There’s a new development in QGIS Master: a customization tool which lets you (de)activate almost any element in the QGIS user interface. This can get very useful if you have a lot of plug-ins installed that you never use and that are filling your screen. Or maybe you just have a vendetta against clutter. Either way, there are many situations where it could prove to be useful.
Here’s a default QGIS setup:
There are two rows of tool buttons running along the top, and this is not a problem on a large screen. But let’s say your nice new 21″ screen spontaneously combusts and you need to dig out the old CRT from the attic. Or, driven by urgency, you need to work on a 13″ laptop. In either case, you would end up with something like this:
Not very useful. If the tools you need are in one of those click-down lists, you’ll need two clicks instead of one to access them. This can get annoying quite rapidly. There’s only so much you can do by rearranging those menus, too, before you end up with three or four rows of them. Whereas you’re trying to actually see the map you’re working on.
Fortunately, thanks to developers Radim Blazek and Martin Dobias, there is now a way to prevent your screen filling up with menus. It’s currently available in the development version of QGIS, so hopefully it will be a standard feature by the next release. You’ll find it in the Settings menu as “Customization…”. Here’s a sample of its interface:
You can save your various different setups as well:
Now, with all the tools except the ones you want to use right now deactivated, you’ve got a much nicer interface to work with:
Let me emphasize here that yes, you can deactivate any element of the user interface. You can even deactivate the File menu if you wanted to. In the screenshot above, notice the status bar. The labels reading “Coordinate:” and “Scale:” have been removed, giving more room for the status field at left, which would have been unable to display the full path otherwise.
The one downside to all this is that your settings don’t apply immediately. You basically need to restart QGIS before your changes are applied, which discourages experimentation, especially on slower machines. There has been some talk about enabling different profiles (accessible from Settings > Options), but I haven’t been able to find it in my version, which had all the latest updates from yesterday. It would be ideal, of course, if changes were applied immediately and different UI configurations could be applied at startup.
For now, though, it’s already a very useful contribution, allowing you to customize your interface for a specific task, or just streamlining it overall. I have to confess that my personal favorite is the ability to remove the “Coordinate:” and “Scale:” labels, which serve no useful purpose if you’re at all familiar with how a GIS application works. It’s also great to be able to get rid of all the vector and database tools if you’re just going to process rasters for the next few sessions, for example. Ultimately, with some better integration into the overall program, this could be a great addition to the overall QGIS user experience.
PS. Yes, the dataset used in the examples is from before the 9th of June, 2011.