quick-access contextual dialog. They allow arbitrary packing of widgets like buttons, scales, notebook pages, etc.

      Have you seen the downloads thing in the latest Safari or Firefox? Popover.

      You know the new system status thing in GNOME Shell? Popover.

      The little dictionary thingy that you can pull up on iOS? Popover.

      Those UI’s are all impossible to do in GTK without this branch and soon they will be possible. This isn’t just a menu with a little arrow on it. This is a large component of modern UI design coming to GTK.

      • lot

        Gnome 2 had a little calendar thing that would pop up when you clicked
        on a panel bar applet. Windows 95 had the same thing since … 1995.
        Hardly a “modern UI component” then. Sounds more like something iOS had and therefore Gnome had to have too. I fear this widget will be abused and misused by Gnome devs as the screenshot suggests it already has been the case. You should have used a drop-down menu there.

  • poinck

    How can I use them in Vala?

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