XDG Icon Spec: requesting new icons for headsets, speakers, headphones

Rodney Dawes dobey.pwns at gmail.com
Thu May 14 07:13:42 PDT 2009

On Thu, 2009-05-14 at 11:25 +0300, Marius Vollmer wrote:
> True, but what might work is to have a second "Extra Icons" spec that
> works together with the base icon spec.
> This "Extra Icon" spec would, by design, have the same goals as the base
> spec, but would be maintained in a more 'reasonable' way.  I.e., it
> wouldn't be a ever-growing set of ill-conceived icons, but it would also
> not be a fortress of resistance.

This already exists. It was in fact, the original goal and intent of the
specification. But it's quite obvious nobody actually pays any attention
to it, or even gives a damn. There is an addendum specification for
device icons at http://people.freedesktop.org/~dobey/device-names.txt
and has been for a long while now. And the base spec clearly identifies
how to name these device icons anyway, for specific types of devices,
with only the base types being in the base spec, so everything falls
back to those base types.

There's always been the desire to have such addenda for other
categories as well, However, no one else has actually shown any interest
whatsoever in helping create them. And if I'm going to have to do all
the work, then everyone else is going to have to have some ounce of
patience and wait, because I can't do all 357000 things that I need to
do, simultaneously and instantaneously.

If you can't wait, then get off your asses and do something to help. You
don't get to bitch and moan when you've done absolutely nothing to help
further the goals of the specifications. And making demands that your
precious two icons that you think your precious app absolutely MUST
have, be in the spec, is not furthering the goals of the specification.
I have stated it several times before, and I will say it again. The base
specification (that bit of docbook in freedesktop.org cvs) is a base
specification, designed to be the minimal list of icons that everything
else can fall back to. It is not going to have every little icon that
ever random developer thinks needs to be in the spec for their app to
have that icon. It doesn't make sense. We used to have a list of icons
that every app used (in GNOME anyway) [1], and it was a complete and
utter travesty.

The problem is not the specification, or its maintainer. The problem is
that developers don't give a damn about icons. They think they need an
icon, and so they must have it. And the artists just want to draw icons,
and not deal with all the political crap, for the most part. And there's
no real communication between them. There's no real UI design happening.
Apps just get thrown together as an compendium of features that the
developers think the users actually need to use or even remotely care
about, rather than considering what users really need, or how to present
it to them without being overwhelming, and blithely throwing a bunch of
icons at them, to make their interface seem "pretty" and give a false
sense of usability. This is especially evident in KDE, where the main
Oxygen artist has stated very bluntly to me that he does not wish to
involve himself in suggesting to developers possibly better ways to
present UI to the user, but rather simply wants to draw the icons. And
the developers of course, do not ever ask for such feedback from said
artist. Where in GNOME, as a result of that horrible travesty [1], the
icon theme maintainers have sort of taken it upon ourselves to ask
questions about an icon's usage when one is asked to be created, and to
give feedback about potentially better ways to build the UI, and perhaps
avoid the icon all together, when necessary, so that we can actually
have proper metaphors for all the icons and their usage, and help
improve the desktop's usability at the same time.

In short, no I have no problems adding icons to the spec. But I won't go
adding every single icon, that every single developer asks for, with the
blind hope that it makes sense in the spec. It's funny how nobody really
wanted to get involved in the discussion for suggested icon additions to
the spec, but everyone comes out of the woodwork when it's time to
insult the maintainer. Don't you people have anything better to do? Fix
some bugs perhaps? The goals of the spec have not changed. They are the
same now, as they were four years ago, when I wrote the first revisions.
If you disagreed with those goals, you should have made such known four
years ago when I initially wrote and proposed the spec, when nobody had
yet adopted it really. Now is not the time to argue over the goals of
the spec. They have been set, adopted, and in use now for a few years. I
spent a lot of time in that first year as well, in order to make the
spec more easily adaptable by KDE, I made significant changes to the
spec. It was said to me four years ago when writing the spec, that I
seemed to be the only person to actually give a damn about the problem,
and it seems that is still the case, unfortunate as it is.

We really need to have feedback from multiple app developers, and
artists both, for icons to go into the spec. There needs to be some
balance between what developers think they need, and how much we can
expect any theme artist to draw. And we need those people to understand
the goals of the spec, which this thread has made it abundantly obvious
as being a problem.

And don't get all upset when there is no feedback on your icons, and
they don't go in, because you think your pet project must have them in
the spec. There are recommendations for shipping app-specific icons that
can still be themeable, If one doesn't have the patience to endure the
process of time, and can't get artists and other developers that might
use the same icons, to get involved in the discussion, then I fail to
see how a lack of consensus is a problem that being disrespectful, and
demanding, is going to solve.

You all need to get your act together and have some respect, not only
for others, but for yourselves. If this was an IEEE or IANA standard,
you really would have been screwed from the start. But that isn't the
case here. But I can see how one's selfishness would cause one to think
in that direction. Especially when surrounded by others who tend to
think in that direction.

That is all. I will be at UDS Barcelona in ~10 days, if anyone else is
going to be there, and wants to ping me in person about the spec, and
what it really needs, and how to actually get people involved in it,
rather than simply bitching when their proposed icon doesn't go in, due
to lack of useful commentary. If you are going to come find me and
bitch, then you will be promptly asked to leave me alone, because I have
no time to deal with people being disrespectful.

That is all.

[1] http://www.tigert.com/2005/09/15/ive-created-a-monster/

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