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The Waning of the Overlapping Window Paradigm? 535

Bingo Foo asks: "The paradigm of movable, overlapping windows on the desktop has been around, and indeed dominant, for a long time. The original motivation for this was to mimic sheets of paper on a desktop. This is a useful metaphor, but may be a bit limiting given the capacity a computer has for automation of the layout and display of "desktop" objects. Lately, I have been pleased to see an increase in 'framing,' 'docking,' 'stacking,' and 'tabbing' being used, starting most conspicuously with frames in the web. More significantly, it has shown up as an application workspace paradigm that improved previously crappy MDI implementations in programs like Visual Studio and KDevelop. In my opinion, the most promising experimental application, even if still immature, is one of the neatest window managers around, ion. Does anyone else see a time when movable, tear-off docking and automated full-time tiling completely take over from the free-floating manually arranged desktops of today?"
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The Waning of the Overlapping Window Paradigm?

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  • space (Score:3, Insightful)

    by modemboy ( 233342 ) on Saturday November 03, 2001 @04:15PM (#2516771)
    Seems to me overlapping is needed in this day of 17" monitors. As soon as we have excess monitor space these paradigms will take over, but for now I need to be able to hide stuff on my monitor easily.
    • A feature I would like to see is sort of a compromise - the ability to join two windows together and make the line at which they touch act like a splitter, and the two windows together act as a single window.

      Unfortunately I never seem to have the time to wade through the code of my favourate window managers to find out if this would be easy to do :-(
    • Re:space (Score:3, Interesting)

      by modemboy ( 233342 )
      So, most current windowed gui's are based on the idea of a desktop, with file folders, documents you shuffle bach and forth, etc. Seems like what people are asking for here are some of the normal office desktop tools, tape, stapler, scissors, pen, etc. So, should there be a gui that has this kanda stuff, a stapler to link/stack documents, tape to bind stuff, scissors to split, pen to annotate. Any other tools that would work like this?
  • by moniker_21 ( 414164 ) on Saturday November 03, 2001 @04:16PM (#2516774)
    " should hardly ever have to touch the mouse again to move between windows.
    My friends always laugh at me when I say that I hate using the mouse because when I'm really tooling along on my computer reaching for the mouse slows me down....I'm glad someone else finally understands this!

    • Re:Finally..... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Doktor Memory ( 237313 ) on Saturday November 03, 2001 @04:46PM (#2516880) Journal
      My friends always laugh at me when I say that I hate using the mouse because when I'm really tooling along on my computer reaching for the mouse slows me down....I'm glad someone else finally understands this!

      Your friends are laughing at you because, although using the keyboard "feels" faster, nonetheless you [] are [] wrong. []
      • Re:Finally..... (Score:2, Insightful)

        by dollargonzo ( 519030 )
        i dont know about you, but for me it sure is faster to type this message than going to a menu to select each letter. If yuo are saying that it REALLY takes me 2 seconds to type each letter, then this message would be done in QUITE a while, when in fact it took me about 40 seconds to write. (sorry, 42,43)....the point being that in the beginning it is ALWAYS faster to reach for the mouse than press the keycodes, but after a while, when ppl get used to the key codes, they become a lot faster, because yuo dont need ANY hand-eye coordination. all yuo need is the memory of where the keys are. When most ppl begin to learn to type, it takes them a while, but when those same users learn to touch type, typing, say 100 words a minute is much faster than going to a menu to select every letter. same with command sequences. i have gotten REALLY used to emacs command sequences, and switching buffers, for example, as outlined in another comment is pretty DAMNED fast.
        • Did you read the linked articles?

          It's not simply the physical motion that affects the speed: it is the mental interruption where the brain has to stop it's current task, retrieve the key-commands, then return to the previous mental task that causes the users to slow down.

          I've measured my programming speed between Emacs and BBEdit: it's very close, but BBEdit comes out on top (for most things -- there are some tasks that Emacs is so obviously superior it's not even funny). But please don't hold up Emacs command keys as a good example -- Emacs without a mouse is horribly, horribly slow.

          But believe what you want.

      • Re:Finally..... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Dixie_Flatline ( 5077 ) <vincent.jan.goh@ ... m minus math_god> on Saturday November 03, 2001 @06:09PM (#2517053) Homepage
        I don't buy it. For one thing, his comments are too wide-sweeping to be taken seriously.

        For example, consider a user wanting to close a window. The user has two choices. She can type Ctrl-W and close it, or take her hands off of the keyboard (which she was using) and go for the little 'x' in the corner to close the window.

        If we apply Fitts' law, we can come up with some numbers for it.

        Fitts' law: a + b log2 (D / S + 1)
        a and b are experimental values, but we can use 50 and 150 for them, respectively. (I'm getting these numbers from 'The Humane Interface' by Jef Raskin. No, I'm not pulling them out of my ass.)

        The 'x' in the corner of my window is about 5mm a side. By my rough calculations, from the middle of my window (assuming the window takes up most of the screen, as my IE window currently does), I have to travel about 15cm to the 'x'. That's 150mm. So, S = 5mm, D = 150mm.

        Our equation is then:

        50 + 150 log2 ( 150 / 5 + 1) = 793 ms

        It's generally agreed that it takes about 0.25 seconds to even get moving once you have your hand on the mouse. The propagation time of your hand to the mouse is probably another 0.5s at least. So, you're looking at about 1.5s to get to where you want.

        By comparison, it takes about 0.2s to tap a key on the keyboard. If we assume that the user taps first one key, then another, we have a total time of 0.4s. (I'm also getting these numbers from 'The Humane Interface'.) Mental preparation time for the actual action is about 1.35s, but you have to mentally prepare for an action regardless of whether it is a typing action, or a mousing action. We can ignore it to simplify things. Since the 'ctrl' key can sometimes be odd to reach, we'll even ramp it's time to type up to 0.75ms. We're still looking at a total time of 0.95ms.

        That was just to close a window. Selecting menu items (once you've successfully moused to the menu) is even longer. Time saving devices like the Apple (NeXT) dock speed some things up considerably.

        Fitts' law explains why it's easier to use the Mac menu system, where the items are up against a barrier (the edge of the screen). It ends up making a larger effective target. This is also why the dock is effective.

        Long and the short of it: an expert user is probably better off sticking to the keyboard. While I appreciate the research that Apple does (I honestly believe they know quite a lot more about UIs than basically everybody), this guy's assessment that it takes a full 2 seconds to do anything with the keyboard is pretty far out there, and I don't see any references to papers or any published results.

