Bunch of us are unhappy with the direction of Gnome 3. For us, the best desktop to replace gnome with is probably XFCE. However XFCE isn't as mature as Gnome 2 was before Gnome 3 took over. So here's the idea: make XFCE first class citizen in Fedora. And this blog post is the first (and one of the both most easy most controversial) part of that great task—the default panel layout.
I think the current default layout suffers many shortcomings and redesign is needed. After some initial discussion of what applets we should use I sketched and propose for consideration two layouts. One single-panel and one two-panel.
The single panel layout is very minimalistic and tries to retain good usability within the constraints:
The two-panel layout on the other hand can sport some more applets and thus improve the usability a lot. I believe that the splitting of applets into the panels should be easy to understand/use, functional and look stylish. I obviously see analogy between panel menus and app menus – hence they are in top panel. Similarly for window buttons – they practically work like tabs and we are used from web browsers to have tabs on top.
Next idea is for workspace switcher – it's best to put it somewhere where it is both easily accessible and not getting in the way. Similarly for lock-screen and log-out buttons. Obvious positions for these are corners then and as shutdown button is quite commonly in bottom-right corner (old versions of GDM, LXDM, …) it's quite easy to place them. We use the remaining corner for clock. And finally group together all other applets that use icons. And voila, we have almost dock-like bottom panel (just add some transparency to it and you'll see the similarity). And of course, not to forgot, one of the most important decision here is that window list and system tray should be on different panels as they each tend to take up lots of space.
Feel free to join the discussion either on fedora xfce list, dedicated wiki page or here ;-)