gnome extension: onboard "show KB" icon

Asked by Eric Duncan on 2016-01-26

Not sure if this belongs in "Questions" or "Bugs - as a Feature Request"...

Great work with OnBoard. Finally after 3 years of test runs of Debian and Ubuntu, I can now use my Lenovo helix tablet native with Linux. This was the missing link before switching the boss' (wife's) Surface 3 over to Linux. But, I can't quite yet...

Our only problem is finding a good user experience in calling up the Onboard keyboard...

Under Windows 8.1 and Windows 10, the onboard keyboard did not detect all input fields either and often times still requires the manual press of the keyboard icon in the Taskbar. So, we are used to "pressing the keyboard icon" to get it to show when it doesn't activate. A single simple tap, easy.

ArchLinux (Antergos actually) on tip
GDM 3.18.2
Gnome 3.18.2
OnBoard 1.1.2-3

With this setup, I have to rely on two "icons" to call up the keyboard in Chrome (I know, there are issues with Chrome and raising keyboard events - that's why we are using the icons).

* Gnome "Drawers" (I think they are called) in the bottom-left corner shows the OnBoard running icon
* OnBoard floating Icon overlay

There are usability issues with both of these solutions. I would like to discuss alternative options and possible a suggestion for a 3rd because right now, they are not the best user experiences.

Gnome Drawer tooltray icon for OnBoard
The problem with this solution is that the drawer is hidden by default/most of the time and it cannot be opened with "touchscreens" by any sort of intelligent or trickery. It is a Gnome problem, not an OnBoard problem. Gnome's touchscreen is a very nice implementation. But, this drawer needs some work to get open (often times have to revert to finding the Wacom pen somewhere in the drawer in the kitchen, taping the drawer to get it open, putting hte pen back in the kitchen and running back upstairs to the office).

If Gnome allows for easier access to this drawer with touch events, it would make the usability of accessing the OnBoard icon so much easier.

But this solution, if Gnome fixes it, would still require 2 or 3 touch events/swipes to get to the onboard to pop up.

Windows 8.1/10 has an "always on" onscreen keyboard icon in the taskbar, ready to access with a single touch at all times.

OnBoard Floating
This is a cool concept and almost solves most of these issues. But, it is not the best user experience.

* It doesn't worked when placed as an overlay ontop of the Gnome topbar. This is the natural place it belongs to stay visible at all times and not to get in the way of fullscreen experiences (such as movies and book reading). But apparently, Gnome seems to be overlaying all touch/mouse input events - not allowing any inputs to pass down to the floating icon if positioned in the topbar (you can't touch/tap/click it).

* Another problem with this icon is resizing it down to match other gnome buttons, like to around 30x30 pixels, makes it almost useless as the touch events are registered as resize events of this icon. Why have it resizable? Put the width and height in the settings a call in the day - remove the resize.

* But none of that matters because overall, this "floating icon" annoys the boss (and myself a bit) enough to veto it as a solution because of fullscreen book reading and fullscreen movie/tv watching - that floating icon remains visible at all times.

Proposed solution
I propose a 3rd option. An option that seems fairly simple to implement:

* Gnome Extension that displays a "keyboard" icon in the toptray.

Since OnBoard is already a Gnome extension, i see this as an easy add-o to the existing.

I moved the floating icon up to the topbar, to give an example:

^- again, note my previously stated issue that placing the floating icon here does not work: gnome doesn't allow the touch/click events to register with the floating icon. And, it stays visitable under fullscreen events and viewing, which is not desirable by any means.

Here's a picture of the Windows 8.1/10 onscreen keyboard button, which you can set to "always visible" so with a single "tap" you got an onscreen keyboard, anywhere, any app, at any time.

It would be a Gnome Extension that shows up under the Tweak UI applet to enable/disable (and maybe even configure, such as delay).

This would be the best user experience overall.

* A single "tap" in Gnome's topbar would show the OnBoard keyboard
* It would be "hidden" under fullscreen viewing. Gnome allows u to 'drag' from top, or press Start button (Windows tablets) to see the Topbar again to press this if needed in fullscreen.
* It would be clickable.

Alternative approaches
For now, we are trying a combination of these two Gnome extensions:

The "slide from the bottom" is working pretty well, and replacing Gnome's virtual keyboard with Onboard is working nicely.

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marmuta (marmuta) said : #1

Hi, thanks for the question. I'm going to create a bug report along with it. There've been similar before, but I feel we need a specific one to pool the requirements for a GNOME Shell extension.

> * Another problem with this icon is resizing it down to match other
> gnome buttons, ... Why have it resizable? Put the width and height
> in the settings a call in the day - remove the resize.
This can be configured, actually. Preferences->Window->Resize protection. That setting applies to both, the keyboard window and the floating icon. If that one is too coarse for you, you can disable resize handles for the icon alone with
$ gsettings set org.onboard.icon-palette window-handles 'M'
or make it unmovable with
$ gsettings set org.onboard.icon-palette window-handles ''

> But none of that matters because overall, this "floating icon"
> annoys the boss (and myself a bit)
I can understand that. IIRC, that icon was an accessibility feature initially, hence you can resize it to enormous sizes. I was thinking about how to redesign it before. Perhaps something slim, sticking to a screen edge. That might be more appealing.

Concerning staying on top of full screen windows, there's a bug report demanding exactly this:
Another setting in preferences? Only reluctantly, there are so many already.

> * Gnome Extension that displays a "keyboard" icon in the top tray.
I agree, that would be best for Gnome.

There was a discussion just recently about the existing GNOME Shell extensions for Onboard and how to improve them:

And no, Onboard doesn't come with its own extension yet. However, if we can get our hands on a fully working one we already agreed on offering to maintain it as part of the project. Your very valid suggestion adds another point to the list.

Can you help with this problem?

Provide an answer of your own, or ask Eric Duncan for more information if necessary.

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