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Document last modified: Tue, 15 Jun 2010, 20:22 UTC
Parents: BlackboxDocumentation/

Blackbox Documentation/Blackbox Slit

This page attempts to explain what the Blackbox slit is and how you can use it, as well as any other kinds of useful information about it.

1 What is the slit?
2 What the slit is NOT
3 What can I use it for?
4 How do I make applications use the slit?
5 Controlling the slit behaviour
6 Tips and tricks

1) What is the slit?

The slit is the equivalent of the dock in other window managers. Not all window managers or desktop environments have a similar feature, so you may or may not have seen anything similar before.

The slit is a rectangular bar stuck to one of the screen margins. It's purpose is to "swallow" small applications designed especially for this purpose and to keep them in a common, block-like, place, in a handy location available easily.

2) What the slit is NOT

The slit is NOT the equivalent of the system tray, not a notification area, nor a panel. It has a greater, more general, purpose than just that. You can load an application into the slit which emulates a system tray (see Docker for instance), but it's just one of the many kinds of applications that can be loaded in the slit.

3) What can I use it for?

The slit by itself does nothing, it is just a rectangular container. People use the slit to load applications that display info about the system or offer a quick way to access some functionality. Examples: keep an eye on CPU or memory load; quick access to audio mixer volume; check new emails; a fancy clock. There are many others.

The Blackbox slit works with most of such applications out there: dockapps, bbtools or others. See BlackboxAddons for a comprehensive listing of the most commonly used ones.

4) How do I make applications use the slit?

Most of the time you don't have to do anything special. The application will detect the slit upon starting it and use it, all by itself (provided the application was meant for slit use).

Sometimes you have to use certain flags with some applications to make them detect the slit properly. This is due to slightly different slit- or dock- like implementations out there in various window managers. The proper flags will vary from application to application. Running application --help in a terminal or typing man application often provides clues.

Anyway, you have to remember that only specially crafted applications can use the slit. Thus the generic name "dockapps" given to such applications.

5) Controlling the slit behaviour

The slit is always present on all the workspaces. It can be placed at the corners of the screen or at the middle of an edge and it will stay where you put it no matter if you change workspace.

You can control the behaviour of the slit by right-clicking on a part of it that's not covered by a docked application; this will display the slit menu. This menu is also available under the main Blackbox menu.

Note: Right-clicking over a docked application will transfer the click to that application, not to the slit. It's up to the application to do something with it, or ignore it, but the important thing is that the slit won't get the click. The most simple way to make sure the slit gets the click is to push the mouse cursor as far against the screen side as it will go before clicking. It also helps to use Blackbox styles which provide at least a few pixels of decorative margin for the slit.

You can also set slit options directly in the Blackbox configuration file. Some of the slit configurable options:

6) Tips and tricks

Remember, there is only one slit.

It's important to understand that the slit has no size of it's own, it just expands and shrinks to accomodate whatever applications you load in it. When the slit is empty, it will not be visible. For those who are curious about implementation details, Blackbox actually creates and destroys the slit as needed. This means that if you do not have any applications in the slit, Blackbox will not allocate memory for it. If all applications in the slit exit, Blackbox destroys the slit, recreating it the next time it is needed.

You can emulate a nice big bar of icons (like on Mac) by filling a slit with BBDock's.


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