Taskbar Grouping In CVS

Sure to put an end to countless discussions on the ever-lively kde-look mailing list, and to cut off a stream of "wishlist" bug requests, KDE CVS (look for it in the upcoming KDE 2.2-beta1 release) now features task-grouping in Kicker, the KDE panel. As is shown in this screenshot, task grouping optionally groups all windows opened by the same application in the same task-bar button. Here, 17 Gimp windows can be seen grouped in the same taskbar button, and the same can be seen for Konqueror and Konsole windows. With no more overflowing task bars, I am a happy camper :-).


I am a fan of both KDE and GNOME, so don't think I'm trying to spark a war here. As an integrated environment, I prefer KDE. Konqueror is my favourite file manager and browser (Nautilus, IMHO, has been dumbed-down for newbies too much), and I find QT to be far faster than GTK.

Nevertheless, I am a GNOME user. Why, you ask? Mainly because of one thing: the GNOME Panel. This has got to be one of the most configurable and useful apps on the planet, sporting a multitude of applets (far more in number and sophistication than KDE's) and features. I love how I can have as many panels as I want, each with as much configurability as the next. I appreciate how I can make the panels any size I want, and place them anywhere on the screen (either along an edge or free-floating). The "swallowed app" feature, where you can embed any normal app in the taskbar (yes, even KDE apps), is incredibly useful. The GNOME panel even has a status dock that is fully compatible with KDE's.

Now my point here is that GNOME's main strength (along with the very flexible Sawfish WM, but that's another story) is its panel. If KDE developed a similar panel, GNOME would have lost it's main advantage. GNOME users (except for the real die-hard ones) would all flock to KDE. KDE has about six months before GNOME 2.0 is due to be released - that gives some time for KDE to develop a top-notch panel application. In the meantime, however, I'll stick with GNOME.

By Sridhar Dhanapalan at Tue, 2001/05/15 - 5:00am

I wouldn't flock to KDE even if it did have a decent panel. Window manager's not very good.

Now give KDE a good window manager and then I'd consider it... depending of course on how good GNOME 2 is.

By MaW at Tue, 2001/05/15 - 5:00am

You have a good point there. I did mention in passing that GNOME's other main strength was it's default window manager (Sawfish), which is highly configurable. Also interesting is the fact that GNOME doesn't try to tie you to one window manager as KDE does. In GNOME, you can easily switch to use another WM like Enlightenment, IceWM or WindowMaker if you so wish, whereas in KDE there is no easy way to achieve this.

Anyway, I'll stop there, since this is most definitely off-topic :-)

By Sridhar Dhanapalan at Tue, 2001/05/15 - 5:00am

That's not true anymore. In KDE 2.0, you can use any window manager that implements the new NETWM window manager spec. The spec is made together by KDE, Gnome and other guys. Currently compliant windowmanagers that I know of are KWin and Sawfish.

By nap at Tue, 2001/05/15 - 5:00am

There is also a project that makes FVWM compliant with the new spec

By Grant at Wed, 2001/05/16 - 5:00am

Just curious, but what do you think are the strengths of Sawfish?

By Doug Welzel at Wed, 2001/05/16 - 5:00am

I love Sawfish because it is both light and *very* configurable. Like KWM, it is designed primarily to be used along with an environment like KDE or GNOME. Unlike other WMs like Enlightenment or WindowMaker, which are also designed to run stand-alone, Sawfish leaves almost everything (even simple things like configuring the desktop background) to the desktop environment. This allows it to remain lightweight, by avoiding unnecessary duplication of feature sets, and it minimises the risk of clashes with the environment.

At the same time, however, Sawfish is incredibly configurable. All window decorations are configurable (far more so than in KWM) and the entire user-interface policy is controlled through a Lisp-based scripting language, which can be manually edited to a user's desire. If one prefers to set up their WM graphically, Sawfish's graphical configuration tools are also very powerful (again, much more so than KWM). It is even possible (and very easy) to give each *window* its own theme (I don't know why someone would want to do this, but it's a good demonstration of Sawfish's power).

More information cab be found at the Sawfish website:

By Sridhar Dhanapalan at Wed, 2001/05/16 - 5:00am

I've never tried GNOME, but many years ago I used OS/2 with a 3rd party app called Object Desktop. OD had a panel alike, I think it was called the Control Center.

It was a desktop object the could contain a number of modules/objects, like virtual desktop, application launch buttons, status windows, etc (like Kicker). But you could open any number of "control centers", containing one or more objects/modules and they [CC's] could have any size and placement you wanted.

