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Thread: Unity testers, would you like to see this?

  1. #1
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    Hardy Heron (Ubuntu Development)

    Unity testers, would you like to see this?

    I recently proposed the following to Launchpad and the Unity mailing list, but there are a couple rough edges to polish. Please take a look at these mockups first:



    Do you see those purple spaces in the sidebar, containing the launchers? They represent workspaces and are used to handle them:

    - By default there is only a workspace, represented by an empty purple square. You can't open a new empty workspace because, why would you want that? You have a perfectly good one, like, right there.

    - Once you open an app, its launcher appears inside the purple space and a second purple space (empty workspace) appears in the launcher. That would be the first mockup: in it, I have Firefox and Hamster open so their launchers appear there.

    - If you navigate to the second workspace and then open an app, that app's launcher appears on the second purple space, and a third workspace appears. That would be the second mockup, where I navigated to the second workspace and then opened GIMP. The same results would have happened if I had opened GIMP in the first workspace, then dragged its launcher to the second purple space.

    - You can easily move windows between workspaces by dragging their launchers to one purple space or another.

    - You can easily switch to a workspace by clicking it, since they show an empty space above the launchers in them.

    - You can easily call expose on a single workspace if you click again in that empty space.

    - You can easily reorder workspaces by dragging them up or down in the sidebar.

    - You can easily open an app in a certain workspace by dragging it from the dash to a particular empty space.

    - You can easily set in which workspace you want "favourite" apps to open by dragging their "pinned" launcher to its corresponding purple space.

    - It allows you to visually separate apps on the active workspace from apps on other workspaces, thus saving you time to find e.g. a particular app you want to restore.

    However, there are a couple downsides to it:

    - If an app has open windows on more than one workspace, where should its launcher appear? In the active one? In both?

    - Also, how would you launch a "general" expose, showing all workspaces, without adding an additional button?

    I hope we can get some brainstorming here guys
    Last edited by Bou; October 29th, 2010 at 09:32 AM.

  2. #2
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    Re: Unity testers, would you like to see this?

    There already is a workplace switcher in the panel, it doesn't do everything you've specified, and some of them would be nice enhancements.

    One thing I would like, it a way to increase the number of workspaces.
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    Re: Unity testers, would you like to see this?

    IIRC Mutter uses /apps/metacity/general/num_workspaces (I definitely had more than four workspaces once).
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    Hardy Heron (Ubuntu Development)

    Re: Unity testers, would you like to see this?

    Quote Originally Posted by cariboo907 View Post
    There already is a workplace switcher in the panel, it doesn't do everything you've specified, and some of them would be nice enhancements.
    Yeah, the question is... would having the workspace thing AND the switcher clutter things up? How would you trigger a general expose without that switcher?

    Quote Originally Posted by cariboo907 View Post
    One thing I would like, it a way to increase the number of workspaces.
    I might not have made myself clear. This system would ensure that you always have ONE empty workspace. If you use any window inside, another workspace is created. If you close that window, the new workspace disappears.

    Always one empty workspace, never more, never less.

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    Re: Unity testers, would you like to see this?

    I would love to have android like widgets pinned down to different workspaces (social, productivity, system, music and movies etc.). Something that completely minimizes the need to go to nautilus to open the files. Are there any shortcuts to quickly move from 1 workspace to other and take a look of all the spaces.
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    Re: Unity testers, would you like to see this?

    I like this idea. It sounds great because you have as many workspaces as you need and only as many as you need. It is dynamically sized and it is easy to start a new one. Plus you can have some nice functionality in it. I haven't used Unity much but I've installed it today after all the hubbub lately. I am not sure if all of this is possible but I am just throwing this out here for the sake of discussion and/or brainstorming.


    Might it be better to use the existing workplace switcher icon as it is. Rather make it expandable (on double click?) to show the "workspace manager" or purple spaces as described in OP.

    Single click: Expose all workspaces. (i.e. current behaviour / general expose)
    Double click: Expand workspace manager.

    Or it might work better if the activation were reversed:

    Double click: Expose all workspaces.
    Single click: Expand workspace manager. With primary focus being your current workspace.
    - Default mode - Expose on current workspace
    - Expose on specific app by clicking it's icon in the workspace manager
    - Can still drag a single window onto other workspaces.
    - Can drag all windows of an application to another workspace (by dragging app icon from one purple space to another)
    - Can easily obtain to a new workspace by using the blank one
    - Single click another workspace to switch focus of workspace manager to that one
    - Double click a workspace to switch to it and close workspace manager

    Now the downsides.
    One extra click to switch to another workspace. However it is still two clicks to get to a blank/new workspace. (i.e. Single click workspace switcher. Single click blank workspace.)
    Having excessive of workspaces and applications running will crowd up the side bar. This can be solved by having a minimized mode where application icons are collapsed into a stacked mode. All workspaces except the one in focus are in minimised mode. Hovering over the workspace with your mouse expands it.


