One of Gnome’s biggest targets is to maintain consistent design for even the smallest parts and elements used in creating user interfaces. This is done according to logical instructions on how to implement various things to work and look similarly very good.
Some upcoming new features concerning tabs in the next major GTK+ version, and some tentative designs of new tabs implementation for gedit have piqued my interest, so here is a quick look on what kind of tab design you should be expecting all Gnome core apps and utilities to have from now on.
Here is how gedit tabs look right now:
The problems with this design are many. First, you can’t add a new tab just by clicking on a corresponding button found in a prominent position. Instead, you will either have to find the “add new tab” option in the “File” menu, or press Ctrl+N from the keyboard but that is not friendly for touch devices at all and generally confuses people that don’t use their keyboard for application functionality. Another problem is that there is a lot of empty space left to the right and no centralized way to access tabs that overlap (when window is small) fast and accurately.
The plans is to make all tabs under Gnome featuring the following abilities:
- Support animated add, remove, and reorder
- Support an optional close button on the active tab
- Support drag and drop (as both source and destination)
- Handle overflow where there are more tabs than available space
- Provide a way to indicate a non-active tab has activity
- Allow for both text, icon, and icon+text labels
- Possibly have a way to add a new tab
Here is the gedit related tentative art that could be the vehicle for these new tabs to take form:
As you can see from the above designs, the close button is only shown for the active/selected tabs, and the tabs can expand to use all the available width by automatically changing their size. Tabs have a minimum width though, and once there is no more space for additional tabs, they are added to an overflow menu on the right (three dot button).Also, a blank tab is always to be found on the right, allowing users to quickly take advantage of it when needed.
All this is great and modern looking, but the most important is that it is vital for use with touch devices where details like this one are more than critical. Great to see one more thing taking shape the way it should :)