Toolboxes are great for providing quick access to a variety of tools, but then sometimes they hang around longer than they're appreciated. Other times they simply get in the way and users end up closing and opening them regularly in order to preserve as much screen space as possible.

In Inkscape 0.46 we introduced the idea of docking toolboxes such that the canvas moves out of the way, and there is one area for toolboxes. This means that you loose screen space permanently, and you can only have one toolbox shown at a time, but you get a cleaner layout where you don't have to manage the toolboxes yourself. I'm not sure if this is an usability improvement or a compensation for window management that can't do what you want.

One of the things that I noticed got added in GTK+ 2.12 was the ability to set the window opacity. So I've hooked up some code in my working branch which makes the toolboxes in Inkscape transparent when they're not focused:

Inkscape with Transparent toolboxes

I'm not sure it solves the problem. It works pretty well with sloppy focus as you're constantly moving in and out which causes them to disappear quickly. And what it does give you is a broader view of your document even when you have lots of toolboxes shown on the screen. It doesn't solve the problem of removing them when you don't need them, but I'm not sure if that's already solved by being able to hide all toolboxes.

Try the branch, leave a comment, I'd be interested to see if others find this useful.

posted May 30, 2008 | permanent link