Gizmos is our working title for small, single purpose, fun little tools or toys for GNOME 3.

How we present these depends a bit on how they are used. Let's discuss that a bit.

Relevant Art

GNOME 2 Applets

Most of this section is from Owen's DDL email.

Can mostly be classified as one of:

  • Information display
  • Toys
  • Specialized UI Enhancements
  • Crack
  • Parts of the core UI
  • Desktop design copouts

Information Display

We have a few applets that display information to the user; the set of conceivable applets that do this is almost indefinitely extensible (look at available Google gadgets), but not within the scope of a 24-pixel panel. (Note that you have to click on 2 out of the three listed here to actually get the information.)

  • Invest
  • System Monitor
  • Weather Monitor


These are similar to "Crack" except that their operation could easily be explained to non-geeks. (if not their existence)

  • Eyes
  • Fish

Specialized UI Enhancements

We also have a number of applets that add controls to the panel. Some of these are more useful than others, but they are generally genuinely useful to some set of people.

  • Character Palette
  • Dictionary Lookup
  • Pilot Applet
  • Sticky Notes
  • Time Tracker
  • Tomboy Notes


We have quite a few applets that either I don't know what they do or I'm embarrassed to know what they do. I have no trouble with this stuff existing, but it shouldn't be mixed in with useful stuff on a default install, and it's outside the scope of design.

  • Brightness applet
  • CPU Frequency Scaling Monitor
  • Command Line
  • Drawer
  • Dwell Click
  • Force Quit
  • Inhibit Applet
  • Pointer Capture

Parts of the Core UI

Quite a few of the available "applets" just make up things that we expect always to be there. The user doesn't want to remove or add them. (Obviously not everything here is part of the default panel, because of design indecision.)

  • Clock
  • Keyboard Accessibility Status
  • Keyboard Indicator
  • Main Menu
  • Menu Bar
  • Notification Area
  • Show Desktop
  • Trash
  • User Switcher
  • Workspace Switcher
  • Window List
  • Window Selector

Desktop design copouts

Then there are applets that are about making it marginally faster to do things that should be obvious and fast to do without an applet to do them. If these are useful, we've misdesigned.

  • Connect to a Server...
  • Disk Mounter
  • Lock Screen
  • Log Out...
  • Run Application...
  • Search for Files...
  • Shutdown..

So, a large part of what we have just drops out - it's not relevant. An additional portion is best handled by something like Firefox extensions - it's great for advanced users if there is a big ecosystem of them out there. But they aren't something you design for and the programming API is probably just giving them free access to the Javascript internals of gnome-shell. This applies to the "Crack" the "Toys" and maybe even the "Specialized UI Enhancements".

And then some portion remains, and that is where design question lies. Do we want an optional sidebar? Do we want some approach where an extra layer of widgets/gadgets flies in when triggered? Could customizable displays be integrated into our existing Activities Overview in some fashion?

Clock applet

The GNOME 2 clock applet is an interesting case. It is currently or has been suggested as being access point for at least the following types of information:

  • Time and date
  • Calendar
  • Current weather
  • Weather forecasts
  • Weather maps
  • Weather alerts
  • Timezones
  • World times
  • Current location
  • Locations of interest
  • Maps
  • Appointments
  • To-do items
  • Alarms

Google Desktop Gadgets

The Google Gadgets page currently has thousands of items sorted into the following categories:

  • News
  • Tools
  • Communication
  • Finance
  • Fun & Games

  • Google
  • Sports
  • Lifestyle
  • Technology
  • Holidays

They also have gadgets for webpages.

Here is my own quick categorization of the first three pages of most popular gadgets:



  • Google Calendar
  • Google Gadgets Calendar
  • Simple Calendar
  • Simple Calendar
  • Date Display Calender
  • Calendar
  • leCalendar Plugin
  • Google Moon Phase
  • Date Display


  • Weather Globe
  • Weather
  • WeatherBug Sidebar Gadget

  • Weather Gadget


  • Calculator gadget
  • Wikipedia Search
  • Online Dictionary
  • Dictionary
  • Translate
  • Countdown Timer
  • Simple calculator


  • Facebook Gadget
  • Gmail Notifier
  • Google Talk


  • Wireless Signal Meter
  • Fast Shutdown
  • Perfomance-Meter
  • Battery Meter
  • CPUMeter
  • CPU Smiley
  • Battery Life
  • Wifi Connect
  • System Monitor
  • Performance Power Monitor
  • Laptop Check
  • Windows Dock
  • CD Ejection


  • Virtual Flower Pot
  • AnswerBall

  • Steamy
  • Desktop Wallpaper Slideshow
  • Google Gadget
  • Height Weight Analysis 1.0


  • PhotoFeed

  • Astronomy Picture of the Day
  • Soccer News
  • eBay Auction Watch
  • Daily Horoscopes
  • Local Headlines



  • Media Player Remote
  • Music Player
  • OnAir RadioTunes

  • TV Set
  • ((XM Online Radio))
  • Web TV and Radio
  • GDieTunes
  • Uni FM
  • Musicwheel
  • gPod Controller

OS X Dashboard Widgets


Maybe some things can be integrated into existing places in the Shell design instead of inventing a new place for them.

Maybe the clock, calendar, timezone, weather, location functionality can go into the clock/calendar (somewhat like in GNOME 2).

Maybe we can offer tool like functionality in context for selected text. Things like:

  • Translate
  • Calculate
  • Search Google/Wikipedia
  • Lookup in dictionary
  • Share?

For where there is no context to operate on maybe we can enhance the alt+F2 dialog to use command like functionality:

  • Alt+F2 "translate gesundheit"
  • Alt+F2 "calculate 64 / 7"
  • always show the google/wikipedia search buttons in alt+f2
  • Alt+F2 "define mitochondria"
  • ...

See Also

Projects/GnomeShell/Design/Gizmos (last edited 2015-10-20 13:49:55 by AllanDay)