Unity Woes | Issues and Solutions

Posted in:Rationale

So you are all set for trying out the new Ubuntu 11.04 with Unity this Thursday. You might have great expectations regarding the usability of the interface. If you are such an ardent Unity fan or intend to be one, I would suggest to refrain from reading critical responses on Unity, because you might have second thoughts about using them.

I'm talking about some of the responses from the users/developers, even at this later stage! In fact, many of the problems they are pointing out have been there from day one when Unity was showcased at the UDS, Belgium(Ubuntu Developer Summit) in 2010. Developers from the Community/Canonical considered took them into consideration and made a few changes to the Unity interface, to some extent. Obviously it is not perfect. Still Unity is attractive and usable than most of the desktop environments out there on the planet and will please most of the new comers to this revolutionary interface.


Some hours ago, a guy named Topher England created a presentation on Google Docs about the current problems faced by Unity and possible solutions. He is also seeking relevant comments on his solutions. He mainly focuses on Window control buttons-Menus and Launcher behavior as inconsistencies.

Window Control Buttons

If you are already on Natty beta, you may have noticed the locations of window control buttons when maximized. It will stick to the top panel.

Topher's points out the fact that window control buttons of unfocused windows are hidden and this makes users confused. He also mentions a few semantic problems like the control button conflict between Firefox and other programs.

Launcher Behavior

The top concern with the Launcher is its customizablity or lack of it. In addition, the Lenses in the Launcher feels out of place among the other icons and the System Settings are not in the Launcher. Also users have many ways of launching programs. From Dash, from Launcher and at the end of the day, this is extremely confusing.


Interestingly, he added a new feature to Launcher in his mockup. The 'Currently focused window' button. I feel its a good move, if implemented!

Another critical response that Unity received not so long ago is from David Sugar. He blames the placement of control buttons and Launcher in Unity. Quoting him:

“In western countries, people generally read from left to right, and most people are right handed. This suggests that the most logical default arrangement would be to have the icon dock on the right side of the display, and document windows that are viewed and read should start from the left edge.”

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