Revolutionary Desktop Switching: An Analysis

This is an old favorite of mine. Here is the problem, switching desktops on a Linux machine with or without compiz is not intuitive. Why? because it is related to some window keys Ctrl+Alt+Right or Left Arrow, it is a secondary menu, or it depends on the mouse being at the corner of the window.

All of these ideas, while being well-intentioned, in nature, simply become annoying because they are hard to discover, they are somewhat hidden, and they tend to be not novice user friendly.

The other problem is that as people talk about being user-friendly, they generally say that they don't want Linux to be "dummed down," or made so simple that only stupid people can use. The fact of the matter is, though, that, in my view, no one should expect its Linux distribution to be a puzzle only solvable for the "smart" people that can figure out its tricks. In the scientific world there is the idea that the simplest answer to a question is always the right one. When many theories explain one phenomenon then they choose the simplest one to reveal its truthfulness.

This idea can also be applied to the desktop. In the desktop we have a few "theories" about how one should take use of virtual desktops.

Here are some of them:

This idea shows how compiz handles virtual desktops. You could assign a mouse gesture or a key combination to bring up the any virtual desktops you have at your disposal. It is very simple to use, but again, there are key combos to do and hot corners on the desktop to work with. It happens many times to people that use my laptop that they want to drive away the mouse pointer and end up hitting the hot corner which pans out showing you the desktops, then it's harder for them to figure out what happened and need a way to get back to that space.

Here is another one:

In this one, the panel has a square with many smaller squares which represent each virtual desktop. although this idea is simple and straightforward, I see some difficult things to deal with. One is, of course, size. Size is a problem since the space in a desktop screen is limited, and the space used by this applet (which also exists in KDE) is very reduced. You have to click right into that small section within the applet and then you will be able to switch between desktops. Very practical but too small.

This one is a little more complicated than the ones before (also part of extra functions on KDE windows)
Here you have to use the right button on your mouse to send the desired window into a different workspace. You have to choose which one and in some cases, you could even name them differently so they are easier to use. But who in the world does this? Who uses a secondary menu to send a window to an adjacent virtual desktop. No one. Instead, people often choose to clutter their current workspace and leave it as it is because it is less bothersome.

Then, what is the answer. I believe it starts with simplicity first. Using KDE current widget power, a set of arrows can be placed on the desktop to have users switch between them. I have seen KDE work really hard on creating widgets for the desktop but more often than not, I feel like KDE just found a way to clutter the desktop and think that it looks pretty. It is the same that happens with Opensuse, because this is something that they have not really thought about or wanted to change.

Here is a screenshot of my idea:

Why do I think that this is better? I think that being able to see where you could go is more simple than figuring out where to go, like the other models. This idea also resembles the way a book is viewed forward and backwards, page by page. In a book, for example, we realize that there is a numeric marker at the bottom, a page number, that tells us where we are, where we've come from and where we can go. With these arrows on the desktop, it is the same thing. We know where we are and can go wherever we want to. This idea could even be taken further and imitate another good idea from the land of Apple.

If you notice on the iPad book reader, there not only a page number but also a tracker in the middle that shows you how far you are into the book.

If my idea of desktop switching arrows is simple enough, then people also need to know where they are in their desktops, or how far are they into them.

So, tell me what you think...

Anditosan :D