The top panel in Unity had a job to do, holding app menus, the global menu, while the gnome-shell’s top panel is just taking space, giving nothing much, especially useless on small laptop screens.
I can’t agree with that. It holds the clock and system controls. Yes you can shove them in on the side in a vertical bar, but there is not really any space for them, so they are forced into a strange vertical orientation. The solution we have now is closer to Unity, which did a great job. Whenever I try to re-create the Unity look in Plasma as an example, I always end up using two bars because having status icons and the clock shoved into the left-hand panel never really looks right.
The Ubuntu dock, a fork of Dash to Dock, only configures the Gnome shell’s Dash, which doesn’t have much possibilities. It cannot minimise, maximise from the dock. It cannot hold a clock. It cannot hold notifications and so on.
Minimizing from the dock has always been problematic. What do you do the minute there are multiple windows? I like the choice Canonical made in Unity actually: simplify behavior by making a click on the icon either launch it if the application is not active, or bring up the last used window for the application if it is active. If there are multiple windows and the icon is already focused, bring them all up in an overview so that you can select the appropriate one. (this leads to very fast window selection, because double clicking an icon brings up all your windows to choose, and even gave you the option to filter the list by typing a few characters!)
Now you have consolidated the functionality into 1) launching and 2) bringing a particular window into focus. Adding minimization just complicates things. Though I appreciate Canonical enabling the minimize/expand window controls for familiarity reasons, they aren’t even necessary. I realized that actually minimize is a rather pointless feature in most cases. Either kill the app if you no longer need it, or just switch to another window.
I did the same thing to great effect in Unity 7. Have a bunch of windows loaded and just swap to whatever I need. Why minimize? The main reason is to “clear” the desktop to make it viewable, so you can interact with the icons there, but if you are launching everything from an overview anyway, and you can access files using the file manager, what’s the point of clearing the desktop? (not to mention that if it really is so important, you could always have a “show desktop” option, either as a button and key combination, or as part of the alt+tab feature, unity had all three of those)
It’s even more useless in Gnome because you can dynamically create/destroy workspaces, so getting to a clean desktop is just a ctrl+alt+down, or hitting the meta key/activities button and then selecting a clean desktop to work from.
If anything, I would like Canonical to move closer to Unity in design, not further away. A really cool feature would be if you could click twice on an icon with multiple windows and have the overview come up with only the windows specific to that application. I also miss the HUD and filtering windows by name… (KDE actually has the latter feature, I’m so jealous! )