        I often find that it's slower to use the keyboard, but it saves me the trouble of moving my hand on and off the mouse, which amounts to a comfort thing at the end of the day.
        • Re:Finally..... (Score:3, Insightful)

          For example, consider a user wanting to close a window. The user has two choices. She can type Ctrl-W and close it, or take her hands off of the keyboard (which she was using) and go for the little 'x' in the corner to close the window.

          Aha, now we're descending from the general case to a specific case. And in this specific case, you're quite right: the "window-close" widget in just about every WIMP interface out there takes forever and a day (relatively speaking) to get a lock on. The metaphor has stuck with us primarily because nobody's thought of a better method yet.

          That was just to close a window. Selecting menu items (once you've successfully moused to the menu) is even longer.

          That depends on one huge-arse variable: where the menus are.

          In the Windows world (and that of its imitators, Gnome and KDE), the menus are placed in the top of the floating window. A terrible mistake, and it makes them dog-slow to use for all of the reasons that you mention and a few more as well -- since the location of the menu onscreen isn't predictable, you can't even use muscle memory to make up for the other defects in the design.

          Put the menus in a predictable location (e.g. the top of the screen, with frequently-used menus closer to the corners) and the situation changes dramatically. Deeply nested hierarchical menus reduce the effect a bit, but that's the visual equivilant of adding more modifier keys: hopefully you keep the must-used actions closest to the top of the "tree".
          • Re:Finally..... (Score:3, Interesting)

            >That depends on one huge-arse variable: where the menus are.

            Absolutely. Like I hinted at, Fitts' law will tell you that going to a menu like the Macintosh ones is fast and easy. However, a memorized hot-key will still be faster depending on where the menu item is in the menu.

            Studies show that the 2rd or 3rd item is usually the fastest to get to. If your menu item is nested, you also have to take into account the possibility of overshoot, etc.

            There is certainly a balance somewhere in there. I like my hot-keys, but I can't deny the usefulness of menu items. In the UNIX world, however, where everything is text-driven (mostly) anyway, it's usually faster to do some memorization.

            In the OSX world (where I'm happily typing this from, I might add), the GUI actually extends the interface experience. I'm much more willing to use the mouse now than I was before. In Windows, I feel crippled. I haven't put any time into memorizing the interface, so I'm constantly using the mouse to get things done, and I feel like the productivity is draining out of me when I do it....
      • That's ridiculous. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Nindalf ( 526257 )
        As Tog says, in one of the linked articles: "We programmers are not normal people. We tend to have superior memories, we actually grasp boolean logic, we have formed priesthoods around the most egregious interfaces, and we have a firm belief that the average citizen is in search of an editor for his daily C and Pascal coding tasks." He says this because he wants to make it clear that he's not talking about people like us.

        This research applies to the casual computer user of the late 1980's. Completely non-standard (and really hideous) keyboard interfaces were compared to consistent mouse interfaces for people who had probably only recently touched a computer for the first time in their lives. By a company that was betting the farm on the mouse interface.

        The one example I see (replace all '|'s with 'e's) is unrealistic and obviously biased toward the mouse, though he presents it as intentionally biased toward the keyboard. That was all I needed to see. This was an incompetent, biased researcher with a tendency to dramatically overgeneralize.
      • Your friends are laughing at you because, although using the keyboard "feels" faster, nonetheless you are wrong.

        Isn't the extent to which it interrupts your train of thought more important than speed? I would speculate that the reason the keyboard feels faster is that it interrupts your train of thought less.
      • by ElrondHubbard ( 13672 ) on Saturday November 03, 2001 @07:18PM (#2517257)
        Two words: keyboard navigation. In the Windows world at least (yeah yeah, bite me), anyone who bothers to learn the relevant keystrokes and combos can whoop the pants off a mouser in basic, nuts-and-bolts text editing tasks like selecting ranges, cutting and pasting, applying attributes, etc. Why? It's not the amount of time it takes to reach for the mouse; that is as nothing against the amount of time it takes to orient hand/mouse to screen/pointer, navigate the pointer to the appropriate button by eye, and click. I type 100 wpm on a good day, and my fingers know exactly where to go at all times. The visual interface is fine, but (for me at least) it lacks the benefit of proprioception. When I use the mouse, I am forced to stare at the screen in order to be sure of the result of my mouse movements, whereas I always know exactly what my keystrokes are doing without having to look.

        For example, in most Windows text editors, pressing Control-left-arrow moves back one word. Further, holding Shift while using any navigation key combo changes the navigation action to a select action. Therefore if, for example, I want to select the paragraph I am currently editing, all I have to do is press Control-Down (end of paragraph), Shift-Control-Up (Select to top of current paragraph), and it's done. Elapsed time, about a tenth of a second. A couple more keystrokes and I can cut or delete the paragraph, add formatting (B/U/I, justification, etc.), and so on. Compare that to the time it takes to lay your hand on the mouse, move the pointer to one end of the paragraph, click and drag to sweep out the paragraph by eye. No contest.

        Heck, my typing speed wouldn't even be what it is if it weren't for keyboard shortcuts. As an instinctive touch-typist, I seldom miss a typo as I go along, and by now it's a perfect reflex when I notice I've just mistyped to press Control-Shift-Left and retype the word - elapsed time, maybe half a second; expended effort, negligible.
  • by pete-classic ( 75983 ) <> on Saturday November 03, 2001 @04:16PM (#2516775) Homepage Journal
    but this falls into the "I want the computer doing what I say, not what it thinks I want." category.

    I mean, it is a personal preference, but I don't want a system that refuses to arrange windows the way I want because "it knows what's best" for me.

    So, my answer to your question is "no."

    • So many answers in this thread talk about wanting overlapping windows. I'd like to point out that the utility of overlapping windows comes partially from "focus-follows-mouse" behavior (without "autoraise"). You can look at both logs at once, while scrolling through both without changing which is in front.

      If you don't have focus-follows-mouse, the bottom window is less useful because it is static.

      -Paul Komarek
  • by Have Blue ( 616 )
    Once again, Apple is ahead of the curve... Look at their latest applications: iTunes, Disk Utility, System Preferences, iMovie, Final Cut Pro. They either use a single window for nearly all functionality (only bringing up new ones for things like Open and Preferences) or they take over the entire screen, a throwback to computing "modes" that the Mac was developed to avoid in the first place.
    • So Apple is "ahead of the curve" by being the first to abandon the technique that they developed the Mac specifically for?

