Panel clock applet should show only the time by default

Bug #406438 reported by David Siegel
This bug affects 3 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
One Hundred Papercuts
Ubuntu Netbook Remix Launcher

Bug Description

In Karmic, the clock applet shows the date by default. The date is also displayed in the clock applet tooltip, and is visible on click in the calendar applet; all in all, there are three ways to find the date using the clock applet. We should remove one of these ways in the interest of de-cluttering the panel.

This is a very subtle change and many people will object at first, but when the option exists to show the date or not show the date, the default configuration should favor a simpler display, with the user opting-in for the more complex option. It is better to let those who want the date displayed enable it than to require it to be disabled by those who don't need it in the panel. This philosophy of letting the user add complexity rather than creating opportunities to remove complexity from the default configuration is a thread found throughout Ubuntu. For example, the clutter-free default desktop allows users to add icons rather than placing icons there by default to be removed by users who do not need them.

Current default clock presentation is:

  Wed Jul 29, 10:28 AM

If the location is set in the world clock, the weather ("WEA") and temperature are also shown:

  WEA 57 °F Wed Jul 29, 10:28 AM

Suggested default:

  10:28 AM

Suggested default if location is set (whether weather or temperature should be shown by default is not being discussed here):

  WEA 57 °F 10:28 AM

Again, to see the date, the user can place the cursor over the clock applet and read the tooltip, or she can click on the clock and view the calendar. At a glace, items in the panel should appear clean and simple -- minimalist -- but provide more information when clicked. Users should still be able to turn date display on or off on in the clock applet preferences; we should only change the default preference to not show the date.

Revision history for this message
David Siegel (djsiegel-deactivatedaccount) wrote :
description: updated
Mat Tomaszewski (mat.t.)
Changed in hundredpapercuts:
status: New → Confirmed
importance: Undecided → Low
Changed in hundredpapercuts:
milestone: none → round-4
Revision history for this message
Marcus Carlson (0-launchpad-mejlamej-nu) wrote :

Worlds smallest patch? :)

description: updated
description: updated
summary: - Panel clock applet should not show the date
+ Panel clock applet should show only the time by default
Revision history for this message
Brett Alton (brett-alton-deactivatedaccount) wrote :

Now hold on just a minute here...

"It is better to let those who want the date displayed enable it than to require it to be disabled by those who don't need it in the panel. This philosophy of letting the user add complexity rather than creating opportunities to remove complexity from the default configuration is a thread found throughout Ubuntu."

By that logic, we should have absolutely nothing in the panels and let the user create complexity all around them.

I personally find having the date in the panel a _feature_. If I have my monitor on and I want to know what day it is, I just have to look at the clock. Now you're making the panel more like Windows where it only shows the time.

Currently, in Jaunty, if you took away the day feature, when you hover over the clock it says "Click to view your appointments and tasks". It doesn't say the day. I checked in an up-to-date Karmic (2009-08-04) and it says the same thing. So if you're going to include this patch that turns the day off, please include a patch that allows this information as a rollover at the very least.

When you click on the clock, only _then_ does the calendar come up physically selecting '4' in which I have to look up to see the month - August - and the day - Tuesday. To me, you're _adding_ complexity by taking away the date; You're making more work for the user to preform to see the date, including mental processing.

Revision history for this message
Bryan Quigley (bryanquigley) wrote :

I am in the, strongly disagree, camp as well.

By default we have a ton of empty space on the top bar. I find the clock applet one of the clear places that we are much better than the wIndows at. I get a lot more information without knowing how to use a user interface at all.

Revision history for this message
Matthew East (mdke) wrote :

Strongly disagree here too - one thing I've always found very frustrating about Windows is that it doesn't show you the date and that I need to hover over the time to get the tooltip. The purpose of this applet is quickly to give people key information that they are likely to look for regularly and the date is one of those. That's why good watches and good mobile phones have the date on them as well.

No compelling design case has been made in favour of the change - we are not struggling for panel real estate and as far as I'm aware, people haven't complained about being shown the date. I'd definitely consider this an unnecessary regression.

Revision history for this message
Luca Cavalli (luca-cavalli) wrote :

What about improve time readability keeping the date with the patch I submitted on GNOME Bugzilla[1]?

[1] -

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Jonathan Ernst (jonathan.ernst) wrote :

@Luca Cavalli
This seems a better approach if people realy have difficulties to read the time.


We have plenty of space in the default top panel and being able to know the date without any interraction is a feature I and my users would miss a lot by default.

