The Big Board isn’t a panel replacement, it probably doesn’t do half the things the current GNOME panel does and I wouldn’t imagine it would ever match all of the functionality. There’s lots of areas the panel handles like task switching where Big Board doesn’t want to touch, it’s out of the scope of the project. The intention of Big Board is be an connected companion to the online desktop. Connected meaning not just online but available locally as well.
There are lots of mockups of the board available on our developer wiki, but some are out of date and some are just ideas that haven’t been fully looked at yet. Right now this is what Big Board is and where those pieces are going.
The Big Board is made up of different applet like things we call stocks. The stocks are pretty easy to write in python and can access account information through mugshot to grab feeds of the online services you use. The first stock on the board (located on the top) is the Personal (or self) stock.
I covered a lot of this in the Big Board Design but most web sites make it immediately apparent when you log in that it knows who you are, while our desktop doesn’t naturally do this. Sitting down at another person’s GNOME Desktop doesn’t give me a hint who’s machine it is unless I start searching for their username in the home directory. (f-u-s-a being a possible exception that isn’t on by default, perhaps until recently)
Display the logged in users photo and name. This not only helps for the person to be sure they are logged into their Desktop correctly but it also helps us to encourage them to set an appropriate name and icon. Further down the road making sure people have set the correct name and icon helps with fast user switching, gdm face browsing, offering a decent default for buddy icons, and some other ideas we have about local network browsing. Currently this personal stock reflects your Mugshot image and name and will keep in sync with the site accordingly.
In the future we’ll be looking into using this personal area for the start point to editing personal preferences and logging out or switching users. You can see in this mockup the idea that clicking on the personal will give options related to either you or the computer you’re using.
Just below your picture and name we’re listing the we accounts you use. Currently these icons will take you directly to your account or profile page for the site it represents. The icon list serves as a decent starting point and begins to show how we’re giving web applications a similar presence to local applications on the desktop.
Next up is the Search stock, where we took advantage of the awesome Deskbar applet to handle the “quick search” input and results display. The interesting twist mugshot gives to deskbar is that we can have the information necessary to search all of your online accounts (assuming they have feeds or web services) like delicious, digg, flickr, and others but we could also be searching your friends delicious, digg, and other accounts as well. Having the collective bookmarks of all your friends and colleagues at your finger tips might be a nice way to quickly find that thing you were looking for. More later…
I was tempted to write a post where I could give my side of a story and mis-quote and mis-characterize a person whose work I admire but I’m going to just talk about our prototype and it’s ideas so we can remain friends and find a way to work together. Plus I personally prefer ad hominem attacks opposed to that baby killing Gravely’s methods.