      I'm I the only one who thinks this sounds like crazy talk?

  • alpha channel... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    would be nice to have transparent windows that you could see thru with an easy way of increasing transparency and opacity as required.
    • This actually available in OSX (duh) and in Win2k (and XP, I presume). For 2k (and prolly XP) you have to buy an addon called WindowFX that does all sort of crazy UI things, but the best reason is to be able to set transparencies. Also, virtual desktops (to allow for multiple, full-screen apps to run parallel would be great to see worked into the mainstream (I hear XP has an implementation of this, and, of course, Linux WMs have done this for ages).

      I'd love to see more intelligent auto-arrangement of windows, as long as I could specify what intelligent meant and override it.
      The best possible improvement to UI would be more features available to reduce reliance on the mouse for basic computing needs, and more education about these. Everyone--even my dad--should know alt-tab switches windows, and ctrl-tab switches focus within an app (sometimes).

      Transparency of course reduces the number of window switches you have to make if you can keep an eye on one window while computing above it, and helps that way.
      • Re:alpha channel... (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Osty ( 16825 )

        This actually available in OSX (duh) and in Win2k (and XP, I presume). For 2k (and prolly XP) you have to buy an addon called WindowFX that does all sort of crazy UI things, but the best reason is to be able to set transparencies. Also, virtual desktops (to allow for multiple, full-screen apps to run parallel would be great to see worked into the mainstream (I hear XP has an implementation of this, and, of course, Linux WMs have done this for ages).

        There's no need to buy anything. There are a number of freeware and shareware apps out there that will manipulate alpha blending in 2K/XP, mainly due to the fact that it's pretty damned easy to do programmatically. Also, alongside the more generic, modify-every-window type of apps, there are more specifically-targetted applications of alpha blending. For instance, there's <shameless-pimpage>Lucidamp [] for Winamp 2.x (I'll be working on a Winamp3 version soon that will hopefully be cross-platform, leveraging XFree86 4's new XRender extensions eventually) and my hack [] of the PuTTY [] win32 ssh client.<shameless-pimpage>

        Also, if you're interested in adding alpha blending support to your win32 applications (called "Layered Windows" in win32 parlance), you can check out this MSDN page []. Layered windows also go well with XP Visual Styles [], so if you write win32 code, make sure you leverage side-by-side Common [] Controls [] to keep everybody happy.

  • Ick! (Score:2, Informative)

    by vanyel ( 28049 )
    That's the one thing keeping me from switching to Opera on my Windoze boxes: I can't stand not being able to get multiple windows up on my desktop. I feel like General Zod and company in that window pane prison in Superman.
  • It never really occurred to me, but I don't ever use "free" windows anymore. My windows are always maximized, and I use a combination of atl-tab and workspace shifting to navigate between them.

    I used to have 4 xterms neatly arranged sharing an entire screen, but I haven't done that in a while.

    I don't like apps that have framed views which are not easily hidden, such as msdev and kdeveloper. I much prefer an xemacs approach, where I can zap in and out frames as I see fit, with a quick keystroke. Perhaps you can do the same with msdev and kdeveloper, but I'm used to emacs.
    • Perhaps you can do the same with msdev
      yes you can, there's a keyboard shortcut for opening each of the dockable frames (eg the Visual C++ 2.0 bindings use Alt-2 for the output window, Ctrl-K for the callstack, etc...) and once the focus is in a dockable window you can use Escape to return to the current MDI child, or Shift-Escape to close the dockable window.
  • by jchristopher ( 198929 ) on Saturday November 03, 2001 @04:19PM (#2516784)
    Actually, I believe that Xerox did NOT have overlapping windows, it only appeared to. In the book "Infinite Loop" by Michael Malone, it talks about how someone at Apple Computer (Bill Atkinson? I can't remember) had such a difficult time duplicating what he thought he saw at Xerox.

    In reality, it was very difficult to duplicate, because it did not yet exist. Atkinson (Apple) ended up creating the algorithims to do overlapping windows on his own. At some point he was in a car accident, and there was alot of concern, because at that point, he was the only one in the world that had the knowledge.

    • by Simon Brooke ( 45012 ) <> on Saturday November 03, 2001 @05:18PM (#2516970) Homepage Journal
      Actually, I believe that Xerox did NOT have overlapping windows, it only appeared to.

      Then you believe wrong.

      I personally used Xerox [] 1108 ('Dandelion') and 1186 ('Daybreak') machines from 1984 until 1988. They definitely, without question or possibility of doubt, had multiple overlapping windows, and, indeed, all the features of a modern WIMP environment. Xerox Stars, Dolphins, Dorados, Dandetigers and a number of other Xerox machines (including the Smalltalk ones whose model designations I've forgotten) had multiple overlapping windows at least as far back as 1978. It's probable (but I don't know this for a fact because I never saw one) that the Alto also had multiple overlapping windows, at least in it's Smalltalk mode.

    • If you want to see what was available essentially in 1980, you can get yourself a copy of Squeak []. Squeak contains a complete Smalltalk-80 environment with the original Smalltalk-80 user interface (I think there is also a Smalltalk-76 emulator inside it).

      Apple's user interface improved on Smalltalk-80 by making it easier to learn (more user interface functions are represented by explicit graphical elements) and with its graphical design. But I have a hard time coming up with any area in which Apple improved on Smalltalk-80 in terms of functionality or usability for experienced users. Even today, I find the Smalltalk-80 interface better than what you get on the Macintosh. Furthermore, Smalltalk-80 came with a development and debugging environment that puts even the best C++ and Java environments available today to shame.

      Like many other people who have been in the computer industry for more than two decades, we can't help but shake the feeling that innovation in software has basically stopped since the 1980's; most of the change that we have experienced has been to make things "bigger" and "faster", but very little seems to have gotten "better".

      To all the people who are working on software like Gnome, Java, KDE, etc., my message is: do your homework first. Find and use some of the old user interfaces. There is way too much reinventing the wheel, mostly very poorly.

  • For those of you who use Windows, Cristi Posea has written a nice window docking code. It allows you to dock objects inside ActiveX containers. Until recently there were some major flaws in the code. However, Greg Winkler has fixed them all with this. You may want to take a look at it: Docking CSizingControlBar objects inside ActiveX containers [] by Greg Winkler.
  • by ekrout ( 139379 ) on Saturday November 03, 2001 @04:21PM (#2516792) Journal
    I think the key things that seperates GNOME, KDE, and CDE (and to a certain extent, OpenWindows and HP VUE) from the rest of the window managers is the concept of underlying services that facilitate communication between apps. In Windows, it's OLE (or COM or whatever they call it nowdays). In CDE, it's ToolTalk; in GNOME, it's CORBA (I don't know what it is in KDE).

