Break Timer

A simple break timer application, largely designed to replace the keyboard break functionality that was removed from GNOME Control Center prior to 3.0. (See

The primary role of this application is to allow people who suffer from repetitive strain injury (or carpel tunnel syndrome) and similar symptoms to schedule breaks within which they do not use the computer.


Allan Day (design lead)

Some interested participants can be found in bug 635174

Relevant Art

Work Rave






Break Reminder

Brain Break


The previous keyboard break functionality was rather brutal in forcing the user to stop using the machine. We need something that isn't as rude.

Work rave is rather complex. We want something GNOMEy.

What is the scope of the breaks that we are providing? Possibilities:

  • Ceasing to use keyboard and/or mouse
  • Focusing eyes away from the computer screen
  • Relieving back/posture issues
  • Helping you to stay sane
  • The previous keyboard break tool only prevented the first item. Some people derived utility from this and it enables people to rest their hands while still using the screen (see comment below). At the same time, this relatively narrow definition of 'break' limits the utility of the tool and prevents it from being used as a general work break utility.

Goals and scope

  • Allow a user to schedule breaks for themselves
  • Be polite: assist the user rather than bully them


Initial designs (to be replaced):


The old typing break implementation didn't blank the screen but laid a semitransparent layer on top of it instead. I think this is preferable, because it allows the user to continue reading an open document or webpage while taking the hands from the keyboard and mouse. -- ReinoutVanSchouwen

I remember a colleague at work some years ago had a monitor that showed neck and back excercises when there was a screen sleep (or something, don't remember exactly when they were shown). Maybe we want to show something similar on the blank screen that is shown during the work break? -- RodrigoMoya

  • That's something that Work Rave does. It's quite useful if you do have serious RSI problems but it does have the side effect of keeping you rooted to the computer screen. Part of the reason for blanking the screen is to encourage people to get out of their chair. ;) One thing we could do is make some advice on exercises available from the main window though; that could be quite nice. -- AllanDay

    • Workrave is a bit more complex on this. It presents excercises for the first two minutes of the long break. After that, it suggests you to go away from the computer. Although the expressionless face of the Workrave girl is a bit freaky, I really loved the idea. -- GergelyPolonkai

See also

Design/Apps/Potential/BreakTimer (last edited 2013-09-21 17:52:15 by GergelyPolonkai)