Benefits of Desktop Effects?
Recently I installed Compiz Fusion to add some ‘bling’ to my desktop. It does look pretty nice, drop shadows, wobbly windows, animations here and there, burning windows, etc. Sadly I found out that despite the eye candy it does not really add anything to the desktop. Here are some of my criticism regarding desktop effects:
Application switching via Alt+Tab just doesn’t seem the same. Pressing Alt+Tab twice should bring the focus back the first window but this doesn’t seem to be the case when using Compiz. After I press Alt+Tab, I would have to press Alt+Shift+Tab to return back to the first window.
Another minor annoyance is that Alt+Tab is no longer an instantaneous since pressing it initiates some animation. I don’t think the Alt+Tab behavior should be different when using Compiz Fusion. Hopefully this will be fixed for Gutsy final.
CompizConfig Settings Manager is too Configurable
Much better compared to the old one we used to have with Beryl but it is still very confusing.
Too much shortcut buttons
Different plugins have different key configurations to activate or to use their features. Most of the time it involves memorizing some dark art of finger twisting (check out the Group/Tab window plugin).
I think the most important thing to implement desktop effects gracefully is to have a sensible default.
- The behavior should mimic the non-blingy counterpart as closely as possible.
- Only basic effects such as drop shadow should be enabled by default (I consider wobbly windows very annoying). The Animation plugin could also be used by default, but only if it is well configured.
- Enable plugins that could benefit the users such as Annotate, Cube, Expo and Scale to name a few.
- If a plugin wants to display an icon it should scale up the SVG version. I really love the shift switcher plugin but it displays blurry pixellated icons instead of a sharp one.
- Complex plugins should rely more on context menus instead of obscure shortcut keys.
I’m sure it won’t take long until Linux desktop effects is both eye pleasing and usable at the same time. *waiting for Gutsy*
Update: I should have read this one first before posting: CompositeByDefault over at the Ubuntu Wiki. Guess we’re on the right track!