    You see this underlying communication in various ways: the most obvious is Drag-and-Drop between apps (or the desktop and apps). It also shows up in inter-app communication with documents (think Excel spreadsheet embeded in a Word Doc).

    I'd almost consider WindowMaker an environment. It has most of the hooks that Enlightenment and Kwm have for their underlying services, and can work nicely in a GNOMEish or KDEish setup.

    I think when people say "environment", they're referring to the whole shebang: backend libraries and daemons that provide Inter-app communication, a Window manager that uses those backend facilities, and apps that also are aware of the available functionality. Integration is the key here: all the parts need to be aware (and use) eachother, and not just be able to function next to eachother.
  • No (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Stephen VanDahm ( 88206 ) on Saturday November 03, 2001 @04:21PM (#2516793) Homepage
    I certainly hope that this never comes to pass. Sometimes it's OK, like when Konsole allows you to have multiple shells in the same window and select them via tab-like buttons. But the GUI design of KDevelop and other apps like it is bad enough to ensure that I never use them. Why? Because I use a laptop for all my computing stuff, and the laptop only has a 800x600 display. I can't have all these tiled and paneled windows screwing up my workspace. When space is tight, it's nice to control exactly where you want your stuff to be displayed on the screen.

  • Yeah, I've seen that time. It was called Windows 1.0.

    Seriously, after looking at the ion screen shots, I can't imaging that being terribly useful to me. I've found that enviroments like Window Maker are most suited to my work style, but I'm certainly willing to admit that maybe my workstyle has been influenced too much by the reigning paradigm in UI.

    I'd think that having stuff auto-tiled for me would annoy me to no end, but I think I'll try out ion and see how it works. Maybe I'm wrong.

  • by aussersterne ( 212916 ) on Saturday November 03, 2001 @04:23PM (#2516798) Homepage
    Back in the late '80s for a while I owned a small OS-9 computer (some of you will guess which one) which used to lay its windows out this way. As time went on and Windows and X became bigger items, I started to desire those "overlapping windows" and eventually moved to Linux in '93 or so to get them.

    Now you're telling me that tiled, edge-to-edge windows are the wave of the future? I don't know. How about some sort of compromise which allows overlapping windows but doesn't "require" them to the same extent as today's desktops? I'm not sure I'd really like to do away with them altogether... sometimes you just run out of display space, and I'm not really interested in 45" of computer display.
    • The compromise is multiple desktops, offered by practically every window manager there is. I'm surprise the submitter didn't mention them.

      Since windows tend to be maximized most of the time, multiple desktops are an effective way of dealing with many of them, and then you can still have a desktop with small overlapping windows.
      • Multiple desktops aren't quite good enough in most implementations I've seen (enlightenment comes close) - I've been spoiled by Amiga pubscreens.

        Later versions of AmigaOS, in conjunction with common Amiga GUI toolkits such as MUI, allowed you to _persistently_ associate an application with a particular "screen" (a named virtual desktop). - So you could set your web-broswer to always open on its own screen called "Internet" for example, while your word processor opened on another screen called "Work", as did your spreadsheet.

        The automatic creation/destruction of screens on an as-needed basis, the persistence of the application associations with particular screens, and the ability to name each screen, tend to be missing from X window managers. You flicked between screens by clicking the top-right hand corner of the screen, and you could drag them up and down to partially expose screens behind.

        The "pub" in "pubscreen" comes from the fact that more than one application could use the same screen - in earlier versions of the AmigaOS, each application tended to use its own screen anyway, rather than being under user control.

        I miss screens!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 03, 2001 @04:24PM (#2516803)
    That's one disappointing thing about today's GUIs, that there's no dialogue. The technology exists for the computer to, say, anticipate your next move, complete it ahead of time, and wait for you to tell it if it "done good" or not. For example, completing commands at a UNIX shell prompt is quite possible (in fact, it's been done before) and useful. One of these days (it's always "one of these days") I'm going to write a shell that does this.

    Windows are a useful abstraction of display space and a useful way of dealing with user input. I wouldn't want to try to program a GUI without them. However, I'm not convinced that overlapping windows are not an unnecessary and cumbersome user interface element. I myself am an advocate of non-overlapping tiles as an efficient way for a user to manage his screen space.

    Some say the web browser is the most popular GUI program. But the Web browser suffers from a whole host of problems. Just like the CD player programs that looks like the front of a CD-ROM driver, Web browsers only support plodding motion through the Web. The Forward/Back/Stop formula has got to go. A really slick Web browsing scheme that I saw at U. of Maryland, I think, provides a visual browsing history in the form of miniature views of past Web pages you've visited, with more recently visited pages still visible at about half the size of the page you're presently at, and pages visited very long ago appearing very small. I don't recall if the hyperlinks on the miniature pages could be activated, but I think that they *should* be, as that would make it really easy to move from one page to another if, say, you're at a Web directory of some sort.
    • The technology exists for the computer to, say, anticipate your next move, complete it ahead of time, and wait for you to tell it if it "done good" or not

      Hey, this is a great idea! I can just imagine it:

      You want to show your boss some documentation you found on the web. You click on "open location", and your computer, ever so helpfully, types in your favorite porn site, bringing up a bevy of blonde beauties on your screen. Embarrassed, you then hit the "done bad" button, and your computer
      types in a new site, bringing up pictures of studly, muscular men on your page.

      You hit the "done bad" button again, and try to laugh it off to your boss. You finally convince your computer to go to the website that you want, and when you try to download the specs, your computer auto-completes your request, downloads the file, and closes. Except that you don't know where the computer decided to put your downloaded file!

      You then go to "find file" (after hitting the "done bad" button again) to find the file that the helpful operating system put somewhere on your hard drive, and start to type in the name of the downloaded file. Five aborted attempts at name-completion later (including the guesses "readme.txt", "Readme.txt", and "README.TXT"), you finally locate where the file was placed (in the /flesh/movies/ directory, incidentally)

      "Halleluja", you tell your boss, as you open up the downloaded specifications. Time to print them out! You convince the operating system to open up the print menu (after telling it "done bad" for bringing up the "open file" menu four times in a row), and it automatically prints one copy to give to your boss. Great!

