a cute little home a cute little boy a cute little cow: mooo!

Tale of a little pixel

a cute little girl

Make some space

Sometimes little details gives a way greater feeling of power and customizability, without actually adding much and more importnant without adding tons of new buttons and configuration options.

Plasma panel can arrange widgets in an ordered linear layout, one after another, but what about if you have a panel where you want to distinguish between different groups of applets and want to put a space between them to make the look more clear? Since a couple of days in the plasma configuration dialog a new single button appeared: "Add spacer":

panel spacer

Clicking on it it adds that little widget at the end of the panel, it's just a space and you can drag it around as with every other widget or resize it as you wish by dragging the borders of it (that in this screenshot are a little darker) just like any window or resizable stuff in general.

panel spacer

Of course a space is not something that you should see: it's empty right? So you close the panel edit mode and the empty space ecomes well, empty, until you open again the panel configuration mode.

panel spacer

Somethings wrong

In your screenshot the spacer disappears when you leave the configuration mode. That's exactly the behavior I would expect - however in my case this simply does not work. The spacer stays visible all the time, which makes it pretty useless.

This is the case on different systems - not just on one.

So what am I doing wrong?

Sent from Carsten (Anonimous) on 21/07/2010 at 8:44:00


an ordered linear layout, one after another, but what about if you have a panel where you want to distinguish between different groups of applets and want to put a space between them

Sent from healthelectron (Anonimous) on 30/06/2010 at 0:27:00

Expanding spacer +1


I second the wish for an expanding spacer. Actually I thought that this is what "Set flexible size" is supposed to do but it just didn't work. Now that I know that this isn't so, I'm puzzled what this should do.

At the moment, it is impossible to have a simple layout with a K-Menu and some starters on the left and the taskbar and clock on the right (i.e. the default Ubuntu Gnome Layout is not possible in KDE4). This seems very strange!

However I also think there could be a better solution. Instead of the flexible spacer I would make it possible to anchor plasmoids on the left or right (and maybe at the center) of the panel. This is a concept known from e.g. word documents and users should be familiar with it. Sure, you will have to find a way to handle overlapping but this is really the same at the moment (just that it will "overlap" outside the panel). This would mean that there is no need for a flexible spacer anymore.

Sent from Tobias (Anonimous) on 11/05/2009 at 18:35:30

hungry hungry widgets

Nice addition but, please, can something be done about widgets inappropriately taking up all available space?

There's really no reason for a clock or a systray to take up all available space. It takes control out of the hands of the user and, frankly, looks ugly.

Sent from Caracalla (Anonimous) on 08/05/2009 at 13:37:57

Why not?

For those who claimed that some widgets tend to get all the available space (then the need for a spacer) I recommend to look at the GNOME design, as I did and as I pointed out.

Please do not take this as a "GNOME is better" thing (I'm a KDE user) we are simply discussing what way of doing things is better.

For me, the need for a spacer means that something is wrong and it has nothing to do with having variable-size-widgets.

Keep in mind that GNOME actually HAS a taskbar; when you place it on the panel, it takes all the space available between the elements where you placed it. And yes, it can be expanded and shrinked all the way you want by moving the elements around it (it is much easyer to understand if you play with it).

Another way of doing things could be giving handlers (in the config mode) to all the variable-size-widgets so you can stretch them as you do on the desktop (i.e. instead of stretching spacers you stretch widgets).

These two solutions seem to me more intuitive and reasonable than introducing spacers. Am I missing something?

Sent from Mah... (Anonimous) on 26/04/2009 at 15:17:01

Re: Re: Expanding spacer

Cool, thanks for the update Marco.

Sent from Hans (Anonimous) on 26/04/2009 at 0:48:13

Nice solution

Thanks for the spacer, Marco!

This was, as you probably know, requested many, many months ago. I recall that the plasma team did not want a traditional spacer, because applets manage their sizes themselves (for very good reasons, many things that are being done in plasma would otherwise be impossible). A traditional spacer would have been a normal widget, show up in the applet browser, and could be added to the desktop. This would, of course, be rather silly. Also, it would be invisible, making finding, resizing and removing difficult.

I always wondered what you were going to do. This is a great solution! :)


Sent from Frank (Anonimous) on 25/04/2009 at 16:04:47

Uggly hack...

I just see it as an uggly hack to cover a design flaw.

Sent from Jason (Anonimous) on 25/04/2009 at 16:03:41

Somthing Like Chrome!

I would be great to have something like google chrome tabs for moving the widgets in the panel, something that move things in a smoothly way (right or left) but also to have the chance to make space naturrally without buttons.

Sent from Fernando (Anonimous) on 25/04/2009 at 14:14:48

Re: Expanding spacer

@Hans: done just now

Sent from Marco Martin (mart) on 25/04/2009 at 13:22:15


Why not just make it a damn widget ? I absolutely loved kde 4.1 but since more and more buttons seem to creep up from somewhere.

