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WIP: Dash Dock

Evan Welsh requested to merge ewlsh/gnome-shell:docked-dash into master

The goal of this merge request is to start a discussion on what I personally see as one remaining pain point in the GNOME Shell experience: the dash.

It addresses 2 issues:

  1. Icon Sizing
  2. Dash Visibility


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Icon Sizing Issues

I use my laptop to develop, design, listen to music, and browse the web. As a result, my favorites span these categories and I typically have about 10-14 favorites at a given time. Because the GNOME Shell dash is vertical (which I do prefer) on my 15" laptop this number of favorites already forces the application icons to be quite small. If I open up even 2 more "auxiliary" applications to say view a PDF, play a game, or write a quick document the dash suddenly has icons that are 16px width which results in very small click targets, blurry icons, and not the best user experience. On my 13" laptop it is even more unusable, and my 11" tablet struggles the most.

Visibility Issues

Additionally, because the dash is only accessible in the overview, a space I primarily use for finding windows and searching for content and applications, I find it quite jarring to use quickly. I know there are keyboard shortcuts for application switching (Alt-TAB and its friends) but I consider myself primarily mouse-driven and don't memorize shortcuts. I think making the dash a more visible and quickly accessible feature would improve the user experience of the shell significantly.

Basis For The Merge

That brings me to this merge.

This merge is based on simple-dock, an extension I created with plenty of inspiration and work from dash-to-dock and dash-to-panel. I focused a lot of attention when crafting this extension and merge on prioritizing integration with GNOME Shell's existing utilities and patterns and avoided adding unnecessary/too many configuration options and instead settled for good defaults where possible.


This merge currently supports 3 visibility modes:

  • Default
  • Fixed
  • Autohide

I'm not necessarily advocating all of these end up in the final product, I personally believe autohide provides the best user experience by keeping the dash separate from the "work area"/"desktop" but allowing faster and easier access. That said, I know Ubuntu feels differently and uses a fixed mode. "Default" corresponds to the current dash behavior.


Autohide allows for larger icon sizes.


While a fixed dash would encourage smaller icon sizes to save real estate.

Icon Sizing

This merge also supports changes to icon sizing. I believe changing how the dash handles icon sizing could be quite beneficial.

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By fixing the icon size and presenting a scrollable dash, the icons are much more usable and don't crowd one another.

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Similarly, by extending the dock height to be more similar to the workspaces panel, the dock could gain additional breathing room.


This merge provides 3 visibility modes and 2 icon modes (fixed vs dynamic). This level of configuration, though it may be nice, doesn't need to end up in the final product.

I believe autohide and a fixed icon size drastically improve the dock's usability, but there are of course other opinions.

I primarily want to open a discussion on how the dash can be better and, maybe, docked 😄

Edited by Evan Welsh

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