      Whoops, except that you wanted another one for yourself. Hitting the "done bad" button again, you (eventually) get one more copy printed, and your boss walks away, happy to have his copy of the specification, and happy to have a few new URLs to check once he closes his office door.

      Grateful that the operating system had allowed you to accomplish something, you hit the "done good" button a few times, and go out to get a cup of coffee. Mission Accomplished!
  • ... are doomed to repeat them.

    Remember that the Xerox movable overlapping windows paradigm appeared at a time when tiled and framed paradigms were widespread (Symbolics [], TI Explorer [], a whole range of other systems) and quickly became universal because it worked better. It still does.

    Sure, there are issues in navigating the stack of windows, particularly if you use desktops as cluttered as I tend to; sure, less sophisticated computer users may find these navigation problems difficult. But focus, visibility, prominence and accessibility are in the hands of the user, and that's where they belong

  • I think tabs and frames are a common interface now because of popularity in web interfaces and they've proven to be useful. Docking and stacking has always been rather useful. I don't want forced to have a 2D grid of windows though. I like it made easy to align windows to a grid and to other windows and like it when I can stick them together so if I move, open/close, etc one the others will follow. I also am really waiting for the day that KDE/Gnome stop chasing Windows and put some really useful features such as pie menus, cluster menus, and gesture support in rather than all the nasty pull down menus and icons. At least Mozilla is supporting these things so any Mozilla-based apps should be able to also.
  • Microsoft's new Visual Studio.NET implements some, if not all of this. Windows can be either free floating, docking or added to a tabbed set.
    I've not used it much yet, so I don't know what layout I'll end up using.

    At the moment it is set up the same as my VC 6 layout - workspace in the top left. Output/Build windows tabbed in the bottom right and the editor window taking up the entire right hand side - I like to see lots of code at once.

    The default view was way too busy - for example it showed compilation errors twice - once in the standard compiler output window, and once in a new "tasks" window that allows you to tick off the errors once you've dealt with them. Maybe this is useful for one of the other languages .NET supports, but it isn't how I work with C/C++.

    It would be nice if this flexiblity with floating/docking/tabbing was in the window manager instead of the application; although, to be honest, developer studio is the only application I use with a large number of internal windows. Most applications are much simpler - tending towards a single view on a single set of data.
  • acme/wily (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DrSkwid ( 118965 )
    acme is the primary text editing / programmers tool on plan9 and inferno
    It doesn't use overlapping windows but uses rows and columns for text areas. One can maximise to size of the column.

    there are no dialog boxes, turns out you don't actually need them. File/directory interaction is just in place (click on a filename in the current directory and ti gets opened [very useful for opening include files etc.]).

    this also works for running programs. middle click on the command anywhere in any window and it's stdout gets opened in a new window.

    try it and you'll see how simple and innovative such an approach can be. These plan9 guys are really on to something.
  • by zCyl ( 14362 ) on Saturday November 03, 2001 @04:37PM (#2516846)
    As for ion, it appears to be a restriction on user ability, rather than an increase of user ability. I can already align my windows such that they don't overlap if I desire.

    But I already have the flexibility of using my graphical interface almost entirely without my mouse. I'm running Gnome and Sawfish, and I can setup multiple desktops, indexable with alt-F#. Then if I keep the number of windows on my screen down to a reasonable number, no more than 3 or 4 (which is what ion would be limited to anyway for reasonable space consumption), then I can tab between them almost instantly with alt-tab. Then I can access them all immediately without the mouse, and without sacrificing the size of my windows, because they can all be close to full screen. As for organizing by graphical tabs, that's what the tasklist in the gnome panel is for, which is always an option when one feels the urge to reach for the mouse to find a window.

    Every application I use regularly on my computer has an associated Sawfish shortcut. Mozilla, gnome-terminal, xmms, etc... Even shortcuts for common functions can be created in Sawfish, such as a shortcut locking the screen, shortcuts for raising and lowering volume, shortcuts for playing cd's (all using console-based tools, and the ability to bind a key combination in sawfish to the launch of arbitrary programs), shortcuts for closing a window, and shortcuts for bringing up frequently accessed files.

    Excluding web browsing and copy/paste, I could go an entire day without having to reach for the mouse.
  • I'm really glad this is happening. I've always hated the concept of windows and having to constantly shuffle the windows around. I miss the days of my Amiga where we had "screens" that we could flip through and even drag down to peek at the one behind.

    The closest I can get to that now is to use MS Windows and to maximize every window that I can. it's close enough and at least that way all of my pull down menus are in the same place even if they aren't right at the top where they should be because the title bar is in the way. The Mac puts the menus in the right place, but Mac apps are more obsessed with using lots of windows than MS Windows. I know I can maximize them, but at least with MS Windows, I can save that setting in the icon. Not all Mac apps remember the window settings.

    If I can figure out how to make every app's window to maximize under KDE without having to explicitly push the maximize button, then I'd be more inclined to make the switch to Linux for all my work.

  • Well, if you notice, in the Star Trek universe I don't see anybody woth a pointing device of any kind... "keyboard" console only... it would seem that at some point in the future somebody just makes the decision that were going with ion... we might as well give it a look!

    • I'm not a Star Trek junkie, so I may be wrong...

      In the ST universe that I normally see on TV, most devices seem to be dedicated to a single use. There is no switching applications. On the more sophisticated devices the interface seems to be audible rather than visual. Why would you need a mouse when you could just tell the computer what to do?

      Of course, the voice interface will (probably) never take over as a primary input or navigation system. First of all, it takes longer to describe to the computer what you want it to do than a simple key combination or mouse click. Secondly, could you imagine the noise created by 30 developers and 5 secretaries in their cubicles in one big room all talking to their computers?

      No, the keyboard/pointer interface won't be replaced until we can tap the brain for input.
  • by Drone-X ( 148724 ) on Saturday November 03, 2001 @04:47PM (#2516881)
    For some time now I've seen this trend towards more heavyweight applications rather than small, lean applications that are used in conjunction. Now, this isn't a bad thing per sé since shared libraries or components can be used to share code.

    It also has an advantage for desktop users because these heavyweight applications have the unique possibility of using paradigms different than windows for managing documents/tools reducing the window clutter on the desktop. E.g. in a PIM several related applications are presented in one window (where if needed the different components can often be opened in a seperate window anyway); in an IDE it is common to have a form editor, code editor, class browser, debugger all in one window.

    But there are other approaches that can be taken. I've read dialog windows in MacOS X stick to their owner which is nice because it reduces the amount of windows you have to manage. X window managers could probably implement this feauture pretty easy.

