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

Lennart Poettering mzkqt at 0pointer.de
Mon Apr 20 16:41:44 PDT 2009

On Mon, 20.04.09 18:33, Rodney Dawes (dobey.pwns at gmail.com) wrote:

> On Fri, 2009-04-10 at 03:33 +0200, Lennart Poettering wrote:
> > On Wed, 18.03.09 21:56, Lennart Poettering (mzkqt at 0pointer.de) wrote:
> > 
> > > May I suggest the following names?
> > > 
> > > audio-card (as it exists right now, intended for the generic idea of 'audio')
> I really want to change this, but I'm not sure what to. Having foo-card
> doesn't really make sense for any of the devices. I don't know what I
> was thinking when I came up with the -card names.
> I think we might want to get rid of the audio- and video- prefixes for
> devices as well. I'm not sure what would be best to call some of the
> devices, without the audio- prefix, but there are headsets that handle
> both audio and video, for example. But speakers and headphones are audio
> only. A television/monitor with speakers is still primarily a display,
> not speakers. I think you probably would rather display the device icon
> for a webcam, for adjusting the volume of the microphone on that device,
> rather than a microphone icon.

Headsets that handle video? Uh? I don't think those devices are

I am pretty sure that video devices and audio devices are distinct
enough to keep them seperate. I mean, it is pretty easy to draw the
line between devices that do just audio, and those which do both
audio+video. And they look sufficiently different physically.

Let's not forget that these icons are supposed to represent physical
devices. A cyborg-esque video-headset certainly looks way different
then my bleutooth headset for taking phone calls.

The audio-card icon name is already well established. I see no point
in dropping this. I mean, as long as the spec says what exactly this
icon should be used for it doesn't matter if it is called "foo" or
"bar" or "waldo".

I very much like the idea to have one generic icon for audio things
and more specific ones for the different form factors. PA at least
also exposes virtual devices, not only physical ones. For ther former
we could use the generic icon, for the latter the ones that map to a
specific form factor. I am pretty sure this two-level approach is
useful in other sw as well.

> > > audio-headset
> > > audio-speakers
> > > audio-headphones
> > > audio-handsfree (no priority, feel free to ignore this part)
> I think headphones is probably a sub-class of speakers. They are just
> a special casing for small speakers.

Uh. I disagree. What exactly are we trying to do here? My plan was to
have the xxx in audio-xxx declare something like a 'form factor' for
audio devices. Where 'speakers' shall be proper speakers that are
standalone and not directly attached to your head or ears. The icon
for that should show a pair of proper standalone black boxes. You can
of course come up with all kinds of hierarchies of form factors. But
what's the point? Just do a flat list of a few well-established form
factors, and good. Let's not get lost in discussions how
hierarchies for this could look like. That would turn quickly into a
bike-shedding mess.

> With what I suggested above, the icons would then be:
> headset
> microphone
> speaker (replacing audio-card)
> speaker-headphones

This way you'd drop the idea of having a generic icon for audio that
would be independant from speakers.

Also, I don't really see why headphones are a subcategory but headset
is not. To me headphones and headsets are much more alike than
standalone speakers and headphones.

> display (replacing video-display)

Hmm, It would be good to be able to distuingish TV displays from
computer displays. Bu, uh, that's not my particular area of expertise ;-)...

> What do people think about this? We'd probably want to also rename the
> status icons from audio-volume-... to speaker-volume-...

I don't know, I don't have to maintain much code that touches icons,
but if I had I would be against renaming icons unless you have a very
very strong reason for this. The whole point of establishing icon
names was to have them unique and established and reliable. Changing
them around would be against that logic.

I am still convinced that having these four (or five) icon names for
all things audio woul be sufficient:

    audio-card          --- the generic icon for everything audio that has no or an unknown form factor 
    audio-headset       --- Mono/Duplex audio devices that are attached to one's head
    audio-headphones    --- Stereo/Playback only audio devices that are  attached to one's head  
    audio-speakers      --- Standalone speakers. Black boxes
    audio-handsfree     --- handsfree devices, no priority

That would only require the addition of three (or four) new
icons. That's it. No renaming. No discussions about hierarchies. 


Lennart Poettering                        Red Hat, Inc.
lennart [at] poettering [dot] net         ICQ# 11060553
http://0pointer.net/lennart/           GnuPG 0x1A015CC4

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