I would prefer putting a Kicker vertically in upper right corner and configure it with a few application buttons, the kicker clock and some biff (like *Step - not spanning the height of the screen), then put another Kicker horizontally in the lower left corner with minimized or running app icons, that expands as they are put there.

Kicker can almost do this, only configurable width and multible instances are needed.

By Hyperchaotic at Wed, 2001/05/16 - 5:00am

Object desktop is still in existance, now on windows, though. One of the few ways to make windows usable...

By nobody at Sun, 2001/05/20 - 5:00am

My favorite part of Gnome is the Menu Panel. This panel creates a Mac like menu bar at the top of the screen (but without swallowing the menu bars from applications like OS X does). Like the other panels, you can add applets and launchers. I don't know why, but to me it always seemed natural to be able to drop down my menus instead of the whole push up thing.

Anyway, I've used many desktops on many OS's from VAX to Irix to Mac to Windoze to KDE to Gnome, and Gnome's Panel is my killer app. That plus GDM, but that's off topic.

This is a screenshot of my work laptop.

Oh, and before you flame me for using RedHat, my desktop PC is running SuSE, so yes, I have used a real KDE enviromnent! :-)

By Nomad at Wed, 2003/03/05 - 6:00am

You're replying to a nearly two year discussion, where kicker has pretty much caught up to the gnome-panel in many respects.. (except for floating (non-edge) panels, and gnome-panel drawers)... you can easily do menu panels in kicker with the quick browser special button :)

By fault at Wed, 2003/03/05 - 6:00am

I do like the KDE not only because the stability and the significant feeling when look at it, but also as I am a embedded software developer, KDE and QT provide the primary GUI solutions for embedded devices. But now in the recent KDE4 of Fedora 9, I found the panel can't be hidden just as KDE3 did. This troubles me a lot, because I use the notebook with only 1280x800 resolutions, and the vertical resolution 800 is very important for me. Hope there could be a way to hide the panel as other OS does.

By Li Qi at Thu, 2008/05/15 - 5:00am

It's on the list of planned features:

("panel hiding")

but unfortunately it looks like it will be punted to 4.2 (all features still marked as "TODO" on the 19th May will be postponed to 4.2).

By anon at Thu, 2008/05/15 - 5:00am

I wonder if this has made it into the the External Taskbar _Extensilon_, which IMHO is better than the Taskbar _Applet_ (shown in the screenshot)

Speaking of the External Taskbar Extension,
wouldn't it be nice if it also had a "windows list button", like the one in the Taskbar Applet.

Its absence almost qualifies as a bug!!
I mean there is an option for "show windows list in taskbar" in the kcontrol module, but the button itself is nonetheless absent from the External Taskbar Extension. :((

It'd also be nice to have an option to set the min/max height of the External Taskbar Extension.
(I think I'd like it at "minimum: 2 rows")

By Risto Treksler at Tue, 2001/05/15 - 5:00am


By Matthias at Tue, 2001/05/15 - 5:00am

There have been suggestions on how to group windows efficiently. I'd like to add another scheme for konqueror: Windows could be grouped on a host-by host basis - all pages on in one group, all on on another and so on.

It's a great feature, go on guys!

By Sebastian Kuhnert at Tue, 2001/05/15 - 5:00am

It is very good !
But where is the icon floppy in kicker when a file change ?
And where is the animation when a soft starts ?
Inthe CVS the animation in ON the icon. It is not beautiful !

But news features are very good ideas !


By Martin at Tue, 2001/05/15 - 5:00am

I've always known, that a taskbar is a bad thing,
and this effort shows up, that there are only limits extended.
So please investigate more to a tool currently
reachable by ALT-Tab which could show up the
hirachical list / tree of the opend XAplications.

So please consider, that the taskbar desktop metaphor is wrong. Nobody would nowadays would
think of files only in a flat way, today always
as a tree.

Anyhow thanks, many thanks for your efforts.

By Kay Winkler at Tue, 2001/05/15 - 5:00am

Take a look at the attached image, it shows the UI I planning for nested groups of tasks in Kasbar. I think this shows that you can handle it nicely within the taskbar metaphor.


By Richard Moore at Wed, 2001/05/16 - 5:00am

Now that Matthias has done all the hard work(thanks!), I'll be adding grouping to Kasbar too. You can see a screenshot of the grouping ui for Kasbar at:
The items in the popup group bar will be have the same feature set as items in the main bar (eg. they'll still have thumbnails).

There are some other images in this directory which show other features of the program - everything there except the grouping is in the latest CVS versions.


By Richard Moore at Wed, 2001/05/16 - 5:00am