    I find that more often than not I tend to need to manage workspaces individually. Less often do I need cross workspace management. (i.e. expose all workspaces and windows). Also to me it is too much to going on to expose all windows and workspaces just to switch to another workspace. Both visually and performance wise it is not necessary to do a general expose the majority of the time.

    Thoughts? Crap? Like? See a psychiatrist? =P
    Last edited by Decatf; October 29th, 2010 at 03:39 AM.

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    Re: Unity testers, would you like to see this?

    @Decatf
    You really need to see the shrink. You use linux.

    I like your ideas a bunch. The work space management is the week spot for those of us that use them a lot.

    The only objection I have is the damned purple but I bet I can change that in a hurry. Ghastly color. Better than the ailamentary tract brown in 9.10 though.
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    Re: Unity testers, would you like to see this?

    warkspaces? NO NO! use only one BIG workspace (virtually infinite) and add some cool paralax wallpaper and some lasers! How cool is that?
    - treehugger

  9. #9
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    Hardy Heron (Ubuntu Development)

    Re: Unity testers, would you like to see this?

    Quote Originally Posted by Decatf View Post
    I like this idea. It sounds great because you have as many workspaces as you need and only as many as you need. It is dynamically sized and it is easy to start a new one.
    Yes, that was not originally what I had in mind but it turned out to be my favourite feature too

    Quote Originally Posted by Decatf View Post
    Might it be better to use the existing workplace switcher icon as it is. Rather make it expandable (on double click?) to show the "workspace manager" or purple spaces as described in OP.

    Single click: Expose all workspaces. (i.e. current behaviour / general expose)
    Double click: Expand workspace manager.
    I'd rather not have the workspace switcher, because the workspace headers already take space and I really don't want to clutter the sidebar. Besides, I want to have only the necessary UI elements, so if there is a way to trigger a general expose using only the elements in the mockup.

    What I thought is, how about triggering it using the purple spaces themselves? For example:

    - You switch to a workspace by clicking its purple space.
    - If you click on the active workspace's purple space, you trigger expose for that workspace.
    - If you click it again, you trigger expose for all workspaces.

    How would that be? That's similar to what you proposed, only without the switcher.

    Quote Originally Posted by Decatf View Post
    I find that more often than not I tend to need to manage workspaces individually. Less often do I need cross workspace management. (i.e. expose all workspaces and windows). Also to me it is too much to going on to expose all windows and workspaces just to switch to another workspace. Both visually and performance wise it is not necessary to do a general expose the majority of the time.
    Totally agreed. That's why the primary expose would be workspace expose, not general expose.

    Quote Originally Posted by ranch hand View Post
    I like your ideas a bunch. The work space management is the week spot for those of us that use them a lot.

    The only objection I have is the damned purple but I bet I can change that in a hurry. Ghastly color. Better than the ailamentary tract brown in 9.10 though.
    Details, details!

    Quote Originally Posted by dinamic1 View Post
    warkspaces? NO NO! use only one BIG workspace (virtually infinite) and add some cool paralax wallpaper and some lasers! How cool is that?
    That's a bit out of the scope here, cool nonetheless

    By the way, here's the link to the Launchpad bug: https://bugs.launchpad.net/unity/+bug/667245 just in case you want to give your 2 cents.

  10. #10
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    Hardy Heron (Ubuntu Development)

    Re: Unity testers, would you like to see this?

    By the way, I thought of a possible solution to this problem:

    Quote Originally Posted by Bou View Post
    If an app has open windows on more than one workspace, where should its launcher appear? In the active one? In both?
    First I thought of showing multiple launchers, one for every workspace where the app has a window, but that would be against Unity's approach of "one app, one launcher". So I thought another possibility:

    - Imagine you have three workspaces, and you have Firefox windows on WP1 and WP2.
    - When you're on WP1, FF's launcher appears on the first purple space.
    - When you move to WP2, the launcher has some kind of animation and moves to the second purple space.
    - Whenever you move to WP3, the launcher stays in the last purple space where it was. For example, if you move from WP1 to WP3 the launcher stays in the first purple space, but if you move from WP2 to WP3 the launcher stays in the second purple space.

    Would that be confusing, having a launcher moving up and down?

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