The first Gtk+3 release of xfce4-panel is out!

After a looong waiting time – the original port of the panel was first kicked off in March 2013 by Nick – the first development release of the xfce4-panel is out and I am happy to say it is usable! šŸ™‚ There are however some regressions and of course a lot of potential bugs that simply haven’t been uncovered because of the limited usage and testing so far (I guess I haven’t gone through all possible kinds of panel setups).

xfce4-panel 4.13.0
A very simple setup

General functionality and features

I know this is very boring, but the Gtk+3 version of the panel is on par with 4.12.1. Most of the functionality is there (see regressions and known issues), but no dramatic new features were introduced (apart from what the Gtk+3 toolkit brings to the table itself).

One notable feature that people have also been requesting for a while – in fact yours truly originally reported the bug – is support for RandR’s “primary monitor” feature. This means the panel will not stay on the left-most monitor by default but jump to the monitor that you define as “primary” in xfce4-settings Display dialogue.

Known issues and regressions

  • Not all panel settings may be kept as the configuration is not 100% backward compatible (e.g. we’re using GdkRGBA instead of GdkColor for the background)
  • Moving panel plugins via drag and drop on the panel directly via the plugins context menu action “Move” is currently broken (works fine in preferences dialog)
  • Small regression with intelligent hiding (when opening a menu, the panel hides and comes back immediately while it should just remain visible)
  • Enter/leave opacity does not work for Gtk2 plugins
  • The panel is not visually focused by default (fixed in Xfwm4>=4.12.4)

There is also one deprecation that is worth mentioning. While the panel relied on xfce_panel_image in Gtk+2 (i.e. pixbuf drawing and scaling) we decided to deprecate this approach in favor of using the toolkit’s features directly (which is now possible more efficiently with Gtk+3). The newly added xfce_panel_plugin_get_icon_size relies on GtkImage directly and which introduces defined, meaningful icon size-steps to avoid fuzzy icons in the panel.

Theming

I have already added some basic theming for the panel to Greybird and I hope this will help others. I’ve also noticed that the GtkCalendar widget in Gtk+3 is visually broken (actually also codewise really terrible, and likely therefore unmaintained) and made some effort to improve that in Greybird.

What’s next?

Well, there are still a lot of things to do. The top two of the todo list for the panel are of course fixing all known and not yet reported bugs as well as cleaning up more deprecations (currently your terminal’s backlog is filled with warnings when running make, which makes it hard to distinguish the meaningful from the meaningless information).

How can you help?

Do some testing, either by using something like VirtualBox or xfce-test or use a distribution that is brave enough to package the panel (I presume we will see it in some Ubuntu PPA in the near future). Set the panel up your way and just use it and hopefully we will manage to cover all existing use-cases and have them working in 4.14 as well.

Please report bugs against the 4.13.0 version of the panel so that we can get a clean todo list for the next development release!

Thanks to everyone involved!

Finally let me give a big shout-out to everyone involved in the port – more people than I could meaningfully mention here.

The translators, everybody who reported bugs or did testing so far and of course the developers who invested a lot of their free time and energy in this enterprise.