Thoughts on navigation of the Brisk Menu

I had to reset my Mate-Tweak panels due to doubled items in the menu and decided to look over the Brisk Menu.

I understand based on previous discussion a large part of the reason why Wimpy felt the Brisk Menu was needed as default was to implement some sort of Win\Super Key navigation, so I wanted to test that out a bit.

I noticed that by default when calling the menu from the keyboard it immediately locks in on the “all” selection. No matter what I tried I could not get the selection to move to any of the menu option categories on the left side. Is this expected and desirable behavior?

Is there a guide somewhere that I missed touting the keyboard commands now available? Should there be?

I may not myself prefer to use the Brisk Menu but since it’s going to be the face of the distro from this release going forward I wanted to ask about this and see what to expect. Thanks.


Hi @bornagainpenguin,

Decades of keyboard navigation just isn’t there anymore. The Brisk thing is a perfect example of how we’re loosing the keyboard navigating battle. My personal solution immediately after install is:

mate-tweak --layout ubuntu

Be careful, this configures your panels with no safeguards!

The whole list is in /usr/share/mate-panel/layouts/. I choose layout “ubuntu” because it includes the Shutdown applet. “Traditional” in mate-tweak GUI maps to ubuntu-mate, which doesn’t.

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Wow. That really doesn’t make any sense.

I’d assumed that I was missing something obvious here. The BriskMenu really doesn’t work by keyboard? What was the whole point of switching to it to add the ability to open it via Win/Super key if it really doesn’t navigate?

Aren’t you just having to grab the mouse pointer to do any real work? Or are we assuming that the newbies from Windows who this move was intended for magically know the names of all the programs installed to the point they don’t need any context for them?

I don’t get it… I just don’t get it.


I find the Brisk thing is geared to one operation paradigm of Super and searching typed names. That’s it for keyboard-friendly, the rest is mouse-friendly only. Navigation by Tabs and Arrows just isn’t there. I think it came that way from Mint(?)

It’s a general trend. The first Linux GUIs in the 90s were really bad until it matured for awhile. Now it’s falling back for a totally different reason - no one uses it enough. :cry:

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I’m not a Brisk user, but I remember an earlier attempt at improving keyboard navigation. Maybe you can submit a bug report on their github.

I use the MATE Advanced Menu, and keyboard navigation works really well there. Could you try it and see if this is the experience that you expect? We can then try to reproduce some of this behavior on Brisk. A detailed report of how you expect it to work could go a long way in helping the developer fix these issues


I’ll get to it when I get back. Going to be out most of the morning.

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Hi @vkareh, thanks for jumping in. Yes, the MATE Advanced Menu is quite nice to navigate. You can tell it has good roots with things like PgDn/PgUp handling of a long list. The only minor thing I see is how Tab doesn’t travel between major sections, there may be a reason for that. It would be an excellent example for Brisk just like it is.

Still waiting to know what’s going on with my ride so I sat down at the laptop and played with the new Mate Advanced Menu.

There was a bit of silliness on my part when I was in the search box by default and didn’t figure out immediately that I needed to go up before I could go anywhere else. Once I figured that out I was able to navigate the entire Mate Advanced Menu with ease. I could navigate from section to section and check out specific categories for applications so if say I knew I needed something to do chat with, I could rummage through the internet section and find the app even if I didn’t know its name.

Of course it’s not Super\Win Key mapped so I had to open it with the mouse before I could do all that which defeats the purpose, but as a counterpoint to how I think it ought to work to navigate by keyboard, the Advanced Menu is what I expected to be able to do with BriskMenu, which is why I was wondering if I was missing something obvious.

It might be worthwhile to seeing what the keyboard jockeys think about this situation. Yes, they can simply type the name of the application if they know it but having multiple ways to navigate is a way too strengthen the appeal. To make it more intuitive. Right?

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The Advanced Menu is Super/Win key aware. You just might have Brisk running in the background, thus preventing the Advanced Menu from grabbing the key press. You might also just need to set it (right click, preferences).

In the past, Brisk worked with the keyboard but the menu entries did not get highlighted, so the user had no feedback as to where the focus was. This was also the case with the Advanced Menu, but it was fixed by adding a prelight status to the menu entry button during focus. I wonder if a similar fix is possible for Brisk… Even then, I don’t remember if it’s possible to navigate to the category list with the keyboard or not. That would be a slightly bigger chunk of code, but should be doable anyway.

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Also, I use the keyboard pretty much exclusively. I find the Advanced Menu to give me a much faster workflow. Even though Brisk is actually faster as a piece of software and Advanced Menu has plenty of quirks, I still prefer the Advanced Menu, personally.

I did. Removing the BriskMenu and setting the Advanced Menu enabled the Super\Win Key for that menu.

After that everything worked pretty much as expected, although I feel there should be an option to always return to favorites or to default to the current behavior, which returns to the last menu item you were on. Otherwise doing this test actually showed me the benefit of the Advanced Menu. I’d always hated it before as big and clunky and busy, but if I were a keyboard warrior I can see why there would be an appeal there.

I hope that maybe some of these changes will eventually come to the Brisk Menu. I was just testing it out of curiosity but I actually see some of the usability potential in the applet and binding of the Super\Win Key now when I didn’t before. If they make it completely keyboard navigable it’ll definitely be an improvement that will win over people!

Not me–I still like the looks and feel of the Traditional Desktop–but I think it would go a long way towards selling the Brisk Menu to others. As you say, it’s very fast compared to the Advanced Menu!


Maybe there’s a way I’m missing, but the thing the Brisk Menu lacks in 18.04 is the ability to make it open to the Favorites by default as you can with the Advanced Menu.