Because app menus are not performing well

Oct 10, 2018 15:57 GMT  ·  By  ·  Comment  · 

Once again, the GNOME Project wants to change the way its beloved GNOME desktop environment functions, and it has recently announced plans to retire the application menus from the next major release, GNOME 3.32.

With the recent release of the GNOME 3.30 "Almería" desktop environment, which already got its first point release and hit the stable repositories of some of the major GNU/Linux distributions, GNOME 3.32 "Taipei" has now entered development and the first milestone should hit the testing channels later this week.

We don't know much about the new features and improvements coming to the GNOME 3.32 desktop environment, due for release next year on March 13, 2019, but it looks like one existing feature won't be available anymore in this upcoming release, as developer Allan Day announced the deprecation of application menus.

The applications menu on the GNOME desktop environment are the menus you see and interact with via the top panel, with the name of the app on them. When clicking on that app menu, you're usually quitting the app or access its preferences. Nowadays, these app menus don't work as expected anymore.

"Unfortunately, we’ve seen app menus not performing well over the years, despite efforts to improve them. People don’t always engage with them. Often, they haven’t realized that the menus are interactive, or they haven’t remembered that they’re there," explains Allan Day in a recent blog post.

"These menus have been with us since the beginning of the GNOME 3.0 series, but we’re planning on retiring them for the next GNOME release (version 3.32)," continued the developer. As such, it looks like GNOME 3.30 is the last version of the Linux desktop environment to use these application menus.

The road ahead

With the GNOME 3.32 desktop environment release, application menus will be removed from all default GNOME apps, and won't be displayed in the top panel, which means that when an app is opened, you won't see its name and icon in the top bar either, so you won't be able to interact with it from the top panel.

Instead, you'll have to rely on the menu inside the application window (see the screenshots below, courtesy of Allan Day, for more details). For third-party apps and GNOME apps that won't remove its app menus in time for the GNOME 3.32 release, application menus will be shown in the app’s header bar.

Allan Day said that the new menu arrangement for GNOME apps should "feel natural" to all existing GNOME users, hoping that there wouldn't be any difficulties once they upgrade to GNOME 3.32 next spring. More details about the new GNOME UI design guidelines are available for further reading on GNOME Gitlab.

GNOME Software without its app menu
GNOME Software without its app menu

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Epiphany (Web) without its app menu
GNOME Software without its app menu
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