A week with Latte DockLatte Dock is a dock that provides multiple visual effects in order to improve the experience with icons and applications. I’ve already written about it, mostly in a negative way and not because of the software nor its quality, but because I don’t see too much excitement around another OSX style dock bar.
However, in order to let me give a more accurate review about the experience with Latte, I decided to try it forcing to use it as the only one dock on my main computer.
I don’t know much about the history and goals of the project, I suspect it is aimed to be a more elegant dock than the default plasma one is, and is of course inspired to the OS X dock that provides parabolic zooms and removes the application tray. It is worth noting that there are multiple layouts out there, each one adding one or more features to customize the appearence of the dock, for example adding a top bar or changing the bar layout and size. I’d rather used the out-of-the-box layout in order to get a more unbiased impression.
My Plasma DockMy plasma dock was pretty much simple and is composed by (from left to right):
- the plasma menu;
- the switch desktop applet;
- the application tray;
- a deck of my main applications (four);
- the plasma dashboard icon;
- the notification area;
- the (digital) clock;
- the logout applet.
The Latte DockI placed on the dock all the main icons that were present on the deck of my old panel, so that I can have them always on the screen. Then I placed the device notifier, useful for my USB activity (I do use a lot of USB storages), the clock and the logout applet. The panel looks like the following:
Advanatges of using Latte Dock
- the panel is automatically configured to hide itself, and this makes the application whole screen sized improving the visual space for every window. While this can be achieved also with the Plasma panel, making the latter auto-hide makes the applications to switch before full screen mode and almost-full-screen when the panel pops up;
- when an application needs the user attention Latte makes the icon jumping on the dock, and this noise is easy to catch up by the user;
- the quick launcher also does as an inco-only task manager, and this helps keeping the panel at the minimal size (this is something that also Microsoft Windows does, but apparently not Plasma!).
Drawbacks of using Latte Dock
- the panel automatically grows or shrinks depending on the number of applications executing, and this makes it difficult to know where an icon will be exactly;
- hiding the panel makes more room for application windows but, at the same time, removes some useful information from the desktop like the clock, the number of windows opened and so on. Keeping a top panel for those icons and information is not a solution, since it vanish the hiding of the panel and the gained space on the monitor anyway;
- dialogs don’t recognize the size of the dock, and sometimes they undergo the panel which, when a dialog is shown, pops up. This makes some interactions annoying, unless you switch from the default dodge active mode to auto-hide;
- having a zoomable centered panel has the drawback that menus and alike are shown in a more random position across the screen, with the side effects that the mouse could be pointing the middle of screen itself and thus resulting in a wrong selection.
- it tends to forgot icons in the launcher section. After a reboot some of my favourite applications (and related icons) are missing, I don’t know why;
- sometimes the launcher duplicates icons of running applications, as if there were two active instances. As an example, below you can see Emacs running on a single instance but reported with two identical icons; I suspect it could be tied to non-KDE applications mainly.
ConclusionsI do believe Latte Dock is really a great piece of software and is really cute on eyes, unluckily so far it is not something I get used to, probably due to my eyes problems. Therefore, after having tried it for a week, I decided to switch back to Plasma default panel. So far, the only things that Latte made me think about are:
- an icon-only task manager;
- an *auto-hide** panel.
Therefore my actual Plasma panel looks like the following: