Rebel Inheritance: The Best About Launcher Menus (Part 3)

This is the third part of the series of articles that analyse the possibilities of start menus and new ideas to do for the openSUSE project.
We got ourselves to a good start compiling a series of expressions of launcher menus across different platforms. It was then the opportunity of talking about the negative aspects of launcher menus and now it's my privilege to discuss the positive aspects of them. My last article of these series, I will be gathering all this information and coming up with a couple of ideas for a new launcher menu.

One important aspect of what launcher menus have is the fact that they actually exist. this idea might sound a little abstract and dull. But in coming up with this positive aspect, I thought of how I would be launching applications if I did not have launcher menus. There might be other ways to launch programs. However, they simply look very non-transparent.
Other ideas invented along the road deal with folders where all the applications are placed, others are a bunch of icons sitting on the desktop. In the end they just seem more complicated and desktop cluttering.
The fact that there are menus with a simple list of icons and names always visible on the desktop is a great thing. This also makes it simple for those people who are more visually oriented, and do not want to deal with commands or anything of the sort.

Another great characteristic that launcher menus have is their power to unify with the rest of the OS. It is a principle of good design to have similar elements gathered together. This could explain a little, why some people disliked the Mac Dock. It was just simply a little out there and not very harmonious with the rest of the interface. While all of the windows and menus in that version of Mac OS was metallic, along came this glassy looking and icon-based menu. So, harmony is big in launcher menus. I like for example, the way Ubuntu set up their launcher menus. They kept the gtk look of the menus, used the same icons along them and they were big enough that people can recognise them easily. One launcher menu that could follow this idea is Windows. Their start menu is great, except their approach to desktop harmony is not a big. They have a black menu with white and blue in it. They don't look very similar to the composition of their windows except for the transparent glass look that it has.
This unity also spring out to the organisation that Linux menus have, for example. This is something that other OSs don't practice a lot. For example Windows, does an indiscrimate placing of items in their launcher menus. Linux GUIs try to change this by organising the menus in a certain way that makes it recognisable for users where they should look for a certain application.

A great property that all OSs Launcher menus offer is visibility. These menus are always visible and reachable, wherever they may be placed on the screen. They are easy to locate and work with. I personally like how some menus are very discreet with what they have to offer. They place small buttons or pull down menus that show how you could unfold them and get the rest of the applications you seek.

Eye Candy: This is one thing that I like a lot. Great graphics and pleasing views do a for a great day's work on a computer. No one wants to go back to older looking interfaces from the 80s. I am glad to report that there are extremely talented people out there doing what they enjoy the most, to visually enhance their environment. GUIs are no different. I am always one who changes colors, names, places, wallpapers, etc. So it's comforting to see how these things stick to computers as well.

Notifications: Other great properties that launcher menus or bars have, is that they also inform you on simple things, such as a new email in your tray, a new message through chat. Although this needs to be done with carefulness, otherwise your menus will have so much in them that clutter will be the only synonym you will think of when talking about your OS. I don't like for example, having a system tray icon that reports the status of an anti-virus. They are very annoying, or even notifications for updates. I prefer a whole application that tells me about what's new for my OS.

Search: It's good to see that nowadays, Launcher menus have search fields where you can quickly find a certain application, although I have noticed, that they do not always search by other terms different than an application name. So that should change if it hasn't already.

Anyway, this is a simple article. There you have it. If you can find more interesting features that add for positive elements on the launcher menus, let me know.



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