Making Pidgin small-screen-friendly

Matt Joiner anacrolix at
Thu Feb 19 21:42:11 EST 2009

These ideas are great. Even on much larger screens, minimal use of screen
real-estate is desirable.

2009/2/20 Michael Terry <michael.terry at>

> Hello, gentle Pidgin developers!
> I'm from Ubuntu land, and I was investigating how to make Pidgin fit on
> tiny netbook screens as part of our Ubuntu Netbook Remix project [1].  A
> common screen size is 1028x576 (the current hot spot price-wise with
> manufacturers, but the trend is ever smaller), with some of that taken
> up by panels; we're hoping to fit in ~520-540 vertical pixels.
> There are three problem dialogs that I know of: Preferences, the SILC
> protocol Advanced properties (in account editor dialog), and the Buddy
> Pounce setup dialog.
> I have some proposals, and I wanted to get your feedback.  Some
> suggestions may be radical or stupid (e.g. dropping preferences); please
> correct me.
> I don't have mockups yet.  I can make them if that would help.
> First, preferences.  Within this dialog, there are three problem tabs:
> Conversations, Sounds, and Network.
> == Conversations Tab ==
> 1. Drop the Font section.  The 'Default Formatting' section already
> allows changing the font face and size and reverting to the desktop
> default.  The only loss is that getting back to 'default' size isn't
> obvious, since there's no feedback on when you have modified the size.
> Not sure if that's a deal breaker; we could clarify that in the current
> UI by making 'Smaller' or 'Larger' checked when the font is smaller or
> larger.
> 2. Move the 'Default Formatting' section to the 'Smiley Themes' tab and
> rename the tab to 'Theme' or 'Appearance'.  The smiley theme selector
> can shrink safely.
> == Sounds Tab ==
> 3. Drop 'Mute sounds' option.  Is this necessary, since user can choose
> 'No Sounds' as their 'Sound Method'?
> 4. I don't *think* it will be needed, since 'Sound Events' will shrink
> naturally, but if we need more space on this dialog, move the 'Sound
> Options' section to be to the right of the 'Sound Method' section.
> == Network Tab ==
> 5. Move the 'Example:' help text to right of server
> field.
> 6. Have 'Start Port' and 'End Port' fields be horizontal to each other,
> not vertical.
> 7. Layout Proxy and Browser buttons vertically to each other, move their
> help text to the right of each button.
> 8. Optionally, drop Proxy & Browser section?  Why are these needed
> (honest question, I don't know)?  In what environment do these not just
> link to the desktop proxy or browser preference dialog (as they do in
> GNOME)?  I noticed each account also has its own Proxy setting under the
> Advanced tab.
> == SILC Advanced Dialog ==
> Now, this is obviously a generic dialog that takes the fields from the
> protocol plugin and just displays them.  But maybe we can try to do
> something clever if the plugin is giving us too many fields.
> 9. If a plugin gives 'too many' fields (>= 10?  would hit just Yahoo and
> SILC I think), lay them out in a table.  e.g. If given 10 fields, lay
> them out in a 5x2 grid.
> 10. The above is slightly ham-fisted.  It would be nicer if protocols
> could provide groupings of preferences, and maybe they could be layed
> out in different tabs.  But I was looking for a less invasive change
> right now.
> == Buddy Pounce ==
> 11. Move 'Pounce when Buddy...' section to the right of 'Pounce on Whom'
> section.  Horizontal space is easier to come by than vertical space.
> 12. Move 'Execute a command' and 'Play a sound' actions to right of
> other actions (two column format again), with their associated buttons
> being layed out below the checkboxes.
> 13. Move 'Recurring' checkbox to right (two columns again).
> 14. Drop dialog separator, possibly shrink dialog spacing a bit (looks
> like it's ending up with a 20 pixel border, but I think you are rightly
> intending it to be 12, per HIG).
> I'd welcome feedback on the approaches above, with obviously the intent
> of upstreaming any patches that ya'll would accept.
> [1]
> --
> mterry | UI & App Engineer, Canonical Ltd. | +1 781 761 9092
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