The purpose of Document-centric Gnome is to make it easier for people to deal with their everyday files. This page is the central point of coordination for people implementing things related to this project.

Document-centric Gnome started with this talk from GUADEC 2008. Later, this was discussed in more detail during the User Experience Hackfest 2008.

People have trouble dealing with files in their computers for various reasons, which are well-documented in the HCI literature. You can see a great bibliography in the "Finding and Reminding" page for gnome-shell. Here we will present specific problems or patterns and come up with solutions to them.

Patterns and recurring problems


If you have questions or need clarifications, please mail Federico Mena Quintero <federico@gnome.org>.


Get the journal in gnome-shell to a usable state. This means getting it close to what is proposed in Finding and Reminding for gnome-shell.

Show frequently-used apps in the Dash in gnome-shell; Zeitgeist would provide this info.

Merge the "zeitgeist" branch of gnome-shell into the mainline. This requires Zeitgeist to be proposed as a platform module (or external module) for Gnome.


As of GTK+ 3.1, the file chooser defaults to the last-used folder if you don't set a particular folder for when it starts up. This lets people do things like save a file from one app, and open it immediately in another one easily, as the default folder will be the same. We need some guidelines for how to set the file chooser's default startup parameters:

  • "Open" - Don't set a predetermined folder. Let the file chooser pick a default folder by itself. Normally it will pick the last folder that the user visited, which is usually the correct choice.
  • "Save as" - If you are starting from an untitled, just-created document, don't set a predetermined folder; let the file chooser pick a default folder by itself. On the other hand, if you are starting from an existing file, set the full pathname so the user may edit it, and so that the file chooser will start up in the same folder as the existing file. This lets the user re-save "foo.txt" as "foo with modifications.txt" in the same folder easily. If you are starting from something where you know the filename, but not a path (e.g. "Save attachment" from a mail program, where you have the attachment's name, but not a likely destination folder), set the current_name with the filename, but don't set a folder. This will let the file chooser pick a default folder by itself.

and probably default to the last one of them, globally, if the calling app doesn't set a folder explicitly for when the file chooser appears.

Applications in general

Make apps that save files add an item to the recently-used list. This will make those new files instantly accessible in recently-used lists in other apps and Zeitgeist. This application-specific list serves more details.

Add an "Open folder" command, like the one in Evince, to apps that let you open files. Note: Nautilus got fixed to let you open a folder and select a file from the command line, so we should probably rename this to "Open in file manager". How do we make this cross-desktop?

By extension to the above, we should add "Send to..." commands to apps that deal with files or documents. Apps can run "nautilus-sendto /some/file.txt" and nautilus-sendto will let the user pick a recipient. How do we make this cross-desktop? Or should we simply provide a stock function that adds the command only if nautilus-sendto is available?

See if the proposal for _NET_WM_CURRENT_URI is still useful - this is about having each window export an X window property that tells the shell about the URI which is being viewed in that window.


Initiatives/DocumentCentricGnome (last edited 2013-11-22 21:04:52 by WilliamJonMcCann)