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The Pantheon shell is the main desktop component of the Elementary project. It is deeply integrated with other applications like the dock called Plank, the top panel Wingpanel, application launcher Slingshot and comes with its own window manager Gala, which is based on Mutter.

The traditional Unix like substitutability of components is sacrificed by a design philosophy that streamlines the user interface for better global aesthetics and out-of-the-box experience inspired by popular proprietary desktops. To do that, the Elementary project enhances the Gtk+ libraries with its own extensions for improved usability and a unique design. It also comes with its own set of programs that all adhere to the visual guidelines like: text editor, file browser, terminal emulator, desktop calendar, e-Mail client, software gallery, video player, audio player and etc. To simplify application creation designed for Elementary, an application development framework (Granite) was created. The preferred programming language is Vala.