Draft "StatusNotifierIcon" broken by design

Aaron J. Seigo aseigo at kde.org
Wed May 19 13:15:14 PDT 2010

On May 19, 2010, Wolfgang Draxinger wrote:
> For general purpose messaging a system like "StatusNotifierIcon" is the
> most appropriate solution, however I'd call it "StatusNotifier" (not
> -Icon).

We call them "StatusNotifierItems" in the spec. (Yes, the original subject 
line is incorrect, as there is no "StatusNotifierIcon". :)

> The other are mini applets which are highly application specific. And
> those you will never be able to map all of them into a unified
> look-and-feel status notifier system, because there always might appear
> a program which requires some elements, which can't be implemented in a
> elegant way through a limited set of markup-widgets.

Then the app is doing something it shouldn't be. System tray abuse may appease 
the application deveoper, but it does very little for the user. We have 
successfully transitioned all the apps in our repository over to the new 
protocol without problems. Some apps have required minor adjustments, but the 
result tends to be an improvement in user experience. So in practice it works 

For apps that do things like "show a network usage graph in the system tray", 
they need to die a quick and painless death. That is was native 
widgets/applets are for, and they do a much, much better job of it. In the 
Plasma workspaces, more and more of the hardware oriented entries are actually 
applets due to the increased expresiveness and flexibility they provide. The 
user only sees a bunch of icons in the system tray, of course. They don't care 
how they get there. Only that they are harmonious and work as well as they 
can. It's therefore up to us, the designers of these environments, to make 
reasonable decisions that will deliver those results.

Application developers need to move away from the idea that the system tray is 
a ghetto for their unique perspective on life to express itself in. It's a 
very specific kind of tool that fits into the user experience in (hopefully) 
some very well defined ways.

We are purposefully working _away_ from "no holds barred" usage of the system 
tray by applications and towards a system with well defined constraints and 

This may well be a difference in philosophy with some other viewpoints. It is, 
however, the one some of us are taking and we really have no desire to go 
backwards on it. It's paying off too many dividends for us to do so. :)

Aaron J. Seigo
humru othro a kohnu se
GPG Fingerprint: 8B8B 2209 0C6F 7C47 B1EA  EE75 D6B7 2EB1 A7F1 DB43

KDE core developer sponsored by Qt Development Frameworks
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