A solution to unifying the dock, expose and dashboard

Discussion in 'macOS' started by supergod, Oct 18, 2005.

  1. supergod macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2004
    Location:
    Toronto
    #1
    Today in one of my classes I was watching a powerbook user in front of me. It made me think once again of a problem that everyone faces (well, almost everyone) in OS X and that is navigating the desktop and managing screen real esate.

    The three main ways in which we navigate the interface are (saving the finder for other people to debate) expose, the dock and the dashboard. This also ignores spotlight for the time being.

    The dock has gotten some flack since it was first put down there, but its pretty useful. You can have all of your most commonly used apps in there along with shortcuts if you need them to folders. I personally only have 12 apps in there and one shortcut (to documents) because I find that the finder does a perfectly good job of navigating these sort of things.

    Then there is Expose, for navigating windows. Expose is already pretty much perfect. I use it just about every five seconds. The only complaint that I have is that on a large screen with a lot of apps open, using expose can result in a ton of very small windows. Especially when you're dealing with word or many similar documents that are hard to recognize at that size you can often click on the wrong window. This is problem #1.

    The major problem for me is with the dashboard. I have a fairly large monitor and I still find that my dashboard fills up very quickly. Once again, I only use 4 or 5 widgets at a time, but I use sticky notes as well. And occasionally I'll open other widgets and leave them open. What you end up with is a ton of widgets stacked on top of each other with the only way to access them being to click and drag (sound familiar? Think, OS 10.2 window navigation). Considering expose already took care of this problem years ago you'd think that apple would utilize a similar technology to move and access widgets. This is problem #2.

    But the thing is, correcting problem #2 by simply adding expose to the dashboard does not work because expose had a problem of its own.

    The solution is actually very simple and so obvious I wonder why apple hasn't done it. The solution has been there since the first release of OS X with the format of the dock. The dock grows from very small to large as you scroll over it, allowing you to maintain screen real estate while easily selecting and seeing which app your mouse is on. In addition, it has the ability to hide beneath the desktop. This function is very important. In essence, the dock can exist outside of the Mac OS X desktop.

    Applying this to expose we come up with two simple solutions. That is, when you expose all windows, the individual windows take up very little space so that you can see all of them, but when you scroll over a window to select it, that window grows to meet the mouse. This way you can see which window you want and still have open many windows. The second and somewhat more important idea is this: you can "hide" windows from expose. Now, mind you, you can technically do this already by simply minimizing a window into the dock and leaving it there while you expose. But this idea works better. What you do is give the user the options to in a quick motion push a document or application window "off" the desktop (to either the left or right side) and then have the "window dock" take care of this task. As is, OS X has the option to have the dock be on the side of the screen, but it doesn't really serve a point. What you do here is seperate windows from applications. Applications go in the bottom dock and document windows can hide in the side dock or similar visual idea, and then you can drag them out onto the desktop and *poof*, they're back in expose.

    Does this sound similar at all to another Apple interface? The dashboard, you say! Why of course. The dashboard can now be unified with expose. Here's how: dashboard widgets automatically shrink when your expose fills up too much into smaller sizes in a dynamic way. Then when you scroll your mouse over the widget it grows to meet you. Widgets are already designed perfectly to be instantly recognizable by shape and colour, so why leave them so unecassarily large all of the time? Also, move the dashboard "dock" to the top of the screen and now you've set up an easy rule for the user to follow. That is, applications go in the dock in the bottom, document windows go on the sides and widgets go on the dashboard at the top. Doesn't it make more sense to have the dashboard at the "front"/top of the desktop as is? This way you can use or at least see both the dock and the dashboard at once.

    Sheesh Apple, why haven't you thought of this?
     
  2. fartheststar macrumors 6502a

    fartheststar

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2003
    Location:
    Vancouver
    #2
    You should submit this idea as feedback on the Apple site for Leopard if you would like them to see your idea. It's got some interesting ideas.
     