Sent from CoolGoose (Anonimous) on 25/04/2009 at 11:57:28


i fully agree that every configuration button added is a little loss, but here a method like kde3 or gnome really doesn't work, because until you just add things like icons or the pager that have a fixed size it works good, but as soon as you add things like the taskbar that method fails immediately (how you can add a space simply moving an item when all available space is taken by a space hungry widget?) and was one od the things that made kicker so fragile

Sent from Marco Martin (mart) on 25/04/2009 at 10:59:30

Kde should be minimalistic

It would be great to reduce buttons in any part of KDE configs and make it more intuitive everywhere.

There should not be need for a spacer because it would be better to move things smoothly on the panel by cliking it and moving them right or left.

Sent from marco (Anonimous) on 25/04/2009 at 7:36:12


Nice website. Feels very SNES.

Sent from Josh (Anonimous) on 25/04/2009 at 5:18:58

Still A Weakness

Though it does seem there are some good reasons for not having _exactly_ the same implementation as Gnome, I still find the KDE panel (even with manually-added spacers) highly unintuitive. It makes me feel like I'm writing a Java Swing GUI by hand, watching my widgets placed awkwardly by some layout manager when I really just want to drag them around and say "Go there, and stay there!"

I wonder what a good compromise solution would be that gets the notably better usability of being able to drag things around freely and not have to add spacers, but doesn't leave panel applets that can swallow up more space than they ought to....

Sent from Josh (Anonimous) on 25/04/2009 at 5:18:01

Why a spacer

I really don't like the concept of adding spacers to simply get distance between elements. I find it cumbersome and rather unintuitive, and I imagine less technical users feel the same way. It should better way to handle it.

>sure, when everything maintains an absolute minimum size

>then you can just move things around.

It's not really about minimum size, but more like static size I think. Which is more or less the state they have during edit anyway.

I should be possible to automate this and to make the spacers hidden from the user. Removing the ability too directly manipulate the spacers. If you move items in the panel apart, a spacer is automatic added when you stop moving/release button. Any subsequent movement of the object, will result in recalculation of the spacer size. And if you place to objects beside each other, the spacer get removed.

Sent from Morty (Anonimous) on 25/04/2009 at 2:04:54


Just wondering...I've tried to use the panel-spacer in 4.2.x, and it seems to "forget" where I put it. I.e. I've tried to set up a panel with kickoff + quicklanucher + spacer on the left, followed by the task-manager and the systray on the right (just one example, mind). Works fine as long as I stay logged in, but if I log out and in again, the spacer has most of the time moved to somewhere else. I haven't been able to find out why it does, and under what circumstances.

What I wonder is: has this been fixed in trunk? No, I'm not comfortable enough to run trunk right now (mostly because I don't have the time to fix issues that may crop up).

Sent from (Anonimous) on 25/04/2009 at 0:53:01

Why a spacer

"In GNOME there's no need for a spacer because you can always move things smoothly on the panel"

sure, when everything maintains an absolute minimum size then you can just move things around.

but what happens when items are allowed to expand or shrink according to the space they have is twofold: we get items that are more flexible in their presentation and layout and aren't confined to little keyholes if that doesn't make sense; but we also get the situation where items may try and sprawl out more than _you_ want them to.

in kicker there were all kinds of interesting hacks to make even just icon buttons stay a reasonable size, to the point we actually had to put in a configuration option for that algorithm (compact vs full sized).

so all i can say is that if you think that having items that are scalable is a flaw, then yes the design flawed. personally, i like being to put things on a big panel or crush them down into one area of the panel or let them sprawl on the desktop ..

Sent from Aaron Seigo (Anonimous) on 25/04/2009 at 0:40:10

Why a spacer

I think the need for a spacer is an indicator of bad concepts at the base.

In GNOME there's no need for a spacer because you can always move things smoothly on the panel.

Why we can't do that in KDE as well?

Sent from Mah... (Anonimous) on 25/04/2009 at 0:13:31

Panel Spacer in playground

"Will there be an expanding spacer, like in Qt, that takes up all unused space? :)"

You can use the "Panel Spacer".

It's the same name, the same goal but it can extends and draw a separator. However, it is not integrated directly in plasma, it's just a plasmoid.

Please use the version in svn playground if you can, it is more up to date

Sent from DanaKil (Anonimous) on 24/04/2009 at 23:52:29

Expanding spacer

Will there be an expanding spacer, like in Qt, that takes up all unused space? :)

Sent from Hans (Anonimous) on 24/04/2009 at 23:18:28


"Since a couple of days in the plasma configuration dialog a new single button appeared: 'Add spacer':"

A couple of days *ago* in the...

Sent from Tim (Anonimous) on 24/04/2009 at 23:17:37

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