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Revision history for this message
Martin Owens (doctormo) wrote :

I was horrified to find that another papercut is going to regress the Ubuntu desktop further. Not one of the hundred or so people I've taught Ubuntu desktop basics has EVER complained about the date/time, in face they love the simplicity and directness.

Please, don't do this.

Revision history for this message
Vish (vish) wrote :

@Luca Cavalli , Jonathan Ernst :
If the time was the _only_ option to be displayed then the idea sounds nice ,
but the users have the option to display date and weather , Also, FUSA will be on the right-side of time,
 *a bold text in between two regular text will look odd*

It might be personal preference but the bold text idea is not a nice clean design.

Revision history for this message
Vadim Peretokin (vperetokin) wrote :

I'm too stunned by the arbitrary decision to remove the date. It's a -good- thing, and I've yet to see it being complained about.

This report was also not filed by a user, but by a developer. What evidence is there that this is inconvenienced? On the other hand, it's a great example of "dumbing down the desktop for no reason".

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Jack Leigh (leighman) wrote :

Also a fan of showing the date by default...
I think it definitely looks more stylish

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Dean Sas (dsas) wrote :

Me too. The available space on the panel is huge and the date is a very useful thing to have. It would be an annoyance to have to move my hand to the mouse and then move the mouse to the top corner every time I needed to be reminded of the date

Revision history for this message
Roberto Jimeno (robertojimenoca) wrote :

Please, guys, show the date by default. It is very useful and one of the default things I love over MSWindows where only the time is shown.

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Kris Thomsen (lakristho) wrote :

I think this is a good idea - showing only the time will definitly clean up the panel - I always turn the date off anyway.

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Armin Ronacher (mitsuhiko) wrote :

I agree with David here. Just because we can do something it does not mean it's a good thing. The calender opens on a click anyways and I don't need the information all the time. Alternatively I'm also happy with an OS X like solution where the date of the week + the current time is shown instead of the full date.

Revision history for this message
antistress (antistress) wrote :

To the reporter : i've read your solution but what is the problem ?
i don't see any.
Besides i agree with Brett Alton : your assumption is wrong. In jaunty there is only a way to easily get the date by default : by reading it on the the panel. Tooltip in default configuration doesn't show the date but provides the user with some help. And reading the date by opening calendar is not instantaneous, it needs some times to read the table.
This is not serious. It seems that you want a result and then that you try to justify it.

Maybe you should look at problems 1st, before looking at non-problems.
You could work to find a way to simplify Nautilus preferences window for instance (there is so much settings in it that it looks like Firefox preferences window) (see for instance fix Bug 524195 – Media preferences no longer in obvious place) etc.

Revision history for this message
Bastanteroma (bastanteroma) wrote :

When the clock is configured to show only the time, then the date does in fact show up in the tool tip.

Revision history for this message
Oliver Gerlich (ogerlich) wrote :

Here's another vote for keeping the date by default. On Windows, this is different because the task bar doesn't have space to spare (personally I always removed every non-essential tray icon, to make space for task buttons). But the Gnome top panel doesn't have space problems; so I don't see the need to remove the date.

And in fact it's useful to see this information at a glance. At work I don't have the date displayed in tray due to space reasons, and as result usually look at the date that is permanently displayed on the desk phone - that's faster than using the clock tooltip.

Revision history for this message
David Siegel (djsiegel-deactivatedaccount) wrote :

Also note the difference in default preference configuration if the user sets her location in the world clock. If the location is set, the clock applet shows:


This is all available options but seconds.

description: updated
Revision history for this message
Tom Wright (twright-tdw) wrote :

I personally love having the date on my panel, even with Weather info and way too many things in the system tray on my small eeepc screen. I think that we should certainly keep the date there, many people relish (as a comparison point against Windows having saved the small amount of effort that it would take to hover and check plus even if it is subjective users are much more likely to notice the things which get worse than those which get better. Besides there is no decent argument for having two panels if the space that this provides is not used.

Revision history for this message
Lightbreeze (nedhoy-gmail) wrote :

I use the date too, but I don't mind setting the preference. So what will an 'average user' benefit from most: seeing the date or just the time? Will an 'average user' think to change the preference or know how?

Revision history for this message
Jeff Waugh (jdub) wrote :

I'm quite surprised that this change has been suggested as an enhancement, without much inspiration in the form of pain (in terms of usability, technical problems or otherwise).

The date in the clock applet has long been regarded as one of those tiny little "nice touches" which make people feel happy about their GNOME desktop. Back when I was regularly travelling and evangelising GNOME and Ubuntu, it was often raised -- unprompted -- by folks seeing the desktop for the first time as useful, handy, cute, a good thought, "ooh, Windows doesn't do that for you!", etc.