    But more can be done, e.g. it would be nice if there was a Nautilus-like panel on the right side of the screen in which things like music players, instant messengers, calendars, RDF-boxes, etc. could be embeded (these would be Bonobo components or KParts). An idea would be to model the panel after Nautilus' sidebar, only when hiding a tab the panel should disappear completely except for the tabs at the bottom of the screen.

    In conclusion, it would be nice if the desktop environments started to work more towards reducing the number of open windows rather than taking the GLADE appraoch where there's a window for the menu and tool bars, a toolbox window, a property window and a window per form. (Yes, I know of workspaces but that ruins the advantage of windows even more.)

  • ...when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.
  • Surprised no one else mentioned this, but if you're interested in windowing systems with no overlapping windows, have a look at PicoGUI []. A really cool (IMO) little windowing system that is network transparent, and runs well on little resources. E.g., there's PicoLinux [], a linux OS for a PDA called the Helio.
  • by kalinh ( 167661 ) on Saturday November 03, 2001 @04:53PM (#2516900) Homepage
    Rambling warning, I'm sicker than hell, and extremely tired from playing civ all night... mod down at will.

    I've been thinking about this for a while, nothing frustrates me more than having windows obscured behind something else, and having to either drag the front window out of the way, or else alt-tab through everything. In a lot of ways this is what first got me hooked on linux as a desktop replacement for windows, the well developed multiple desktops system. So I can hit a key combination and cycle from one desktop to another. One has my mail and IM open on it, the other one browsers, the next nothing but terminals, and then filemanagers/xmms.

    A lot of application shave taken a better look at how they're actually used. Sometimes the UI is bad bad bad (StarOffice 5.2). Other times it's really appropriate, like the tabs in galeon [] which are great for organizing all the browsing into different windows based on subject (for those of us that like to have 20 pages open at once. Right clicking to open in a new tab is great for s site like slashdot, K5 [] or Adequacy [], where there might be 7 or 8 links on the main page that i want to get to, but not forget if I get sidetracked.

    When I first grasped mozilla's power as a platform I had the epiphany that since 90% of the apps I ran were network based and mozilla provided an API for creating spiffy looking network applications, it wouldn't be a stretch to do everything in tabs within one maximized window, and that it could eventually function as an OS for lightwieght computers. If you type chrome://messenger/content/messenger.xul in mozilla you can get the entire mail application dropped into your browser window. Press ctrl-T on a recent build and you have a new tab to browse in, but you can switch back to your mail real fast. Add Jabberzilla [] to your sidebar. Throw in a few more apps from [] and you can do most of what you'd want within a single window. It's in no way complete or stable, but it's enough to shed some light on a usable way to avoid the worst of window overlap. Apparantly there is a company that's working on using mozilla as an operating environment [hrome] for appliances called OEone []. You can check out the screenshots of their calender application here [].

    We already have a modern successful non overlapping interface, and it's called PalmOS. Just as it took a limited use platform to accept "modeing", probably not a lot of desktop users will be willing to give up the poer that free windowing gives them, but for appliances, or special uses, such as subject-centered web browsing. Things like tabbing and fullscreen interfaces are a good idea, and have already been implemented.

  • Anyone with Oberon [] experience out there?? It started out as a tiled windows system only, but now they've developed an overlapping windows desktop as well. Checkout the screenshots. []

    Their comment on tiled display is useful: The Gadgets desktop also has a tiled display mode with two vertical tracks. In this mode a newly opened viewer automatically covers half of the largest existing viewer in the track. This is ideal for text-based work, e.g., programming or text editing. Viewers can be resized vertically and moved, but they always use the full track width. Because there are fewer degrees of freedom, it is much quicker to arrange viewers optimally. newly opened viewer automatically covers half of the largest existing viewer in the track. BTW, windows are called viewers in Oberon.
  • I've noticed that most people seem to do everything full-screen in Windows. I'm not sure if they find it easier to navigate. It might just be that their displays are too small (and here I am with a dual-head desktop of 1600x1200 and 1280x1024 ;-)
  • a step backwards? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by 8bit ( 127134 )
    In a way this can be look on as a step backwards. It limits the user's freedom to arrange the windows. But I can also see how it's a step forward. It reverts to the KISS (keep it simple stupid) paradigm, and concevably, you can increase productivity w/ ion. You don't have to waste time moving your windows around.

    I personally use pwm, ion's sister. It lets me stack all my terminals into one frame, and quickly cycle through them. I rarely have to switch virtual desktops anymore. But of course, with everything, it's just preference.
  • While this seems to work well in theory, one should note how simple the desktops in the screenshots are. Three of them have an image, emacs, and a shell. The ION model works well for 3 windows but I have 11 windows (emacs, galeon, evolution, XMMS, abiword, gaim, 2 shells, realplayer, 2 xchat, nautilus) open right now on 4 VDesktops.

    Tabs work great unless you want to see two things at once.
  • Good thread (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    This gigantic thread [] examines the "overlapping windows vs. alt-tab-mania" battle in some detail.
  • some more info (Score:2, Informative)

    by buzzini ( 177741 )
    When I interned at Microsoft, one of the designers gave a talk about this. He said that part of why overlapping windows were originally used was that monitors had such low resolutions. With the advent of large, high-resolution monitors this has become less necessary. Hence OfficeXP containing a lot more "docked" palettes (e.g. Task Panes). This is definitely the direction of the future.
  • I use a window manager with virtual desktops (FVWM2). On every desktop I have either lots of maximized Mozilla windows, or a couple of xterms to the left (mximized vertically) and one Emacs window to the right (also maximized vertically). I switch between desktops using the mouse, and between windows by pressing F2 (which rasies or lowers the topmost window under the mouse). This works well for switching to the right xterm or browser window. Focus is always on the topmost window under the mouse, of course.

    This way I get all the advantages of a tabbed interface while still being able to use the window manager like an ordinary one when that would be useful.