  3. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #3
    This sounds somewhat conceptually similar to the idea that...Sun (?) prototyped. As I understand their model, too, there are pretty much always "out of focus" applications that appear small in size in the periphery, and mouse gestures to the periphery cause these applications to rotate to the foreground...in either event, I like the concept a lot, although it would be painful on limited screen resolution on notebook computers. I don't like the concept enough to buy a computer that weighs more than 5 lbs to get it. :eek:

    [​IMG]
     
  4. supergod thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2004
    Location:
    Toronto
    #4
    I sent this to the apple request thing just now for sheets and geegles. Its not like they read that, is it? If so, I want the job of the guy who just sorts through, reads, and then deletes suggestions. Its like a telemarketer, but cushier!
     
  5. supergod thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2004
    Location:
    Toronto
    #5
    Yeah. The way I look at it though, is that its painful to execute all those mouse movements with the power book and also to have windows and widgets take up so much space. So this (at least some of the ideas) are meant to give more screen space. Plus, with the Powerbooks likely reaching resolutions equal to that of the iMac line tomorrow, it becomes somewhat of a nonissue. I'd imagine it would be easy to build using core image and look nice and flashy (a key to Apple interfaces in the last while).
     
  6. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #6
    Yeah, I think if it were done, the peripheral windows would have to be very small, like they are in Exposé or as you suggest with the dock.

    It's certainly possible that tomorrow will bring higher resolutions to the powerbooks, but the smallest notebooks are never going to have that much real estate...I dunno. I hope Apple doesn't abandon the compact notebook market. It seems like there are a fair number of customers who like Apple for offering such products too. And any UI concept that's based on the assumption of 20" screens, I'd think would be a tough sell on a 12-13" one.

    But I think there might still be something doable like this, even for small screens, as long as the focal area dominates and takes up the vast majority of the screen, and the non-focal windows are really quite small until the mouse is in the periphery....

    As far as gestures, though, they really actually do work really well for me, at least, on trackpads. I use corner gestures for Exposé and Dashboard on my trackpad all the time. :)
     
  7. dmw007 macrumors G4

    dmw007

    Joined:
    May 26, 2005
    Location:
    Working for MI-6
    #7
    Some nice ideas supergod. Let Apple know, it would give them some good feedback. :)
     
  8. asherman13 macrumors 6502a

    asherman13

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2005
    Location:
    SF Bay Area, CA
    #8
    most definately. speaking of this leopard site...where is it?
     
  9. supergod thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2004
    Location:
    Toronto
    #9
    One more thing I just thought of now. Maybe calling this side dock the clipboard? :D The visual representation of stacking papers onto this board and then bringing them out would be sort of fun. And just having this option gave me this other idea:

    So ya have this clipboard hidden away at the side of your screen during expose. What would you want to do with it? Well, I would want to put all sorts of temporary documents there. Say for instance, you select a bit of text in Safari, you could then paste or drag it onto the clipboard and leave it there. Drop a picture there. Whatever. Than you go back into expose, grab this bit of text and drop it into a word document in expose, drop the pic into an iPhoto window. You can keep an unlimited number of text clips, pictures or whatever else clipped onto the clipboard at any given time and then bring them out when you need them. At the same time, you can take a window you are using a lot and stick it onto the clipboard and then bring it out again when you need it.

    I can imagine how this might be a useful boost to productivity. I know that already you can click and hold on to an item and then enter expose, select the window and drop it in, but this would allow you to reuse items and other such things.
     
  10. iEdd macrumors 68000

    iEdd

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2005
    Location:
    Australia
    #10
    Nice ideas there. As for the magnification in exposé, I am happy enough with the info popping up as I hover over a window as it is. :)
     
  11. dylan macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2005
    #11
    Good idea but there is already a solution to your first problem, just try pressing tab after F9...
     
  12. Mudbug Administrator emeritus

    Mudbug

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2002
    Location:
    North Central Colorado
    #12
    ok, that's cool. You learn something new every day...
     
  13. vniow macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    I accidentally my whole location.
    #13
    Well...they already have.

    Sorta.

    Back in the 10.2 betas there was a feature called Minimise in Place, in which clicking on the minimise button would essentially do just that, minimise the window into what it would look like minimised in the dock, except it would be independent of it and draggable throughout the screen. The other part of that, where minimised windows would expand upon mouse contact, was made posible by Windowshade X from Unsanity. Quite a nice little feature when combined with Expose et al.
     

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