This is the kind of non-bug which is very easy to have an argument about, but can only be properly considered in the context of a more holistic "redesign the (default) shell interface" discussion. Given that there's little demonstrable *pain* involved in this "papercut", I'd suggest leaving it as-is -- particularly given the massive changes coming down the pipeline with the new GNOME Shell.

After all, never-ending small churn is incredibly painful to real users. :-)

Revision history for this message
anthony baxter (anthony) wrote :

This is one of those trivial things that would make the user interface that much worse. Having to move my mouse up to the top corner of the screen, wait for a few seconds, then move back to where I was, _just_ _to_ _see_ _the_ _date_, is change for the sake of change. I don't actually see what the problem is. I have a fairly large amount of stuff in my task bar, and yet there's still heaps of room.

Please don't make this change.

Revision history for this message
Thomas M. Hinkle (thomas-hinkle) wrote :

Also don't like the change.

Seems particularly strange to advocate for leaving the *weather* there by default but not the date, given that it is a clock applet.

Having the date there without any keypresses or mouse movements makes it much more useful (many use cases here -- pretty much every time I need to know the date I'm doing something that I don't want to interrupt by opening up a new window or dragging my mouse somewhere).

Obviously any user commenting on this bug will be up to changing the setting, but it seems many people will either not notice (in which case it's netiher a win nor a loss) or will be disappointed when they see the date is gone and take to looking elsewhere for it (wall calendar, web page, what have you).

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Melissa Draper (melissa) wrote :

Please keep the date in the panel. Relying on tooltips (that have to be configured anyway) on laptops, especially whilst travelling, is painful.

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pt123 (pt123) wrote :

I hope this is not a let's make Ubuntu a Windows clone "bug" fix.
I prefer having the date it is more useful. Although configuring to just show the time should be simple. Than having the user enter the format string ( eventhough this method should exist for advance users.).

Revision history for this message
Jeremy Visser (jeremy-visser) wrote :

On Windows, a big reason why the date is not shown on the panel is because the taskbar needs all the space it can get to house all the taskbar icons and notification icons. With dual panels by default, GNOME doesn't have this problem.

This is a solution looking for a problem. Big -1 from me.

Revision history for this message
Matthew East (mdke) wrote :

On the basis of the comments above, it's pretty clear that this bug needs further discussion and evaluation. I'd suggest it be raised on the desktop mailing list.

I don't think it can be properly classed as a "paper cut". There is no evidence that it has cut anyone at all, and a lot of people consider it to be a feature.

Revision history for this message
David Siegel (djsiegel-deactivatedaccount) wrote :

Good call, Jeff & Matthew. This is not a paper cut because this is a more subtle design issue, not a fix for something that most users consider painful.

Changed in hundredpapercuts:
status: Confirmed → Invalid
Revision history for this message
Vish (vish) wrote :

@David Siegel:
On the same basis > Bug #405426 is not a papercut, the removal of the icon from title bars is just a design aspect and worse , its adversely affects usability

Revision history for this message
Vish (vish) wrote :

Another subtle design issue , and not a papercut > Bug #400383
"Panel separator between clock and FUSA is not meaningful"
This could be considered in the designing the default panel but is not a papercut per-se[not a fix for something that most users consider painful.]

Revision history for this message
Matthew East (mdke) wrote :


This is not the place to discuss other unrelated bugs. Please make your comments on the relevant bugs concerned.

Changed in hundredpapercuts:
milestone: round-4 → none
Revision history for this message
Pēteris Krišjānis (pecisk-gmail) wrote :

Strongly disagree with submiter's agenda - like others, I see information about date available without clicking or mouseovering as one of those superb things which makes GNOME and therefore Ubuntu logical choice for me.

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Tobias Wolf (towolf) wrote :

I’d rather remove FUSA. It’s a redundant toy. Also because the clock belongs in the corner.

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Siegfried Gevatter (rainct) wrote :

I also consider this a regression. Not being able to look up and see the date is something that annoys me a lot when I'm using GNOME Shell, please don't make gnome-panel the same :).

Neil J. Patel (njpatel)
Changed in netbook-remix-launcher:
importance: Undecided → Wishlist
status: New → Triaged
Revision history for this message
molecule-eye (niburu1) wrote :

I strongly disagree as well. The three ways of displaying the date are quite different. For one each exhibits a different level of user interaction. From most to least: clicking on the applet to display the calendar; mousing over the applet to display date, and doing nothing. Moreover, clicking to reveal the calendar is typically slow.

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vaccines cause cancers (k3456789) wrote :

always hate lack of date in windows so I guess someone will code it to show the date

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