For quite a long time now, Qt Creator has been using the native features of Mac OS X and Windows 7 to display build errors and progress as badges and progress bars on the icon in the Dock and Task Bar respectively. Unfortunately, the X11 variant has been sorely empty. After realizing that a few applications, among them Chrome, could display certain information such as the number of ongoing downloads in Unity, I was wondering how this was implemented.
It turns out that libunity provides all the features required. Applications, identified by their .desktop name, can add progress and a badge. So I implemented it for Qt Creator, here is unity showing two compile errors in a demo application:
Now the gory details: libunity seems to be binary incompatible. After researching for a while, I noticed that it is best to follow the Chromium implementation and only try to open known-to-work versions of libunity. This it not really optimal, but it works, at least until the next unity release :(.
*Magnum narrator voice on*: Now I know what you’re thinking 1), and you are right: “X11” does not equal “Unity”, but I have no idea if there are equivalents in GNOME 3 or KDE/Plasma. Probably the terminology is just different. If so, I’d happy to learn about them and implement these as well. A plus if there a FD.O library (and I’m afraid there isn’t). If not, I’d like to toss in the question whether KDE should have such a feature, or how else applications can usefully reflect certain statuses while in the background.
1) especially if you are reading this through Planet KDE!