Re: Metacity Proposal: Grouping Windows

On Wed, 2004-03-03 at 10:02 +0000, Rui Miguel Seabra wrote:
> On Tue, 2004-03-02 at 23:40 -0700, Ryan McDougall wrote:
> > The Windows-Icons-Mouse-Pointer paradigm has given our computers
> Mouse + Pointer is redundant and ignores one other important factor:
>   Menus
> IIRC it's Windows-Icons-Menus-Pointer (and there's a reason it's called
> WIMP ;))

I actually wrote the whole mail in one sitting, late at night, so some
of the wording or ideas are a bit rough. Occasionally my mind thought
one thing and my hands wrote something possibly related. ;)

> > A random, non-scientific sample of 20 junior Computer Science students
> > at a major university running Ximian GNOME 1.4 on Sun workstations,
> > shows that only 3 users made use of more than one desktop. All were
> > running multiple tasks/windows (usually emacs, terminal, mozilla). When
> > 5 students were asked why they weren't using the extra desktops, three
> > didn't know what that they existed, and two didn't consider it worth the
> > effort to maintain multiple desktops. This is purely anecdotal and
> > *unscientific*, but hopefully illustrative.
> Illustrative? The most illustrative it seems to me is of addiction to
> One-Virtual-Desktop-Only operating systems like Apple MacOS and
> Microsoft Windows. It's almost like that "brilliant" Sun usability study
> where instead of having users that have very little (preferably none)
> experience with computers they got people that already
> _have_usage_habits_. That distorts any tests to their experience.

My own experience with multiple desktops, which I increasingly use less,
even though I only use Unixes, is that unless its a long computing
session it is simply not worth the extra clicks.

Also, with the people I looked at above, the issue seems to be about the
discover-ability of virtual desktops. It doesn't seem intuitive *enough*
for them to easily grasp it even though they see the pager. Additionally
they will even see their peers using multiple desktops, yet they appear
to have no desire to make use of the same feature.

It is basically impossible to test people with no computing experience,
because even when you found someone with such a lack of experience, it
would probably be because they dislike them, and you'd have to teach
them even the obvious metaphors like icons and folders.

> > Currently virtual desktops are very handy, but provide an inconsistent
> > spatial representation,
> In my job's L shaped secretary I have the computer zone in one place,
> and the paper zone in another place. When looking at one of them, I
> don't see the other. It is not an inconsistent spacial representation.

You have a point, I probably should have said what I meant by
inconsistent. With a real desk the entire extent is always visible. Its
a whole that is easily discover-able, and consistent with all the other
large L shaped desks one has seen. With a virtual desk one has to
realize that clicking on the pager jumps you one of these desktops, and
all windows and actions on windows are mutually exclusive of windows on
other desktops. Jumping to a new desktop might as well be jumping to a
new dimension, therefore its inconsistent with physical reality IMO.

> > 1.1.2 Document-Tabbed UIs
> This is cool, but not essentially because MDI is good (it usually
> isn't).
> Tabs are very handy for grouping themes, yes. But they are particularly
> good if coupled with SDI (eg: I have different Mozilla windows, each
> with several tabs; think of GNUmeric, where a spreadsheet may have many
> tabs too).
> > The popularity of Tabbed and MDI UIs in some applications is a direct
> > result of a user's annoyance with the current status of window
> > management.
> Actually, for me, it has more to do with other features too.
> Mozilla, for instance, worked WAY FASTER with tabs than multiple
> windows...
> >  Tabbing allows the user to not only automatically group
> > document windows according to application (and thus according to user
> > meaningful types) -- the GNOME task bar currently has this grouping
> > feature, but allows the user to apply windowing transformations (resize,
> > minimize, etc) to all document windows at once. The interaction is not
> > passive, as a virtual desktop, rather once can actively transform all
> > windows as a whole group. Currently Tabbed applications allow one to
> > transform a set of document windows by issuing commands to the parent,
> > ie "resize GEdit (and by implication all sub-documents currently open
> > therein)", and has become a crowd favourite. 
> All in all, your idea seems interesting to me, however the end result
> seems far more complicated than virtual desktops really are.

Im not suggesting virtual desktops are bad and we should get rid of
them, Im just suggesting we can do better. I dont consider my solution
to be more complicated since creating a group is usually less work than
organizing a workspace or desktop.

> Rui

Thanks for the input!


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