    My windows are borderless, but they have a titlebar. I use the titlebar or F1 for moving them around and button-3 on titlebar or F3 to resize. F5 maximizes the window.
  • by redhog ( 15207 ) on Saturday November 03, 2001 @05:59PM (#2517042) Homepage
    Actually, I do the same thing using fvwm, maximized windows, and a program I wrote - Xmerge [], which merges two windows into one with two frames.
  • Hooray (Score:2, Funny)

    by Lars T. ( 470328 )
    At last Windows 1.0 has been redeemed! If only we can get those great colors back.
  • by ColGraff ( 454761 ) <maron1.mindspring@com> on Saturday November 03, 2001 @06:26PM (#2517090) Homepage Journal
    ...for the same reason that Microsoft Windows is here to stay, and Intel, and MS Word, and any other number of products that aren't really the best at what they do but all share one key feature: a huge user base familiar and comfortable with them. Is an Ion-type interface better than conventional overlapping windows? Honestly, I have to agree with several other posters who've said it all boils down to personal preference - some people's work habits are more compatible with overlapping windows, and others with ion.

    The thing is, the mainstream computer users - you know, the ones who their ISP is Internet Explorer? - are used to overlapping windows, just as they're used to working in Windows, and MS Word, and Internet Explorer. Most people either don't care about the advantage they'd gain with a new paradigm for windows management, don't understand them, are completely unwilling to learn a new system, or all three bundled as even more neuroses and whatnot than I can think of. I've lost track of the times I've left the family dual-boot BeOS/Win98 system running BeOS, and heard my mother complaining that she just could not figure out how to use it. Nor is she willing to learn - despite what we all know about the BeOS GUI, Windows is better because my mom is familiar with at, at least according to her.

    Might we see ion-type window managers become more popular in GPLed OSes like Linux, BlueOS, etc? Eh, maybe, although there's still the personal preference angle even among the computer literate who could understand and learn to use the new system. Likewise, I could see a real change in the MDI schemes for specific applications. But I think the average desktop home user is going to be using some sort of conventional overlapping windows environment for a long time to come.
  • ... I hadn't give it much thought, but I almost never use the floating window paradigm anymore. As I type I have three applications runnning, each in full-screen mode. I alt-tab between them with as little conscious effort as steering the car. I can't stand working in a floating windows except when they are small utilities like a calculator.

    The interesting development may not just be that floating windows go away but also that hardly anybody even notices.

  • by Salamander ( 33735 ) <> on Saturday November 03, 2001 @06:36PM (#2517116) Homepage Journal

    The ideal interface, in my opinion, would be to support nesting of window managers within other window managers and/or within applications. The biggest problem with MDI is that every MDI application basically acts as its own window manager. Usually this "embedded window manager" is a really crappy one, which turn people off to MDI in general, but there are exceptions; my preferred browser and text editor both use tabbed document windows to very good effect. It would be cool if we could tell applications what window manager instance (WMI) to use, so that the app can delegate window management to the WMI of the user's choice. Want SDI? Tell the app to plop its subwindows into the same WMI as the parent window. Want MDI? Tell the app to plop its subwindows into a WMI ("using *this* window manager, please") embedded within the parent window. You could use the same interface to switch between a Mac-style single menu bar and Windows-style per-window menu bars. All of this could go into a fairly simple config file, allowing users to choose whatever combinations of overlapping/tabbed, MDI/SDI, Mac/Windows styles - including hybrids and mixed modes - that they want.

  • by peter303 ( 12292 ) on Saturday November 03, 2001 @06:48PM (#2517166)
    I recall this was the case. This was supposed to
    avoid Apple patents by reverting to a Xerox look.

    No one really bought Windows until version 3.1
    and MS Office requiring it.
  • by ecloud ( 3022 )
    The real limits might be cognitive ones; how many windows can you open before you begin to forget what is what? Already on 6 virtual desktops sometimes I leave windows open for a couple weeks at a time, and then wonder what I was using them for. And when I tried using Opera, I found that because I could leave a lot of browser windows open, inside its MDI space, that's what I did; and soon the list of open windows started looking more like a bookmarks list.

    So I thought that windows should expire after some amount of disuse. They should _become_ something like bookmarks (searchable by metadata (title, keywords, URL, full text, etc.), and also organized in a timeline, and also organized in a graph of branching - which link did you follow to get there?) automatically.

    On either a tiled or overlapping desktop, the constant is that being able to minimize or collapse windows to remove them from the screen is important. But on a tiled desktop it would be even more important than usual. And I think the GUI mechanism for selecting from all open windows (including minimized ones), which one to view, is very important. I've recently fallen in love with the KDE "external taskbar". I put it in the upper right, enable auto-hide, and now it's very Mac-like, and compliant with Fitts's Law - I can slam the mouse up into that corner and I get a nice list of open windows, organized by which desktop they're on, without regard to whether they are minimized or not. There is enough space to show more of the title bar than you get on a typical minimized icon in WindowMaker, or a on one of those taskbar buttons on Windows or Gnome, yet, it still doesn't take up a lot of real estate, and still has mini-icons too. I can manage many more windows effectively this way. And it's rather like a stack of books (an approach to organizing information which has been advocated elsewhere). []

    Anyway for many purposes I like the idea of a tiled desktop; especially for "reference materials" which I need to glance at, but not interact with quite as much. But I think the user needs a very straightforward choice when spawning a new window, whether to take up space in the tile matrix for it. Maybe something like click with middle-mouse button on a link, to open it in a new tile-space; and click with left-mouse to open it in the same space, in a new window lying on top of the old one. So each tile-space becomes a stack of windows. (And I'm imagining a GUI in which most navigation is a lot like navigating hyperlinks.) Of course, every time you must make room for a new tile-space, it's liable to cause most other windows to be resized; and controlling that is tricky. Using virtual desktops effectively can help with that. It needs to be easy to move windows from one desktop to another, _and_ place them into the desired tile-space, in one fell swoop, without a lot of mousing around, or thinking too hard.

    Maybe there should be a window manager which gives you a choice for each desktop - tile or overlap. I would bet quite a lot of money that will be done by somebody in the next few years.

