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

Brian J. Tarricone bjt23 at cornell.edu
Thu May 14 11:55:02 PDT 2009

Rodney Dawes wrote:
> 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

Where is this linked?  It's not linked from the icon naming spec, and 
googling didn't yield anything.  A document on a web server somewhere is 
useless if no one can find it or knows it exists.  And no, a random post 
to a mailing list 12 months ago doesn't count as "making it discoverable."

> 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.

Except clearly the list is incomplete and there are other device types 
(like speakers and headsets) that you hadn't thought of.  This list 
doesn't help Lennart's case.

> 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.

Except you *aren't* doing all the work.  You aren't doing *any* work 
beyond emailing this list to deny requests and come up with reasons why 
XYZ icon name is a bad idea.

> If you can't wait, then get off your asses and do something to help.

That's exactly what people are trying to do here, but it's unclear as to 
how to proceed because of your involvement.

> 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.

Guess what?  The "goals of the specification" (whatever the hell that 
means; inanimate documents don't have goals) are irrelevant.  The needs 
of the community and of the people who will use the specification are 

> In short, no I have no problems adding icons to the spec.

Then add the icons that people think are necessary rather than 
stonewalling at just about every single request.

> 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.

You're not adding every single icon.  From my on-and-off observations 
over the past couple years, you add very few icons.  It's too 
conservative, at least according to sentiment expressed here.  You can 
either respond to what the community needs, or you can blindly push 
forward with your own agenda that no one really cares about and doesn't 
actually help developers and artists *in the real world*.  Too bad 
you've taken the latter choice.

> 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.

No, everyone comes out of the woodwork when they realise that there's a 
systematic problem.

Do I care about sound/speaker/headset-specific icons?  No, I don't.  I 
don't work in the desktop sound space, and I have no expertise there.  I 
don't know what's needed, and, given Lennart's experience, I'm happy to 
defer to his opinion.  If he thinks we need those icons, I see no reason 
to disagree wit him.  (Just to use the most recent request as an example.)

> 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.

Bullshit.  It's a living document.  The needs of the developer community 
change.  Your vision of the spec is not what we need.  Therefore that 
vision needs to change for the spec to continue to be useful moving 
forward.  It's not any less valid just because people didn't know that 
or realise its importance when all this was being hammered out.

> 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.

How can you say that?  Look at this thread and the number of responses. 
  Sure, some of it is potentially unjustified whining, but you get that 
with any discussion about stuff people care about.

> 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.

No, the problem is that the goals of the spec don't fit what the 
developers need.  I won't speak for artists because I don't know what 
they need.  Perhaps some artists could speak up?  Currently the balance 
is "the artists don't need to do anything because none of the developers 
can get new icons in the spec."  How is that useful?

> 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.

Basically this lack of consensus involves you on one side, and everyone 
else on the other side.  At least, I haven't heard anyone else chime in 
in support of denying Lennart's request.

> 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.

This isn't about disrespect.  This is about getting out of the spec what 
*real* developers need.  If you aren't interested in making the spec 
more open to new additions, I just don't see that happening.  It's fine 
for a base set of icons (with some hole here and there, sure), but it's 
not sufficient for a complete icon theme.

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

I don't really agree with the thesis here.  For me, icons are a mental 
shortcut so I don't have to always read text.  They have nothing to do 
with differentiating between important or unimportant options.

If you've found any of this personally insulting or disrespectful, 
please point out what parts and I'll be happy to apologise.  It's not my 
intent to be insulting, just to try to get the point across that there's 
a huge disconnect between your vision for the spec and what people here 
actually need.

What would *you* suggest to help fix this situation?  It seems like 
people want more icons in the spec, or at least more icon names 
acknowledged as being used in the field such that they should be 
included in icon theme implementations.  Should we start another list of 
icons as someone else suggested?  Should we try to flesh out your 
device-names.txt list with more concrete examples, and put it somewhere 
where it's easier for people to add to when they come across new model 
numbers, or when people need new classes of devices?


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