  • Once upon a time I noticed that I always have too many windows open and spend too much time finding one of the many xterm's and netscape windows I open at the same time... The first solution for me when was when Powershell arrived, which was I think one of the first xterm apps to allow tabbed shells into a single window... Later kde's xterm started to support this as well (though I don't use KDE so I don't fancy getting the extra bloat that comes with it)...
    Later I found ion's sister windowmanager called 'pwm' which does the same thing of all windows and can automatically stick windows from the same app into one single window... ie if you open a new Netscape window, you can have it automatically stick to all the other netscape windows you have opened... it only sucks with popup windows on sites as they will be opened at full size but then you never ask for them anyway...

    tabbed windows are a great solution IMHO as I never found any quicker way to navigate the many windows I open at the same time...
  • by KidSock ( 150684 ) on Saturday November 03, 2001 @07:29PM (#2517291)
    Since XFree86 supports multiple workspaces I find the fixation on overlapping windows quite silly at this point. Rather than flipping between windows, why not flip between workspaces and maximize or tile two windows per workspace. I mapped F4 to next-workspace and F3 previous-workspace and tile two xterms per workspace. In this way I can simultaniously edit 3-4 source files and build/run windows open all at once. I usually have one maxed xterm for watching debuggin output or exploring huge directories and another workspace for just Netscape. To switch between them is a matter of hitting F4 to shift to the right and F3 to shift back (at least this is trivial in WindowMaker; it has runtime game-style key mapping). Try it, you'll utilize much more surface area and as a result be more productive.
  • by Snafoo ( 38566 ) on Saturday November 03, 2001 @10:48PM (#2517740) Homepage
    Okay, I just downloaded and installed Ion. While I appreciate its many keyboard shortcuts, I think the real power it possesses is the ability to all but eliminate unneccessary window-resizings.

    Think about it. There are only two reasons people resize windows: (1) To focus on one particular task (window), or (2) to focus on more than one task/window, without eliminating the first focus. (The case where the user wants to switch between focuses or close the current focus in most windowing systems are handled by mechanisms like taskbars and close buttons. ). Most of the time users spend in 'focus adjustment' is simply futzing with the window borders in an attempt to maximize screen coverage while preventing overlap. Even 'timesaving' options like 'tile windows vertically' are usually wasteful, because, while they speed up the initial operation, the minute you attempt to make a small alteration to your focus (say, by making one window a little larger) you actually have to perform two or more tasks: Resizing the window under consideration and resizing its neighbours to concur with the new arrangement.

    Since a framed-window system allows adjustment in a single motion, it saves time. (Although there are other window-management paradigms that acheive the same trick).

    Personally, I really really like Ion -- I'm running it right now, and I have no intention of switching back to Oroborus any time soon (another very good window manager, IMO....)
  • by alan_d_post ( 120619 ) on Saturday November 03, 2001 @11:04PM (#2517762) Homepage
    If you mostly use terminal apps, try using "screen" as your primary switch-between-programs environment.

    I always have the same app running at a particular screen number, so switching never takes more than a second. Editor? ^]0 and I'm there. Email? Mutt is running at ^]1. News? See slrn at ^]5.

    I've been using this type of setup for a year now, and it's great! I almost never interact with my WM at all, and have disabled all window decoration.
  • by clheiny ( 462633 ) <heiny @ s t> on Saturday November 03, 2001 @11:30PM (#2517804)
    An alternate subject for this might be "Another Xerox GUI idea rises from the dustbin". Dunno how old Cliff is, but around 1982 the original Xerox Star/8000 desktop forced users to tile their documents (B&W on a 1024x768 display, if I recall correctly). General user community reaction was "Bleah!". Some folks liked it a lot, many didn't. The next software release included the option of choosing betweeen tiled and overlapped windows. [OK, the idea might not have been Xerox's originally, but it's the oldest one I'm acquainted with] Personally, I like to choose between the two models, and frequently find myself using a hybrid, with some windows tiled (whether in an MDI or within the wm) and some overlapping. Additionally, as I grow older, I find that even with a 21" 1600x1200 display, I require larger fonts. There are times when the amount of information required simply will not fit on a forced tiled screen, unless I make the font smaller and put my face right up next to the display. But basically, it's the old light beer question. Some people want one, some people want the other. Some people want both. As a side note, I must say that window managers that force the active window to the top of the stack of overlapped must die! Or at least be rewritten. I like my windows to stay where I put them, thank you.
  • Give vtwm a try.. (Score:3, Informative)

    by defile ( 1059 ) on Saturday November 03, 2001 @11:33PM (#2517810) Homepage Journal

    I never used to realize how constrained working with the desktop metaphor felt until I played with vtwm.

    The big distinguishing feature of vtwm is how it implements virtual desktops. Unlike most virtual desktops in other UNIX window managers, this one can be of arbitrary size and you can scroll through it freely, instead of one chunk at a time.

    I have vtwm set up so that the top 90% of the screen or so can be the "focused" area of the desktop, and the bottom 10% represents the entire virtual desktop, with boxes that represent where your windows are.

    A blue box on the virtual desktop bar represents what the screen is currently focused on. You can either slide the blue box over to other windows, or pick windows up and move them into view.

    You never feel cramped, and things like iconification are obviated. Simply move to a different part of the desktop if you need space. Also comes in very handy if you're at work and looking at porn and the boss comes by. Just click on the portion of the desktop that contains all of your busywork.

    Here's a screenshot [] [if you see nothing but pitch black, scroll to the bottom right] to better illustrate my setup. The screen is right-center, and the gimp's toolbar is off further to the right off screen which is how I took the screenshot.

    It's amazing how restricted I feel sitting at a windows box now, or with a window manager that doesn't support this. It's also great if you want to show how much of a badass you are, since with no windows open, the screen is entirely black, except for a thin white horizontal line at the bottom and a blue box beneath it.

  • by mindstrm ( 20013 ) on Saturday November 03, 2001 @11:34PM (#2517812)
    I mean, if the real estate is there, don't overlap, tile.

    If the realestate isn't there, overlap, but offset. That's what virtual desktops are for.

    I find one thing.. and I'm not picking on OS's here... but in windows, I find window management a pain in the ass. I find myself using the taskbar to flip between windows more often than not.
    On unix desktops, I tend to have several things side-by-side or neatly arranged so I can see the data I need, the way I need it.
    I've never analyzed why.. but it always seems less intuitive, or downright harder to do in windows.
    It's probably due to a combination of different focus mechanisms and the types of applications run.. and I realize windows can be tweaked to have similar, if not the same, focus mechanisms.. but still.
    As a general observation.. I find the typical KDE desktop a lot easier and more intuitive to work with than a windows desktop.

    Secondly... a few things about windows that piss me off (that generally, though not always, only happen in Windows).
    one is the popup dialog box that steals focus from whatever you are doing. That's a nono.
    Stealing focus from the app it's related to.. that's one thing... but from unrelated apps.. it's a nono. Second is when one dialog box pops up and I cannot move the underlying windows. THAT is a nono.. I should be able to move any window on the screen at any time, period. I should be able to hide it, peg it, minimise it, shade it, whatever the WM wants.
    That's probably another reason I find X a bit easier to work with.

"I have not the slightest confidence in 'spiritual manifestations.'" -- Robert G. Ingersoll